France 1970-72

Arrival in Paris

France is seven times the population of Belgium.

It is much more urbane, culturally diverse and has that "Joie de Vivre" mainly due to good weather and colonisation.

Given I had visited Paris and stayed at the Latin Quarter, I managed to drive straight From Brussels to the chancery as well as park my Ford Cortina in the same street inside four hours.

Job

Work at the Chancery was hectic:

  • It reported on Politics affecting the interests of Australia. In particular, the Paris Peace Accords involving the North and South Vietnamese protagonists and their allies which were in full swing;

  • It was actively represented in United Nations and multilateral HQ organisations such as United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation UNESCO, Organisation of Economic Developed Countries OECD;

  • Paris was a feeder hub for Immigration intake program across many countries and cities;

  • Austrade was there providing Australian businesses a conduit to French markets.

  • Australia had purchased French Mirage fighter aircraft which had proved themselves to be so effective in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict and there were a dozen RAAF personnel involved in the supervision of contracts for the supply of spare parts; upgrades etc

  • On the consular side, there was the usual "Hatching" "Matching" and "Despatching".


The Chancery was simply not big enough to accommodate all the Sections.

An interim Chancery was being planned mainly to re locate staff from the Ambassador's residence.

My position was created to assist in bringing this to fruition. In between times I was involved in the Consular Section.

My official position was Second Secretary (Consular & Administrative).


Relocation to two floors of the World Bank HQ in Avenue d'Iena involved monitoring and supervision of building modifications. This was done by tender and contract supervision. It also involved securing communications infrastructure and utility supply and well a special projects such as installation of strong room vaults; secure communications 'hut' and liaising with a team of communication spooks to limit technical espionage.
We also had to fit out the floors with soft furnishings such as blinds; carpet and then arrange a furniture package - desks chairs filing cabinets according to rank and station in life.

Starting with the Ambassador everything was high quality and five star; then of a lesser quality and size for the next official.

The Old Chancery

In 1970, the Chancery was located at 13 Rue las Cases in the 7th Arrondishment.

It was a combined Chancery and Official Residence of the Ambassador.

It must have been three to four hundred years old.

It escaped the Haussmann town planning regulations 1850-72 wherein most of the city was renovated with broad avenues, common facades of buildings, public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities and public monuments which are now the icons and ethos of Paris.

Think of Paris today - think of Haussmann.

View from Ambassador's residence.

The Concierge Quarters was on the right - a two bedroom flat;
Admin, Consular and Polical staff occupied the rooms on the left.
It was very cramped.

...

Using the Google Map below, click on "View larger map"

A left frame offers photos;

A right frame offers navigation
The red marker is for orientation


Boulevade St Germain - Someone outside Les Deux Magots Cafe


The site was wonderfully central. The nearest Metro (underground train system) was Solferino two hundred metres away.


It was located at the top end of Boulevarde St Germain where the likes of Ernest Hemmingway would dine-drink in sidewalk cafes such as Les Deux Magots day and night.

Walking the 2 km length of this street would get you to the Latin Quarter where the prices were cheaper and the ambience Bohemian.

In the other direction, you would pass the National Assembly (Parliament House) then across the River Seine straight on to La Place de la Concorde.

Looking left as you proceed up the Champs Elysees to the Etoile you would see the Eiffel Tower.

Another short walk was to the Quai d'Orsay wherein the famous Muse D'Orsay was the home of works of modern art.

Across the Seine was the Tuillerie Gardens which led you to the Louvre - another art gallery.

The return trip back to the Embassy could be by the right bank of the river Seine where book sellers sold all sorts of publications.

I had over two years to leisurely take all this in. And this was but a small part of this wonderful city.


The New Chancery

Avenue d'Iéna was where the New Chancery was located.

  • It is a tree-lined avenue in the XVIe arrondissement of Paris, running from the Trocadéro (Avenue Albert De Mun) to the Place de l'Étoile (now known as Place Charles de Gaulle Passing through:

  • Place d'Iéna

  • Place de l'Admiral de Grasse

  • Place de l'Uruguay and

  • Place Richard de Coudenhove Kalergi.


The Avenue is named from the neighbouring bridge across the Seine, the Pont d'Iéna (itself named after the Battle of Iena and which abuts the Eiffel Tower).

Our building (The World Bank) was located at the apex of the Avenue's curved arc towards the Seine.


From my fourth floor window location my view would span from the Eiffel Tower in the south east to the Montmartre district to the north west of the city.

The district was a combined residential and business. It was a Haussman 'precinct'.

A quick short cut walk would get you to the Champs Elysees in ten minutes.


Around the corner was a local bar - where the funniest of boozy situations would evolve.

Palais de Chaillot

Trocadero

Champs Elysees

The Trocadero and gardens of the Palais de Chaillot was at the base of Avenue d'Iena.

At this vantage point you could join the throngs of tourists cramming to get an iconic photograph of the Eiffel Tower in the background.


The Nearest Metro was Iena.

I would use this entrance to go four stations to my residence:

  • Trocadero

  • la Mouette

  • Ranleigh

  • Jasmin

I would be home in 15 minutes - door to door.

If I chose to drive, it would take up to 30 minutes - depending on traffic.

But coming to the office it would only be 10 minutes door to door as it was all One Way.

Work Colleagues

  • Ambassador

  • The Cowboy

  • Penny Wensley

  • Dr Arthur Emmet

  • Geoff Belcher

  • ???

  • Marcel Borget

  • ???

Hatching Matching and Dispatching

This was the terminology for dealing with the consular side of Births, Marriages and Deaths. For legal reason these details had to be reported so that the Consular Section could advise Canberra who in turn would contact the appropriate agencies.

Death by accident was where the Consular Section had to step up to the mark.

Usually this happened to people on holidays and was extremely traumatic for accompanying spouses and dependents - not to mention the victim. There was also a lot of liaison with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and official delegation and representation work.

Some Stories:


The Doctor

I had only been in country two weeks and I was the duty officer.

A doctor Alex McGregor (from Toowoomba) was with his wife and daughter on holidays.

On a Saturday afternoon, he caught the 99 bus - right behind the right ear.
He simply forgot he was in a country where traffic drives on the 'wrong' side of the road and he stepped out from the footpath looking in the other direction.

Such an easy and fatal mistake.

A doctor from the hospital phoned the Embassy where there was a recorded message to contact the duty officer.

He said in French that an Australian had been killed and his wife and daughter were here at the hospital.

I responded in my best French. "Well doctor, what do I have to do?".

The doctor replied - rather puzzled "Nothing - he is dead?"

(I had meant what particulars; location and address of hospital etc)

He passed me on to his distraught wife.

I told her to wait and I would be there as soon as possible.


It would have been heartless to just dump them back at their tourist hotel that evening/weekend. I offered for them both to stay at my place from where they could ring Australia.

They accepted.

I gave them my main bedroom where there was a queen size double bed and I slept in the spare room.

No one got any sleep that night. Both wailed and wailed.

On the Monday morning the Ambassador rang Colin Booth. The Ambassador had had a call from a cabinet minister in Australia who was a friend of Dr M.

So it was case of "continued' VIP treatment". This involved relocation to a better hotel, facilitation of death certificates, expedition of paperwork and accompanying the widow to the morgue prior to cremation.

At the time the French, predominantly a catholic society, did not treat cremations in any VIP way.

The evening before, the Cowboy and I had a few drinks at our local bar Le Giradoux followed by a few more at his place. He knew about French cremations and this being my first one where I was to attend. He went to his music cabinet and suggested he had a soothing melody that I might like to hear and be reminded about during the ceremony.

As it turned out the crematorium was dark and unfriendly. Bare with no soft furnishings. As such all sound reverberated around the room. There was no hidden trap door where the casket would be seen to slowly disappear.

The furnace was a centre piece where the casket was loaded and lit.

The widow was in convulsions; so was the daughter; so was I. The record that Ken had put on was "Come On Baby Light My Fire".

The roar of the fire was in tune with the words in my mind "Light my fire, light my fire, light my fire."

Always the joker - the cowboy.

It took a week from the accident until the mother and daughter departed.

I fare welled them at the airport.

At the departure gate, the daughter said she was in love with me. I was touched.

The Priest

Colin Booth got a call from an infirmed patient in a hospital. He desperately wanted to see a consular official. I was delegated.

All we had was the person's name and an urgent request - in secret.

The hospital was located not in the city but in the banlieue - the outskirts of Paris. I walked into the public ward where I had to guess who from the five or six occupied beds who was my contact.

It was pretty easy. It was Visiting Hours and his was the only space not occupied by friends or relatives.

I introduced myself. He was an Australian, in his sixties; overweight, balding with a face where all the blood vessel were close to the skin especially the nose. You could tell immediately that he was a heavy drinker.


He asked me to come closer so that he would not have to raise his voice.

He sheepishly related that he was a priest and had been the beneficiary of an inheritance which he used to go on a Sabbatical. The reason he was hospitalised was because of pneumonia - he got on the booze so much one night he passed out in the rain. It was the same night he confessed that he had went into a brothel.

"Boy!" I said to myself "Have I got a sweet tooth for this type of shit". This was reverse role play - a priest confessing to me!

"Go on Father".

He pointed to a fellow patient across the room.

"That fellow says he saw me come out of the brothel and states he is going to report me to the Bishop".

"What Bishop?"

"The Bishop in Australia."

"How do you know all this?"

"He told me."

"What! he speaks English?"

"No but I can tell from his demeanor - look they are all laughing at me."

It was a case alcoholic depression mixed with guilt.

"Eh! what would you like me to do Father?"

"I want to get out of here. Can I sign myself out of hospital?"

(You crazy mixed up f--k! You got me all the way out here to ask me this simple question.)

"Yes no problem Father" I said continuing with my deep confessional tone

The Mental Lady

A lady from the province of Alsace Lorraine needed repatriation to Australia.

In her mid fifties, she was French born but had migrated and obtained Australian citizenship.

She was suffering from a mental illness - I do not remember what exactly but she was deemed fit to travel by air provided she was put on a plane that flew directly to Australia.

Qantas in Munich had a weekly flight to Australia. So arrangements we made for me to travel to Metz by train, grab a taxi to the village where the sanitarium was located, organise her release, go to the solicitor to organise the release of funds from her estate; return to Metz railway station and go by train to Munich and hand her and her papers, passport, medical details, money etc over to Qantas ground staff.

Simple! Good trip out of the office for a few days see the country side.

We got to Metz railway station a hour early. I did not want to be late. If I missed the daily connection to Munich, we would miss the weekly connection to Australia.

A cafe was in the arcade underneath the railway line so we waited there.

Perhaps concentrating too much on the doped up lady and the difficulty of managing her mobility, I left my briefcase in the cafe.

I only realised this when we were in the train when I was arranging the luggage in the overhead bay.

I had a dilemma - which needed an instant decision:

  • Leave the "nut case" on the train, race down the steps, through the arcade to the cafe, retrieve the briefcase and get back in time before the train departed.

  • Abort and await for next week

The risk for the former was that I had no time to search for the station guard or train conductor and if I missed getting back in time, the lady would be alone without anything to indicate who what where and why.

The risk for the latter was having to explain what had happened.

I chose the former. Luckily I was fit and the carriage was next to the stairs. I sprang from the train; bounded down the stairs with a single leap to the midpoint and repeated this to the subway level, grabbed the briefcase (luckily still there as I had left it) and back just as the train was pulling out of the station. Whew!

The Aviator

There was an air race England to Australia.

One aviator's plane was tracked on radar only to be lost in the French Alps in Winter.

The authorities advised it was pointless to search as the plane crashed into a snow capped mountainous region and it was impossible to get a visual as the snow would have covered the site and too dangerous because of avalanches.

So we had to await the Spring thaw to recover the bodies.

Months later, the crash site was located and the bodies temporarily interred subject to next of kin advice as to their wishes.


Next of Kin advice was for a local re-burial.

I was delegated to travel to this mountainous hick region. I had to travel by train to a certain town whereupon I would be picked up by the local authorities and escorted way way up the mountains by road.

Marcel Borget did the liaison.

They asked him how would they recognise me at the railway station.

Jokingly he replied that probably I would be the only one not wearing wooden cloggs ( a local custom).

Journeying to the site was most picturesque. Years later as the Tour de France bike race was televised I would be reminded of this fascinatingly pretty and adventurous part of France.

Exhuming the bodies was problematic for the French labourers.

Two bodies were buried in coffins on top of the other. The Australian was on the bottom. There must have been a local cold snap with the weather and now the ground was frozen solid. The labourers were increasingly frustrated and disrespectful of the workplace. They were jumping on the top coffin swearing and cursing. Eventually they got to the bottom coffin released it and man handled it into the freshly dug grave.

I walked over and observed that there was no cross on the top side of the coffin - hence the body was face down.

I asked for the coffin to be taken out and put in properly.

Much to their indignation they did so.

The Bewildered Bar Manager

After work one evening there was a crowd of us that had a few drinks at the local and then went for a meal in the Latin Quarter.

We were typical Australians - boisterous and boozy and taking the piss out of everybody and everything. Again we were in friendly banter with the bar staff.

The leader of the pack was The Cowboy.

There was also Garry ? a "fly in" from the Department of Supply.

He was involved in a government contract for aircraft manufacturer in the south of France and was visiting Paris on business. As the night wore on and individuals wore out we left the bar one by one throwing an amount of money on the bar - enough to cover the bill.

The last one to leave and hence to settle up was Gary.

He was short and did not even have the money for a cab fare back to his hotel.

An altercation with the bar manager followed. The Gendarmes were called and Gary was put in the cooler overnight.

The next morning the Police rang the Embassy.

The Cowboy took the called and rushed down to the clink.

The Bar Manager was there. He had come to make a complaint and get restitution.

A hung over cowboy walked in and was introduced to the manager.

The cowboy, later, told the story of the manager looking at the Cowboy as if he had seen him before - but could not quite place where. It was obvious that the manager had not associated the Cowboy with the fracas the prior evening.

So the Cowboy went on the offensive.

His French was pretty good. It ended up that he got on the good side of the Gendarmes and berated the manager for his pettiness, petulance etc.

The cops agreed and told the manager to "Fiche moi le camp!" <Piss off!>and released Gary without charge.

A puzzled and non recompensed bar manager left the station bewildered not quite certain as where he had seen that guy before.

Then there was the story of the Australian public servant who died of a heart attack watching the famous Can Can dancers at the Follies Berger ... But some other time. Suffice it to say there was never a dull moment.

ANZAC Day

Bonding with the population of Villers Bretonneau

This small town is located some 100kms to the north west of Paris.

In 1918 it was a mere village in the Somme river basin. Its significance is that the locals have been forever grateful for the Australian troops who recaptured it from the German troops on Anzac Day 25 April 1918.

Throughout the village you come across oddities the likes of Rue de Melbourne; Rue de Sydney.

In the town square the icon of a kangaroo appears on the official flag which is formally sanctioned.


The town is the focal point for the Australian Embassy to commemorate ANZAC Day as it was three years to the exact date 25 April 1915 that our troops landed at Gallipoli.

In 1969 and 1970, I was privileged to visit VB for the official commemorations - Dawn Service, Reception etc.

The locals put on a welcoming band and venue. On each occasion the shin dig was fabulous. Many inhabitants were either children or youths at the time. The more tipsy these septo and octogenarians got, the more they seemed to embellish and exaggerate the feats of the Australian shock troops.

For me, it was priceless to understand French and listen to these primary source accounts.

Indeed it was a stunning victory, battle hardened Australian troops were called down from Ypres to go in and take the town not in trench war fare but in house to house and hand to hand fighting to clear out the enemy.

My research reveals that My Uncle, John Stuart M.M., was part of this action - (See Belgium (Flanders Field)).

I am deeply moved when I think of such affection. Their children and their children continue these bonds:

N'oublions jamais l'Australie

["Let us never forget Australia "] - these words appear in the classrooms of the school in Villers-Bretonneux...

Life in Paris

I was in love with Paris - the people, the city and the fun times.

The crooner Dean Martin had an LP record wherein he sang 12 songs:

  • C'est si Bon

  • April in Paris

  • Mimi

  • Darling Je vous aime beaucoup

  • La vie en rose

  • The Poor people of Paris

  • The River Seine

  • The Last Time I saw Paris

  • C'est Magnifique

  • Mam'selle

  • Gigi

  • I Love Paris

It was my favorite LP. I played it again and again to remind myself as to where I was and what I was experiencing.

Edith Piaf also sang songs about Paris. Here are a few songs:

...

Sous le Ciel de Paris


.......

Lounge/Dining looking on to Rue de L'Yvette


View from kitchen - Can view the Eifle Tower at night - 3-km distant






Rear courtyard - Cars enter and descend to an underground garage




Small building - even had a concierge


Local bottle shop on corner -taken from entrance to Jasmin Metro station


My Fiat 124 Sportscar

My Fiat 124 Sports

I sold my Ford Cortina to an Embassy driver for a bottle of beer and upgraded to a 1966 Fiat 124 Sports Spider.

It was British Racing Green and petrol was duty free. " Bernie Brown (Canberra 1963-66) eat your heart out"

I would travel to and from work by Metro.

I would use the car to ferry rugby mates to venues which were always in the Banlieue of Paris. As such I knew the short cuts and the roads quite well.

The only areas I avoided was the Place de la Concorde and the Etoile. With the latter 12 major thoroughfares converged. It seemed as though the Parisians closed their eyes and used brinksmanship to negotiate their particular exit. So traffic was a combination of flat out; braking and jerky clutch movement. No one sounded a horn in anger or warning.

Parking was not so much a problem as it is now. If I could not find a convenient spot, I would park illegally.

The French Gendarmerie would not issue parking fines because of the diplomatic plates.

They had little idea as to the codified number of the plate that signified which particular country was breaching the rules.

If a policeman did confront me I was ready with the retort in French:

"Us Russian diplomats could park where we dam well please."

"Nous diplomat Russes peuvent nous garer n'importe où nous s'il vous plaît"

Parking by Parisians alarmed me at first. Parking was "by ear" - not sight. Divers would nonchalantly bump a car at the back and rear until it fitted. The driver would then exit leaving his car in neutral for the next drive to bump his vehicle.

Rugby Mates

Rugby was popular in the south and southwest of France.

Paris had only one professional team (Racing) that played in the national competition league. Everything else was social and poor standard. I joined a local ex patriot team. We pitted ourselves against public utility companies that sponsored employees to play as amateurs. Team Metro (the underground railway employees association); the Waterworks team; the Electricity Company etc. The standard was poor - again akin to ACT Canberra fourth grade.

We also traveled to specific towns and villages for annual permanent fixtures.

Me - Top Row Sixth from Left

Our team was sponsored by Harry's Bar a bar famous for its International Bar Fly reputation and the home of Bloody Mary's. Our jumpers were green with the Guineas Draft Beer Insignia;

Most were Scottish accountants working for the international firms that undertook audits on major French and multinational companies.

Several had magnificent stamina. They would drink all night and tumble out of the Metro towards a designated meeting place still pissed yet play creditable enough.

I was the only Australian. There were English, Irish, Kiwis and a fair few French Anglophiles.

On one occasion we arranged to play a team from a village some distance away from Paris where we organised with them for a bus to take us there.

There was some miscommunication. Instead of a team of English players we were billed as The English Team.

On the outskirts of the town there was a sign "We Welcome the English Team" and there was bunting and billboard advertising everywhere.

The bus rolled up at the town hall where a band started to play, the mayor was dressed in his robes. His beaming smile turned to puzzled bewilderment when some Scottish "gits" together with their Ozzie Yobbo accomplice lurched out of the bus in a drunken stupor.

Arriving with our Bowler hats

La Rochelle

As a group, our standard of French was quite high. For that reason we were well received.

I remember on several occasions being the recipient of spontaneous and effusive comment about the reputation of the Australian Infantry Force and its exploits in WW1.

The point being that, generally, the sacrifices of our soldiers were well known and appreciated.

At Easter, we had a regular away trip to La Rochelle a seaport town in South West France.

We would travel by train, stay in a hotel play the game and then attend a function by our hosts who were mainly Well to Do oyster farmers.

I remember "kicking on" with them and ending up at a crowded local night club.

Because they played "le rugby" they were the town Mafia. They went to the best table in the place, clicked their fingers and those seated quickly gave up their seats for us. Amazing!

The next day we went to a few oyster farms. Our hosts presented us with as many oysters as we cared to consume. The condition was that we had to use the shell to accept a slug of white wine grown in the region. Many got very pissed - before lunch time

I believe I was a cunning rugby player - I could "read" the play. One day I scored five tries. We were playing Racing Ancien (Racing Old Boys). The game was called off because of a brawl.

It was an interesting feat in as much as it was at Colombes on an outer stadium field where the national XV always hosted visiting international teams.

(I could dine out on a true story to rugby aficionados as to how I scored five tries against Racing at Colombes. Racing could be substituted for Randwick RU and Colombes could be substituted for Ballymore.)

Afterwards I went home to freshen up and then go to our local on the Champs Elysees.

It was a crowded English Pub. I got there late. Most of my mates had a few drinks and were vociferous. As I walked up to the bar I was clapped and cheered. One wag started to sing the Liverpool Football Team followers song "You'll Never walk Alone". But modified to "You'll never score again Malone". The inference being, I think, that I had scored so many tries in one game, I was not likely to ever score again.

The others caught on and joined in.


I loved Paris in the Winter. The Spring, Summer and Autumn were just as good.

The French Open was held at Roland Garros stadium. Because there was a network of rugby players we were always "in the know" as to who what where and why.

For example just as the tennis fraternity knew where to dine out cheaply, so did we.

So we conspired to eat out at these same restaurants, meet the combatants, offer local knowledge and befriend them. We would then go and root for them returning that evening to the ambiance of the restaurant. This way, we had equity in their achievements (and failures) and enjoyed their triumphs even more.

A European golf championship was held near Paris we followed Arnold Palmer around an 18 hole course. We also went to the races at Longchamp. Memories...Memories.

Chez Le Giraudoux


This was the bar-restaurant behind the Embassy in Rue Jean Giraudoux.
We would go there for lunch and for a drink after work. Lunch would be usually a ham or pate sandwich or a Quiche and then a slice of local cheese.
The bread was always in a baguette (stick) style. If you wanted butter you had to ask for it. We would wash this down with one or two glasses of red. We would then have a small black coffee - often with a liqueur (
Calvados or an Armagnac or a Poivre William).


We retired there after work. We would settle into drinking La Lorraine Beer.

There were four staff: the owner and his wife (Monsieur Le Patron, Madame la Patronne), the head water and Jean Claude the second waiter. Only French was spoken.

The owners had a dog - a fluffy white French poodle.

They kept it in the back. I showed the Cowboy a trick with a piece of paper that made a high pitch sound inaudible to the human ear but the opposite for the likes of dogs and foxes. Dogs in particular would go crazy and start barking profusely.

After a few beers we might become playful and cuff the whistle in our hands as if we were resting our chin on our hands and blow.

Fi Fi would bark.

Le Patron would say "Merde" and chastise the dog – often with a swift kick because he did not want it to upset the customers.

Once Le patron got back to his chores, we would do it again.

Again there would be a profanity and again the dog would be targetted

... Funny at the time.

Normally the owners would leave in the early evening and there would only be the Cowboy, Marcel Borget and the two waiters.

We would play a dice (4:2:1) game with the two waiters wherein the loser paid for the beers.

All the time there was banter and harmless leg pulling.

It was here that I learn much of the French idiom and slang.

The head waiter was a funny man. Moustached, slightly plump and in his late forties much akin to that character in the British comedy "Allo Allo".


He refused to personally serve soft drinks such Coca Cola.

If someone asked for a coke. He would sneer at him and delegate the task to his subordinate waiter.

"Jean Claude, donnez lui un <give him a> Beaujolais de Texas" .


The Coq of the North

Barry O'. joined the Australia Based staff and liked a drink or four.

He had played in the same AFL team as Cowboy who knew his nickname - the Coq of the North and the reason why.

We had moved into the new chancery and were awaiting the supply of a consignment of furniture and fittings that was being manufactured and transported by semi trailer from England to Paris. Three or four navies accompanied the consignment to unload and assemble everything.

An overnight stay was involved and these Poms planned to make the most of it.

After work, we took them around to Le Giraudoux. Around about 9pm there were only us and the Poms propping up the bar.

The usual banter between the Poms verse the Aussies started.

"You Poms can’t play cricket";

You Aussies this; you Poms that until the statement "Us Poms have bigger cocks".

The Cowboy stopped in his tracks. He knew he could back the Coq of the North and started putting money on the table betting and raising with winner take all stakes.

He made the stallion go last.

It was quite funny as each contestant slammed his penis on a table an awaited judgment. The waiters were gob smacked - but we were crying with laughter.

The long and short of it (excuse the pun) was that the Coq of the North won hands down.

...

The Cowboy lived in Avenue Kleber - just the next boulevard from Ave D'Iena (see map). One evening I was walking a girl friend (Moira ? ) home via Avenue Kleber whereupon we came across a ground floor establishment that had no outward sign that it was a heated swimming pool.

It was more than that. One particular evening was reserved for nude bathing - which we read on the sign as we strolled past. The doorman urged us to come in and participate. It was membership only but first time entry exempt. I could not persuade Moira.

Sometime later at le Giraudoux, I mentioned this to the Cowboy and pointed out that this night was the particular night of the week for nude bathing.

He did not believe me as he had lived in that same street for some two years now and thought that he knew the neighbourhood.

(This was so typical of this densely urbanised and metropolitan city)

The four of us , the cowboy and the Coq of the North, Marcel Borget and myself downed our beers and headed off to this place.

Sure enough it was there and sure enough it was nude bathing session - one hundred metres from the Etoile.

Marcel and I did not participate. Perhaps we were not as pissed as the cowboy and the Coq of the North.

They were being silly bouncing up and down on the spring board with their members swinging in all directions.

We were all laughing and cackling so much that we were eventually thrown out.

Never mind back to the Cowboy's place next door to continue drinking.

Visitors


Dad

I drove to the Port of Cherbourg to meet Dad. He had arrived on an ocean liner that voyaged from America.

I boarded and it took a few hours to disembark as he wanted me to meet all his new found friends.

He was immediately impressed with the countryside and my car - a Fiat 124 Sports. The trip back to Paris took us through the hedge groves of Normandy.

As well as being picturesque it was historical. It was the location of the 1944 Normandy Invasion and subsequent fierce fighting for the allies to secure a foothold in the first weeks of the campaign to liberate France.

It was also the era wherein I was soon to be born.

...

Chartres

Last Drinks

Dad was only in town for a week or so.

I took him to all the bars and introduced him to my rugby mates and their girlfriends. He had a wonderful time.

He had not had his first heart attack. He looked robust.

The last night we sat up and polished off a bottle of whiskey.

The more we drank the more he opened up about his life and his personal feelings.

Dad wrote to me often.

His last letter arrived a few days after he died. Attachment (under construction).


Dad wrote to me often. His last letter arrived a few days after he died. See attachments.

Dean Yates; Peter Patterson; Parliamentarians

Pigale (Under Construction)

Crazy Horse Saloon (Under Construction)

Hotel St George (Under Construction)

Munich Conference (Under Construction)

Travels/Holidays

  • London (Under Construction)

  • Portugal (Under Construction)

  • Spain (Under Construction)

  • Brussels (Under Construction)

  • Skiing at Verbier (Under Construction)

Going Home

I left Paris in the winter of 1972. I remember a scene much like the ending of Casablanca. It was foggy - early in the morning. I had been up all night. It was cold. I wore a trench coat. An embassy car (Citroyen) with driver picked Moira and I up at a predetermined location (I cannot remember where) we drove to a Metro station. We got out and said farewell and I proceeded on to the airport ... and that was it!

New York

The flight to New York was on Pan American - Non eventful.

I was met at the airport by Louise Osborne, a former Locally Engaged American girl who was my guide for the week.

She really went out of her way to show me the sites.

She was working Down Town in an Up-Market Sperm Bank enterprise.

I would meet her there and we would first dine see the sights from 6 to about 11pm when upon I would see her off at the Ferry to New Jersey where she lived.

I would then take the Subway to Peter Patterson's apartment where I was staying.

One night, by mistake, I exited a Subway station to find myself in the Bronx - dark, silent and foreboding.

Trains at that time of night were intermittent. So I decided that because the grid map of the city indicated parallel and vertical streets, I would run back to the station that I should have transferred.

Little did I know it was a 5 km hike!

Fear of the seedy side of the city empowered me.

If anyone wanted to confront me I organised in my mind to drop the shoulder; hit and continue running.

Surprisingly I realised it was a safe city.

Ohio

My brother John Malone met me at the airport.

He took me home to introduce me to his wife Jeanne - whom I had heard so much, particularly as regards their whirlwind romance and elopement.

John put on a function at his home for me to meet their friends. Vietnam was still fresh in my mind. But it seemed that it was a subject best not talked about.

Las Vagas

Slot Machines in the toilets.

The most memorable gimmick was a machine that accepted one dollar notes - amazing!

I stayed in a motel in downtown Las Vagas. Today it would probably be the site of a multi story mega hotel.

San Francisco

I caught up with John Brillant - a St Pats boy.