Though Are the Wonders of This Brief Life 35 Book Six The Gloaming of a Golden Era and Other Literary Leftovers in the Form of a Finale

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Though Are the Wonders of This Brief Life Book Six

Submitted: December 21, 2014

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Submitted: December 21, 2014



One Hans Robert's Upper Lip


Hans Robert's upper lip curled under the effects of supercilious pride as the sun rained down onto the parade ground. His gloved hands worked a crisp, competent beat onto the red side-drum.

He was the picture of military splendour.

The peak of his officer's cap reflected the sun's stray rays with polished efficiency, and the reds, blacks and radiant whites of his appearance cast an aesthetic picture.

The march past was aristocratic, pompous.


The drum major was tall and adequately smart, but Mike Stone could quite plausibly have attracted much feminine attention due to his nice-boy personality, youthful to the point of being callow:

“Robert,” he screamed, “come here!”

Hans sauntered over to his caller with a haughty half-smile on his face.

Hans Robert's upper lip curled under the effects of supercilious pride

as the sun rained down onto the parade ground.


Two Sweetness, Cruelty and Pride


Sweetness and pain, sunshine and rain,

What’s the good of falling in love?

A heady brew, and it sends you insane,

What’s the good of falling in love?

One minute you’re up, the next you’re down,

What’s the good of falling in love?

Emotions tuned as a Stradivarius violin,

What’s the good of falling in love?

Cruelty and pride, love’s a stormy old ride,

What’s the good of falling in love?

Me, I’m getting out,

Come back, can’t you hear your heart?

What’s the good of falling in love?


Three Of all Human Qualities


One of the noblest

Of all human qualities

Is that of gratitude,


And should any of us

In the West stop for a second

(A single second should be sufficient)


To consider just how blessed

We are in comparison

To so very many of the peoples


Of this tragic, broken planet

Who want for our luxuries

And our manifold freedoms,


Then perhaps, just perhaps,

We might feel a little

Thankfulness stir within our hearts.


Four My Life Story

my life story

is littered

with the ghosts

of golden

opportunities gone


Five The Gloaming of a Golden Era


As in the cases of all my autobiographical writings, names of people have been changed, or modified, to the best of my ability in the name of privacy, while dialogue is approximate.

The Gloaming of a Golden Era

In the summer of 1979, Mark was, at the wonderful age of 23, a golden-headed extrovert. He was also almost textbook pretty in the manner of the modern Pop or movie idol, with long-lashed eyes of the deepest blue and cupid's bow lips so finely wrought that many a woman might muse they were wasted on a man.

It had been in the early '70s that Mark and his brother Jim started to be noticed by the local youth of Santiago de la Ribera, a beautiful former fishing village by the Mar Menor on Murcia's Costa Calida where the family had been vacationing every year since the late 1960s, so that a large ever-evolving group attained a closeness of quite extraordinary intensity that lasted for several summers running until it was fatally compromised by Mark's absence.

This occurred in consequence of his having been persuaded by his family to work as a sailing teacher in Palamos on the Costa Brava; and while he lost his job after only a few weeks, he'd already established strong emotional ties with the town, and so stayed on until the end of the summer.

A similar thing occurred the following year when he was despatched to the Andalusian town of Fuengirola with the purpose of setting up a sailing school. And while this plan fell through, he somehow fell into the position of lead singer for a four-piece band playing nightly at a local night club.

He stayed loyal to the band even once the original guitarist had been replaced by a gifted young Frenchman, but due to loss of strong leadership, things were never the same after his departure. And when it finally became clear to him the band had run out of steam, he made the trek to La Ribera to find her magical ambience yet intact, and his presence much anticipated.

But he himself had changed, not least in his style of dressing, which was coarser than in previous years, having been influenced by the London Punk movement, and he was prone to prima donna outbursts exacerbated by months of hard living, which may have alienated more than he realised at the time.

One thing is certain is that by the time he arrived in La Ribera a year after that, his network of friends had entirely dispersed but for a handful of die-hards, while the town itself seemed somehow different in his eyes. In fact, for want of a better word, it had become Westernised, so that every bar was chockfull of Pop music played at ear-splitting volume, while its youthful patrons seemed to Mark to be infinitely more sophisticated than they'd been only a handful of years theretofore.

The upshot was that La Ribera was no longer a place he could stroll through as if it were his personal principality knowing full well that sooner or later someone would be hailing him from a nearby window, street corner or roaring mobylette, situation which he viewed with a terrible sadness born of guilt.

For he was used to being the centre of attention, a state he achieved with ease either through his looks, or a flamboyant, furiously social personality which could at times verge on the obnoxious, and which had ensured him a lifetime of clashes with authority. And he'd already prematurely quit an astonishingly lengthy series of institutions for someone of such tender years. Indeed, there was something almost feverish, one might say pathological, about his incessant need for attention, which typically extended to his attire which at times betokened out and out exhibitionism. Yet, stronger personalities had the power to intimidate him with ease, and he was painfully aware of his lack of substance.

But then, perhaps he wasn't so shallow after all. For there was an ineffable tenderness to him that was enormously appealing to women, while alienating more conventionally masculine males, the majority of his friends being arty mavericks such as himself. And he could be quite extraordinarily sentimental…a true romantic in the classic sense of the word.

Yet any profundity on Mark's part had yet to manifest itself to any degree, although it could be said it was divined by the hyper-receptive.

Within a few days of Mark's arrival in La Ribera, a large party arrived at the Alaska discotheque on the edge of town. This included Mark and Jim and best Spanish friend Fred, an ethnic Frenchman raised in Spain, similar to Mark in so far as he was blond and strikingly good-looking, and therefore enormously popular with the fair sex. Yet while he was also extrovert, he was more socialised than Mark, who had a lifelong history of unaccountable perverseness and provocation of authority. But Fred was deeply and genuinely fond of the Europhile Englishman, and vice versa.

Mark hit the dance floor to be surrounded by fellow dancers as he always was. For it was as if there was an aura of the constant possibility of impending excitement about him, and one that would ultimately yield him the fame he so clearly desired as many saw it; and they clearly wanted to bask in it, in the hope perhaps that some of it would rub off on them.

Yet it wouldn't be too long before he found the burden of his mysterious magnetic enchantment too heavy to bear, as if it were in danger of crushing him; in fact, perhaps this was already the case. At the same time, he wouldn't have traded it for the world, and he clung to it greedily, gloating as his party swelled, to be supplanted by Fred and his brother Armand, and other old friends of his from the golden days of La Ribera.

Such as Toto, a perpetually smiling Madrileno who'd been close to Mark and Jim for at least five years; and gentle Isabel, also from Madrid, and so placid that in company she barely uttered a word, preferring to look on with her enormous dark brown eyes, while occasionally flashing a shyly mysterious smile.

Soon after the party had returned to La Ribera, Mark suggested that rather than bring the night to a close, a small group of them hold an impromptu gathering on one of the wooden bathing facilities projecting out into the Mar Menor known as balnearios.

When they agreed, Mark went briefly back to his apartment to retrieve a cassette tape recorder complete with pre-recorded cassettes, and his old acoustic guitar after which he, Fred, Toto and Isabel set out for the balneario.

And passing amorous couples and several clustered groups of rowdy revellers, they soon settled under Costa Calida skies with the music of Frank Sinatra singing songs of Tom Jobim, which Mark's parents purchased on cassette specially for what may have been their first ever holiday to La Ribera in the summer of 1969.

“Joue la guitare, Bowie,” said Fred, deploying such a nickname by virtue of Mark's apparent favouring of David Bowie. Although he also resembled Sting of the internationally successful New Wave band the Police, and there was one instance of a kid repeatedly calling to him in the back streets of La Ribera, “Oye, Sting, Sting, Sting, Sting, Sting, Sting, Sting”, although entirely without menace. For in those days, the youth of Spain were remarkable for their sweetness of disposition and almost total lack of aggression.

“Qu'est-ce que tu veux que je joue?” Mark replied.

“I don't know,” said Fred, “something romantic perhaps?”

Toto passed him his guitar, and he set about entertaining his small audience with rudimentary guitar skills which in those days extended to a host of rockers, and one or two simple love ballads such as Francis Lai's theme to A Man and a Woman. But people seemed to like it when he played, because he had a fine singing voice a little reminiscent of Frank Sinatra's.

In time, the party elected to return to their respective apartments, so Mark collected his paraphernalia before joining his friends in the short walk back to The beach. But no sooner had he done so than he fell into a large crack in the balneario, which caused his guitar to come crashing down with a loud discordant twang, and his tape recorder to follow suit, with several cassettes littering about his prostrate person.

Luckily he was unhurt, but his new imitation leather jeans were badly torn, and Sinatra sounded as he'd had one too many straight bourbons when played back on Mark's freshly injured cassette player, although the cassette itself was perfect; and would remain so thereafter, a testament to fine workmanship.

Mark's friends helped him out of the gaping fissure that had caused his humiliating plight while Mark himself burst into incredulous laughter at his ill fortune, which caused their concerned expressions to dissolve into smiles of relief. And before long, they were bidding each other goodbye for the night before setting off for their respective sanctuaries.

Much of the remainder of his vacation was spent in a chaos of activity with his family and friends, and once it was over, he returned to London to seek work as an actor, finding a degree of success as such until a fallow period two years later saw him return to La Ribera. And this despite the fact that there was little for him there that remained, but it was as if he was trying to make up for having forsaken his beloved town at the height of her golden age.

But after one further visit two years after that, and then a final one at the end of the '80s, the La Ribera era was definitively put to sleep. And by this time, its participants had already long settled into adult life, in terms of professions, families, children and so on. But Mark never did.

Instead, he continued to extenuate his gilded youth until it came crashing down around him…came crashing down around him…as his guitar had done on the balneario all those summers ago.

Six I Was Sad Today Because...

I was sad today; because you begged me to think of your good points, and I never told you any. Rest assured there are many, very many, and I was thinking about them today as I was on my bike. I would have liked to have told you them there and then. I tell you so much about my past; and quite a lot of it is conflictive; which makes it confusing even to me. It is all so contradictory, as if several Carls were struggling for supremacy. My behaviour could be pretty wild, but much of the time, there was a pretty normal Carl; oh don't get me wrong I was always an eccentric attention-seeker and born entertainer; but I really do genuinely struggle to make sense of me in the past. I really do genuinely struggle to make sense of me in the past.

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