Wednesday 28 June 2017


I'm supposed to be asleep right now. Someone mentioning The Green Man in something I read, set off a whole series of memories. I never read  the words "The Green Man" without remembering one particular friend called A. I was in my twenties, and A was a good friend from when I was 18 until I was in my mid thirties, when we lost touch, due to me living interstate, and being in the chaotic existence of bringing up an ADHD child. 

The Green Man was a café that a group of us often went to in the eighties, at night, I think. It was  small, with acoustic live music, and poetry readings. Here is a video I found of it, it contains virtuoso guitar music, and goes for 9.50 mins. The music is how I remember it. Unfortunately there's no sense of the comforting envelopment of the old building, the quiet unravelling of interior lives in conversations, the history in the old floorboards, the mural of The Green Man, a mythical figure from antiquity. I was very sad when I heard it had closed, A was too.

 I remember A in association with the cafe, because of his habit of ordering a cup of hot water to drink. I don't remember why he did that, when the rest of us were having tea, coffee, coke etc. He must have told me the reason at one time,because I was just as analytical then as I am now, and I would have got it out of him, as we were close. We would write each other letters, yes, in those days with a pen! Mine of course were very long. He made me mixed tapes. (Music).  We could talk about anything. In those days I always had one  boyfriend or another, but also some platonic male friends, all of whom drove me places. A. would drive his family's huge old Chevy. There was enough room in the cavernous back seat to do the deed, but we never did. He did once take me to a lookout with a twinkling view of the city and try kissing me, but I saw him as a precious friend , not that way.

I remember his family had a beautiful big magnolia tree in their front yard, and I once made an embroidery of it on white satin, which I turned into a case for lingerie and gave away as a birthday gift. I think it's the only gift in my life that I somewhat regret giving away. 

We went gallivanting to many places with  our friendship group, and I remember A being a fantastic dancer, the kind that a lady knows will lead her in the complicated steps correctly and make her dizzy with the fun of it. There were many 18th, 21sts, engagements and weddings during those years. I showed up to one party as 99 from Get Smart, in my mother's "Chanel " type suit. My boyfriend naturally went as Maxwell. He had his shoe phone. But we were upstaged, as A appeared as 99 too! This is a man who sported a beard...Wearing a tight skirt suit and bob cut wig did not slow him down as he was chased all over the garden by some young children. 

There were many nights out, too, for pizza meals around long tables, nightclubs, pub bands, trips away. One "pizza night" stood out for me, as I was wearing a fashionable dress that was above the knee, 1960 s mod cut, black spliced with dark green, and had a zip at the front from neck to hem. I remember a couple of the boys saying to pull the zip down further, A was among them, and my fiancé saying no, keep it done up! A was like that too, when my fiancé would tell me to push my skirt over my knees when seated, A said to push it up if I wanted to. I guess he didn't like how my self was being subsumed into coupledom. I guess I didn't either, briefly, as I remember writing a poem about it. 

A is Italian/Australian , so his wedding to his beautiful wife was enormous. The last time I saw the two of them together was at my son's christening, sitting in a marquee my hubby and father in law had put up in our backyard. They danced so well together at functions, I had told him, years before, you too will meet the perfect person for you. I wonder now if they are still together, I hope so. I heard they had kids.

  He introduced me to my first husband at one of his parties, and years later closed the circle by being there at his funeral, travelling interstate, a true friend. Indeed, he rallied some of hubby's friends to make the journey too. That was the last time I saw him. When I read  the words "the green man" or hear Dire Straits, or at some other times, I miss him. I miss others too from those days, but they deserve their own stories. 

It would not matter what song of Dire Straits I chose, as they all remind me of putting on those mixed tapes in my radio cassette player in my green and aqua front bedroom of my parent's house. Here's one, therefore, for my long distance friends around the world.


Profound Familiarity said...

It's nice that you were reminiscing about these times. The past can be reassuring.

Running on empty said...

Yes, and no. The past then was ok, but some other times were not, some are so distressing. Going through a box of memorabilia can bring back happiness or great pain for me. It's a long time before I can tackle another box. The same with photos.

The friend in my post doesn't bring back that kind of sadness, more missing a lost youth and the freedom that went with it. I wouldn't say I was a radically different person then, but responsibilities mean that I can't go out and enjoy myself and leave my family behind like when I was pre kids.

I tell young people to go to movies etc, enjoy their youth.

KEthical Politics said...

What a beautiful friend and a beautiful memory that isn't really appreciated at the time but so much more when looked at in retrospect. Looking back it is much easier to see how it is woven into the thread of our life and made us who we are today. It makes one wonder what life would have been, could have been, if we had made different decisions. A sounded like a very liberated young man. I can see where he is someone you cherished and an important contribution to your life.
Listening to the music, I would enjoy going to the pub today....thank you for sharing your story...

Running on empty said...

I was very fortunate to have male friends of his calibre back then who gave me the safety to grow as an individual. My parents didn't worry about me going off at night in their cars, as they treated me with respect. I certainly look back on those years, at least socially and career wise, as golden.
I don't think it's the same for many girls today.

KEthical Politics said...

I do think it is somewhat different today as kids lose their innocence so early with all the movies and media. I think you were also exceptional by maintaining the value of a friend's ship. I had "boy" friends also, but I have a feeling they were more interested than I was and I suspect it was the same withA. He probably kept hoping you would come round and you didn't. I actually met my husband through a guy I used to go out with as a friend. He was a really nice guy who had respect for girls but was a lot of fun. There are few out there. I would encourage any girl to know a boy as a friend before considering him a boyfriend. Unfortunately life throws us curves...I do know a few couples where that has worked out well for them. Once romance enters it seems some spontaneity and individuality least that is my opinion.
You are fortunate to have those "golden years" to reminisce....a good memory is a treasure.

KEthical Politics said...

Lol....a friendship.....will I ever learn to proofread?

Running on empty said...

It's fine, KE. You're comments are well thought out.

Running on empty said...


your, not you're! Bl. autocorrupt!

Running on empty said...

Ok, I read it a bit better. I was young, the world was my oyster. I jumped straight into a couple of my relationships. Met one guy through a friend in a pub. We spent half that evening kissing, in the bar, then started going out, lol. He was a very fun, funny guy. He was a member of the (neo) mods of the late 1980s, that were enemies of the skinheads. Hmm, another post I think.i was in a relationship with someone else at the time, but we were "on a break" . (Saying by Ross from Friends TV show.)

KEthical Politics said...
One of my favorite versions of this song by Roy Clark
yesterday when I was Young

Running on empty said...

Thanks Cathy, very apt! I managed to get that to load through email notifications. If the reader is not a g mail member, try copy/pasting the link above into search bar.