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Around The Sun: Falling In Love

Steve Harrison falls in love for the first time - and hitches his way to Portugal to be with the girl of his dreams.


I was thrown on the cobblestones, tossed at her feet, my fool's mouth was filled with the dust of the street. An out of work court jester with nowhere to go and no need to speak for she seemed to know. This mad mocking town and itís dishonoured guest disappeared in the colours that danced in her dress. She led me to safety in a forest of green and showed my stale eyes some sights never seen. She knows more of love than a poet can say, and her eyes offer something that wonít go away. She spins magic and moonlight in her meadows and streams and sinks deep inside me and touches my dreams. The morning comes smiling and I laugh with no sound and snuggle in silence and the sweet peace Iíve found Ė Harry Chapin.

Itís only in my day dreams that I think of her now. What beauty, what splendour!

I was a young photographer, carrying out an assignment for a band called the Grumbleweeds. They were doing a summer season at the South Pier in Blackpool, a town of candy floss and kiss me quick hats. Robin Colville, the band's drummer and general front man, had asked me to hang around back stage and take some pictures.

Iíd met the Grumbleweeds at Batley Variety Club. They were very popular and played the club at regular intervals. I got on well with them, especially Robin the lead guy.

There I was with my camera when I saw a long-legged beauty. She had a beautiful face and a gorgeous figure. She had poise and majesty. Which ever way I turned, there she was in full-frame. I couldnít get her out of my lens. No Grumbleweeds, no Robin Colville. Just this mysterious, nameless beauty.

I blinked, put in another roll of film - and there she was again.

The South Pier was an eclectic venue, the place where all the greats did a summer season. Lonny Donegan, Val Doonigan, Ken Dodd, Morecambe and Wise... Six weeks of boom-taa-daa, and kiss me quick.

I was enamoured. I was not thinking of the stars. I looked through my view-finder and saw only her. The girl with long legs.

Then there was sudden darkness. A fuse had blown. A small female cry...

I heard the cries of seagulls, but saw only blackness. Then I became aware that there was someone beside me. I heard breathing...

"Hello,'' said a voice. "Iím Linda Lennox.''

The lights came back on, and I saw her. The girl with long legs.

I am not a stammerer. Never have been. But I stammered when I told her my name.

The dancing girls were going back on stage. Linda went with them, back to centre stage. I was bewitched. Unaware of the passage of time...

And the next thing I knew was that Linda Lennox was inviting me to meet her parents. They owned a boarding house in Blackpool. I don't recall her mother's name. Her father seemed to be a brooding man. He held his head in his hands. Later I found out that he was seriously ill.

"Stay the night,'' said Linda, So I staid in their multi-storey boarding house. We watched television. Then it was time for bed. I lay in a bed on the third floor, in wakeful dreaming which featured Linda.

My bedroom door opened. Linda stood before me in a baby-doll nightdress. She was magnificent. Her figure was divine.

We made love.

Only afterwards did I think of her parents.

"They never come up here,'' Linda reassured.

And we made love again.

She was the first to go downstairs to the dining room in he morning. I followed an appropraite time later.

"Slept well,'' I was asked.

"Very well,'' said I.

And that was the beginning of a time like no other. I worked hard at the ad agency during the week. On Friday night I sped off to Blackpool. I slept in my car near a swimming pool. Early on Saturday morning into the baths. Then a phone call to Linda's home.

Yes, her father had gone to work.

A rat-tat-tat on the boarding house door, and there was my angel. And did we enjoy each other!

Sometimes when I rang her father was still at home. Then I would have to drive on a circuit of the neighbourhood until the coast was clear. I have no idea now how long all this went on. Lust and desire warp time.

One day Linda announced that she was going to Portugal. She gave me a telephone number where she could be reached. By the weekend, she was gone. A day without her was too long. Ten days was a millennium. I set out for Portugal. Down the M1 motorway to London, then straight on to the ferry terminal and France. Keep the sun on your left, said my father. So I did.

After three days of hitch-hiking I arrived in Lisbon. I didn't realise it was the apital of Portugal. It just happened to be the largest dot on the map. I didn't notice the sights of the city. Not a palace, not a statue. I found an inexpensive place to stay, and a telephone booth.

"Can I speak to Linda Lennox?''

"Que, na habla engliese...''

I sought help. A lovely old lady wrote out the appropriate words. "Quero faro Linda Lennox por favor.''

After a number of "por favors'' I discovered I was in the wrong town. I was in Lisbon. Linda was in Oporto, 300 miles away, appearing at the Theatrť Sa Da Bandera. The next thing I knew I was in Oporto. Time and distance cannot resist love and lust.

She seemed delighted to see me. We bonked our brains out.

I didn't realise it at the time, but my days were numbered. I stayed in one of the poorer quarters of Oporto. I met some great people. This was 1974. Revolution was in the air. There were stirrings. Linda fled back to the UK.

I woke up next morning to hear tanks and armoured personnel carriers rumbling through the streets. An acquaintance took me to a local truck stop and I was able to secure a ride into Spain. Portugal had its revolution. And I never saw Linda again.

I don't remember any of the conversations I had with my lovely Linda. I just see her in that baby-doll nightdress. And every time I see her in imagination, a string tightens in my heart and I feel pain.


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