In the sixties when on HMS London we did missle firing at very large toy aircraft launched from the French Navy Base on Isle du Levant.
I was sent to the island with a couple of others as representatives of the Royal Navy and my Queen and country. Big mistake.
First of all these toy aircraft that have a ridiculously long name which I cannot remember are not meant to be hit by the missiles as they are very expensive.
Needless to say, they were French and we were English and we shot down all their aircraft in one go and so the exercise didn't last for very long at all but gave me time to have a two or three day holiday on this beautiful island.
Not necessarily in the order that it happened as memory is crap but what did happen at some point I list below.
1... We played the French at football in the dining hall with a mop head. I would like to say we won but I honestly cannot remember due to they serve wine at lunch time and I may have drunk to much.
2...Not photography was allowed and on the way too the base main gate I was arrested for taking a pic of a beautiful butterfly on a leaf. Back to the main buildings and a long wait for an English Officer to sort out the mess. He then gave me a lift to the village outside the main gate together with, as I remember, some mention on letting the side down and what didn't I understand about no photography allowed.
3... The village. Outside the shop was a rack of revolving postcards, many I noticed with naked people on. It was then I thought I had died and gone to heaven. A young woman came out to serve me naked except for a g string or something anyway. As I was paying I then noticed many half naked people walking about. I took a couple of pix with some Danish people and made friends with an American girl who apparently had a rich Dad who took a shine to me and we went to the beach which was in fact a pile of rocks. While sunbathing I noticed that no one was looking at all at the totally naked women except me until...... roll of drums..... an ordinary but roughly twenty year old emerged from the sea. She had a tummy chain on (probably wrong description) and it seemed because of this all the men looked at her. They had certainly not taken any notice of even more attractive women in the sea so it must have been the chain thing.
4... A lovely day and Yank lady invited me to a big party that was on in a huge private villa and it is from this point I have to say I let the side down. I know. You find it hard to believe that I would do this. Even I was surprised at the carnage I was later to cause.
5... I think it was because I drunk a little to much and decided to take all my clothes off and dance around the villa. I was the only true naturist it appeared to be at the party and Yank lady disappeared I think with embarrassment. What happens next is partially due to flashes of memory and partly due to the charge sheet later on when I got back to the ship.
6...The French Navy base takes up most of this beautiful island which you can get to on a ferry from Cassius for example although going out we went on a French torpedo boats like our Brave class. I will cover going back now. I had no money at all and the money the Navy gave me for such expenses had been drunk. I sat by the ferry wondering how I could get back when Yank Lady came up to find out how I got on. I told her the story in para 7. She kindly gave me the ferry money but didn't think it was really worth while swapping addresses and with the headache I had I couldn't be bothered to be upset.
7... There are two road that go over most of the island. Both start from just inside the Navy base gate but the distance to the buildings is the entire length of the island. A long way when you can hardly stand up anyway. At the fork a short way along I found out after walking I thought for miles I came to a lighthouse and dead end. I had taken the wrong fork. It was pitch black and the lighthouse was not working and I was very cold having no clothes on. Not even footwear. Then I saw what was a huge canvas lump an on investigation I swear to God it was a snow plough or at least looked like it to me. I got the cover off and got it started simply by pressing a button and then was puzzled as there was no steering wheel. Just a big leaver each side of the seat. I sussed out in the end what was probably required and then set off with a thunderous roar back down the road I had just walked up.
All I can say as that journey is a complete blank is that I woke up in my room being shaken by the same and only Officer that came with us demanding to know what the hell this huge bulldozer was doing outside my door and did I realise that I had churned up all their lawns and flower beds as I apparently had taken "the as the crow flies" approach to navigating.
I was in disgrace and as you can imagine was really whacked by the Jimmy on defaulters and of course, I had let the side down and badly.
But the point of this story which I can in part prove as I still have the pics of outside the base - the roll with the butterfly on was removed and destroyed and will post them if anyone wants to see them when I get back from M keynes later on today. And the point is..
8... The point. When I got back on board I kid you not but those two or three day I had enjoyed (not all of it as a skunk) left me feeling as though I had just enjoyed a long two week holiday. I felt relaxed and some how clean.
And so it was to recapture this experience I joined on my return to UK, Five Acres in Bricket wood where I met the best friends I ever had and when I was suffering hard times they gave me a house to live in and a car to drive. Sadly years later they divorced and moved to different parts of the country and we lost touch.
I was up at the club most weekends with my girlfriend at the time and had mega picknicks and mega parties in the evening. And sometimes during the week I used to pop in to join a coven of reps who were busy filling in fictitious call sheets with the aid of a single copy of Yellow pages passed around for all to use while sunning themselves.
At that time I was talking to my Bio Father who was and artist and was amazed that he was one of the original members of Speilplatz. I knew after the war he was in a commune in Harrow for artists and models (one of which my bio Mum) and they were hippies long before hippies came out but for pop music read jazz.
I left if the end when I was older. It was not a pleasant experience seeing women vomit as I walked pass or even worse pointing at me and laughing at the size of my willy. (Those with exceptional eyesight anyway)