Of Gerards and Geralds

I know I’m jumping around a bit with my trove of old diaries, but my 17 year old self having a holiday pash made me chuckle. Not least because I shift from ‘Got up.. dressed..went to bed‘ type accounts to an exercise book filled with ethnographic reflections that Margaret Mead would be proud of. Description, narrative, sketches, music, food and interpretation. Of a two week coach/camping trip to Biot.

It was a cheapy cheapy cheap cheap holiday with three school mates; Mandy, Louise and Tamsin. A two day drive from Gloucester Road bus station, central London, via a night in a campsite ‘near’ Paris, to a craphole campsite in the South of France.

We fell into a happy routine in our fully equipped tent [brown plates, cups, a gas stove which collapsed, a table, 4 plastic ribbed chairs, metal beds with blue plastic mattresses], daily walks to the beach [quite a long walk, over a bridge over the motorway then turning right down a fairly narrow winding road, passed the Camp de Pylon (the other Nat campsite). We then had to cross one main road, go past JR’s through a tunnel, then across another main road to the beach], nosh (tinned ravioli, yoghurt, cacolac) and the campsite bar/disco.

The range of characters included the punks; really nice. 2 couples. Alison and Roger (peroxide blonde) and Sharon/boyfriend. Alison was ill most of the time with diarrhoea and sunstroke. The two couples didn’t get on very well. They lost £200 in Antibes and got left behind at the end of the holiday.

But what about the pash??? Gerard. From Clitheroe. Touring Europe on a motorbike with Vernon [very kind, paranoid about his age, lived with his mum, fell for Mandy big time] and Paul [27, drunk all the time, looked like Starsky and disappeared on Saturday morning and didn’t come back]?

Well. Turns out he was Gerald and not Gerard. And piecing together the story, with the detail provided and hindsight, he played with my 17 year old feelings with cups of Oxo, the odd slow dance to ‘Still Crazy after all these Years’ and general shite treatment [Gerald walked passed me without speaking and spent the evening with the posh girls/Gerald asked me to stir his oxtail soup].

Sigh. Maybe, just maybe, this tale of sun, sea, Oxo, love and leg warmers suggests very early signs of a sociological imagination.

Thanks to Kate Bielby for pointing out that all Gerards turn out to be Geralds in the end.


French Week for old Laughing Boy this week. He made, and apparently proudly showed off to the rest of the school today, a mosaic of Gerard Depardieu. “Whoa, that’s random…” I thought to myself, when I first heard about it on Tuesday. “Gerard Depardieu????” (Or as LB’s pronunciation is pretty poor at the moment; “Jaaar-depidoo”).

“Why Gerard Depardieu?” I asked this evening, puzzled.
“Dunno Mum.”
“What other famous people could you have done?”
“Louis XI, Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette…”
“So why Gerard Depardieu? Have you seen him on a film?”
“Yes, Mum.”
“What film was that?”
“102 Dalmations, Mum.”

And there it was. The answer. It ain’t random at all. LB loved the Dalmation films as a pup. He watched them over and over again. I can remember distracting him from a potentially massive meltdown one French holiday, by pointing out that Cruella was probably in the local prison and might hear him.  Laughter defeated the distress on that occasion. The DeVil years. How could I forget?

But he didn’t. So remarkable really. The certainty and infallibility of his memory.

Fanbloodytastique, as they say in France.