Meeting Alison Leslie Gold: Au pair boy

I started work the next day. Six days a week with Thor. One day off, mixing with lost-soul expats like Bowery Bill who’d been washed up on the island years ago and had never left. 

Bill was in his late fifties, a gravel-voiced and cantankerous drunk. The young inheritor of a modest trust fund, he’d lived in Paris in the forties. I’d buy him drinks and he’d tell me stories about the Lost Generation of Pound, Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Stein. I revered their work and had worshipped them all from afar. Once a week this old man shared his memories that brought me within touching distance of their lives.

A hero, Lawrence Durrell

I was in heaven, living on bohemia’s sidelines. Lawrence Durrell visited the island and I got his autograph. Leonard Cohen had a small villa behind the port. I never talked to him but I sat near him in cafes and tavernas and that was enough.

Leonard Cohen

Alison was a writer, but alcohol was proving too much of a distraction for her to get beyond page one.

I didn’t know who or what I was. And alcohol wasn’t making the picture any clearer.

All I knew was that I felt safe living in the island’s embrace, under Alison’s roof and looking after Thor.

More tomorrow.