…but sometimes it’s better to let some space settle in between thoughts! Like a couple of years of space!
No matter, no one reads this blog, anyway!
What I’ve been thinking about lately is how the world has changed since I was young and cute. I lived an amazing, adventurous life, traveling throughout the Caribbean, eastern Mexico, all over Europe and parts of the Middle East. I lived in southern France, central Italy and Slovenija for years at a time. I sang for my supper, harvested olives and chestnuts, milked sheep, delivered sailboats, traveled as an assistant to the Liaison for Western Affairs for a friendly Middle Eastern country, wrote for an Eastern bloc newspaper…mostly things I either couldn’t or wouldn’t do today.
Because the world is a much more dangerous place today. I simply couldn’t travel with the kind of freedom I had 45 years ago. I wouldn’t go near the Middle East, for example. I couldn’t be the kind of “illegal alien” I was able to be either, in Monaco, Italy or Croatia. When I lived in Monaco, it was a little principality of 30,000 people. I could be categorized as a “domestic,” so that I could rent a tiny bedsitter, and have the liberty to sing in a fancy private club, all because the owner knew the right people, having started out as an aristocratic refugee himself. I knew everyone. It was a little town with a lot of big names. I played backgammon with F1 drivers and rock stars. I got into snooty Regine’s because I arrived in a Silver Cloud Rolls with a Swedish tennis star and his soon to be second wife. Eating breakfast at 4 am in the all night “diner” with a Russian prince, an American arms dealer, and the chief of police probably wouldn’t happen at all these days.
So you see what I mean. It’s just different. I sincerely doubt that the current F1 drivers who live in Monaco (for tax purposes – there is none), go anywhere without an entourage. Regine’s and Regine herself are long gone. Absolutely anyone can be a “VIP” if they have enough money, now. The VIP section of a club is just a gauge of who’s willing to spend $10K for nothing so that they can look important.
When I worked for the diplomat, I met a slew of people who really were important, but didn’t want anyone to know. I once helped set up a meeting in Geneva in which everyone involved had assumed names. There was a great deal of protocol involved in getting the various people into the meeting room at the right time. I didn’t know who any of them were, or what was being discussed. Even my boss was only an intermediary. Several years later, on the BBC in London, I recognized several of the players and realized that we had set up a secret meeting involving the independence of an African nation. Can you imagine pulling that off today? With our 24/7 news cycle and the incessant pursuit of “insider info,” I doubt any of the players could have even shown up at the same time in a 4 star hotel without someone putting it all together, phoney names or not.
But even just traveling the planet as a single woman alone is much more troublesome now. I never worried in Europe. I was a tough American girl. I had been a tomboy all my life, and a surfer and a sailor. I was physically strong and I was savvy. But none of that would count now. Europe then wasn’t filled with angry young men. The London I knew was multicultural, but it was largely populated with the remnants of British colonialism, Indians, Jamaicans, some North Africans, rich Arabs – not unassimilated Islamic refugees. And, while there was some danger from the random acts of violence by the IRA, there were only about 100 active IRA terrorists, and they were not at all inclined to kill THEMSELVES. This new crew has no respect for human lives, including their own, and that’s a dangerous thing.
Look at what happened in the Greek Isles this week: a group of Serbian thugs beat a young black American man to death outside a bar, because they didn’t like something he said. Even in the old days, I would have avoided what is now Serbia, Montenagro and Albania — the wild west of the Balkans — but I wouldn’t expect Serbian thugs in a little island in the Cyclades.
It’s just not the same world that I had so much fun in forty-plus years ago. My stepdaughter is a pretty young woman who knows some of my adventures and she said recently, “I wish we could have been buddies when you were young and wild.” I laughed, of course, and told her I didn’t think I could be “young and wild” like that in today’s world. But yes, we would have had some fun.