“Oompah! Ooopla!! Dahling, vat a night we had, I made 70 pounds, can you imagine?” She prattled on about what a good night we’d had at the Main Squeeze (we pooled tips and those were always great nights, though hard work). Obviously, since I’d pocketed 40 quid Nora had made some 30 pounds worth of “extra tips” on the side, somehow -- even though she was the “kitchen monkey,” she’d find a way to break out and get onto the floor and earn an extra few bob. Enterprising, for sure. But was she lying? Never could be sure. . .
Oddly to me, the next day after Nora’d brought a night visitor with her -- really, a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am was more like it -- she awoke without a recollection. The young American actor left after “the deed,” and I only hope he found his way back to wherever he’d been staying. I never understood how people could get SO out of it they blacked out the next day. . . so, that was a scary thing about Nora, to me.
A lovable trait of hers, though: she loved music, and when she found out I was a musician, she demanded that I play and sing for her. Of course my guitar and I came along to the little flatshare with Nora. . . and I gladly would play for her. I’d play country (“Labelled With Love,” “He Thinks I Still Care,” “Out of Hand,” “I Still Miss Someone”), I’d play rock (“I Knew the Bride,” “Almost Saturday Night,” “Sedated”), I’d play my own new songs (“Reminders,” “Blackheath S.E. 3,” “Sad Saturday Girl”). Nora seemed to love them all, equally, bestowing fulsome praise.
She made sure I knew that Yugoslavs -- and she was proudly one -- knew how to live, and how to party. I don’t think I’d ever met anybody who could be so wild, yet so functional when necessary. My admiration, while not unbounded, definitely grew for her -- as did my fondness. A small still voice in my head got louder and louder, though, and it screamed, “LEAVE!” I’d be mulling over how in the back of my head, with my spare brain cells. . .
Every week or so, she’d invite the Greek over -- her friend/dealer, a tall, handsome, swarthy young man, with med. long thick black wavy hair, and trimmed black beard. He had good teeth and a big smile. Come to think of it, Nora, the Greek, and many others I’d met were extremely hippie-ish in attitude and world view. They were always kind to me and inclusive; they were kind of new-agey; they loved to get stoned almost non-stop.
In fact, Nora’s friend, The Greek, had heard from some other friends/customers of his, Jackie & Toni, that a basement flat was coming available on Earl’s Court Road. I arranged to meet them and soon, Jackie, Toni and I were fast friends. After spending a nervewracking month and a half with Nutty Nora nearly nonstop, I moved into my own bedsitter, finally. After five months of living in England, I had friends, a job, and my own flat. Not the Top of the Pops, exactly, but I didn’t want that as it turns out.
It was now 1982. Nora had just introduced me to one of my all time favorite people, one I miss from time to time, especially when England comes to mind: Patrick Marvin, Nora’s dear, amusing, savvy, and very classy, friend.