March, we headed off to a resort on the Riviera mummy had been told about by a Spanish oil baron that New Year. The very idea of a Spanish oil baron seems preposterous now but I believe he had inherited the business from generations pre-dating the cessation of formal colonial government in some Sud-American hell hole. Anyway, she had fallen in love with this baron and Jack and I were taken off to this tiny but highly luxurious Calanques villa overlooking an azure inlet already warm with the Spring sunshine.
Well, we were young and spoilt and the local fish was delicious; even at such an age we had precocious tastes. Jack had perfected his reverse summersault into the water before a week was out, his naked back arching gracefully as the wavelets reached-up to pull his head beneath the sparkles. I admonished him for living so dangerously, yet secretly I adored his joie and remain appalled to this day that I inherited daddy's sensibility; especially when I look out of my window and see the roses entwining my gate. Precious and delicate, yet strangling.
The baron was always anticipated and yet he took an age to come, by which time mummy was on first name terms with all the local fishermen and had the villa manager eating from the palm of her hand. He - Albert - always had a soucette ready for me when he visited, propped in his jacket pocket like a monkey peeking over a wall. Lavendre, rose, menthe - each one a taste of pure bliss that I'd suckle on so sweet. I think Albert, quite a young fellow as I think back, would rather have been playing with my brother and me down on the rocks and devouring sweetmeats. I think, furthermore, that mummy encroached on his security somewhat, overbearing as she could be from time to time. Albert, however, knew where his duties lay and was attentive always, and sweet as his soucettes with us children.
The fishermen melted away like sardine before a ten stone tuna when Perón arrived. An engined yacht brought him in close one morning as I was sunning myself and I watched the painter being paddled ashore with this moustachioed señor sat astern clutching his attaché case. If there's one thing I know about men of business it's that they are wedded to their cause. Whether successful or doomed to the debtor's prison, the man of business will see it through. The case went with him wherever in the world he went, in this my mother envied that brown leather more than she envied her sister's inheritance lost these many years.
Gifts for us included gold doubloons and an Aztec spear. The maid's brother was hired to take Jack and me to town in his twelve foot skiff, the coast road being non-existent back then. Whilst there the three of us bought new suits and dresses, ate granita in a brand new steel and glass salon and watched three French movies back to back in a flea pit with no ventilation, but also with no care for the age of two young vagabonds seeing inappropriate sensuality and shrugging and saying, 'so what?'
We returned later on to find lobster and wine over ice waiting for us and we finished the night swimming in the cove, the rocky sides lit like a pre-historic cave by the inflagrant bon feu. Life was treating us well and Jack was young and strong and that is how I shall remember him. My Jack: my mother, my brother.