Peter inhabited a different world. When he wasn’t teaching – a grand name for the haphazard way we spent our weekdays – he was an orthodontist, which must have brought in the dollars. We never really understood why he entered our orbit at all. He didn’t seem to enjoy it much, struggled to manage the students, and the meagre pay the school provided can hardly have contributed much to his lavish lifestyle. He had a flat – a proper apartment with an entryphone and a balcony and artwork – and ate in upmarket restaurants. Once we met him at the seaside. I remember an evening walk on the beach from the Hilton where he was staying with one of the Alejandros. I was wearing white ballet pumps, quite unsuitable. He said I was like Marilyn Monroe. Afterwards we went for cocktails before Alan and I returned to our hotel. The dormitory room had seemed fine in daylight. Now, cockroaches the size of mice were everywhere, stretching on the light switches, hanging off the toilet cistern, scuttling across the beds. Nothing for it but to pull the blankets over your head and wait for morning. The next day we took a boat trip to an island. Somewhere there is a photo of Alan and Peter under a beach umbrella, beneath a suitably azure sky, ocean in the background. There is another guy with them, name long forgotten, dark hair shaggy to his shoulders. All I remember of him is being impressed by the fact that he drank beer for breakfast.
He’s got a brand new car
Looks like a Jag-u-ar
It’s got leather seats
It’s got a CD-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player-player
We’ll start over again
Grow ourselves new skin…
Buck Rogers, I read, was a fictional American character originally conceived as a World War One veteran who fell into suspended animation and returned in the 25th century to various space adventures. Vehicles associated with him were more likely to be rockets than cars. Peter’s escapades, though often extraordinary, were essentially terrestrial and although his car was immensely luxurious in comparison with our beat-up Bocho I don’t think it was a Jag. Peter wouldn’t have cared for the song – opera was more his to his taste. But whenever I hear it now, I remember all the fresh starts we’ve attempted over the years and feel sorry that Peter was cheated of such chances.