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Michael Johnsey

I was born in post war England, when the country was going through a pretty sad time.
England was broke and everything was rationed, but I didn't give a damn. It must be horrible for people who didn't enjoy their youth; I loved mine. Once I got past the awkward years and hit my teens, it was just a ride, so exciting. Things were just happening so fast, barriers were not just being broken, they were being smashed to pieces. School, it was called Bulstrode Boys School, was a dank, dark place full of uninspiring teachers, but despite a string of canings, it was a great laugh. About the most famous student who passed through Bulstrode was Norman Harris; he was hung for murder in 1960, aged just 18 years
When we turned the corner into the 60's, things just took off, it was brilliant. I can remember fabulous, lazy Sunday summer evenings at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond listening to the Rolling Stones jangle before they were famous. Then there was Eel Pie Island in the bitterness of winter, but warm to the sound of Rod Stewart rasping through Gasoline Alley, the late great Long John Baldry, now rocking in heaven, and just so many more great performers, too many to list. The whole world waited for the Beatles next offering, and then there was Hey Jude. After the dark 50's, the 60's was a time full of colour and craziness. The beautiful people parading up and down Carnaby Street during its heyday and later Chelsea's Kings Road, where everybody was so frantic to be seen, and so many more unbelievably happy Flower Power moments of the 60s, 70s revolution. If I ever get a chance to come back, I definitely want to come back during the same time.
I've traveled quite a bit and lived in many places. Great memories: I remember China in the late 70s, truly another world, and one that just is so far from the China of today. I walked on the Great Wall and visited the Forbidden City and felt like I was the only one there. Bali, when Kuta was a dirt town and ducks roamed the main street, and Mama's Place still existed on the beachfront, where suckling pig was the meal to die for. Days when you could actually enjoy walking in places like Jakarta and Bandung without getting run down or choked to death by fumes. The Philippines with its crazy Cocabanana club, when the night curfew was still in force and getting back to your hotel meant running the risk of getting shot by Marcos's bully boys. The old Singapore, now sadly almost all gone, and Sunday BBQ at the German Club, or Tiffin at the original Raffles.
Getting to see other countries and cultures is great, but I've got a special love for England. London is magnificent, the best city in the World, and the countryside of England is just beautiful. The small quaint villages; walking across ancient lands and stumbling upon lonely, derelict crofter's cottages in the middle of nowhere; the woods, the rivers and streams; old roads that have born travellers from way back through Roman times and beyond, and all the secret places that carry the ghosts from long ago in a country steeped in so much history and legend. And the people, life and things that go on around you each and every day. To ride the tube and see every nation, creed and colour represented, and living pretty well in harmony: that's pretty hard to find nowadays.
For today home is Bali, also a truly special place. But I often miss my England. Just strolling through the streets, or through great parks like Richmond, with its magnificent Oak trees. The River Thames, now so clean and elegant. Wherever you go in England there is spectacular architecture. And there is something real nice about walking through London at night in the rain when everything is sparkly and glistening. Feeling the past that is hard to feel anywhere else in the World. England will always be home, and I reckon I will end up back there again one day.

All things considered, life has been good to me.

Peace and Love.

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  • Ubud, Bali, Indonesia