the cappucinno kid

i had a short conversation with someone i know on faecebook this evening, she was feeling low, and i hit her with a quote from absolute beginners:
"I remember that hot, wonderful summer. When the teenage miracle reached full bloom and everyone in England stopped what they were doing to stare at what had happened. The Soho nights were cool in the heat, with light and music in the streets. And we couldn't believe that this was really coming to us at last. Nobody knew exactly why. But after so ... Read moremany dreary years of bombs and blitz and slow rebuilding; no sugar, no jam, nothing sweet anywhere; with the whole English world dressed in gray, it seemed, forever. Suddenly life broke out in warm colors again, so young and beautiful that a lot of people couldn't stand to look at it. For the first time ever, kids were teenagers."
a true gem of a book, it caught that on the cusp of greatness thing for me, i read it just as the 80's started rolling around, just in time for the 50's to be cool again... it's been in my list ever since... one of those inside knowledge books, derriding the sordids in their dung-coloured suits...
i've done that riding around the summer city evening, on an old vespa, feeling the warm breeze on my ankles... i need to do it again sometime.
"The night was glorious, out there. The air was sweet as a cool bath, the stars were peeping nosily beyond the neons, and the citizens of the Queendom, in their jeans and separates, were floating down the Shaftesbury Avenue canals like gondolas. Everyone had loot to spend, everyone had a bath with verbena salts behind them, and nobody had broken hearts, because they were all ripe for the easy summer evening. The rubber plants in the espressos had been dusted, and the smooth white lights of the new-style Chinese restaurants — not the old Mah Jongg categories, but the latest thing with broad glass fronts, and Dacron curtainings, and a beige carpet over the interiors — were shining a dazzle, like some monster telly screens. Even those horrible old Anglo-Saxon public houses — all potato crisps and flat, stale ales, and puddles on the counter bar, and spittle — looked quite alluring, provided you didn't push those two-ton doors that pinch your arse, and wander in. In fact, the capital was a night horse dream. And I thought, 'My Lord, one thing is certain, and that's that they'll make musicals one day about the glamour-studded 1950s.'"
Colin MacInnes
"Absolute Beginners" (1959)

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