Frantic has just been published.
Saturday, August 12, 2006 4:17:00 AM
by Frances Lynn
|The Mad Mad Seventies. A Nostalgic Novel About Those Frantic Times
'EVERYBODY was Left Over in San Francisco that year.
No humans though … they'd dropped by the wayside a long time ago.
It was the start of 1970 … anything could happen.
The only new blood to flap into town that barmy fall was Alice, a true English eccentric in exile. She had never been to America before and would have liked to dance the endless city night away in her pantaloon travel outfit, but her capricious daydreams died the moment she saw Wayne from the Old Days waiting for her at the airport. When she’d last seen him in England, he appeared normal. Now, he looked like he’d been to a fancy dress ball the previous evening and had forgotten to remove his finery. No-one would have suspected he was a cog in the General Motor dynasty with his white papier mâché face and peroxide blond pony tail decorated with Chinese lanterns.
The rest of him seemed pretty together, if one disregarded his brocade slippers and glitter flashing around his rouged earlobes.
'BABY!' Wayne yelled, his ponytail swaying like a Titanic chandelier, ‘yahoo! Welcome home!'
Home? This was the first time Alice had visited San Francisco. She was exhausted by her transatlantic flight and placing her elegant hands on top of her head, sang way off-key.
'Who do you think I am? Janis Joplin?' she asked.
Wayne chuckled. Little did he know this was no cute play-act. Alice was tone-deaf.
'Would you mind helping me carry my luggage, or should we get a porter?' she asked.
After all she reasoned, if Lucille Ball could whiz around in a luggage cart at Heathrow airport from whence she'd just shipped out, why couldn't she? Wayne stared hard at her, as if seeing her for the first time. If he wore contact lenses, he would have swallowed them in mild shock.
'What's all this with the fifty pieces of luggage? And, what are you wearing, a gherkin?' he asked.
Alice glanced down at her outfit, a vomit-green leather waistcoat and matching pantaloons strung together with a gigantic green ribbon.
‘Mum picked it out for me. I didn’t want to travel in my tie-dye underwear,' she explained, nostalgic she no longer resembled a hippy adolescent, having gained a haircut and pounds since running out of her black market supply of speed pills.
'Forget the tie-dye,' Wayne sniggered, 'wait 'til you see what The Iconoclasts are wearing.'
Alice was not in the habit of clutching a pocket dictionary to her bosom.
'You'll see,' Wayne promised, his Harvard educated Texan twang affecting celestial tones.
'Home' turned out to be a top floor apartment near the Haight. The bedroom was a mass of ostrich feathers, which hung down from the rhinestoned ceiling to diamonté covered rugs in whispering waves. All the walls were sequin thick, illuminated by psychedelic rays tinkling from flashing prisms. Glitter of a thousand hues washed over the entire apartment, sporadically lit by flickering Chinese umbrellas concealing pot-pourri light bulbs. Garish kimonos hung on every doorknob, and piles of fancy dress lay knee-deep on the floor. Alice sighed with pleasure.
'It's bliss, Wayne,' she purred.
She pounced on an exquisite, ivory handled ostrich feather fan and began to fan her face in a parody of a silent movie star. Wayne stared hard at her as if
turned to stone.
'How would you like to be in The Iconoclasts?' he asked slowly.
Alice possessed an impulsive personality.
'I'd love to, but what are they?'
'They're a theatre group, but with a difference,' Wayne explained. He then delivered his post-script bombshell.
'I'm their choreographer,' he announced, brimming with pride.
Alice choked back her jovial screams for fear of cracking her ribs.
'Since when did you become a choreographer?' she gasped, 'you used to smuggle L.S.D. in baby powder cans.'
Wayne brushed her Sixties reminiscences aside.
'Anything's possible in this city,’ he said.
Alice was washed out from the flight but keen as a red pepper bean. It made a fresh change from her London rut. Wayne became animated.
'I'll take you along tonight. The Iconoclasts are on at the Chinoiserie Theatre after the midnight screening of Night Of The Living Dead,’ he enthused.
Alice shivered inside. Perhaps, she should have packed her mangy, mink stole with navy blue polka dot silk lining that she'd once stolen from Portobello Road market. However, she wasn't shaking from cold but from excitement.
'It's Halloween!' she exclaimed.
Wayne smiled in a macabre way while his eyes flicked over her incongruous travel outfit.
'Help yourself to a costume, Alice. There's some whiteface, glue and glitter in the bathroom.'