David made no less than three sea voyages in 1975, two as a civilian and one with the RNR, as well as spending a week with them docked at the Pool of London.
The first of these was to Amsterdam, via Edinburgh and St. Malo, on the three-masted topsail schooner TS Sir Winston Churchill of the Sail Training Association, now known as the Tall Ships Trust. Based in Portsmouth and Liverpool, the TST was founded in 1956 for the character development of young people aged 16 to 25 through the crewing of traditional tall ships, the original two being the aforesaid Churchill and the SS Malcolm Miller.
Among his shipmates were his 17 year old brother, Dane, several young men from Scotland and the north of England, some recent recruits to the RN, and a handful of older “mates” who’d been given authority over the rank and file of deck hands. In overall charge, though, was the conspicuously elegant Ship’s Captain, who also happened to be an alumnus of David’s own alma mater of Pangbourne.
It was an all-male crew, and David was quite well-liked at first, although his popularity faded in time, with only a few pals remaining him…such as the small cherubic southerner with long dark hair worn shoulder length like the young Jack Wilde, who stayed a good friend of his after they’d tried to impress a couple of girls together during a brief stay in St Malo, France.
He got on fine with a few of the others, and some were merely indifferent, but ‘Jack’ was a true prince who’d helped him out in his time of need:
What happened is that David had fallen hard for one of the girls, Francoise, and was wandering around in a mournful daze after having failed to pluck up the courage to ask her for her address:
“Oh, I really like Francoise,” he whined, over and over again, but his misery was genuine. That is, until Jack handed him a piece of paper containing Francoise’s address. It transpired she’d scrawled it down just before leaving them, and for a time, David was drunk with relief at the news, just walking on air, because there was the danger of his coming down with a serious case of lovesickness had she become lost to him forever, but thanks to Jack, he’d found her again.
There were heavy storms, and on at least one occasion, the crew were ordered out of their hammocks in the middle of the night to help trim the sails. David never took any part in this, which can hardly have helped his reputation, although he did climb the rigging once, just before the Churchill docked at Amsterdam harbour. Dozens of boys manned the yard arms, to which they were attached by their safety belts alone. David had been determined to make the climb, even though the experience terrified him so much his legs shook throughout.
The Dutch capital was marked by the same kind of open sexual licence he’d witnessed only the year before in Hamburg, although it seemed to him to lack the German city’s sinister vibrancy. Then – just as today – the sad De Wallen red-light district was filled to the brim with hundreds of little illuminated one-room apartments, each with a single woman sitting in clear view of onlookers plying her lonely trade.
As for Edinburgh, just before setting foot in the city for the first time, one of the lads, dressed to the nines himself in the trendiest seventies gear, warned David not to go strutting about Edinburgh town centre in flashy boating blazer like some kind of latter-day Modernist. Having packed few clothes, David was forced to ignore his advice, and, waltzing some time later into an inner city pub in broad daylight wearing said blazer, with straight blue jeans tucked into long white socks, a grinning hard man with long reddish curly hair asked him:
“Are you frae Oxford, son?”
Perhaps he was aware of the great university’s reputation for producing flaming aesthetes like Brideshead’s Anthony Blanche, and if so, it may have been touch and go for a while as to whether he was going to inflict some serious damage on David’s angelic English face, but in the end he left him be. He may even have admired his chutzpah. But there was just something about David…something that repelled physical violence, some mysterious protective force.
Within a few weeks of returning to London by train from Edinburgh, David and Dane were off to sea again, this time as part of the Ocean Youth Club, bound for the Baltic coast of Denmark by way of Germany’s Kiel Canal. And while they were once more supervised by “mates” under the command of a Ship’s Captain, the OYC utilised modern yachts rather than traditional tall ships.
The Cristiansens were quick to recruit a nice young guy called Cy as their best pal and confidante for the trip. It turned out they’d actually met him some ten years previously while passing through Calpe, Spain, either on their way to or from their grandmother Mary’s home on the Costa Brava.
Soon after setting foot on Danish soil they got talking to a couple of girls who, as might be expected, had natural golden blonde hair, but their efforts at romance were wholly innocent, despite the reputation Scandinavians had in those days for progressive sexual attitudes.
A less pleasant romantic episode took place towards the end of the trip, which saw David in pursuit of a pretty German girl called Ulrike. He was crazy for her, and she made it pretty clear she liked him too, and yet he’d senselessly sidelined her for the sake of a night of drunken idiocy with his brother and Cy, perhaps expecting her to run after him or something. Suddenly, overtaken by sickly pangs of remorse, he set out to find her, and at some point during his quest, while walking along some kind of wooden pontoon, he lost my footing and fell fully clothed into the waters of what must have been the Kiel Canal.
He was a pathetic figure the next day, with his fancy dandy clothes all laid out on deck.
“What happened last night?” the captain breezily asked him.
“Well”, he hazarded in response, “I was looking for this girl and…”
“You live in a dream world, David.”
Indeed he did. He subsequently wrote to Ulrike, but of course, she didn’t reply. Self-sabotage was fast becoming a speciality of Bjorn-David Cristiansen’s.
Still later in the summer, he spent seven days living onboard a ship moored in the Pool of London, a stretch of the Thames lying between London Bridge and Rotherhithe, and the subject of a 1906 painting by Alain Derain, and a 1951 movie directed by Basil Dearden.
In order to reach the ship, he had to board some kind of launch with a group of other seamen, one of whom had taken unofficial charge of the operation, by virtue of his rank of Leading Seaman, or Killick. His name was Birchwood, and he was as handsome as a movie star, with a heavy mop of blond, almost yellow hair, and blue eyes of a striking intensity, but while he was known as a “glamour boy”, he was as uncompromisingly tough as any other denizen of the lower deck, which made him a conspicuous and charismatic figure.
Once they were all safely aboard, it was the turn of their tow-headed leader to join them, but as he stepped off the launch, he somehow lost his footing and slipped into the Thames beneath him. Within a matter of minutes his heavy clothing and boots, helped by a vicious current, had dragged him beneath the river’s surface and he was lost. It cast a terrible pall over the rest of the week.
But it was only later, after he’d returned to London, and told his mother what had happened, that the true appalling tragedy of the incident hit home, and after she’d wept for this man she’d never even met, David ran into the bathroom and sobbed his heart out himself. But this was only the beginning of sorrows for the London Division RNR.
It was in this same year of ’75 that David attempted to pass what is known as the AIB or Admiralty Interview Board, with a view to qualifying as a Supply and Secretariat officer in the Royal Navy. It involved his taking the train from London to Gosport on the south coast of England to spend three days within the gates of HMS Sultan, the Royal Navy’s shore-based specialist training centre, attending various examinations and interviews intended to assess his potential as a future naval officer.
On one occasion, just before one assignment or another, he was putting the final touches to his toilette in front of a handy mirror, when one of the guys he was sharing a dorm with felt it necessary to remind him:
“It’s not a fashion parade, mate…”
He wouldn’t be joining David that night to the disco, or any night for that matter, but you couldn’t fault his dedication, nor his powers of observation, for that matter.
Two guys eventually did agree to keep him company, but they didn’t really seem all that keen. As things turned out, they left him alone at a Gosport disco to return to the Sultan for an early night. When asked what he was doing in Gosport by a young woman he befriended that night, he told her about the AIB and his fears of failing.
“Oh, you’ll pass, ” she told him with a reassuring smile.
But if she’d looked a little closer, she might not have spoken so confidently. After all, his wardrobe was so overdone, and so anachronous, with its college ties and silk scarves, and cotton flannels with their absurd knife edge press, that far from being bespeaking the confidence of the perpetual high achiever, it might well have been the disguise donned daily by a fragile and insecure personality, who’d tasted failure too many times for one of such tender years.
When David finally got back to HMS Sultan himself, he was shocked to discover that her main entrance had been locked and was now being manned by an armed guard.
As the young man set about trying to make contact with his superiors, he must have wondered what kind of person returns to base dressed to the nines after a night’s disco dancing when he was supposed to be in the midst of three days of gruelling tests and interviews that were vital to his future career; but he gave no indication of it.
In time, though, his efforts were successful, and shortly afterwards, a sheepish David was forced to pass through an officer’s mess, where he briefly exchanged pleasantries with its airily affable occupants, in order to reach his room. They must have had a laugh at his expense once he’d turned in:
“What kind of chap gets himself locked out of base when he’s supposed to be
taking his AIB?” one of them might have said.
“All very rum, did you catch the way he was dressed?”
“Yes, perhaps he was taking part in a Noel Coward look alike contest”.
“Let’s hope he won, ‘cos he ain’t gonna be winning no prizes here.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
One of the last notable incidents of the year took place in December, when dressed in an all-white outfit and a long fawn mackintosh, he took his friend Norma, one of the London Division Wrens, but originally from the north of England, to a dinner dance at London’s Walford Hilton Hotel.
They were joined there by a couple of Norma’s close friends, a fair, bearded man in a suit, and his dark, extrovert wife, both of whom behaved protectively towards David that night, as did Norma. Early on in the evening, she became incensed when a group of older seamen started ribbing him from their table, which didn’t bother David in the slightest, as these were shipmates of his, and he knew they meant no real harm. Military life, after all, is fuelled by raillery, but making sure to mock their cockney accents despite being a northern girl herself, she insisted,
“They’re only doing it because you’re better than what they are”.
The thing is, though, David would later reason, with them, what you saw is what you got, and if that wasn’t always pretty, it was nothing if not honest
Since 1974, David had worshipped at the altar of those artists who had either immediately predated the age of Modernism of ca. 1880-1920, or been part of its Banquet Years, and beyond into the Golden Twenties, the Années folles and so on.
However, in 1976, a gaudy new era started to influence the way he dressed and acted, and for much of that year, he dressed down in a workmanlike uniform of red windcheater, white tee-shirt and cuffed jeans as worn by ’50s icon James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause”.
Dean had died a week to the day before David was born in late 1955, and the 20th anniversary of his death appeared to exert a strong influence on rising Pop stars such as John Miles and Slik’s Midge Ure.
Slik were one of the biggest bands in Britain in 1976 with an image straight out of “Rebel” or a dozen lesser fifties delinquent movies. Sadly for them, though, and for many other bands who’d surfed the Glam Rock wave or emerged in its wake, they would be unjustly ousted by the Punk uprising.
As entranced as David was by the fifties, there were still times when he reverted to the old escapist dandy image he’d adopted in defiance of what he saw as the leaden drabness of post-Hippie Britain, while discovering Modernist giants such as Baudelaire, Wilde, Gide, and Cocteau for the first time.
One of these occasions came during the dying days of a famous long hot summer, when he wore top hat and tails and his fingernails painted bright red like some kind of hellish vision from Weimar Berlin to a party hosted by a friend from Brooklands.
It was mid-September, and David would have been at sea at the time, serving as Able Seaman David Cristiansen on the minesweeper HMS Fittleton.
A day or so afterwards, there was a tragic accident involving Fittleton and a far larger ship, which resulted in the loss of twelve men, most of whom he knew personally. Of the twelve who didn’t survive, David knew three quite well, and they were all men of remarkable generosity of spirit and sweetness of disposition, and it broke his heart to think of what happened to them. He so wanted to comfort his shipmates for their loss, to bond with them and be part of what they were going through. He wanted to have survived like them. He went over it all again and again in his mind, until he was driven almost insane with regret and grief. Once more he’d taken the easy way out, but this time it wouldn’t be so easy for him to forget or explain away.
The following year was a far darker one than those that came before it, because it was marked by the violent irruption into the British cultural mainstream of Punk.
From its London axis, it spread like a raging plague…even infecting the most genteel suburbs with an extreme and often horrifying sartorial eccentricity, which, fused with a defiant DIY ethic and a brutal back-to-basics brand of hard-driving Rock produced something utterly unique even by the standards of the time.
David was assaulted for the first time by the monstrous varieties of dress adopted by the early Punks while strolling along the Kings Road the morning after a party in January 1977, and it would only be a matter of time before he too hoped to astound others the way they’d done him.
However, for most of ’77, he dressed in a muted form which first took shape as a pair of cream brogue winklepickers, which he went on to supplement with black slip-ons with gold side buckles, mock- crocodile skin shoes with squared off toes, and a pair of black Chelsea boots, all perilously pointed.
His new look evolved by degrees at the endless series of parties he attended as one after the other of his old Pangbourne pals celebrated their 21st in houses and apartments in various corners of trendy West and Central London. Of all of these, he was perhaps closest with future oil magnate Chris, who was still finding his feet in London’s most exalted social circles. These included Adrian Proust, a friend of Chris’ from the north of England who forged cutting edge images for some of the most powerful trendsetters in Rock music. David joined them a couple of times at Maunkberrys in Jermyn Street; and apart from the Sombrero in High Street Ken, it was the classiest club his suburban eyes had ever seen.
Being the rube he was, he thought the style that dominated London’s club land was somehow Punk-related, but he was way off the mark. While it was the antithesis of the middle class hippie look that was still widespread throughout the UK, it was deployed for posing, and dancing to the sweetest Soul music, not as a gesture of violent social dissent.
It was partly the realm of the Soul Boys, whose love of black dance music was a legacy of the Mods and Skins that preceded them. While the Soul Boys were largely working class hard nuts from various dismal London suburbs, some Soul lovers were in fact not Soul Boys at all, so much as elegant trendies with a penchant for floppy college boy fringes, plaid shirts worn over white tee-shirts, straight leg jeans, and winklepickers.
The Soul Boys also favoured the wedge haircut, which could be worn with streaks of blond or red or even green, brightly-coloured peg-top trousers and winklepickers or plastic beach sandals. Speaking of the wedge, it was taken up at some point in the late 1970s by a faction of Liverpool football fans who’d developed a taste for European designer sportswear while travelling on the continent for away matches. Thence, the Casual subculture was spawned, and its passion for designer labels persists to this day among the British working classes in every small town and shopping mall throughout the land.
By the summer, David was working as a sailing instructor in Palamos on Spain’s Costa Brava, but he was an idle and incompetent worker, and after a few months, got the sack. Yet, he chose to stay on in Palamos, parading around town by day, while spending most of his evenings at the Disco dancing to Donna Summer’s “Love Trilogy”.
As much as he loved the party life, what he wanted most of all was to enjoy it as a successful working actor like golden boys Peter Firth and Gerry Sundquist, both of whom found fame on the stage before branching out into movies and TV, as opposed to a pretty nonentity such as he was. The problem was, he wasn’t really cut out for the task. Granted, he had the pretty boy looks, but very few actors, or even musicians, become truly successful on the strength of looks alone, and this was especially true of the seventies, an age without MP3s or My Space or endless TV talent showcases.
He’d not yet appeared in a single play, except for a handful at Pangbourne, which included no less than three in drag. One of these had him standing onstage for a few brief minutes without uttering a single word. Another was as a maid in a one-act play by Shaw called “Passion, Poison and Petrifaction”, which saw him clomping around in a dress and studded military boots, while squawking in a hysterical falsetto. His only male role was as an effeminate psychopath in a little known Agatha Christie one-acter called “The Rats”, one of whose key lines was:
“Darlings, how devastating!”
And if the praise of the college nurse was anything to go by, it showed real promise. When all’s said and done, though, he was hardly a National Youth Theatre wunderkind.
In terms of his other “talents”, he’d written a few simple songs on the guitar, but he still couldn’t play bar chords. His singing voice was good, though, and already quite versatile. As a would-be writer, he’d filled countless pages with endlessly corrected notes, but there was nothing tangible to show for it all. It could hardly be said then that his future positively glittered before me.
His final trip with the RNR came towards the end of the summer. Lofty O’Shea wasn’t onboard, but he had other mates to raise Cain with, such as the aristocratic Damon Cates.
Damon was a tall redhead of about 26 who looked a little like Edward Fox in “A Day of the Jackal”. Like David, he loved music and fashion and the Soul Boy and Punk scenes, and they hit it off from their very first meeting back at the President. He later confided in David about his early life which had been marked by one tragedy after the other, and his quiet and courteous manner masked a troubled inner life which he didn’t like to flaunt any more than he did an ability to look after himself in any situation no matter how violent.
There was a time, to cite an instance, when an intoxicated sailor took a sudden, violent dislike to David in a south coast bar, and was clearly keen to do some serious damage to his pretty cherub’s face, when Damon stood in and persuaded the salt to back off. You overestimated his refinement at your peril.
Doubtless, though, there were those who wondered how he ended up serving as a rating, such as some of the guys who sailed with them that summer to the port of Ostend in Belgium.
They were from another division altogether, based far away from the decadent fleshpots of London, where a simpler, harder way of life prevailed, and when some of them were gathering one eve in an Ostend street for a scrapwith some locals who had offended them, Damon and David made it clear they had no intention of joining in.
This prompted one of their number, a waiflike little sailor of about 16 or 17 to turn to them with a look of utter bewilderment on his beardless face and ask, “What’s wrong with youse guys?”, before joining his mates for the impending riot.
Damon just didn’t see the point of fighting for the sake of it but he was far from being a cowardly fop. This secret inner fortitude would eventually see him being commissioned as an officer in the Royal Navy, which had been his destiny all along; but not David’s. His time with the London Division, RNR came to an end in late 1977 with a surprisingly positive character report. If military life had never been for him, it became an important part of his identity nonetheless.
Even later in the summer, he joined the former Merchant Navy College in Greenhithe, Kent, as a trainee Radio Officer.
He formed several close friendships there; but closest of all was with Jayant, a lovable hard nut with a thick London accent who’d been born into nearby Gravesend’s large Asian community, and who was loyal and kind-hearted towards those he liked and trusted, and for a time, David and he were pretty well inseparable.
David used to endlessly nag about his attitude, not that there was anything wrong with it, but he had a habit of talking tough, which David found unsettling, although Jay was as good a friend to him as he could possibly hope for. As things turned out, he was the one who quit college first, even if Jay did follow him soon afterwards, which caused him to wonder why David had taken the moral high ground in the first place.
It was through Jay that David started going to discos at the Woodville Hall in his home town of Gravesend, where, pretty well every week for a while, a gang from the college would take the train, and where they were treated like visiting royalty by the – mainly white and Asian – kids, whose outlandish outfits stood out in such striking contrast to the industrial bleakness of their surroundings.
There were girl in chandelier earrings, wearing evening dresses and stiletto heels, which were in stark contrast to the bizarre hair colours they favoured, such as jet black or bleach blonde, with flashes of red, purple or green. Some wore bow ties, while others unceremoniously hanged their school colours around their necks. The boys all had short hair, wore thin ties, mohair sweaters, thin ties, baggy, well-pressed peg-top trousers of red or blue, and winklepicker shoes.
English suburban life in those days didn’t include mobile phones or DVD players, personal computers or the world wide web, so was a fertile breeding ground for wild and eccentric youth cults such as Punk, whose influence pervaded the Hall together with the Soul Boy look, and the Soulies of Woodville Hall were just ordinary working class kids who turned into superstars once they took to the floor to Donna Summer to pirouette and pose as if their lives depended on it.
David enjoyed his time at Merchant Navy College and made several good friends, but had to realise it was not for him, and soon after returning to London, he auditioned for a place on the three year drama course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the City of London, which was really what he’d wanted to do in the first place.
Incredibly, as he’d already failed two earlier auditions for RADA, Guildhall accepted him for the course beginning in autumn 1978. He was exhilarated; but that didn’t stop him sinking further into the nihilistic Punk lifestyle.
Having been blown away by the hairstyle of one of a small gang of Punks he knew by sight from nights out in Dartford, he decided to imitate it a few weeks later. It was spiked in classic Punk style, with a kind of a halo of bright blond taking in the front of the head, both sides, and a strip at the nape of the neck. However by the spring of ’78 he’d had it shorn into a full-blown skinhead.
It was genuinely dangerous being a Punk in the late ’70s, and you lived in constant fear of attack or abuse if you chose to dress like one. After all, Punk’s culture of insolence and outrage was extreme even by the standards of previous British youth cults such as the Teds, the Rockers, the Mods, the Greasers, the Skins, the Suedeheads and the Smoothies.
Britain in those days was a country still dominated to some degree by pre-war moral values, which were Victorian in essence, and a cultural war was being fought for the soul of the nation. It could be said therefore that Punks were the avant-garde of the new Britain in a way that would be impossible today. This explains the incredible hostility Punks attracted from some members of the general public.
Close by to where David shared a house with his parents in West Molesey,, he saw Hersham Punk band Sham ’69 in a hall above the Surveyor pub at the heart of the Molesey Industrial Estate shortly before they became nationally famous
He already knew their lead singer, Jimmy Pursey, by sight, having seen him mime to Chris Spedding’s “Motorbiking” one night in about ’76 at the Walton Hop, at least he thought it was him…
David was often to be found at the Surveyor on a Sunday night with Dane, and mutual friends. On one occasion, the usual Disco or Pop gave way to a violent Punk Rock anthem which saw the tiny dance space being invaded by deranged pogo-dancers as if they’d been summoned by some malignant deity. On another, a Ted revivalist who favoured flashy fifties-style clothing, tried to start some trouble with him in the toilet. At this point, Frankie, another Ted who’d befriended him about a year previously when he looked like an extra from a ’50s High School flick stepped in with the magical words: “He’s a mate!”
Frankie’s intervention may have saved him from a hiding that night, because Teds had a loathing of Punks informed by their essential conservatism. To them, Punks probably seemed to have no respect for anything.
On another occasion, Frankie the Ted almost imploringly asked him whether he into “this Punk lark”, as he termed it in contempt, and David assured him he wasn’t. He may even have added that he still loved the fifties, which was the truth to an extent; but that wasn’t the point. The fact is he lied to him to look good in his eyes, which was a pretty low thing to do to a friend.
On New Years Eve, Jay and he went to a party in London’s swanky West End. It was the last in a long series of celebrations he’d gone to throughout ’77 mainly as a result of friends from Pangbourne reaching the landmark age of 21. It was also one of the last times he ever saw Jay.
Before arriving, Jay and he met up as arranged with future oil magnate Chris, and as soon as the introductions were over, Jay saw fit to offer a truly terrifying solo display of his lethal street fighting skills:
“I’m suitably impressed”, said Chris…and he was, although he was no wimp himself; but Jay was something else, and few would have benefited from crossing him…but they got on like a house on fire that insane night which at one point saw David pouring a full glass of beer over his head. What the beautiful dancer he’d spent most of the evening with thought of a nice guy like David doing a thing like that she didn’t say.
In those days, David knew so many people who’d have done anything for him given half the chance, and yet his one true passion appeared to be the creation of endless drunken scenes, and a party wasn’t a party for him unless he’d caused one, after which he simply moved on.
It was the spring of ’78 that he moved on again…this time to the city of Fuengirola on Spain’s Costa del Sol, with the intention of helping set up a sailing school with Adam, a young Englishman whom his father had recently befriended in London; but despite having been pre-arranged between them, the project came to nothing.
However, David stayed on, living first in an apartment Adam had kindly set him up in, then in a little hotel in town, and finally, rent-free, with an American friend, Scarlett, one of a handful of US ex-pats living in Fuengirola alongside young people from Australia, Britain, Ireland, Germany, South America and other parts of the world.
It was a hedonistic scene, and David wasted little time in becoming part of it. He spent his nights at the Tam Tam night club, where he set about establishing himself as Fuengirola’s very own Tony Manero…in Punk Rock attire.
It was his first year as a full-time Punk, in point of fact, and among the clothes he favoured were a black cap-sleeved wet-look tee-shirt, drainpipe jeans of black or green, worn with black studded belt, festooned with silver chain filched from a Spanish restroom, and kept in place by multiple safety pins, fluorescent pink teddy boy socks, and white shoes with black laces like the ones he’d seen on the cover of an album by London Punk band 999. At one stage, he even wore a safety pin – disinfected by being dipped into a drink – in his left earlobe, but he removed this once his lug had started to pulsate.
After a few weeks, he became lead singer for the Tam Tam house band, and would typically wear so much make-up onstage that one occasion, the microphone became smeared in lipstick, but the patrons liked him, and he’d pose and pout and throw his spare frame about for their benefit.
He was always short of money, but could order anything he wanted from the Tam Tam bar, and when he was flat broke, his close friend Laura bought him toasted cheese sandwiches to keep him going.
Laura and he spent very little time on the beach, but were often to be found at Lew Hoad’s famous Campo de Tenis, that is, when David wasn’t rehearsing with the band, and in the evening, he was often to be found at Laura’s parents’ house, putting on the slap, and perhaps even painting his nails a gaudy shade of red, before heading along to the Tam Tam to do his gig. One night her dad, a charismastic former tennis pro, was awakened by their antics, and angrily ordered them out of the house:
“What is this ****, Laura?” he incredulously enquired, and with good reason, as he’d been the soul of patience for weeks.
However, some nights they preferred to get away from it all to another part of town, and for David, it was such a thrill to be alone with Laura in the demi-light of the Disco, while the evening was still young, hopelessly unaware that such moments are rare even in youth, and get steadily rarer as life forges on. On one occasion as they were strolling through town by night, the legend that was racing champion James Hunt called out Laura’s name before emerging from the darkness. They exchanged a few words before Hunt vanished back into the night as suddenly as he’d arrived. David could scarcely believe his eyes, but it was that incredible a summer.