Absence / Presence

To have or occupy a place somewhere........ Expressing the most general relation of a thing to its place,”
To have or occupy a place somewhere........ Expressing the most general relation of a thing to its place,”

Takes me to 1976 and an extremely hot summer in a squat close to the Wandsworth road in London. I lived there I am 17 years old and somehow managed to complete a couple of college courses because I thought that I had a future.
The college gave me a meal ticket, a book of tokens which allowed me to get a tea , pie, baked beans and chips once a day , this I lived on during the week , I just went hungry weekends. I have no shoes or clothes and live on nothing, apart from a bit of cash in hand I was paid for modelling at the local art school.
My only possession was a guitar which I didn’t have as my mother stole it from me to give to her boyfriend who was at that time in prison.

To appear like a hippy was in fashion and I did this look without trying. with no electric in a fungus lined ,wood rot damp house. Alive with head lice, and extremely lonely. Like this I existed within a framework of sunrise and sunset, absence of love or care, in the harshness of the London miss- fits and homeless.
Yet I had hope. With youth Truth and presence are linked even with the absence of any true signs

I jumped onto a train to Hastings, I was wearing a converted lace curtain as a top and jeans with a broken zipper, tied up with a shoe lace, and I needed the sea. I knew how to slip fences and guards, and never gave a thought about not having any money.

Hastings was just like I had remembered it 8 years before when my father lived there in Cobourg Place. All accept him. the smells in the small streets and the fishing beach had a musty stinky attraction, but best of all I looked up an old friend of his that lived in a house by the east hill in Hastings.
Charles Chandler took me in, helped me to get a few pounds under my belt and encouraged me to continue to make drawings, He believed in me as an artist and told me stories of his friendship with my father. I had a feeling of belonging
sketch made of charles chandler in 1976 while living in Welington cottage, Tackleway, Hastings [Click and drag to move] ??

That hot summer was filled with daytrips in Charles’s car and planning my future, surrounded with antiques and Persian rugs. I even had a room of my own.

Until I encountered the jacket.

The Nelson public house on a hot summers evening, crammed onto a veranda with other drinkers, I found myself sitting next to a jacket
The jacket was a musty olive green heavy soft chord. fairly large 40`s style shoulders, and a smell so superb it made my head spin, I touched and stroked it in disbelief, I breathed it in with my eyes closed. As yet the jacket was disembodied, little did I care who or what was inside. I lost my mind.

Such extraordinary coincidences, the jacket was being worn at that time by a fellow named Hank
Who went on to tell me that he had been given the jacket by a woman named Jane. The Jacket apparently belonged to her father who was an artist and had died years before.

Jane Lacey my sister, gave Hank our fathers jacket and in the heaving crowd on a hot summers evening I smelled it recognised it and fell in love all over again. That chance meeting ensured that I was to stay with Hank and in service for twelve years, have my eldest son. And still not be quite sure if I was in love with the man in the jacket or the one that had left it.
charles conte 1976