Living In The Past

I had *written before* of my love for “Mad Men”, the ongoing television serial about men and ladies working in a large advertising agency in America (New York) during the 1960s. I myself lived in America in the 1960s, not in New York though, but in Washington DC, where I was posted as British military attache. However, I used to visit New York often. So, whenever I watch “Mad Men” I’m transported back to the New York of my memories.

I’m still only on “Mad Men’s” fourth season (I have the DVDs). I’m stretching the time between its episodes, for I fear my life won’t be worth living once “Mad Men” ends. Can there be other Generals like me, over whom “Mad Men” has cast such a spell?

Feeling more and more removed from today’s world with each passing day, I live more and more in the past. Hence, in the “New Age” parlance, “Mad Men” is a “safe place” for me to be. I also like “Mad Men” because its ladies are as important and as powerful as its men. This seems to me quite rare in American television, as well as in American films.

I was happy, then, to see my perception confirmed in this *newspaper piece*. It says in so many words that in your average American film of today, seventy percent of the speaking roles are male, and that this state of affairs has hardly changed in more than seventy years.

While this piece talks of American films, I feel sure this includes American television films, to which genre “Mad Men” belongs.

Since you know I’m a General, albeit a retired one, you may find it surprising that I like films in which the ladies are as important and as  powerful as the men. Generals, after all, are supposed to like films dominated by strong manly men. If these films do of necessity have ladies, they should be weak and compliant, although of course pretty.

Well, were I still an active General, with aspirations to be a Field Marshal, I of course would proclaim that I like the sorts of films that Generals are supposed to like. But, being now retired, I’m free to say what I feel.

Getting back to “Mad Men”, its lead character, Don Draper, is the paradigmatic ladies man with lots of “conquests”. Your average General would therefore normally approve of Don, except that he seems particularly attracted to ladies of the strong independent type. They are hence the more difficult to conquer, and when they do at last surrender, it’s all the more satisfying for Don, and no doubt for the conquered ladies too.

I’m attributing these feelings to Don, for they’ve been mine whenever I myself have conquered – or was conquered by – strong, independent and consequently fascinating ladies. I’m thinking now of………*Dolores*. Why now? Why Dolores? Is it because I’ll always associate her with the ‘sixties – when I was in Washington, and Don Draper was on Madison Avenue………?



I’m writing this from Mexico. I made a snap decision to come, since I was feeling as much a prisoner in Texas as I would in a real jail. Texas in particular, and America in general, just wasn’t the Land of the Free. My men, Mikey Squeaky and Freddy, felt as did I, and they were thus easily persuaded to move to Mexico too.

For me, this move is the beginning of a new life, even though I’m 114. I’m not, however, your average 114 year-old, for I’ve re-discovered youth (well, relative youth) by exercising mind and body daily and eating healthily. If I hadn’t, I’d be long dead. The only threat to a long life was my being caught by the American police killing many men, and being hanged. Doubtless the Mexican police have files on me, but I hope they are less vigilant than their American counterparts.

Despite feeling so confined in Texas on account of having to live as an outlaw with my four men in the basement of an almost demolished house in a dilapidated part of a city (which I couldn’t name in my postings because of security concerns) I nonetheless felt the sweet pangs of final separation, when, for the last time, I drove away from our little home.

Banks in Texas were getting increasingly difficult to rob, given all the new-fangled security technology. I and my men managed to rob only  one large bank, the yield from which we couldn’t forever live off. So we had to rob small-scale, like in mugging pedestrians, and robbing all-night convenience stores. Because these takings were small, we had to do several robberies a week. This being taxing on the nerves, I saw little future in Texas.

Whether Mexican banks will be easier to rob, I don’t know. If not, we’ll have to resume small-scale robbing, with the difference that those we rob will be Mexican.

In going to Mexico, I realised I was taking an irrevocable step, for America would, forever after, be barred to me, since to re-cross through American Customs would, for me, in effect, be a death sentence.

As I drove our van through the border crossing, unhindered by Mexican officialdom, I thought that if there was any land which offered refuge to the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to be free, it was Mexico, not America, for, if you are a foreigner encountering American officialdom at any point of entry, you know that America isn’t a welcoming country.

A few miles over the border, I stopped our van, stepped out, and breathed the air of Mexico, which I hadn’t breathed in over four decades when I was stationed in Washington DC as British military attache to America – when John F Kennedy was president. I used regularly to fly to and from Washington and Mexico City, to visit Dolores, a beautiful Mexican lady with whom I was having una gran pasión.

I’m remembering now those afternoons in Dolores’ apartment overlooking Mexico City’s zocalo, and the love we made langourously throughout those afternoons. Dolores was for me a goddess, and I was her slave. In the evenings, after our afternoons of love-making, we would go out to dine and drink, then to dance, then back to Dolores’ apartment around midnight, to make love until dawn, when I would leave to catch the aeroplane for Washington – and back to my quotidian and prosaic life with Gladys, my wife.

What has become of Dolores? Given she was twenty-five years younger than I, she would now be 90, and perhaps even dead. How different might my subsequent life have been, had I complied with Dolores’ entreaties to leave Gladys and my life as a high-flying military attache, for a permanent life with her, Dolores, in Mexico.

While a romantic, I knew that to incur disgrace in the eyes of my fellow Englishmen by abandoning Gladys and my diplomatic and military career for an isolated and precarious expatriate life with Dolores, would give her a power over me at which later I would chafe. While a slave to Dolores, I still saw her need to control me. While being controlled by a beautiful woman is fun, it’s only so for a short time. I’m no King Edward the Eighth.

But, Dolores won’t go away…………