Formative influences

Leading on from yesterday's post about my first trip to the South of France and prompted by a conversation in the office about holidays there I was reminded yet again of my Aunt who lived in Cannes until she died last year.

It was such a bonus growing up to have an aunt who lived such an exotic life in such an exotic location. It was an early eye opener to what is possible in this life and the many ways in which people can find fulfillment and happiness. It was a lotus eating existence, and not one I have chosen to emulate, but rich in images, smells, emotions and conversations which have never left me.

A particular evening springs to mind where my aunt wanted to give me a taste of the Cannes nightlife at the tender age of sixteen. We got outrageously drunk, working our way round a number of busy and exciting bars until the small hours of the morning. Almost as an afterthought, and after consultation with her husband, my aunt said there was one more bar she wanted me to see.

It was a small bar hidden up an old twisting side street, loud music blaring out of the doorway and echoing up the high walled buildings on either side. it wasn't as packed as the other bars we had been in but busy nonetheless, with a higher percentage of women than the other bars. There were also a higher percentage of fabulous looking women too, which takes a bit of doing as all the bars in Cannes seemed to have more than their fair share of pretty women.

In my drunken state, dizzied by all the exotic sounds and sites of the evening, the close proximity of so many gorgeous looking and very forward women was all too much. As we staggered out into the street reeling from the impact on my still teenage brain my aunt delivered her final "coup de grace".

All of those women I had been lusting over had in fact been men! We had been in one of the more famous transvestite bars in the South of France and my poor wee brain would never be quite the same again.