Bestie and I were sat in our booth at the gas station’s restaurant at Lee Vining, looking down over Mono Lake.
I was still thinking about Clint’s brilliant film “High Plains Drifter”, for this weird and wonderful place was where he built the set and it doesn’t get more weird and wonderful than Mono Lake. He is such a clever and gifted film-maker.
Bestie also loves Clint and, as we ate our massive breakfasts there that morning, we chatted about Clint.
We were both kids when he was first on our tellies in Britain as Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide”.
Her parents didn’t have a television as they were both “Manchester Guardian” reading types, terribly left wing and into being trade unionists.
As we sat there talking at Lee Vining, at that stage in their lives, they were living the very good life in rural France on Public Sector Pensions, but she remembered watching “Rawhide” at her Aunt Lily’s house. “Aunt Lily wasn’t a real Aunt but she looked after us for Mum and Dad and she thought Clint Eastwood was such a gorgeous young man”.
Bestie had no idea that Clint had used “Rawhide” to learn about film-making.
“Rawhide”, as we afficionados remember, were one hour long, mini-movies for television.
They were often complex stories of the Western genre but they were very professional.
Good stories, well told and Clint realised this and used it to his advantage.
When his scenes had been shot, he didn’t buzz off to the commissary to eat and hang out with the other members of the cast, no, he hung out around the set to learn how everything was done. All of the technicalities he needed to know about how to make a film.
We agreed that the beautiful boy done good….
….and then it was time to get back on the road with another coffee to go. And some sandwiches, it was going to be a long day.
It had warmed up a lot by then and I was rather glad that I didn’t need to wear my ocelot print dressing gown as Bestie fired up the truck and we set off up the Tioga Pass.
The Tioga Pass is a beautiful swoopy sort of Pass as it rises rather elegantly. It’s not scary like the Sonora Pass and, all the while, one looks back at Mono Lake with a smile.
At the top there’s the ticket office and a very cheerful National Parks bod who takes the very few dollars it costs and we entered Yosemite from the east and traversed Yosemite from East to West along the Tioga road.
There were loads of pull-ins and we walked the Dawg many times by the lakes and the river as we headed west to get back home.
We giggled about our ghastly geography teacher, a dreadful Welshman who had terrible B.O. as we gazed up at the glistening, smooth granite way, way above us and it was definitely “igneous rock which has suffered from severe glaciation” as we mimicked his accent.
“No, eejut, it’s beautiful and, if the glaciers hadn’t melted, Scotland would still be under a mile or so of ice.”
Between ourselves we didn’t think that that was such a bad idea.
But, joking aside, it is so wonderful to see geography in the flesh as opposed to those tiny little diagrams of glaciated U-valleys we saw in the geography textbooks.
I had to share one textbook with two other pupils when I did that subject at “A” level at Grammar school.
I’m really glad that I made friends with Bestie when we were there and that we were able to recall that ghastly Commie Welsh geography teacher with his ghastly B.O. who all but put us off geography.
When referring to Russia and the extant USSR when I was doing my first year of “O” level studies, he quietly slipped in this sentence
“Communism is nothing to be afraid of”.
Thankfully that “so and so” failed to brainwash me and Bestie but I fear it was his life’s work to brainwash children as he went on to be the Headmaster of another school.
If he’s still alive, I’d wager that he hates us to this day.
I grassed him up to my mother, who, the very next day, donned her tweed costume, her black suede peep-toe court shoes and lipstick and waltzed into the school to demand an audience with the lovely Headmistress about his “Communism is nothing to be afraid of” schtick.
Mummy said “I don’t expect my daughter to come to school to be taught by a Communist”.
They ended up having a cup of tea and a fag with each other. Mummy went home and the smelly Commie was seriously hauled over the coals by our Headmistress.
He knew I’d grassed him up and he was so mean to me that, after I passed “O” level Geography, I decided to do “A” level Geography just to piss him off.
Bestie let down his tyres on several occasions.
© Barbican 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file