: the autobiography of Paul Korda
by Paul Korda
© 2010 Paul Korda Music
(Not to be reproduced without authors permission)


                                                                                            Chapter 3

                                                                                               Navigating Unchartered Territories

t was fortunate that the Christmas holidays only lasted about three weeks, and the time spent over Christmas in the remand home meant I only spent a few more days with my father, as my mum had to return to France. I was soon on my way to Gatwick Airport, to catch my flight back to Victoria College, so this return to school was a joy for me.
My father had dropped me off at the airport and I was waiting to board the aircraft when we were told that due to storms in the English Channel, the flight had been postponed to the following morning. Being thirteen years old, I had been placed in custody of the airline, and the airline was making a hotel available for the passengers, within a short distance from the airport.
The only other youngster, who also had been dropped off by her parents, was a girl of similar years. Although I forget her name, I remember us looking at each other with wide eyes, and while we were chatting, we both were giggling about spending the night together! Of course we never expected to be in then same hotel room, until we arrived in it, and the airline steward said goodnight. I think we were so overwhelmed by the adult nature of being with the opposite sex in a hotel room together without our parents that we jumped up and down on the thick springy mattress while the TV played loud. Neither my mother or my father had ever talked about sex to me, and at that time the closest to sex I’d ever experienced was when my foreskin rubbed against a bed sheet, and that didn’t relate to girls. I had kissed a girl, but not even that crossed my mind, as we both fell asleep.

The next morning, an hour and a half after later, I was back on the island of Jersey. I was apprehensive about not having a microphone, but at that age nothing is unmanageable.

It turned out that the Intruders’ members, all being college boys, were at an age to start taking their education more seriously, at least Mark and Craig who were older day boys living at home with their parents, probably had to, so we didn’t do any shows that term, in fact anymore, while I was at the school.

So I concentrated on my interest in Latin, for it gave me the roots of the original meaning of many words, and allowed me to be more penetrating with my understanding of vocabulary and communication in general. I also liked Roman history, for all their technical achievements with roads, and baths etc.

Scripture classes with the school chaplain always started with pandemonium, when often the chaplain, who rode a BMW 1000 motor bike would arrive to several skirmishes, and his lack of authority, often couldn’t bring the class under control. He was actually a very nice person, but you couldn’t afford to be that way with some of the bullying types.

One of those types, who lived at the College House was my first introduction to an American, called Rice, who was just plain greedy!

Looking back now in 2010, he was probably the product of the new USA consumer generation of the 1950s, where the value of an individual was no longer the fact they were human beings first, but their reason for being was more justifiable if they consumed and owned plenty.

He was a boarder, who was a large imposing boy, who enjoyed taking the ‘tuck’ (snack food) that we received by post from our parents, and terrorizing us until he got the food, or more often than not, would just grab it before we managed to eat it ourselves. Several of us were growing rather tired of his behaviour, so we plotted to pretend to have received some snacks that we had drenched with red hot pepper. Sure enough Rice grabbed two large handfuls, shoving one then the other into his open mouth. His face suddenly glowed bright red, and he went howling down the corridor to the shower room, to try to wash out his mouth. He never did his food grabbing again, but after lights out that night, he came to my bed with a glass of water and drenched me and my bed clothes. A little later, I filled a water jug to the brim and when he was sleeping, I tipped the whole jug of water on him. There was quite a commotion, but the prefect came in to our dormitory, turned the light on, and having witnessed a completely drenched Rice, appeared to deny what he was seeing could actually be real, and just said alright, goodnight.

 It was a period of my growth that appeared to display conflict scenarios, or maybe this happens to many thirteen year old when they reach puberty. Up to this time I had asserted my self in my inner nature by being creative and staying close to my sense of personal reality, often introverted and in a dream. Now I was being faced with bullying pubescent boys who appeared to be a great deal more frustrated than me, and enjoyed angry provocations. I didn’t enjoy being dragged into their psychological imbalance, for I’d taken care of my inner life, for it was my true place of residence. The more I’d try to avoid their confrontations, the more extreme they would get to get me to return their negative attention seeking. It was becoming a chore that distracted me from my creativity, so I knew it was time to act and alert my inner border guard to take action.

The one thing I had learned in the remand home, when one of the wardens had put me against a huge gang member in a wrestling match, was the power of belief. As I looked at the massive muscular delinquent, I slammed my right fist into my left palm and gave him the fiercest expression I could muster. He looked visibly shocked, and as wrestling was about the only sport I knew that used a simple science of twisting a limb against its natural inclinations, I grabbed his arm and managed to twist it, and it startled him, allowing me to do some more twisting, before he pushed me away, rabbit punched me in the head and I fell over, blacking out for a second.

So being faced with bullies, I realized it was necessary to make a psychological move and physical statement that the bullies would talk about and fear that I had the power to retaliate.

One morning while walking down to the College from the boarding house, one medium sized buddy of the bullies tried to interrupt my journey, tapping me on the shoulder, to which I swung round and punched him. I really didn’t like doing it, and had no idea that when I did, my fist would land squarely on his jaw, and knock him down. The action seemed to have the desired effect, as violence against me calmed down quite a bit.

 At this period I was in the CCF, which was the army cadets, even though I hated doing it, I had been the youngest boy to win the seniors cup for marksmanship in an indoor range and the CCF wanted me to train with the larger caliber 303 rifles in the open range, to send me to the National Bisley championships in the UK.
Every Saturday afternoon, the team, dressed in our wool khaki uniforms, would board a coach to take us to the northern end of the island to a range that overlooked the Channel Sea. One of us had to stand watch to raise a red flag if a boat was nearing, as the bullets whizzed over the sea. We would have to sit in a large rusty metal remnant of WW2 that had a high metal flagpole. This particular Saturday heralded a fierce thunderstorm, and guess who’d been made lookout! Well I was relieved that instead of my having to lie out in the rain trying to hit a target 300 yards away. I could hang out of the rain, in the hut. Well I thought so until I saw the lightening strikes hitting the open sea and moving toward where I was. I decided to stand in the rain and I was getting sopping wet, when there was a loud bang, a spark hit the top of the pole, travelled down to the hut, and there was a bright flash, inside the hut. Not realizing at the time how important my premonition was, I returned back to College House, damp but unelectrified.

 The Cadet force was to play an important role in my return to England when I was 14, for both my parents had expressed that they wanted the other to pay for my return airfare, and probably because they weren’t working enough. So I had heard that the first two weeks of the summer holidays was a Cadet force field trip to an army camp near the Salisbury Plain in south-west England, and the excursion would cost fifteen pounds for the return boat fare and the camp. So I enlisted in the hope that one of my parents would pick me up from the army barracks. Little did I know how macho this trip was going to be, or that most of the bullies at school had been to camp on previous summers.

 We all arrived at the camp in a coach and were assigned an army barrack where we would sleep. This army camp had regular soldiers stationed there, and having witnessed one having sex with a local prostitute in a water tank housing, we were ordered to sleep, as we had an army exercise on the Salisbury Plain, at 5 am the next day. I’d overheard one of the college boys talking about ‘black balling’ the newcomers to camp, after lights out. Black Balling was the term for initiating the newcomers testicles with black boot polish, and that was something I wasn’t going to allow to happen to me. After all, I didn’t like the cadet force regimen, or the characters it seemed to be spawning.

The rain was coming down that night by the bucket loads, each drop percussively striking the wooden hut, as I saw Benest, one of the homies from school whisper “OK Kunstler, it’s your turn” as he leaped out of his bunk toward me, being followed by several other large boys. I jumped out of bed and up onto a window sill, undoing the window catch as leapt out into the soggy mud in the downpour, dressed in my pajamas. I think that the other boys didn’t want to follow us into the mud, so I was just dealing with Benest, and having the advantage of the moment I leapt toward him with both fists blazing. He was no match for my public relations stunt and I climbed back in the window, as a bedraggled Benest came in through the front door. That was the end of my initiating, and on my last night at the camp, after a week of war-games, I heard that while we were in town, one of the regular army privates, who was drunk, had broken a bottle and thrust it in the eyes of a military policeman. What an experience for young kids.

 Well I was staying with my father again, and I did as much as I could to stay out of his way.

It was at one of these away phases that I met a eighteen year old called Brian, who had just bought an old Triumph Mayflower, which was a black car with a boxy old fashioned style that one might imagine a VIP travelling in the back. Brian said he didn’t like it being black, and had bought some white paint, and asked me if I’d like to help him paint it white. In return he said I could drive with him to a seaside town that night. It all seemed exciting to me, so I spent the morning painting with him, and another young kid he had befriended. Well it turned out that he had gloss house paint and it really didn’t cover the un-sanded black paint too well, and the car looked like a zebra with melted stripes. Still, we didn’t mind, as we set off toward the coast. The painting had left me quite tired as he told us that he didn’t have enough petrol to get us there and back, and that he knew where there was an abandoned car that probably had some in its tank. He found the old car in an alley, and pulled a can and some rubber tubing out of the trunk. He was sucking the gas out of the tank and pouring it into our motley vehicle. When he had finished he said he was going to take the bumper from the other car and for some reason both license plates too. After the siphoning, and back on the road, I had fallen asleep, and was suddenly awoken to the cry of someone Brian had just knocked off his bicycle. We were at the coast, as the cyclist hobbled back on his bike to Brian’s apologies.

I must have been exhausted, because I never saw the coast, as I fell asleep again. This time I am awoken to Brian saying “It’s a police road block”. We had reached the hill that approached where I lived, and there were a few police cars and the officers hailed us to stop. They asked Brian where he was going and why was there a bumper with a number plate attached, on the back seat. He said he just wanted the bumper, and wasn’t interested in the plate. Then he had to open the trunk and they discover the can and a rubber hose as well as a single license plate with no bumper attached. As the officers suspicions arose, the captain of the officers comes over to the car and leans on the car while talking to his men. When he stands up, the rear of his black uniform is a motley white colour not dissimilar to our cars custom mix paint job. We all look at each other, trying not to betray our need to laugh, as we look at the expression on his officers’ faces, which seem to relate to a sense of comedic horror. Suddenly one of them says its time for us to be getting home, and then car wouldn’t start. Amazingly they pushed the car in a semicircle so that we could jumpstart it back down the hill. I never saw Brian again. I don’t know why, but it was a good lesson in navigating uncharted territories.

Chapter 4

“Us” was Them and I almost was no more

 It was clear that life at Victoria and with my Dad was a little too dramatic for my liking, and when I was being creative, I found peace in myself. Such a deep rooted peace, that had I not had its substance, I would have been washed away by events. Instead, like a magic carpet that seemed to unfurl in time and space creating a never ending portrait of events, I floated on. Was it fate or purpose, or both?

 When the holidays came I would find that my mum Shirley had taken on a singing job at a seaside holiday venue such as Butlins Holiday Camp, so that I would have a fun time. She was very thoughtful and loving. Her character had an obvious honesty and openness. I never had a problem asking her about any subject, and she was always there to explain and understand. There was only one occasion that she, in her desire to have a love relationship, involved herself with someone who couldn’t appreciate her naďveté and although I remember his name clearly, I can only relay that he was an heir to one of England’s largest seed distribution corporations, and his name was Owen. I had to defend my mum a few times from his physical abuse, and being around ten years old, I was no match for a fully grown male. At one of his abusive incidents I stood in between him and my mum to stop him hitting her, and he punched me on the jaw, causing me to be knocked down, though not out! We lived near Farnborough, close to where the Air show was held annually. If I remember correctly it was mostly military combat aircraft. I used to record “Cape Canaveral” style tapes, pretending that I was an announcer, waiting for a launch of a rocket into Outer Space, and I would time my commentary and count down, so that the jet in the far distance would be loud enough when it flew over our house to sound like it was the rocket taking off from the launch pad. Space had a deep fascination for me, both inner and outer, for I was also an avid reader of books about psychic phenomena, astral travel and spiritualism.
Anyway, the following holiday time I spent with my mum, Owen had gone. Considering what a lovely person she was, I find it hard to believe that she never found Mr. Right, although she did meet a musician she liked a lot called Frank King, but I don’t think she ever lived with him.

At the final holiday visit she was booked to sing at a hotel on the Isle of Man, an island off the west central coast of England close to Liverpool, and famous for its annual motor bike grand prix. The roads on the island sloped like a race track, and I remember making friends with a young kid who rented out the deck chairs at the beach, and he let me ride his scooter while he was at work. I had met a girl and I would take her on rides around the island track. It was a lot of fun. On my last night there, a band called “Them” were playing at the main auditorium, and we both went. At that time ‘Them’ were number 8 in the pop charts with a song called Gloria, and I really liked another of their songs called “Baby Please don’t Go”. It was a blast, and the next morning I awoke to a day of my travel back to London, via the island steam ship. After hugging my mum goodbye, I boarded the boat. While I wandered around the deck, I saw a bunch of long haired guys who seemed to be having a good time, so I went up to them sitting around their van. “Where are you headed” I asked, and a voice answered in an Irish tone “ London”. “Oh are you” I replied, “So am I. Could I get a lift?” “Sure” they all replied, and as we docked into the harbor, I jumped into one of the rear seats, alongside a guy called Peter. “We need some petrol” the driver said, as we approached a station. All of a sudden a bunch of girls, who were standing near the petrol station, began running toward the van, screaming in a adoring frenzy. I turned to Peter to ask what on earth was going on. He said “We played a gig last night, and these are some of our fans”. “I went to a great show last night, to see Them” I replied. “Yes that’s us” he responded. So “us” was ‘Them’, and I was riding with them! Such was my first introduction to the main stream in music. Peter Bardens and I kept in touch through the years, and Van Morrison, the Irish voice was at one of my shows at the Roxy in LA in 1978, and told me how he liked the show, and I never got round to reminding him of our first meeting, as I was so overwhelmed by his liking my work, for “Astral Weeks” one of his early solo albums was one of my favorites. Peter and I ended up on the same label, Janus, with his band Camel around 1978. He was a very sincere person.

I returned to my final term at Victoria College, to my exams for my General Certificate of Education ‘O level’, O standing for ordinary and the only other exam was for AO level English Language, which was ‘advanced ordinary’. Language had always interested me, mainly because I often had a hard time understanding the difference between what people said and how they really behaved, so I thought I would enjoy learning about the Latin roots of language and how parts of words had their original Latin constituents, and often they would be verbs, which obviously relates to actions being done, which is probably why I tried to understand the differences in peoples behavior. I have yet to understand, but nowadays the measurement seems to be that people have become the opposite of what they say they are, at least by their actions in these days of 2012.

Anyway, I felt totally unprepared for my exams. It was a warm summer on Jersey, and that was a distraction from the dusty halls of education. Furthermore, my father said he wanted to take me by car from London, to Budapest, and I was dreading the very thought of being stuck on some lonesome road with his temperament, should the car break down, or he gets lost.

Somehow I sat down and tried to answer the endless questions in all the subjects of the exams, as the school term began to draw to a close. I wasn’t going to be returning for another term, should I fail my exams, as neither of my parents could afford it, so that was it. I was facing the journey home to London, as I lay on my bed in my dormitory. I had been feeling sick for a few days, and maybe it was because of all the pressures, but by my last night at school, the Matron seemed to be very worried that there was something seriously wrong.

My father picked me up at Heathrow Airport, and was busy telling me about the journey, when he finally realized there was something wrong. When we got into the house I asked him if he could get the doctor, because I began vomiting and some of it was blood. His Hungarian doctor friend came over and said there was nothing wrong and that I could travel.
I called my mother who was in the North of England, playing a hotel. She didn’t like the tone of my voice, and the next morning she arrived with a doctor, who diagnosed that I may have Leukemia, and instructed Edgware General Hospital to send an ambulance right away.
I had no idea what my illness was, but once my mother had me taken to hospital, she had to get back to work at the hotel. My father decided that he would go to Budapest on his own, and there I was, in a hospital, and alone. As the weeks passed, I would have bouts of illness in between endless tests, and even an operation to remove pigment from the pit of my arm and a sternum puncture, where they remove one drop of blood from the middle of your chest bone with a long needle. The pigment operation was particularly memorable as they inadvertently given me a glass of milk when I shouldn’t have had anything, and the anesthetist had to pump my stomach, using a plastic tube he literally had to force up my nose and down my throat to my stomach. After he thought he’d achieved it, he discovered that the anesthetic wasn’t working, and gave me another huge vial of a green soupy substance. Even with the over dosage, I awoke very soon after the operation and after I returned to my ward I began screaming “It’s the end of the world, they’ve exploded an atom bomb, get under your bed”. I couldn’t stop screaming it, as I saw myself from way back inside my head, and could do nothing to stop this out of control behavior, however much I wanted to. Perhaps that’s what happens with the insane. They see themselves doing something that they abhor, but are unable to stop their body, and mind from doing it.

Fortunately, after what I was told was an hour, I fell asleep, and was myself again, upon waking. Phew.

On another occasion, when I felt very ill, I was listening to the BBC on the hospital headphones plugged into the wall beside my bed, when they put out an alert for a dangerously ill person. In those more community orientated days, the BBC would do that. So I was waiting to hear who was ill when the announcer said it was me, and that my relatives should contact Edgware General Hospital as I was dangerously ill. The sister was very perplexed by my hearing it, and later that night I had a dream that I was looking at myself from above my bed, and I also had travelled to an operating room in the hospital and saw the surgeons operating on someone. My temperature was 105.5.

The next day I felt much better, and they said my fever had broken, and I was diagnosed with an unknown virus, and they released me a few days later. I was there for nearly four months.