|The $2,525 "Bohemian" boots featured in Vogue|
According to Vogue, where the Bohemian boots were featured this month, the original Bohemians came from a province in the Czech Republic formerly known as the Kingdom of Bohemia. Henri Murger's portrait of life in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Scenes de la Vie de Boheme, dissolved those geographic borders and "popularised the term as free-thinking, artistic and nomadic state of being."
Being that they came from a certain area of the Czech Republic, it occurred to me that I once met what must have been one of the last of the true Bohemians.
I forget his name - he flatted with Kevin and me in London for part of the summer more than 17 years ago. He was one of a series of European interns working at a big bank, who helped us pay the rent on our two-bedroom flat in an old Nun's convent in Notting Hill.
I think I must have forgotten his name because we just called him The Bouncing Cheque for his incredibly ebullient personality. We would arrive home most nights to find him ironing his shirts. He would be customarily dressed in his underwear only, the original iron bloc tighty whities, enthusiastically ironing to either folk music or terrible European pop. We later realised he may have constantly washing and ironing because he only had one change of clothing.
One day he told us his family was coming to visit for a week and asked us for advice on budget places for them to stay. It became clear that his family had very little money and we told him they could stay with us, of course. He was ever so grateful and promised over and over they would not be in our way and we would not even know they were there.
In fact when the time came, they arrived and had stayed for six nights before we realised it. Each night, as soon as they heard us coming home, they had scuttled into their room and bedded down with not even a hushed whisper.
On the final night we came home a bit earlier to find Bouncing and his whole extended family in the kitchen; little apple-faced Grandma and Grandpa, Mum and Dad and siblings, cooking up all sorts of fragrant dishes to loud folk music. It turned out they had driven all the way from the Czech Republic in a tiny five seater car - the name of which I hadn't seen before or since - stuffed with all their bedding and pots and pans and food.
They were mortified that they were inconveniencing us and offered to retreat to their room. We of course said no and they invited us to share their meal. They then pulled out the final treat - a bottle of Czech champagne. With a lot of fanfare this was poured into glasses they had brought with them - the Marie Antoinette bosom types of glasses. I pride myself on being able to drink anything but this was hard to swallow.
The evening rolled on with lots of smiling, lots of translating from Bouncing, clapping to the music, exhortations of "Na zdravi! Cheers!" and me pretend-sipping.
They took off the next day with tears and laughter and hugging. Loading into their tiny bubble of a car, they faced their 853 mile journey back home as though they were flying to Heaven. The last of the Bohemians.
Have you ever met a real Bohemian? (Apart from the Gyp-setting ones who can afford these boots?)