Thirty years on I rediscovered the dark-haired Italian man with whom I had been friendly in France in the 1980s. Now working as a professional clown, he lived on the French riviera in a small apartment that offered wonderful views of the Mediterranean. From here playful killer whales could be observed splashing about in the water.
One afternoon my friend and I sat together in the back row of a lecture theatre at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). Here I was appalled at the dress sense of the men seated in front of us. One was topless in a pair of scruffy pale blue denim shorts. The other wore a tiny black nylon G-string.
When I leant forward and pointed out that this was hardly appropriate attire for the RSE, the one in the G-string stood straight up. Rejecting my fashion advice, he wanted to make entirely sure that nobody in the room missed his curvy bronzed buttocks.