My parents were academics and they liked to travel. We didn't go to Spain when other families were flocking to the Costa Brava in the 1970's.
Oh no, we went to Egypt and to Jordan, and a host of other places that hadn't quite got the package holiday message in those far off times.
Egypt is the one I will never forget, it changed my life and I will always be grateful.
From the beginning I hated it. Stuck in a hot dusty bus with a load of adults and the guide droning away about temples and buildings. Every teenagers nightmare!
It made you want to scream. I just wanted to be by a pool somewhere, plugged in to my Sony Walkman and shut away from the adult world.
It was 1977 I was 15. A surly grunty teenage boy with issues. The biggest of which was that I was terrified and fighting to accept that I might just possibly be gay.
I think that even then I had already realised that the battle was pretty much won. This was 1977 and you didn't do a victory march, you kept your mouth firmly shut. You certainly didn't let on to your friends and you vainly hoped that it would all go away.
They were a funny bunch on the coach. There were 10 including me. All Europeans. Most were prosperous and middle aged or older, it was hell.
When they noticed me at all they treated me like I was 6.
The only one I had any time for was Mr Anoupoulos a funny little man in a linen suit. He reminded me of a pint sized Hercule Poirot.
He was nice, he was good at explaining things in an amusing way and he didn't treat me like I was a kid.
As the trip went on I got steadily more miserable. By the time we reached Cairo and the Pyramids I was pretty much suicidal.
Everything brewing away inside came to boiling point on a stifling August evening.
My parents and most of the others had gone to a lecture and then they were off out to dinner and the Opera and wouldn't be back until late. I flatly refused to go. I threw an embarrassingly loud strop in public.
We argued and they eventually left me alone in the hotel in a foul mood. That was when I went and did something really stupid.
I decided to take myself off on a self guided tour of Cairo's seedier districts.
Nobody seemed particularly fussed and I was tall for 15. Not that it would have bothered the guys who took my money and served me.
I wandered in and out of bars getting steadily plastered on God knows what- probably Arrack which is filthy stuff.
I had absolutely no idea that I was being followed by a man in a fez and he wasn't Tommy Cooper!
Finally I ended up in some dive, out of money and incapable of remembering the name of our hotel. I was in serious trouble and I was too young and too drunk to know it.
I saw the man in the Fez talking to the barman. It got quite animated then he nodded and rushed off again. I don't remember a huge amount more, I may have fallen asleep on the table.
When I came round Mr Anoupoulos was there. I am ashamed to say I spewed up royally all over the table and probably over him.
He waited until I had stopped hurling and then he gave me some water which I also threw up. Finally he helped me outside into a little courtyard where it was cool and quiet.
We both waited for the world to stop spinning.
We sat on a bench and he gave me a handkerchief to wipe my face. It was silk and must have cost a fortune.
"Better"he said with a smile
I nodded although I still felt like crap.
"Right chickie" he said "you and I need a little talk. You did a stupid thing tonight but you have been remarkably fortunate. My friend Abdul has saved you from being mugged twice.
You seriously need to thank him. He came to fetch me from a little goodbye party I was attending"
I gave him a look, "nobody asked him to" I said, "I can take care of myself."
"Sure you can" Anoupoulos said "by the way this is your watch, you lost it two bars ago. The Man who took it has a black eye that he won't forget in a hurry and Abdul has bruised knuckles!"
"Who are you" I said "why are you doing this, I hardly know you?"
"Just call me a friend, Simon" he said "I think you might need one at the moment."
"No I don't " I said
"Oh yes you do sweetie. You have been fabulously hard work all trip and your poor parents are frantic with worry about you."
'Sure they are" I said
"Child you have no idea" he said. "Whatever it is that's eating you, I'm here to listen not to judge ok."
And it was kind of ok, I blubbed like an infant and he let me sob onto his shoulder. I remember that he smelt nice, kind of fresh like new leaves or something. He was kind and patient with my teenage misery as I poured it all out.
His suit must have been a complete mess by the end.
Eventually the whole and "I think I might be gay" bit came crawling out. I couldn't stop and boy did it feel good to tell someone.
He just smiled and gave me another hankie to wipe my eyes.
"There that's better isn't it" he said I had to admit that it was. He patted my hand and said "A trouble shared and all that..."
"It's really not that bad." He smiled then he winked. "Confidentially I've been as gay as a row of tents since I was 14 and it never did me any harm." I almost fell off my chair!
"You have to be who you are son, don't ever be ashamed." He said. If other people have an issue with it then that is their problem not yours."
I was amazed. I guess in my misery I hadn't even considered the fact that it wasn't just me.
"My advice to you" he said "is to tell your mum and dad, that's a really good start. This world is changing Simon, give it a few years and things might be very different."
I smiled, it was the first one I had managed in months.
"Now" he said I have an urgent appointment "I'm going to have to take you with me or I'll be late."
"Abdul will drop you back at the hotel afterwards and you can have the hangover you deserve in the privacy of your own room."
There was a car waiting outside, Abdul was driving. We sped through the streets in the direction of the pyramids then we turned off and headed across the sand.
When I asked where we were going Anoupoulos just smiled, "this is my secret" he said "now we are even."
"This pyramid is very old" he said pointing "but not particularly interesting so it gets few visitors."
He took off his jacket as Abdul stopped the car.
"Look" he said pointing upwards
There were lights in the sky, tiny little flashes of silver and blue hovering over the great pile of stone.
"They are my people" he said " it's time for us to go."
I just stared
"There are other worlds beyond this one" he said getting out and shaking Abdul's hand.
"I've done my duty here for a very long time, and now I am going home to my little house by the sea and my lover who will be waiting for me."
"What are you?" I said
He grinned, "I really am the fairy at the bottom of the garden kid" he winked "In more ways than one! " I'm a Pixie Simon. We lived on earth for centuries. Who do you think built these things?
It takes muscle and the ability to fly to build a pyramid. "Humans in the old days used to call us the Picts."
We all do a few hundred years in the human world, it's a kindness. We try to ensure that you don't blow each other up.
I'm very tired and I've done my bit, I want to go fishing and to see my family again.
There is a place on the pyramid where we can slip through from one world to the next but it's only open for a short time each century and I don't want to miss my slot."
"There will be new Pixies coming the other way, but for me it's the end. Take care Simon, I promise you everything will be ok."
He shook his tiny wings, they were the brightest blue, then he took off with a cheery "good luck kid" and then he was gone into the haze of fireflies that were fading into the distance.
Abdul took me back to the hotel, I woke up with a hangover and half thought I had dreamt it all.
Anapoulous wasn't with us in the morning. A sudden family emergency my father said, he had to go home.
I eventually did tell my parents, they were shocked but cooler than I had expected. It was years before I came out to the rest of the world, but I've been with the same partner for 35 years.
We have two kids a boy and a girl.
I never told anyone about Mr Anoupoulos.
I do hope he's fishing somewhere and enjoying his retirement in his little house by the sea. He was a real friend to a confused kid who needed an ear and I'll never forget him.
Of course it could have been the Arrack talking but I don't think so...