Ana Corbero Redux…

Ana Corbero

During one of the last text conversations I had with Ana she asked me to write a blog update. A redux. Here it is.

You might be wondering why I’m roasting this old chestnut. Ana Corbero? Didn’t you wave goodbye to that old bint in 2017? Didn’t she leave you gasping for air like a freshly caught fish? Well… that’s what should have happened. I should have left well alone but life never turns out the way one thought it should. Sometimes, so it seems, I just can’t help myself from another thrashing.

At present Ana Corbero is living in Espluges, Barcelona. She lives in the palace of arches created by her tricky, tax dodging father Xavier Corbero. On instagram she belches how she is surrounded by love and light. She’s opening a gallery, she offers her close artist friends exhibitions in the space… only four years ago she called her fathers house, ‘that vile mausoleum I want nothing to do with’.

Things were not so good for Ana in February 2019.

On March 1st 2019 Ana Corbero emailed me. Desperate and alone… her husband and children, she cried, had abandoned her. Penniless, addicted to drugs, trapped inside her lavish Andalucian jail… like a Saudi princess.

It’s time to revisit Ana Corbero, describe the creature she really is. How Ana Corbero deserved to be abandoned and humiliated by her husband and her children. I shall continue telling the truth about Ana Corbero… her lies, her manipulation, the manipulation of her story, the story of her ‘trauma’. Her trauma, allegedly inherited from grandparents, from dolls, from Miro, from the Virgin Mary. Trauma, always her excuse for behaving exactly however she wants when she wants and anyone who has the audacity to contradict her is a hyena, a heretic, a narcissist.

But how did this happen? How did you fall back into her poisonous web, Duncan? Why didn’t you listen to those you trusted? Why couldn’t you stay away?

March the first 2019. Ana Corbero asked for help. She could have asked any number of people. She could have asked her rich Turkish friend Mr Koc. Her rich French friend Mr. V. She could have asked Elsa Peretti who bank rolled her father’s excesses. She could have asked the poisonous Celia Lyttleton. The poisonous Celia Lyttleton who once arrived on my doorstep in desperate need of help, babe in arms, until she was ready to move on. Ana Corbero could have asked any number of these rich friends but in her time of greatest need she asked me. And that, my friends is how a fool and his money are easily parted.

Some might say, oh just let it go. You can just imagine who might say that. People… rich enough not to notice the absence of several hundred thousand euros.

Begrudgingly, I answered her call. “What do you want?” I was irritable and uncommunicative. How did she know I was in Seville? She persisted and after some persuading I met with her. If only to tidy up past resentments. Because, as we all know, resentments are the number one killer of people pleasers.

At her house in Carmona she sat on a wide, yellow, gingham sofa. Tiny and thin as you could not imagine. Smoking one cigarette after another. Her eyes sunk into her head. The house was cold and damp. The smell of nicotine lingering. She began sobbing.

I asked what had happened.

“Nobody knows how to help me,” she wailed.

The staff had lined up in front of her unable to help. The nurses and housekeeper and gardeners. Everyone was exhausted by her. A year later, she would do the same to me, take everything I had… emotionally, physically and spiritually.

She sat on the sofa and told her sorry tale of a one page divorce she signed because she loved her husband and she said she would do anything he wanted. She had given him everything, now she had nothing. The children refused to see her. Like most desperate fools she was incapable of owning her part in a disaster of her own making. She was the victim, the wretched victim who had only others to blame.

However self piteous, it was hard not to feel compassion for her. However she’d behaved, surely she didn’t deserve this?

As I was preparing to leave the house that damp Spanish afternoon she grabbed hold of me and begged me to help. I thought for a moment and wondered how many times I had been desperate for help but unable to ask. Desperate and alone, this catastrophe was of her own making. So I said this,

“I will help you, I will do anything it takes to help you. But you must let me help you the way I see fit. I will be paid for my time if and when you are liberated from your shoddy divorce agreement and your father’s inheritance bares fruit. This help does not come for free.”

I asked her to consider signing an agreement and I left.

I stayed in my hotel in Carmona and flew back to London the following day.

Ana met me in London.

During the hours we spent together I attempted to unravel her various problems. Her problems were complex but not unsurmountable. The divorce she had consented to was a mess and obviously signed when she was high or drunk (no excuse). What little leverage she had I knew I was going to have to exploit to force her husband into a negotiation.

We needed lawyers. The best I could find. The best I could pay for.

Her father had left her (and her step mother Midu) his €150 million estate which was held in a complicated trust in the British Virgin Islands.

I introduced Ana to my lawyer Arthur Bing Nelson in London who specialises in trusts. I explained whilst I was helping as a friend, I expected to be paid for my time. The meeting was just one of many where Ana seemed incapable of grasping the bigger picture. Distracted, not looking like the beneficiary of a large estate but a resentful fool, too preoccupied with herself to help herself.

She had a plan to be closer to her children. She had been on-line house hunting for a place near her children’s boarding school. I drove her to see the apartment overlooking her children’s school unaware, until she mentioned in passing… the children were not just refusing to see her they had demanded to be protected from her, they were not allowed to see or communicate with their mother due to her abusive behaviour. The school had been instructed to safeguard them. As it turned out the children were mere trading chips in her ghastly game of cat and mouse with the cause of her primary resentment… Nabil, her ex husband. Nabil the ‘narcissist’, ‘the viper’, ‘the liar’. I was unaware that day, as we drove into the verdant english countryside the depth of deception and self deception Ana was capable.

I agreed to return to Seville for a longer visit to see what we could do to spring her from her gorgeous jail. When I returned to Seville I affirmed I was willing to do whatever it took to help her get back onto her feet and she signed the agreement to pay me an hourly rate, disbursements and expenses.

I hired Miguel and Patricia, two incisive and brilliant lawyers from the international law firm Garrigues. At our first meeting, I explained what we needed. 1. Ana needed her ex husband to renegotiate the terms of her divorce. 2. We needed to onshore her father’s offshore assets. 3. We needed to deal with a highly complicated tax liability. It was complicated but I understood clearly what needed to be done whilst Ana, yet again, sat in the meetings like a troubled child asking about plates she had left in her London apartment Nabil refused to return.

Nabil Gholam had done a brilliant job of wrestling everything from her. Kept on a short financial leash at the house in Carmona, refused entry to their apartment in London. The property she owned with her husband in Carmona was in a company over which she had no control. The other property they owned world wide had been signed over by herself to her husband. Even her father’s estate was supposedly left to Nabil. What little room he had left her to wriggle was enough for me to get her out of the agreement or at least make his life uncomfortable. He was breaking corporate rules, he was not following even the basic rules of running a Spanish company therefore opening himself to legal scrutiny.

Everyday I research property laws, company laws, I gain an encyclopedic knowledge of offshore trusts, the British Virgin Islands and onshoring. I am searching for loopholes Ana could step through to avoid the problems she had created. I coordinate the various lawyers, accountants and advisors.

As Ana saw a way out of her prison she became wilful and surly, rather than take the opportunity to change anything in herself, she set about using my money and time righting historical wrongs. As she became stronger she became more arrogant.

Every day as I sorted one problem she would set about creating another.

The control she now felt confident to exert on others she attempted on me. She told me how to breath, how to stand, how to eat and insisted I gave her urine and stool samples so she could test how my insides were doing. I refused.

Desperate for cash she took her watches to a dealer in Seville and sold them. She asked me to contact Jay Jopling and offer him a bronze by Pablo Gargallo of Kiki de Montparnass. After I offered it to him (by text) Ana admitted it was a copy of the original by her father Xavier Corbero. Thankfully Jopling declined the sculpture.

Kiki de Montparnass copy

A burly man from Seville arrives at the house. He has a bag of tools and a toxic body odor. Convinced the safe in her bedroom is packed with her husband’s collection of tax avoiding watches, Ana hired a safe breaker who worked all day to cut into the safe. He failed, filling the house with acrid smoke and foul, grey dust. The staff and I looked on helplessly as the safe breaker cut through the steel and concrete. Of course, she refuses to pay him.

High on the thought of freedom she demands furniture moved from wing of the house to another. Huge wardrobes dismantled. Beds and sculpture hauled needlessly from one side of the house to another. No longer the sickly sparrow she became a fucking monster.

At night we would work through the research I continued to compile but Ana was incapable of listening, berating me with stories from her past and the ‘inherited trauma’ of her great grandparents. She would sob and claw at her face keeping me awake until dawn.

Weeks of hard work passed. Her friend Mr V turned up from Mexico City and commended the work I was doing for Ana.

“We all need a Duncan in our lives.”

The chaos at the house intensified, Ana found her daughter’s diary who had written pubescent fantasies about the gardener. Whether they were true or not was a different matter. Seizing on this opportunity to cause more problems Ana calls the police, lawyers and social workers. We have the most gut wrenching chat with the gardener who casually denied the accusations looking at his boss with total disregard. Both me and Mr V (gay men) had seen the daughter use highly sexualised maneuvers. I extricated myself from the moment and informed her father.

Unexpectedly, Ana’s lawyers, the expensive ones from Seville… Miguel and Patricia turn up at the estate. We sit in the garden because Ana is paranoid her husband Nabil is eavesdropping from Beirut. We discuss everything in English, we discuss the divorce.

“Well, she signed it.” Patricia shrugged.

They were tiring of her antics. Why are they here? We discuss the property in Carmona held in the Spanish company she owned equally with Nabil. We discuss her father’s estate. We discuss the children and Nabil’s access to the house. Then Ana starts speaking Spanish. It isn’t unusual. But Patricia turns to me and says,

“We are discussing Anna stealing money from her daughter’s trust account.”

“How much money?”

“Enough for the authorities to be alerted.”

My heart sank lower than an ocean. I immediately tried to rationalise.

“I’m sure Ana is very embarrassed.”

I spluttered, but at that moment I knew what was happening, I felt so foolish… and I knew I couldn’t trust this greedy, common thief ever again. Stealing from her severely disabled daughter so she could attend a fancy party in Istanbul made a fool of me and my help.

Laughing how her husband would hide shaking in the pantry whenever they had a fight, she scoffed how a big man was shaking with fear, in fear of tiny Ana. But I knew Nabil wasn’t frightened of her… he was frightened of what he might do to her.

3am. I am bitten by a mosquito. So exhausted my immune system compromised, a thick red line of angry infection runs from the bite up my arm. I know it’s serious. We go immediately to the hospital in Seville. In the hospital she tells anyone who will listen that I am her husband. Unable to move she strokes my brow and calls me darling. The doctors confirm the worst: Lymphangitis.

Recuperating from the nasty infection I retreat to Ana’s house in Tavira, Portugal. At her suggestion I move my things out of storage and into the empty house. Ana sends video updates from Carmona. Videos of her husband wheeling her daughter’s wheelchair around the estate with the nurse. Whilst in Tavira we were contacted by middle man Enric Badia who acts for developer wanting her father’s estate. I construct a deal. If not for him for other potential buyers. The deal takes care of the offshore element/instrument, the tax… leaving Ana with a life changing amount of money.

It took weeks to recover from the infection and fight off sepsis. Emboldened by her inevitable jailbreak Ana took the reigns. As it turned out this meant more underhand shenanigans. She used her housekeeper, Ani to pass notes to Nabil bypassing the lawyers. Trying to make deals. Nabil’s lawyers tell Patricia and Miguel. When Garrigues discovered what she was doing they fired her. Speechless. Spent. It was over. She had burned her last bridge. I was so weak fell into the hall shelves and smashed her precious painted teapot, smashed into a thousand pieces.

I wished it had been her head.

tea pot

The following week she turned up in Tavira and told me to leave immediately.

Persuaded to read my previous blog the only critique she had?

“I don’t have black eyes!” Of all the terrible revelations? That was it.

Of course, a nasty legal fight unfolded. She held onto the money she owed me. She still owes me. Of the approximately €400,000 she owes me she paid me £15,000. Now it’s with lawyers. We are waiting for the court to give us a date.

It seems she has moved into her father’s house. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Why didn’t she move into it sooner? As we began the process of suing her I knew I couldn’t take this situation personally. Ana treated many people like she treated me and she will continue to treat people the same way. It is what a narcissist does.

If you spot it you got it. Everything she accuses others she suffers herself. She has paid a huge price for her inability to address her character defects. Expecting everyone else to clear up her mess. Whether that mess is dog shit in the sitting room or refusing to deal with her father’s inheritance… her unrealistic expectations of others are huge and can never be fulfilled. It makes me sad to think a 65 year old woman can be so far from peace of mind. As for me? I suggest you read my previous blog. I think it explains everything. I couldn’t save you Ana. I shouldn’t have tried.

Death Gay Hollywood Los Angeles Queer

Fear and Faith

Easter 2022 Portugal

Last night I made Indian food at home for friends. A convivial evening. The weather has been spectacular this week. The religious parades a little lacklustre, they don’t compare with the magisterial opulence of the spanish equivalent. Yet, even though I don’t believe in christianity, I bow my head before those who do.

This morning the apartment is scented with cassia, cardamom, coriander…

Last week the rains were gratefully upon us.

The sky is dove gray, the cloud ombréd into anthracite onto the horizon. Spring storms are coming. Gulls wheeling over the Rio Gilao. The swifts are no longer screaming, they are hiding in their mud and saliva nests under the eves. The deluge comes, polishing the cobbles. Parasols flap and drip onto miserable tourists. An inescapable torrent. I may have left the window open.

I am unpacking my unhealthy, enmeshed relationship with women. I am the one… I have consistently had unhealthy relationships with women. I am the one. Ending in dismay, disloyalty, disappointment. I could make a million excuses but I am the one. Whether it is George or Samia, rich or poor, bright or not… they open the door to their misery and like a fool, I rush in.

I wanted to save my mother. I couldn’t. I was powerless. I wasn’t enough. I lay in bed listening to the screams. I couldn’t save her. I was just a boy! What could I do? In my teens I ended up resenting her because she couldn’t save herself. Nor us. I know my brothers were terribly wounded. They sabotaged their father’s funeral.

Truth never picks a side.

A famous friend is crying hard about the pressure of fame, success. She is crying because she hates talk shows, she hates the publicity grind. She is bleating and moaning, the hard rain is falling. It is difficult to listen, knowing just how they reaped the rewards of the entertainment industry. I am full of judgement until I admit I’ve been there myself, equally indulgent. I’ve written about it, the loneliness of success.

If I believe my creative gifts are god given, yet… when the universe delivers I wonder: am I deserving? ‘No, you are not.‘ I hear the voice in my head so clearly, speaking to me using my voice. ‘You are an imposter, you’ll always be an imposter.’

Remember that night? The night in question, that night, that great night… leaving the theatre deafened by applause, even though I had many who would have congratulated me I had no one to call. I was completely alone, enduring the discomfort of the moment, so fearful, I wanted to call my mother but that door was closed to me. I felt so fragile, it was impossible to enjoy my success. The intensity of the moment was nothing I had experienced before. It was so overwhelming I ran away, I fought it off. I am only deserving of punishment. I have stripped myself of every opportunity presented me. I have sabotaged each and every gift. I have behaved like a lunatic.

Ana, Samia, Donna, Eleanor, Georgina, Hilary. A longer list exists… I am sure. Women I wanted to save, save from husbands, boredom, grief, family, loneliness. When will I ever learn? Maybe this is the moment? I am the one? It always ends up the same way, even when I have set the boundaries, considered my motives, written the contract. The outcome is always the same: RESENTMENT.

Ana calls me her husband, George wants to marry me, Donna is furious when I tell her friends I am gay. Samia meets me in Paris for what? She woefully reminds me how old she is. What became of them?

Drawn to their helplessness, tiny Ana lost on her huge sofa, penniless. Donna consumed by her hoard, piss and shit saved in plastic bags, Samia shamed by her menopause. Georgina’s body wrecked by Parkinson’s, her bank accounts raped by her daughter. I have learned, just now. This day. Unless those who have becomes victims to circumstance take hold of their own lives no one can help them. What could I do? I was just a boy! I can momentarily drag her out of poverty, over the shingle to the restaurant in the wheelchair… but I cannot will them to live, to stop making the same mistakes.

By consorting with a woman and her shame, I can only fail. Those who saw me wrecked by grief must never lay eyes on me ever again. When ‘saved’ what do we need with our saviour? If incapable of saving, we slip into the oily, cold water of failure. Like Jack from Rose.

Men I know sharing how they drank and used drugs like heroes: they drank like Travis Bickle, snorted like Scarface, loved like Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Their cinematic memories, their euphoric recall is so often vulgar and self-aggrandising. If I drank like a character in a movie? I am Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Baby Jane Hudson. King baby. Writing a letter to daddy. Knocking back the bourbon, controlling the outcome, taking hostages.

Looking in the mirror. Crying. Drowning in self pity.

Thank God I cast myself in another movie. The movie I am living right now. Am I happy because of the therapy or the anti depressants? I am luxuriating in the moment. I love my things. The temperature is perfect. I do not wish to shut the door on my past but, thank god, I am not my story. My story, the story of casual violence and hopelessness merely gave me excuses to behave badly. ‘If you had my story you too would be a monster’, that is the lie we tell ourselves. Without my story I have no excuse. I am the one.

My mother ended up saving herself. She has the life she wants. I respect and accept that. It has taken decades of reflection to own my part. It was a process aided by the voices of so many willing to share their truth. Faith overcomes fear. I know, no matter what, I will be ok.

For that, this Easter day, I am very thankful.

Queer Whitstable

Sir Tom Croft Architect

Sir Tom and Max Croft Christmas 2010

If ever there were I time I needed this blog… then now would be that time. Writing has always afforded me the opportunity of untangling the scribble of thoughts and furies in my head. When I was a boy I made sense of complications (secrets and lies) by writing. Setting out the problems and finding solutions. My first attempt at creative writing, a series of short stories about mice… written when I was no more than 11 years old. Reading them now they are a fascinating and heart wrenching attempt to unravel the unrelenting brutality I suffered at the hands of my step-father, at school and the casual racism of Whitstable people.

Now I am kept awake at night by other furies, no less brutal. The continuing and evolving cruelty of Brexit. The take down of an elected leader by those who sought to discredit with lies and false allegations of anti-semitism. Watching a good and honest man hooked by his enemies, made to squirm for no good reason other than he sought to challenge the vile status quo and support the arab people of Palestine, confronting apartheid Israel.

Many, many people feel hopeless after the recent UK election. A rigged electoral system, a billionaire owned press spouting lies about a good man then amplified by state media. The obvious similarities to all those soviet style broadcasts we smirked at thirty years ago becoming apparently ours. This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. Ha! Riven from the ice by global warming. Climate change another of the challenges facing humanity denied by the same charlatans who sought to destroy Jeremy Corbyn.

There are two distinct types of people at home in the UK. Those who are invested in the truth and those who believe anything they are told. It is clear to people like me they dare not challenge the dominant voice. The others do not dare to take on the establishment. They cower before the lie.

You know I’ve never held my tongue. Restraint is alien to me. I’d rather lose a friend than stay quiet. This happened just before Christmas three years ago at an old friend’s house. Tom Croft and his wife Max. Sir Tom Croft. I’d know Tom since my teens and was very fond of his parents and his spinster aunt. I had spent years of Christmas at Tom’s beautiful converted barn. They had very kindly included me in many of their social events. Lunches, beach parties and garden parties, their garden is magnificent! However, their pretentious gardener, the vile Posy Gentles is not. I’d not always enjoyed these excursions. Their posh white friends were gruelling company. Trapped in a tight spot, forced to find any conversation with Amicia De Moubray, married to Kent’s Lord Lieutenant is a special kind of hell. However, I played the game and respecting Tom’s feelings ignored their right wing banta and kept my end of the conversation non controversial.

Christmas Day, three years ago at an intimate supper with Tom and Max I was forced to endure a local carpenter’s offensive opinion of gay men. I complained. Tom kept quiet as his wife, a Guardian editor, sought to protect the idiot carpenter and silence my experience as a gay man. She sought like most right wing women, at the highly polished, mahogany dinner table, to defend the dominant article: a white heterosexual male who didn’t want to understand his privilege. Who couldn’t bare… not for one moment to walk in another man’s shoes. I couldn’t shake the resentment and wrote her the following day:

‘Privilege has nothing to do with money.  You may very well have come from a worst family situation than me (tho I doubt it) even if that was the case my journey as a gay man these past 60 years has not been easy and when I share my story I do not expect you to diminish my experience. 

I do not expect you to be gay holocaust denier.  I do not expect you to do anything other than respectfully listen to those who suffered because they were/are out gay men fighting for equality, visibility and anti vilification.

Here is what you refused that night to acknowledge for me and millions of other men my age:

1. Born a criminal.  Know what that means?  Ask other gay men in their sixties.  It means when I was born a gay man could still be sent to jail for being gay.  In fact, men were still being sent to jail for consensual sex acts as recently as 1988.

2.  Facing violent prejudice in the street if you were an out gay man.  Swearing, spitting hitting and worse. And as I found recently still evident on the less enlightened streets of some European countries.

3.  The aids crisis deliberately ignored by government because it was perceived as a gay plague.   Watching over 100 young men dying gruesome deaths.

4.  Section 28, Margaret Thatcher’s draconian discriminatory anti gay law.

5. Marriage and other institutions lgbt people were excluded from.  

6.  Fear of openly expressing affection to ones we/I loved.  This is perhaps the most egregious.’ 

She replied she did not recognise herself from my description and we were no longer friends. She wrote this from a holiday in Istanbul she and her husband shared with Anne McElvoy and Martin Ivens, the editor of The Sunday Times, who have located to my home town of Whitstable. One can imagine how they soothed her ruffled feathers and told her to ignore the uppity faggot.

The Guardian is now under the thumb of MI5. Forced to destroy their hard drives by a man from the ministry, the editor removed after printing ghastly truths provided by Julian Assange. How can anyone have any respect for Max Croft?

Arriving from London last Tuesday Sir Tom and his dog were waiting at the station. He said hello. I shook my head. His absurd wife, Lady Max Croft greeted him with a shrill. I do not need their garden parties, their equally dreary friends or their condescension. I do not need them to protect their friends from uncomfortable truths.

Queer Whitstable

Georgina Jenkins

I haven’t written my blog for a very long time. Life sure has changed these past few years. The Little Dog, after a wonderful life, born on the streets of LA, travelling the world… a little dog who loved Paris and knew we were there whenever we arrived… caught his last breath in a veterinary surgery in Canterbury four weeks ago. He was done.

The day before he died he staggered into the garden and lay in the cold and dark under a garden chair. It was the sign I needed. The following day we said our goodbyes to our friends in Whitstable. Marilyn and Johnny held him one last time. He had been with me for longer than any human. Now he is a small tube of ashes, his coat, collar and passport.

There are days when I want to be where he is. But I know the Little Dog is waiting for me and whatever death God has planned for me it gives me solace to know this.

We have been living in Portugal these past years. Trapped by covid and inertia. We had our routine. We walked the little park every day. Occasionally, but not nearly enough, walked the beach. He loved the sand. That’s where I will scatter his ashes. Forever running on the sand.

My own brush with death in 2020 started on the morning of December 17th and ended four months later. Gripped by Covid. Hospitalised, plagued by demons, holding onto life. Covid 19 changed everything. My semi lifeless body washed from head to toe by gentle nurses. Learning to walk again. I agreed to take antidepressants. To be honest, from the hit of the first pill… I haven’t looked back. I wish I had taken them when they’d been offered years before. Everything changed. Everything. I take my pill and fear falls away. Finally I love everything I own, I enjoy the colours and the form but my self esteem is not tied up in my possessions or what I may have or have not achieved. Settled in my own body I finally have the peace of mind I thought would elude me til my deathbed.

Life is not without difficulties but my faith is simple: if I own my part, everything will be ok no matter what.

Fearlessness has its downsides. Recently I was queer baited in a supermarket in the small Algarve town where I live. Instead of ignoring the assailant I stood up to him. He was violent and I fought back. I thought ‘Duncan, you are 60 years old, it’s now or never’. By the time the brawl was over the supermarket was trashed, the police arrived. We were taken in separate ambulances to separate hospitals. My feet lacerated, glass shards are still making their way out of my toes. The gay paramedic in the ambulance advised me to contact a gay helpline who organised a lawyer gratis. They have been handling the situation ever since. It was time to fight back. It was time.

I let professionals deal with problems I cannot. Doctors, dentists, the gay lawyer. The Spanish lawyers: I am still suing Ana for the money she owes me. The property in Herefordshire is gently unfolding in the right direction. We won three major planning successes (one at appeal) and I love, more and more, being there. I realised I had never experienced my property in the summer so made my way there last July. It was such a treat. So quiet and beautiful.

Georgina Jenkins 2022

Georgina, now it’s your turn. I have to write about you.

As I flew home from London to Portugal late last night in the rowdy Ryanair airbus, trying to ignore the menacing, drunk racists laughing around us I looked out of the window over the villages below me. Lit up like galaxies. Some strong and bright and highly coloured. Some weak and small swallowed up in the black, moonless landscape. Constellations above me, constellations below.

I had spent just one day of the planned 10 in Whitstable. Whitstable. How happy you and Georgina have made me these past 7 months. My mother and I have reconnected and made our peace. Richard, my best friend during my twenties is now married, children grown, a grandchild on the way. We sat by the fire in the Oyster Company drinking tea and catching up. Strangely, or not so strangely, our life trajectories had unknowingly intersected those three decades. Holidays in Montauk when I would have been there. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway past my house. He has a great deal to be proud of. The business thrives after thirty years. His son is strong and handsome, intelligent and humble.

I met Georgina Jenkins shortly after she moved to Whitstable 22 years ago.

Georgina bought the Copeland House bed and breakfast on Island Wall from John and Jill. John and Jill were fat when nobody was fat. Their obesity was a shameless part of their character as much as their gold chains and fancy set gold sovereigns. Jill had huge, baggy arms and voluminous breasts that swallowed you up when she hugged you. They owned the green grocer on the corner of Terry’s Lane before the council knocked it down, replacing the tatty nissen hut, the public toilets and the assembly rooms with rows of ship lapped faux fishermans cottages with ugly dormers and triangular windows that point into the eaves, never properly blinded.

Jill and John wanted a bed and breakfast thinking it less taxing than lugging boxes of spuds and brussels from Covent Garden every day. They bought the abandoned coastguard cottage by Keam’s Yard, Copeland House. They cleared out Nobby and other assorted drunks squatting there. Johnny put up terrible partitioning and equally bad wallpaper and voila: Jill and Johnny had Whitstable’s first seaside bed and breakfast.

A decade later, time to retire… Jill and John bought a bungalow in Yorkletts. Moving from Essex, a leap of faith, Georgina bought the B&B and set about poncifying her gold mine the day after she bought it. Out came Jill’s ghastly nick knacks replaced with a life time collection of Clarice Cliff. Out went Johnny’s pale yellow winceyette, brushed nylon and fire hazzard bedding replaced with white linen and interlined curtains.

George, divorced from famed book maker John Jenkins, has two children: Sophie Kay and Patrick Jenkins. After 15 years making the best full English in Kent Georgina retired and her daughter Sophie and son in law Michael Kay bought the bed and breakfast. They closed it abruptly and applied to the local council for change of use.

Like so many Essex woman of a certain genre, Sophie is instagram ready the moment she leaves the house. Alternately gurning or pouting in every filtered picture taken. Fake tits, fake tan, no conversation her ex boyfriend sent to prison for fraud, stealing credit cards. When I met her she had recently stabbed her boyfriend Adam Wright in the chest, he was hospitalised. She boasts she has many friends, a multi million pound property portfolio, that her daughter Poppy is top of the class. Is any of it true?

Patrick, Georgina’s son who I detested for years, has learned from both British and American prisons there is more to life. I now have a great respect for Patrick after years of being frightened and intimidated by him. Patrick has owned his addiction and from what I have seen of his writing could be a great writer. We unexpectedly had cause to visit Brighton and he beguiled me with his unique and compelling stories.

I always have time for an addict who owns his shit. Understandably, the rest of his family are less willing to forgive his unmanageability. Patrick’s children Henry and girlfriend Brooke, his daughter Grace and her drug dealer boyfriend Billy no longer speak with him. This family run in a pack. His aunt Gay Briggs and her daughter Chloe Coates also ignore Patrick. Chloe has a dim, posh husband called Jack Coates. Patrick calls Jack, Pussyhole. However, dim Jack is bright enough to know how uncomfortable Sophie and Michael Kay’s casual racism/homophobia made him. The Spanton/Jenkins are heavy drinkers. Gay drinks red wine and nods off at the end of dinner. They all think far too much of their moderate success and limited achievements.

I knew Georgina’s chain smoking sister Gay Briggs years before I met Georgina, she never really interested me. Gay is a show off who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. A fog horn boasting into the wind.

Lately, the pack has shrunk. Gay’s charming husband Bruce recently died of a massive stroke ‘he farted three times and I knew he was dead‘ and their hugely popular sister Maxine died of a rare leukemia. The best of the family died with them.

Georgina is my friend. I love her very much. An unlikely partnership. 14 years older than me, those who saw us together were bemused. When I lived in Whitstable I would leave her to deal with visitors from London when I couldn’t. We would cook, garden and travel. We fantasised owning a hotel. We wanted the Dolphin Hotel in Herne Bay but when push came to shove, it was a scary prospect. Wherever we went we would pretend we were looking to buy property and make time-wasting appointments with realtors. It was our hobby. We spent three months in Australia. Gallery owner Oscar Humphries was astounded we shared a room. Not a bed. We jogged from Bronte to Bondi and every day worked out at the City Gym. We drove from Sydney to Melbourne. We drove with Oscar into the outback and photographed a Bachelor and Spinster’s ball for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Georgina Sydney 2005

I wanted her to see everything I loved. I took her to Fire Island, we stayed at the Mercer Hotel in New York City, we travelled to film festivals. When I made the Elizabeth Hurley movie she pretended to be my mum when I had to entertain the producers. When I brought Jake B to London it was George I wanted him to meet.

Even though she had an occasional romantic love for me (mocked by her daughter) she knew her romantic love could never be fulfilled. And even though I continued to have intimacy with men I didn’t flash my various affairs or one night stands in her face because I knew it would hurt her. Most gay men I know have a very close woman friend in lieu of a mother. As my mother and I became closer, leaving decades of resentment behind, my relationship with George changed too.

George and I were fractious on occasions but never bored. We had a few, huge dramatic fights. Fantastically frugal she knew to the last penny how much money was owed at a restaurant. How many sweets we shared on a road trip. Every penny profit was a ‘touch’. Her family never approved of me even though, when I lived in LA, I was forced to accommodate and entertain them. I invited Georgina many times to Los Angeles but she never came. She would have loved it. The garden. The space. Malibu.

So, it was with great sadness I learned she had Parkinson’s Disease. She deteriorated quickly.

I would occasionally pop in to see her whenever I was in Whitstable, avoiding Patrick. She was often on her own and would ask me to help out with little tasks as her mobility was impaired. She never forgot my birthday and I would keep up with her on social media. Last year she told me her family (all of the above minus Pat) plus Sophie’s red faced husband Mickey and Pat’s ex wife (also called Georgina) were travelling to Cyprus for two weeks. George told me proudly Mickey is treated ‘like a king’ in Cyprus.

Sophie and Michael Kay ‘Brand Ambassadors’

So, needing to be in Whitstable, Georgina invited me to stay. It was lovely to be with her but what I subsequently discovered was extremely disturbing. Stories of casual abuse from her unemployed daughter Sophie. The evidence of neglect was clear to see. The formerly beautiful beach house George moved into after she sold the B&B to Sophie was such a mess! My Mary Poppins gayness got the better of me: Piles of old papers sorted. A huge, unused treadmill sold. The 18th century Indian bed she used as a coffee table returned to its correct place, loose covers freshly laundered.

The previous year, left alone in the house she had fallen badly and broken her hip. When the ambulance arrived her family came to kiss her goodbye. Each one of them solemnly climbing into the ambulance. They didn’t expect George to survive a covid hospital and rehab. The youngest grandchildren were told they wouldn’t see their grandmother again.

The family extended their stay in Cyprus from two to five weeks. I stayed on in Whitstable to keep her company. We established a nice routine. Working with her carers and Emma the cleaning lady we restored order where there was none and a good routine for her safety. I took her to hospital appointments, food shopping and Tescos to buy loungewear. Tiny things to do but apparently a bridge too far for her daughter the gurning Sophie who had rarely taken her out. George admitted she didn’t like the way they pushed her around, in and out of the car. She felt unsafe. ‘They treated me like meat.’

When it was my time to leave she would shake uncontrollably. On her own she was useless. I knew it.

“Protect me from my family.” she asked. I came back. For six months.

During these past few months we have laughed so hard, we’ve eaten at restaurants which is no small feat considering her disability. I wash and blow dry her hair and she calls me Nicky. (Until Sophie ‘borrowed’ the hairdryer.) We unpack the past. I have a notoriously bad memory after my spinal leak. George remembers all the detail my brain erased. She says, ‘do you remember…?’ I often don’t remember, even when she tells the story.

We got into very bad habits, watching bad TV. Game shows in the afternoon. We cooked three meals a day and put on weight. We experimented with Parkinson’s approved diets. I fed her black chocolate and bananas as it was meant to help. We loved eating home made curry and slow cooked shoulder of lamb. We braised oxtail. Porridge every morning unless we fancied greek yogurt and granola.

Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect the body, it affects the brain. A quick google search and a chat with her doctor confirmed the worse: Georgina has stage 4/5 Parkinson’s. Paranoia and terrible anxiety are as much a part of the disease as the uncontrollable shakes. People with Parkinson’s shouldn’t be left on their own. Loneliness is corrosive. When she was certain I wasn’t leaving, even for a short while, she would settle and calm and the less the terrible shaking would grip her. Yet, I also saw her focused and determined when she really wanted something and I was there to facilitate.

At night we kept the door between us open so she could hear me breathing and she would settle into a deep sleep. Sometimes she would panic. Screaming out. A deep roar from a place I did not recognise. Left on her own the unreasonable fears and thoughts would overcome her and she would imagine people breaking into the house, stealing from her cupboards. Occasionally, even when I was with her she couldn’t get comfortable, getting in and out of bed dozens of times. Pulling on the only shoes she trusts. Removing them. Pulling them on again. Frightened she would fall. I would put her back to bed, cover her feet, hold the jug so she could pee, soothe her wet brow. Sometimes at 3 or 4am we would get her off to sleep. I wasn’t always patient at 3am. She would apologise telling me her daughter would accuse her of attention seeking, unable to understand the profuse sweating was her broken internal thermometer, another Parkinson’s horror symptom.

A month or so after I arrived she told me she was worried about money. Knowing how frugal she was I asked how that could possibly be. She said she was totally broke. I didn’t believe her. She owns her house on the beach, had sold the B&B for £600,000 which gave her at least £300,000 to live on after paying the mortgage.

Elders are incredibly vulnerable. Elders with a debilitating disease are more vulnerable. Elders with money and a debilitating disease and greedy children? After a quick look at her bank statements it turned out during the past 5 years of the worst of her Parkinson’s her daughter and son in law Michael Kay had persuaded with her to part with over £350,000 in cash and still owed her £85,000 from the purchase of the B&B. They had defaulted on the promissory notes they had signed. They had made her take out a £50,0000 government bounce back loan. Predicated on a fantasy Covid would get her, that she would die, they thought these interest free loans would vanish, the 1.2 million pound house she lives in would be theirs. Job done.

However, things went tits up for Sophie and Michael Kay.

Georgina didn’t die.

Nor did the gurning, pouting Sophie expect an old friend to turn up in a moment of need. They did not expect the friend to call a lawyer, Age Concern and the elder abuse unit at Maidstone Police Station. They did not expect to get caught.

It latterly turned out a shrewd property investment made by Georgina had also been intercepted and overwhelmed by Michael Kay.

I spent more and more time with George. I was frightened for her life. I wanted her to have a life. More than sitting in her reclining chair looking out of the window. When we weren’t together we would chat for hours on the phone. An hour’s chat before bedtime. Often those conversation were about her children. Sophie ‘had a turn’, Patrick was a terrible son.

For spurious reasons guilty Sophie would storm into George’s house, screaming. A 50 year old woman screaming relentlessly at her frail mother. Even when we locked the door she kicked the door so hard it splintered. Whilst I was there Sophie barricaded her mother into her own bedroom screaming. Always screaming. Blaming anyone/everyone other than herself for her problems.

A violent household on Christmas Day 2021 I saw Michael Kay hit their tiny dog, a big man punching a small dog. Michael Kay was officially warned by Canterbury Police for threatening me.

Mickey and Sophie have a small son, Dexter and Sophie has a 13 year old daughter called Poppy. The heavy set daughter was both bullied and a bully at school. Both Poppy and Sophie have eating disorders. Sophie wants weight loss surgery, she was impressed when meeting my sister Roya who recently had weight loss surgery. We would hide biscuits and other sweet things from Poppy. We stopped buying ice cream. She would eat everything she could lay her hands on.

Yet, whatever Sophie owes Georgina, however they treat her… she forgives them. I suppose that’s what mothers do? Georgina loves her daughter and her granddaughter. Stockholm syndrome.

Alone at the house, George placates herself in the early hours on-line shopping, cardboard boxes and packages arrive from Ebay and Amazon. She lives on a meagre state pension. Rather than returning an unsuitable item she always offers the item to Sophie, who never said no. Nibbling at the very little Georgina has. They never offer to help out with the important things. Only when Patrick demands they pay for a new wheelchair or the security cameras set against the loan repayment. Never did I hear Sophie say, hey… I know you don’t have much I’ll return this gift, you should have the money.

Living in constant fear of her overdraft. This is not how life should be. She worked her ass off. She always had a job. Expected nothing, gave everything. She made excellent business choices, George should be luxuriating in her dotage rather than worrying about every last penny.

Anxiety exacerbates Parkinson’s disease.

If she ever gets the money she is owed by Sophie and Mickey she is determined to send Poppy to a public school but I’m afraid you can’t polish a turd. This may seem harsh but read until the end, dear reader.

For seven months I saw Georgina decline. Paranoia, when anxious. would twist her mind, she was convinced the carers were stealing her makeup. Convinced they were poisoning her food. She would fret a specific bowl or jug had been thrown away. She thought she saw a person stealing a television. She was particularly anxious about my relationship with other women. She was convinced I was having an affair with Patrick’s girlfriend, Caroline. She said, ‘Caroline is my achilles heel.’ Convinced my female friends were not just friends. Most worrying of all she could hear people lingering in the garden. We had security cameras fitted to alleviate her worry. I found the bowl, the jug and the missing ribbons, we found her purse she was sure Sophie had stolen. We located her missing wedding ring.

Eventually I found her a more suitable walker for the home and a new wheelchair powered by a lithium battery for trips into town. Sadly, she only felt safe with me taking her out.

Occasionally she would ask me to marry her. “If anything happens to me, marry me .” I must admit, if it protected her from Sophie, I would have married her but I knew in my heart it was an impossible dream, a dream like the hotels and homes we saw together all those years ago. It would have been a marriage of convenience to suit her immediate needs. I couldn’t do it.

The pressure from her daughter was getting worse. Knowing my service was coming to an end I booked a ticket to Portugal. Promising to come back in a month. A week into my return Georgina called me, she was distraught. Her adored grandchild Poppy had slapped her so hard in the face she saw stars.

Poppy, is a heavy set teen, she has a foul mouth and often called me and her grandmother ‘cunts’.

I was furious. Georgina said the slap reminded her of when Mickey hit their tiny dog. I called Patrick but Georgina, trying to protect Poppy denied it had happened. Then she admitted it was true. Frankly, I didn’t know what to believe until Poppy relented and confirmed it had happened.

She begged me to come back. The following day from Stansted I called to see how she was doing. She told me she had seen compelling evidence from her daughter Sophie I was planning to murder her. Knowing the jig was up, Sophie had persuaded her poor mother her best friend and greatest support was out to kill her. It was enough. I knew I had to get out. I arrived in Whitstable, Patrick picked me up from the station. There is nothing anyone can say or do when dementia sets in. The person you knew is no longer there. I packed up my things and Richard organised a room in the hotel.

When I arrived at George’s house she was sitting in her new wheelchair. She looked terrible. Georgina’s ‘friend’ Pauline Hendy was there. Her friend who wouldn’t believe Sophie and Mickey had taken her money. An ex barrister who in 1993 had worked infamously on the consensual sado-masochistic acts case for the appellants. She is one of those woman who seems to disapprove of strong gay men. Her face looks like a disinterred, freshly unwrapped Egyptian mummy, one colour, no lips, holes where eyes should be. Pauline was determined to defend Sophie. Her smile, a crude slit in old leather. For what reason I have no idea.

I told her to fuck off. It was not Pauline Hendy helping her friend at night. Clearing up the pee. Feeding her. Holding George until the shakes stop. Toweling off her night sweats. Where is Pauline for her friend? Pauline is not a friend. She is a goule.

Georgina called at midnight. She was crying. She said, ‘I was praying. Asking God for one normal day, then I would die.’ She misses walking the dog. Ironing. She misses what life used to be like. Normal.

Yesterday, returning to Faro I felt for my friend, Georgina. It’s hard to reconcile the things people are saying and the disease they have. The disease is speaking. This is not the person I knew.

Thankfully her son Patrick and his girlfriend Caroline can take up the reigns where I left off. They are chasing the money taken by his sister Sophie and her frightful husband Michael Kay. Pat and Caroline are feeding her. Protecting her.

It is not my responsibility. I will remember the fun we had. I will miss the laughter.

Elder abuse is real. It is silent. It is happening to a person you know. It is happening right now.