Is everything hunky dory?
It better be.
Fern asked how I spent my days and I was hard pressed for an answer. I didn’t have an answer for her.
I collect coupons. I should have said that I collect coupons and write yelp reviews about coffee shop loyalty. I should have said that I tinker with my script and have long conversations with my expensive, world-renowned lawyers about THE LAWSUIT.
I should have told her about the house I want to buy upstate. I should have told her that I dream most of the day and that’s ok.
That my day is full of dreaming and dreaming and dreaming and that’s okay.
I should have replied that I have long lunches with beautiful men that I meet in AA.
I should have told her that I found this piece by Robert Indiana.
I should have said that I go stay in The Hamptons with show girls and equity trading billionaires. Billionaires who say things like, “I saw them at Frieze and I bought all of them.” Showgirls who, knowing someone else is paying, fills up the super market cart with pies and cream and cookies. Knowing that someone else is paying.
I should have told Fern that for the past month I have been seeing this man/boy who makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee myself. That we dress up and take pictures of each other.
We have been hanging out in bars with models and freaks and transsexuals. We have been exploring Williamsburg. We have been to book launches and fancy lunches.
Michael Costiff had a book signing at the Marc Jacobs book store on Bleecker St. There was an after party at the Soho Grand.
Diego arrived from Paris and we ate lunch with Hamish in The Gramercy Park Hotel.
I should have told her that I met Orlando Soria who is a dream and has a huge, winning smile and writes a fantastic blog that you can read here.
My friends from New Jersey supported a young artist so I took Ryan. Ryan comes everywhere. Like a sweet puppy.
Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, is the story of a teenage girl who gets pregnant, is sent away to a convent to have her baby. The baby is consequently sold to rich Americans. It is a gut wrenching film. I cried nearly all the way through. Fern stayed dry-eyed throughout. I thought about my own mother and remembered that this was her story too. Teenage pregnancy, sent away to a local convent to scrub floors until I was born into a pool of blood and shame.
After the film we sat 30 floors above Manhattan in a bar called The Skylark. I met Sophie Kennedy Clark the girl who plays the young Philomena Lee. We smoked rolled cigarettes on the terrace and she explained that Vivienne Westwood had dressed her. That Vivienne had told her to take a pair of scissors to the dress if she needed or wanted to.
I met Philomena Lee and told her about my mother. She held my hand.
Dawn. Crows cawing. Dawn chorus.
There is so much dew it looks and smells as there has been heavy rain. I spend an hour every morning watering whatever I can from the path at the top of the house. I enjoy this.
There are so many snails.
Had lunch in Hollywood yesterday with a writer. Actually, we didn’t eat lunch. I drank some iced tea. Met the man who owns Mama Shelter in Paris. I have known him for years but I just didn’t know that he owned that hotel. You know we stayed there don’t you? This time last year.
How can I spend so much time wishing away the past?
Long conversation with a man in Sonoma who makes chicken coops. They are expensive but look great.
Jennifer bought fresh garbanzo beans which seem like they might be easy to grow in my garden. The melons are growing. The black tomatoes are doing well. Something ate the pumpkin seedlings. The lemon trees, after the wet winter, are laden with fruit. There are figs and plums and ruby grapefruit.
There are roses blooming all over the property.
What else can I tell you? I write my novel as per suggestion. It gets better and better. Perhaps I get better? It started as one thing and already, with a little intelligent coaxing, is evolving into something quite different. It started with vengeful intentions. Now it is getting funny. It started with a view to kill. Now it embraces the will to live. These are not my ideas.
I would prefer my original plan.
I have just a few weeks to finish writing The Scarlett Empress. It is by far the most commercial thing I have ever written. It is helping me though. Helping me think in a different sort of way.
The more I write the other stuff…the less I want to write this. Yet, this spurs me into action.
Three days until the ‘NYC on Sunday.Adventure’. The Dane arrives from
Becoming a Pilgrim. You’ll enjoy reading about it. I have had to keep the plan a big secret. I don’t want anyone ruining it.
The twins are running around the house in their boxers.
Pains in chest and arm. Balls ache once again. Nasty cough.
Well and truly stranded in Whitstable with the temperature plummeting below minus 5 degrees celsius.
The snow has frozen into crisp, wind-swept gullies, the car iced into its space in the car park, the dog makes its way cautiously into the biting air, pisses then runs back inside.
Bleak mid winter, frosty winds made moan…
Bought a shoulder of lamb yesterday. Cooked it slowly in the oven on a bed of rosemary and garlic. Slow roasting it to perfection. We sat around the table heartily carving the great piece of meat, eating it with cabbage and roast potatoes.
After the lamb we scoffed great hunks of Stollen and mugs of tea. This is Whitstable living and I love it.
I spent the day, as I mentioned yesterday, walking the dog..meeting old friends and keeping warm.
I had a slight HIM relapse. Entitled prick made his way back into my mind.
This is addiction at it’s very worst.
Yesterday I had my fourth and fifth Manhunt dates. The first was a youngish Asian who didn’t have a car or a conversation and giggled nervously. He had been to the gym but I have no idea what he was doing there unless he goes there to eat doughnuts. He had ‘attitude’ which was amusing. He knew he was totally out of his depth. Even though we were totally incompatible he still insinuated that we should fuck. We didn’t.
Listlessly waited for the watch to arrive. The moment I left the house it arrived. I will get it on Monday.
I drove into Hollywood and packed several more boxes with essentials. I had coffee with Michael B in Solar. He can be very tricky. Met a charming Brazilian called Frank who is here with me now in Malibu helping me and Ashley with the endless moving chore.
I tidied the larder organizing the pulses, baking (flour, baking soda etc.) and cans into neat rows.
So, had dinner with Manhunt date number 5. A black man from Miami. Very intelligent, great company. Not very sexy. He too wanted to have sex. What is wrong with these people? Didn’t they read my profile? I am flattered but Christ Almighty…give a man a break!
The only man I could or would consider making anything happen with was the first man..the one I couldn’t look at in the eye.
After a delayed, bumpy, listless, sanguine (huh), laconic train-ride to Marseille with little to eat other than the ham and cheese I bought at Monoprix we finally arrived on the Riviera at 2 in the morning.
Of course the taxi driver tried to charge us 20 Euros for a 6-euro trip but I refused point-blank to give in to his extortion.
Marseille is the oldest city in France.
The Hotel Tonic, accommodation that Eric very kindly found for us, was directly on the Vieux Port, which, unsurprisingly, was less romantic than I remembered it when we – Richard Green and I – visited here 20 years ago.
At 3am bawdy groups of handsome Arabs sit around the harbor, some wearing dejellaba, gesticulating and smoking.
We walked the dog then fell into two tiny beds and fell fast asleep.
The first part of the first day was incredibly frustrating.
Our plan to rent a car and drive to Nice was scuppered by Hertz et al who said they had no cars. They told us gravely that there were in fact no cars to hire in the entire region!
After the preceding days of London drama we fell into an immediate funk. Being forced to stay an extra night in Marseille, getting on each other’s nerves. When we finally returned to the Hotel Tonic I slumped into the elevator and told him that I wanted to go home.
Tired and demoralized after all that had happened in London, unable to rent a car, sleeping in a miserable room, not hearing from the people we were meant to be staying with in St Tropez..
As it turned out it was really the best thing that could have happened.
Circumstance has a rather wonderful way of shape shifting.
Firstly, the good people of the Hotel Tonic upgraded us from our tiny room to a huge room in the attic with a majestic bathroom.
Once there we set about trying to rent a car on-line and immediately did so. The car paid for, as was a train from Nice to Paris on Thursday, we could relax for the first time in 48 hours. I unpacked my suitcase, had a long shower and washed the little dog.
Once settled, we decided to walk up the steep hill to the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the church with the huge golden angel on it overlooking all Marseille.
On our way there we explored the tiny, cobbled streets, leaving the tourists at the port, having my hat blow off my head many times in the refreshing gusts of wind that grew stronger as we climbed the hill.
It occurred to me, once we got there, that my climbing Runyon and praying was obviously a very human spiritual solution. Climbing clears the mind, exhausts the body and once at the top one is somehow prepared to pray.
There was a beautiful boy leaving the church when we arrived, pulling his shirt off for the decent. He had fluffy black hair and perfect disk like nipples. We were both entranced. Walking on either side of him two older men complimenting his perfect body. There was something utterly erotic yet innocent about all three of them.
Dogs not allowed in the church I briefly sat on my own and prayed for serenity.
On the way down the hill we chanced upon and made a reservation at the Passarelle on the rue du Plan Fourmiguier, a small yet intriguing looking restaurant tucked behind the Radisson Hotel on the Vieux Port.
I knew immediately that the Passerelle would make us both very happy. With blue and white awnings over the decked al fresco tables and chairs it all looked reassuringly authentic. As if to prove my point a very chic woman was cooking in the kitchen and took our reservation.
We discovered, quite by chance, a famous bakery called Four des Navettes on the rue Sainte that has sold scented loaves and hard, rose smelling/tasting bread sticks since 1781. I bought the hard sticks of byzantine ecclesiastical ‘bread’ and a sugary ‘brioche’ that was, in fact, a huge doughnut. The bread sticks were disappointing…like eating deodorant.
After a well-deserved nap we dressed for dinner and walked the half-mile back to the Passerelle and ate the most delicious food in the most perfect circumstance. I started with the salad of jambon Palme, melon, mozzarella, rocket and basil sprinkled with toasted seeds. After my salad, a tagine of lamb and couscous (I hate the word garnished) but it was indeed garnished with a delicious stewed pear. He ate grilled Loupe and ratatouille.
Unable to choose between the four deserts we ordered three of them. Yogurt with honey, chocolate tart and fruit salad.
During the dinner there was a children’s fashion show, ten very sweet infants paraded, hand in hand in the most charming crocodile showing off very pretty, beautifully made dresses.
After eating every last mouthful we sat under the awning chatting for a very long time. Drinking coffee and smoking aromatic French cigarettes. The walk back to the hotel, past throngs of happy, drunk holidaymakers was a rather wonderful way to end what promised to be a rather miserable day.
We spent a very long time making love that night. It was perfect.
The following morning we woke late, fled to the station collected our car; kangaroo hopped (stick shift) back to the Hotel Tonic where he manhandled the luggage into the tiny Ka and off we went.
Weaving our way East along the coast we discovered La Ciotat a small tourist town where we saw yet another beautiful man with a perfect smile and even more perfect body/nipples than the man on the steps leading from the church.
There were beaches and beaches covered with equally beautiful, tanned men…we gazed out of the car longingly. Gay men on vacation in the South of France looking at beautiful men. What could be more normal than that?
Interestingly and appropriately for us La Ciotat was the home to the first publicly projected movie by the Lumiere Brothers.
After a few hours of driving we settled into Sanary Sur Mer, a simple town that transformed at 7pm into a huge craft market and fete. In the Victorian bandstand a French rock band sang very spirited covers of amongst many, many others Maroon 5, The Band and Santana.
I upset the kebab shop man by buying kebab meat for the dog. The kebab man was a rude, nasty piece of work and I delighted in feeding the little dog his dinner even though the traveling companion ate half of it before the little thing had a chance.
We ate dinner in a small restaurant near the town center called (I can’t remember sorry). We started with the Moule Marinere then had the freshly caught grilled Tuna. He had the Paella, which had rabbit and chicken and huge prawns in it.
Two glasses of Rose for him only cost three euros. This made him very happy as he is incredibly careful about money.
Walked around the port back to our hotel and fell into a deep and immediate sleep.