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.
Woke up early. Wanted to get the daub onto the stove. It’d been marinating all night.
Then, something about the process, the action of stirring the pot, as it began to simmer…broke something in me. Like I was having a rare moment of clarity, sanity…and I felt a terrible guilt for the way I had treated…not him…but his parents…drawing them into our drama. Collateral damage.
I wanted to write to them and tell them how sorry I was.
They were innocent.
Then I found that Avadon picture of Ginsberg and his long-term lover Orlovsky. And I thought about them ‘long-term’ and what they were thinking, or not thinking when they kissed for the camera.
I thought about the way they, we…I…describe what we have as long term.
Long term insists that we take what they had seriously. Ginsberg had not just met some man on the street and taken him into the studio. He had made some sort of commitment. Long term.
And I thought that marriage would be just that…long term. That our beards would grow long together. That I would never ever tire of looking at you. Kissing you.
Then I remember that I am here in LA. You send me a picture of Washington Square. It’s all I need right now. A picture.
The whole house smells of beef in red wine, fresh herbs, fresh garlic.
I had lunch with Robby on Monday. We ate a lamb burger at Gjelina. I drank ginger and mint italian soda.
He has been having a wonderful time. Earning masses of cash, loving his man and roaming with his homies. Yes, I wrote that.
On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch, a lunch that didn’t end until 3am. He is 23, he lied about his age. He told me he was older. A masculine dilettante.
Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s that restaurant, Jordan Kahn’s place…that everyone is talking about.
We ordered far too much. Each baffling plate arrived covered in flowers or Dadaist condiment.
We ate: DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, Vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm $32
We ate: BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut $15
We ate: AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents $16
Then, after dinner, we lay in the back of his SUV by the beach and kissed each other until my face was raw, my heart was racing, my legs were trembling. I was so completely overwhelmed that I could not drive for ne’er a mile before I had to stop and beg a cigarette from a passer-by.
He is beautiful. He gnawed at my neck until I could not bear it any more.
So, that’s what love looks like in a warm climate. For a moment. Not long-term. Not to be taken seriously. Just a moment. I have trained myself not to yearn for more.
So, the daub will cook for four more hours until it is tender. We will eat it with home-made noodles.
Vanilla pods and brown sugar. All locally produced. The apple and brown sugar caramelized on the dish.
The twins return from their long weekend away. I am lusting for the mountains, for fresh faced farmers.
You know who you are.
My friend’s 13-year-old troubled child is here at the house.
To tell you the truth…I don’t find him very troubling. Why? Because I was just like him when I was his age.
Difficult, intransigent, argumentative, addict manque.
Though our home situations are very different I began feeling a deep regret for how I had treated my mother and brothers. Without doubt the genesis of my anger toward them had some basis.
Seeing him treat his parents so appallingly, confound them, fight them…distresses me and everyone who witnesses it. He demands money with menace, internet privileges and rides to see other equally troubled, weed smoking teens.
It has been a particularly hard week for my friends. Interrupting a drug deal he was making with a pair of 16 year olds in a car, a deal funded by money he had stolen from his mother, he attacked his Cambridge educated father and literally ripped the shirt off his back.
Until that moment his father had been his great ally and protector. Until he saw what the rest of us had seen for some time…that there was nothing his own child wouldn’t do to get what he wanted.
The violence toward his parents is shocking to witness but he tends to behave properly when I am around because, rightly, he is scared of me. I refuse to co-sign his bullshit. I am bigger and potentially twice as violent and, of course, he knows that I will not acquiesce.
He steals anything he can lay his hands on and lies about it.
The last time I was at the house he stole $20 from me. I just demanded it back and he handed it over. When caught he tends to walk into a weird cloud of denial. Glazed, fearful.
After he attacked his father the police came and cuffed him. They wanted to take him to juvenile hall but his parents balked at the last moment.
It is only a matter of time before he ends up in very serious trouble.
I was sent to boarding school so my parents could live a normal life. It suited me to be away from the house. It suited them to get on with their normal, family life.
The problem seems to be that this kid has no passion for anything other than money. He isn’t, as I was, sketching imaginary couture collections, writing plays or poring over houses I would one day build.
His stated aim: the acquisition of money. He will do anything he can to get hold of it. He doesn’t have anything particular he wants to spend it on. He just craves hard cash.
Ultimately he will leave home and make his own mistakes…in his own time, on his own dime…but for now he tortures his parents and sisters with tantrums, violence and vile words.
When things get really bad at the house his desperate mother calls me and I sleep over.
Calm is restored. Last night we made tea and dipped strawberries in chocolate.
I know, of course, how things will end up for him: jails, institutions and death.
It is the way of the addict. We are all similarly destined until we take those imperative steps toward sanity and abstinence.
This summer has not delivered the early morning, glittering sea views we are used to. It is gray and wet. The dew is so heavy that it drips like tropical rain off the plane trees.
By 10am the sun has burned off the marine layer but somehow never really recovers. The weather is totally messed up. The garden thrives although I worry about the cacti.
We lost three this year, rotting in the damp air.
I have huge and beautiful squash growing on the terrace.
Henry is dropping by today. He is taking me to the doctor. My foot is still very painful. Swollen. I can see that it gets better. Slowly, slowly. I take a stick with me into the garden. Ever since the coyote attacked the little dog he stays close to me.
There is a very destructive squirrel chomping on anything and everything but mostly he/she picks oranges and peels them very carefully.
The plums have all been harvested. The figs are ripening. There are so many this year.
Tomatoes and beans, lemons, limes and grapes.
Late last night the dog started howling at the moon. It’s impossible to get back to sleep.
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.
The day passed slowly and uneventfully.
I watered the garden. “Why don’t you have an automated system for that?” I hear you say. Well, I do. But…a bit like our mad bad Prince of Wales I like watering the plants individually and chatting with each of them. The citrus trees especially respond to gentle coaxing.
There is something charming and rather annoying about the ‘we’ pathology of twins. We are with each other a little too much. Consequently, when we left for Lake Malibou, I wasn’t in the best of moods.
We all helped Jennifer with her Out of The Box Wednesday pack then Miles set off with the delivery.
Robby and I drove into Hollywood. I wanted to stop in at Fresh and Easy where I buy English staples. Tea, bacon, marmalade etc. I can’t do with out them. We, me and the Little Dog, sat in the ugly court-yard outside the supermarket drinking coffee waiting for Robby watching lithe men heading for 24 hour fitness.
A woman from Chicago, who had arrived in Hollywood two nights previously, looked down at the dog and said, “There’s a little person trapped in there.” She fed him chicken breast. “This has got to last me two days.” She told the Little Dog. She was plump, dyed black hair and red lips. She told me that she was here in Hollywood to pitch reality TV ideas to…God know who. She was going to pay to pitch her ‘concepts’.
I was overcome with pity for her. She told me a couple of ‘ideas’ she had thought of pitching.
It occurred to me that for forty years not one original thought had been formed in that sappy brain.
I went for a walk.
Hollywood is grimy. There is nothing of any beauty to look at…to be inspired by. I yearn for my garden.
Robby picked me up after an hour in the gym. We had planned on going to an art/film/glamour party in Beverly Hills but I was tired and irritable so we drove home.
Well, we drove back to Malibou Lake and I helped Jason cook dinner for the children. After dinner, as the children were going to bed, I sat at their Steinway and tried playing the piano. I had not played for thirty years. I was shocked by how clumsy my fingers were. No longer able to slide effortlessly over the keys. I began to sweat. Evidence of my old age. Evidence of my own mortality. It was so frustrating! My left hand refused to even practice the scales in unison with the right.
I lay in bed last night thinking too much. Waiting to be dead.
Not so fast Batman!
Next week I set off on my ‘great adventure’ culminating in the birthday hootenanny. There are people flying from all sorts of wonderful places to help me celebrate my 50th Birthday…before I am not. I am stunned that so many old friends even exist for me let alone want to jump on a plane and be with me. You know, this is what I should have done last year…but last year I was with him in the back parlor of Wheelers.
Last year there was no room for anyone else. WTF?
It was a wonderful day yesterday.
Had lunch with Jon in West Hollywood. Delicious chicken and polenta at Hedley’s. Great to see him. We hadn’t seen each other for weeks and had loads to catch up on. He is in very good spirits. Business is booming for purveyors of luxury furniture so he is doing very well.
Met Ryan F and his super sexy new girlfriend Kirsty Mitchell who was once Miss Scotland but is now a very bankable young actress. She worked with my old friend Billy MacKinnon in his and his brother’s film Small Faces.
Had dinner at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice with Anna. Wonderful food. I had pork…again with polenta and baked cherries. Dropped into Gjelina to congratulate owner for sticking to his guns and not let Gordon Ramsey and ‘Lady’ Victoria Beckham bully them into making menu substitutions.
Arrived home late and fell into bed exhausted. Woke at 5am and watered the garden. My current obsession.