Here is my father, the year he met my mother in Margate and Herne Bay.
There is no easy way to tell you this. No easy way to write these words.
My brother Martin’s 35-year-old, long-term partner Juliet has died. A sweet-natured, complicated woman who wanted a baby very much, finally conceived two years ago.
She was a wonderful mother to my nephew Oscar. A really lovely child.
We heard the results today (13th Sept) of the autopsy. She died of acute kidney failure which lead to a heart attack.
Not one to complain she may have been in some discomfort for months but failed to tell anyone.
She lay dead on their kitchen floor for a very long time before my brother found her body. My infant nephew sat by her, maybe for 24 hours.
The neighbours heard him crying but did nothing.
My mother told me that the little boy had opened cupboards looking for something to eat. He found a pot of yogurt.
My brother broke down the door. He found her. Found them.
There are no suspicious circumstances.
Oscar has gone to live with my mother, his grandmother. My mother is a really great-grandmother.
The local newspaper report here.
OK, so here are a few interesting clips from 1991.
There’s quite a bit of nudity and cock…so beware.
Bournemouth Film School…the house I shared with Lawrence and Charlie.
There’s some great stuff from Green Street, Orlando’s club in London.
Damien Hirst, Maia Norman, Orlando Campbell etc.
Kevin at City Gym in Sydney. The beautiful Dane I met in Florence and spent the summer. Whatever happened to him? I wanted to weep when I saw him again. He was beautiful.
The local Whitstable boys. Luke, beautiful Luke.
If any of them ever loved me I was blissfully unaware.
And…there’s a lot of…hair. During most of this…I am drunk or fucked up, remember that. I wouldn’t get sober for another 6 years.
There’s a lot of dancing and dressing up. I seem to be lip synching to Judy…missing some man. Again.
What a destructive theme.
She is a generous, kind, strong woman. A great friend to me and many, many others.
Please, Whitstable people make sure she is safe and well. Look out for her. Keep her in your prayers.
Like most people in Whitstable, I have known her for most of my life. We have been on all sorts of adventures together. Had our ups and downs. Who doesn’t?
She needs peace and quiet to recuperate.
I wish I could be there with her now to help but I am here. Perhaps I should get a flight this afternoon?
I am thinking of you darling. Thinking hard. Good, kind thoughts.
Scroll down for the Patmos transcript.
Malibu! Look at the view! It’s a warm morning where I am. The sky is pale pink, the sea is almost blue. The rain this winter has caused every Ceanothus to bloom. Almost blue. Not like the one I planted in my Whitstable garden which bloomed purple, fleshy flowers. The Malibu garden is Fire Safe. They have cleared the brush and hoed the beds. The trees are almost fully in leaf. The tiny quail and their tinier babies search in the tilled soil for food. I don’t know what they eat.
Stephen, Kristian’s one time boy friend, sent me a collection of his writings that I have not had time to read. Kristian Digby. Where are you? I wish you were here. I wish you were alive.
I think that it may be Jean’s memorial today. I’m not going. It would be hypocritical. We were once friends. I want to remember what it was like to be his friend. Sit quietly with the memory. Too many deaths recently. Too many unnecessary deaths. Each time they tell me that someone else is dead I have to look at my own fingers and imagine them bone and parchment.
I want to find you the page in my diary when we were on Patmos, Phil and I, and we looked into the charnel house and saw the desiccated remains of… people. Tangled together, wearing their simple peasant garments. I couldn’t sleep. Phil splashed cologne around our bedroom. It soothed me.
It’s a beautiful day today. Best I concentrate on that? I felt the shame. Shame is like scraping meat off the bone. I’m writing about one isolated man being saved by less isolated men. Was this past year such a waste? This was the year when obsession became my higher power. Now I have a chance to know God once again.
Will I ever get home?
Here are the Patmos diary entries for August 1990.
I am with my darling Phillipa Heiman. We are staying in her mother’s beautiful summer-house overlooking the Aegean. We are lovers.
Wednesday August 15th 1990 PATMOS
The masseur said that I should wear something loose. I opted for my frog boxers, Victoria Whitbread gave them to me, green frogs hopping all over my genitals. She poked and prodded and soothed, she twisted my arms and legs, her breasts pushed into my face, “I hope I’m not suffocating you.” She said.
Her fingers glanced over the end of my dick.
“Your lymphatic system is now working.” she declared as my stomach rumbled for more cold chicken. She told me that, like many people, I had been frightened as a child and had reacted with my right side. This reaction has begun a slow deterioration of the tissue in the areas seized and now they were completely ‘blocked’.
After a fag break she told me that I shouldn’t drink, that I should do Tai Chi and should have six more sessions costing a further 3000 drachma per session. Thank the lordy for new age medicine! The alternative society has got it made. I am rushing back to London to learn anything I can to lay a few letters after my name. D.P. Roy Alternative money-maker. A.M.M.
As a final booster she poked me with an electric prod. Very nice.
Philippa returned from a walk around the village, she had been to a church service which, from her description, sounded delightful. We ate what was to be my last unfettered meal. We stepped, after lunch, into the hot afternoon.
Through the alleys, to the monastery. My spirits were high. We faced the wind together, holding her breasts through her thin silk dress, letting her feel my stiffy on her thigh, she said that the monks would be shocked.
We found a fig tree and picked fresh figs, they tasted of nothing. We found a pear tree and the fruit tasted of nothing. We saw an English couple removing their shorts under a very unshadeful tree on top of a windy promontory. Like the middle of a motorway, next to the rubbish dump full of plastic – not rotting, away from Xora there were plastic bottles, scores of them, strewn over the brown grass.
The hot afternoon my spirits are still high. I’m making a lot of jokes at everybody’s expense – mostly Philippa’s. She’s enjoying it, her period has started so she’s happy again, woe betide me if I’d mentioned this as a contributing factor to the tears. The tears were so terrible to see. I am a broken man when I see my lover cry. I see my mother and grandmother and aunts Evelyn and Margaret in her tears and I am a broken man.
We walked on, she wanted to see the graveyard which you can see clearly from the window in the drawing-room. I am sitting opposite that window, all I have to do is to stand up and I can see the graveyard walls, a couple of white crosses, the blue iron gate and some white box out-houses.
We went the long way round, over prickling grass and clumps of brown dry plants and plastic bottles rolling around on the parched earth by the Meltemi which is a wind, a wind called the Meltemi.
We found the gate. Most of the graves were new, some had photographs of old people. One old man sitting on his chair outside the front door. He looked like a loved man. A candle burnt in a tiny marble and glass casket. An eternal flame.
The graves were made, in this concrete covered place, of tiny man holes. A ring pull on top. We looked inside an abandoned tomb. These were obviously used over and over we concluded. We thought that the bodies rested here for a bit, with the flame and the photographs and the plastic flowers and the crucifix. We concluded that they would be cremated and scattered over the Aegean or the terraced island.
Our spirits high, we looked into one of the empty tombs. Under the concrete. A hollow waiting for its fill. Maybe it would be Petula (our maid) with her twisted hair and apron. Her bare, dead legs under the stone. Petula, Petula compromised because we rearranged the cushions, the red, gold and orange ikat instead of pink delicate John Stefanidis print. We’ve made the home ours now Petula.
Old Petula can rearrange the cushions under here. Under the stone.
We made our way to another gate at the back of the graveyard. We balked at an old coffin laid beneath a tree, we saw that it was laminated maple, birdseye maple effect. A birdseye maple effect coffin to be transported from the village to the hole, there to be cremated and the little old man to be scattered into the Meltemi and over the sea. Not a bad end.
“Wait a minute,” Philippa says, “Let’s look through here.” I was on my way out, my spirits were high. I looked past the evergreen where she stood ahead of me. So beautiful! Her large smile and eyes sparkling out to me – all radiant and all mine. I don’t want her to go any further. I want to leave there and then, our spirits high, home to a plate of cold chicken and potatoes. Maybe our bed.
She turned into the other plot and I followed, ran ahead. Past a small, stone, white building, to a shack stacked high with coffins. Eww I said, how horrible, a shack full of coffins. I wanted to get out. I wanted to leave there and then.
“Look.” She said gaily, “Bones.”
I ran ahead to where she was pointing, I ran right up to what was undeniably a thigh bone sticking out of the ground.
“They’re human.” I said, my spirits no longer high, as high. Not hit rock bottom. Just a bone. We looked into a pit. An open hatch, like a cellar door straight into the ground. It was not just a bone, it was a whole man or woman with clothes on, maybe two men or two women or three, with their nylons still sticking to bits of dead flesh. With the sun on the white bone, the flesh torn away.
Fascinated, I looked into this death-bed, this corpse mine. Looked at the big bones, no sculls and it was occurring to us what the godforsaken truth was. There was no scattered ashes over the Aegean but this ossuary. We stepped back from the pit stuffed with bones and slippers and old nylons pulled over what was once a plump thigh. I retreated past the small white, stone building with steps that lead up to an open window.
“Look that room up there is full with these.”
I ran ahead, up the steps, my tee-shirt over my mouth. I didn’t even think about it, it was natural that I shouldn’t breathe the same air as the dead. I looked into my own hell. Through the open window into a huge room crammed with rubber shoes, cheap by any standard, the paper liners eaten by maggots. More arms and legs and ribs, all forked into this place.
Strewn into this terrible room.
I couldn’t leave it alone, I couldn’t leave it. I couldn’t pull down the tee-shirt over my face and run away. I couldn’t be sure that these weren’t donkeys or dogs somehow tangled up with jumble, that my eyes didn’t deceive me I needed to see a skull.
I stepped up higher so I could see past the mound of bones and clothes and shoes full of maggots. I looked past all this and into the face that confirmed exactly what we already knew, what I had to see and wish I had never seen. My spirits drained out of me, my anal sphincter winking in fear, my feet wanting to run as fast as they could from this Byzantine holocaust.
Phillipa, still smiling and flirting and dancing around. Her belly just about to empty its bloody dead contents into her knickers. The old man sitting by his front door, Petula the maid, her hair all snaked up around her head with her old, thin fingers. Forked into that room. This heaving room, where flies and rats can come and live off of the dead.
We walked out of the graveyard, past the blue, wrought iron gate and into the hot alleys and the afternoon sun. We trailed back home, my spirits drained away. My mind working on the image of death. We could hear the bells calling the faithful to their pews, to the holy water, to the Festival of the Virgin whilst the tangled remains of granddad, children, motorbike accident victims all hugged one another unwittingly in that terrible room.
Back at the house I fell asleep on Phillipa’s stomach. When I woke up I tried to make light of what we had seen. We couldn’t. My mind working on that image of death. We had a rather bright dinner with the French. I couldn’t eat much, the meat festered in my mouth.
I could see the grave candles burning from the night terrace, comets burning over our heads, my feet burning inside my silk slippers. The twins arrived, showed us photographs, we drove into Skala.
Phillipa went to church, I went to the bar so I might forget.
I drank. Sprayed with champagne. It was our table that drank the most booze, our friends who danced the hardest, our friends who fell into the sea drunk and all the time my mind is working out that image of death.
Into the eyes of death, a death’s-head, not facing me. Leading me into further horrors.
Olivier the sickly twin and I had a long talk about his girlfriend, what he felt for her. How he became her. I gave him a big hug because he seemed to need it. He stroked my face, he told me that he didn’t need to be ‘superficial’ with me. He told me that I was a friend. Sometimes I didn’t understand him because he used a language that only a twin can understand. A description of one life as two people. They are an extra-ordinary couple.
I went home to Phillipa. We drank tea and then they left.
I got into bed and great waves of fear passed through me, my mind working on that image so that the bones started moving. The dead sat waiting beside the front door, sat in the fridge disguised as roast chicken, the maggots danced inside the rubber slippers, the nylons gnawed by fat rats.
Phillipa felt me cold sweating there in bed, listened to my fitful cries and sprinkled perfume on the mat and offered me kind conversation and squeezed into my back. I fell, finally into an unfettered sleep.
PS We met the rich Greeks who are building their ‘luxury’ home next to the graveyard.
“Fantastic views.” said she.
Can you imagine who empties those graves? The man we see in the street? Maybe the tall, mad man we see in Vagelis – the restaurant with the garden. Can you imagine seeing the graves being exhumed? The contents pitchforked into that place? The man couldn’t sell the plot.
Phillipa returns yearly to Patmos but I never did. The beautiful house was sold. Phillipa and I split up on the way home from Greece and when we arrived in London Amoury Blow picked us up from the airport. I was all over the press. Again. Front page of the Evening Standard.
- Pretty Patmos – Pátmos, Greece (travelpod.com)
Gary once introduced me to Mark Ruffalo. Mark wouldn’t remember me, Gary would.
Gary was one of the forward thinking guys who set up the ground breaking film production company InDigEnt. He was a really, really sweet man. No news as to how he died but I think, from what I can remember, he may have had a serious illness that he kept quiet about.
He was very discreet.
Crikey, so many deaths! I just diligently report them. It’s rewarding to find something nice to say about the recently departed like poor Wally in Whitstable.
In Jean’s case, it was quite hard. We hadn’t spoken for ages because we had a money issue that neither of us wanted to resolve. He was a terrible drain on his friends and family. Let’s put it this way: it was very hard for Jean to enjoy his gifted life without endlessly complaining or taking drugs.
People die. I just put on my bombazine shift and write the bleeding obituary.
Perhaps I should try writing my own?
I would entitle it: WEAK TEA or LOUD AND DIM or NOTHING REMARKABLE.
To be run in the Whitstable Times in the event of my death:
Surly Duncan Roy (65) found dead in his Swalecliffe bed sitting room. Former Lord of The Lies refused medication for obvious mental illness and made unremarkable films. Campaigned for the Red Spider Cafe. He will not be missed.
I have not written a last will and testament so the fuckers can squabble over what is left. I may leave it all to that little girl or to a bat charity or Jake’s ex-girl friend. That would be funny.
Watched Oscars. Was James Franco stoned? No! He’s been sober for YEARS. He just looked a bit unprepared. I would have preferred if Social Network had won best film. It deserved to. The Kings Speech is constipated TV tosh. Tom Hooper is a director of no importance. Why does Colin Firth KEEP telling the world how important Tom Ford is to him and how he wouldn’t be receiving these awards without having met him? I thought that Firth had a rather long and distinguished career before meeting Ford? Are they or have they been…fucking?
It occurred to me why Portman trumped Benning…Portman has more mileage in her and will generate more cash for CAA. Poor Annette Bening so obviously deserved that Best Actress Academy Award but she’s an old mare and who writes great roles for old mares that Meryl Streep isn’t getting first refusal?
Clip Clop Annette.
You know how much I love Whitstable? That would be one of my ‘weak tea‘ successes: my relationship with Whitstable.
I love it there. I know everyone. We really know each other. For good and for bad.
Well, today I received some very, very sad news. My Mother‘s friend Carol who owns the Tudor Tea Rooms on Harbour Street…well..and this is terrible…her son Tony died.
Known affectionately as Wally to everyone who knew him, he was only 40 years old, tall, gentle, ran his mother’s business with aplomb.
When you order a pot of tea at The Tudor Tea Rooms you get a pot of tea made with loose tea and a strainer. Quality.
We used to say that they served school dinners at the Tudor but we loved going in there. Fire burning in the hearth all winter. Closed on a Wednesday. Real steak and kidney pudding with a thick suet crust.
Wally was killed during the day on the train tracks at the end of Glebe Way. Struck by the coast-bound 11.22am Victoria to Ramsgate train just before 1pm. I have no idea if he committed suicide or not. That’s what people are saying but I really don’t want to believe it.
He was such a nice man. Wally and his sister Sue had run that Tudor Tea Room since they were kids. Since we were all kids. Serving Steak and Kidney Pudding…opening the tea garden. He was the sort of bloke you’d see in Prezzo Pizza Place with his young family.
As every Whitstable pub and every other shop front became yet another super chic gastro pub or seasonal/organic eaterie…the Tudor kept the same decor, the same menu, serving the same Whitstable us who didn’t want the bother of seared scallops or poached samphire.
My Mother and I saw Wally just a few weeks ago when I was home for Christmas. He served us a good old-fashioned English roast. My mother mocked me for drinking tea with my lunch…like ‘some one from a council house‘ she said.
He stood at the till and asked after my life in LA. I felt embarrassed to tell him what my life was like in California. What he didn’t know…what he could never have known…was what I was thinking that cold December day a week before Christmas: that I would have quite easily traded my life in Malibu for a chance at running the Tudor Tea Rooms.
From where I was standing…his life looked perfect.
Poached eggs on toast. Every day.
My mother accidentally pushed Peter Cushing off his bike one day when she was getting off the bus from Canterbury.
Anyway, Wally was killed on the railway lines. The third person killed in the same spot in less than two months. What’s happening? What a waste of a good life, a sweet family man. I feel for his wife and children, his sister Sue and his lovely mum Carol.
If you get the chance listen to this Jellybotty’s track, Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable.
It mentions the Tudor Tea Rooms.
Actress Fay Ripley has moved into the house opposite my old place. Saw her today in the most elegant shearling coat and big glasses. Celebrities stalk my home town…jabbering away loudly on mobile phones.
Even the little houses beyond the High Street that I never thought would be interesting to London people are now 300k and never on the market for longer than a few weeks.
Recession? Where is it?
I am still really pleased I sold both my houses.
I never really liked the Peter Cushing house (number 3 Seaway Cottages) it was large and draughty and I think I must have been to the beach maybe twice in 13 years. The beach was the front garden..but I am not a beach man.
I really loved the other house (number 2 Seaway Cottages), the house next door that I renovated from scratch. It looked superb by the time I finished with it.
I poked my nose through the door yesterday and the Anthony Gormley coat pegs are still in place. The rather beautiful kitchen lamps have been replaced by ugly, modern, cheap looking, brushed aluminum sconces. Everything else is just as I left it. The fig tree in the garden has been severely pruned as it should be.
I had an unfortunate incident on Sunday night. Went to see my friend Cathy for dinner but she was so drunk I turned on my heels and left the house.
Last night, through a genuine blizzard, walked to an NA meeting. I looked like a snow man when I got there. Expecting the worst (crack addicts) but instead met with a group of sober people with surprisingly good, modern recovery.
It was great.
Sometimes I think that NA has more to do with SAA than AA. The Step work and traditions of NA as written in the Green and Gold Book have really appropriate text for addicts of any kind sex/drugs/drink.
I had lots to write about the past couple of days but…the memories escape me right now.
Long walks with the little dog around the golf course. Tea with Georgina and family. Sunday lunch time went to the Monument Pub and ate roast pork with crackling. Entertained myself with the Monument Football Team who are all, every single one..to a man…GORGEOUS.
Ate home-made pate today for lunch with Carol before she crawled into her workshop…you know she’s a potter? A ceramicist?
Back in LA Ashley tells me that the waterfall that thunders under the Malibu house drive is thundering nicely. By the time I get back the garden will be a jungle. I was worried that the new road would be washed away. I bloody hope not.
The sun’s gone dim,
The moon’s turned black,
For I loved him,
He didn’t love back.
21/12/09 – 21/12/10 Adieu my darling.
There is something unbelievably comforting about being admitted to a hospital.
I walk through the door and hand my will and my life over to you. You, in this instance, is Dr Eddy… a wonderful surgeon.
I said, as he was checking my testes, “Well. at least I get my balls played with…” which, of course, he must hear a million times a year from anxious men willing a joke out of a miserable situation.
This wouldn’t be the first time. After our car accident, when I was a kid, I stayed in the very same hospital for 5 weeks with major head injuries. It must have been very traumatic for my Mother to have seen me smashed to pieces at the edge of the road..after having lost the big dog like that..what must it have been like to see your own child covered in blood?
Being in hospital is like returning to the womb…like taking heroin.
Georgina waited for me in one of the long hospital corridors and a man in a wheel chair asked her to help him take a pee. She declined his offer.
Yesterday I drove to Calais and dropped the car at the ferry terminal saving me $500 in fees. I sat on the boat and marveled at how ugly and badly dressed everyone was. On the way there I ate a sandwich and on the way back I ate fish and chips.
On the train home I met a really beautiful twenty year old blonde boy who took one look at my pink shoes and..well, he knew what the story was/is. Anyway, bright as a button, cheeky chappy decorator who I may see later on in the year when he gets back from Australia. I love men like him.
Somebody else, spotting my pink shoes, called me a homo. I began to think vengeful thoughts..then I met the blonde man and things took a turn for the better.
I love Shoreditch too. I love Soho. I love rioting students.
I love (particularly) the paint splattered Rolls that the parasite Prince Charles and the hag Camilla were caught in the other day by the ‘off with their heads’ militant protestors. hahaah.
I am really loving being home. It has settled something in me.
After my fuck session (which will do me for some time I might add) I wandered happily all over Shoreditch.
I stopped in at a number of cool looking shops: like the funky Japanese run clothes shop that sold padded linen overwear, the odd man’s pop up shop that sold Swedish soldiers head-gear and ‘vintage’ socks.
A shop that sells second-hand mens socks. Eww.
I dropped into White Cube and resisted calling Jay. The show was spectacularly lame. The entire space devoted to a 37 year old artist called Rachel Kneebone. Lamentations 2010 is the name of the downstairs show. Huge white porcelain tangled/mangled/reconstituted genitals on huge marble plinths set against slate grey walls..beautifully lit. The usual soulless, inchoate nonsense you might expect to find in White Cube. They reminded one..obviously of the Chapman brothers and their obsession with the dark, chaotic imagery of the unconscious.
Jay is already showing new artists who cannibalize existing White Cube artists. Apparently Kneebone is expressing the ‘trauma of death, loss and grief’ and shown differently these works might very well have achieved her aim but so elegantly displayed they had the guts knocked right out of them. I went upstairs to see the rest of the show but was told to leave as I had the dog with me. I wasn’t leaving the Little Dog outside so I left.
I wandered around. I met a man in the street who offered to blow me but I hadn’t showered that morning after a night of sex… I declined more for his benefit.
I found a wonderful shop called Labour and Wait which can be found at:
This charming store is really worth a visit. I thought, when I found the 1940’s lilac, enameled milk-boiling pot pictured below: Oooh, I thought, my friend Marilyn Phipps would like this.
As if by magic..who did I bump into today?
Marilyn has the most wonderful home in Seasalter called The Battery.
The Battery, a nineteenth-century naval building, is a huge, bright blue, wooden house that sits right on the Whitstable beach and faces onto a 120ft secluded sea-front. The Battery is a shrine to Forties ‘utility’. The kitchen was put in during the Forties when the house was used as a holiday retreat for disadvantaged children.
Marilyn has carried on the Forties theme throughout the house. The two huge wooden doors between the dining room and kitchen were made in the Forties for Ramsgate post office. The kitchen walls are lined with teapots, sugar shakers, vinegar jars, and salt cellars.
A huge kitchen clock was bought locally and the chunky table was already there.
The Battery can be incredibly hard to keep warm. Marilyn solved her problem by installing an enormous wood-burner for the dining room. She painted it midnight blue, making it more abstract sculpture than functional heater…she calls it The Beast.
The Battery has a fascinating history and features in the book Wooden Houses. It was built as two big wooden sheds at the end of the nineteenth century. The first housed two cannons, the second was a drill hall for sailors, and during WW1 it was a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.
Marilyn still get’s people visiting who remember it from their childhood holidays in the Forties, saying they had the happiest time of their life here.