Here is my father, the year he met my mother in Margate and Herne Bay.
I felt both overwhelmed and liberated in 2013. Simultaneously.
I spent the past few hours un-subscribing from 100 mailing lists from whom I receive emails begging for money. All perfectly decent causes, gun control, black theatre, saving the ocean, climate control, Unicef, the world wildlife fund, democratic causes, mercy for animals, slow money…
I un-subscribed from cook shops, travel companies, furniture stores and fashion lines. I spent a few moments each day erasing my name from the lists I added myself in the hope of being better informed, no more Gawker or Huffington Post or the Daily Beast.
It was an odd year. It was unusually diverse. I continued writing my film tho I stopped talking about it. I met thieving producers and film industry liars. I spent time with weed smoking Susan Sarandon in the back of her ping-pong club.
Away from the film I travelled to Martha’s Vineyard, to Des Moines and over the Rocky Mountains. I travelled by car all over America. Los Angeles to New York and back again… three times. I was constantly surprised by American kindness whenever I found it.
I fell in and out of love with AA. In and out of love with the gays tho… mostly out of love.
We are presently finalizing our divorce.
During the past months I began a strange adventure with a young man who I tentatively call my boy friend. I began to dream again… of better things… even though I am still cautious and burned. Erring toward single at all times.
I wrote a great deal but never published a word of it.
I wrote indignant things like this…
I am queer. They are gay. They are white and affluent. They want to get married and join the army. They want to assimilate. That’s what they say.
When you question them… when you ask them what assimilation looks like… they still want to keep gay pride, gay bars, gay apps, gay film festivals, gay morality.
They want the gay section in the bookshop, the ‘gay voice’ section in The Huffington Post. They don’t really understand what assimilation looks like because most of them are too comfy not assimilating.
He said, “This is all about your internalized homophobia.” I smiled. “It’s not internalized, it’s externalized.”
One can devote ones life to betrayal. Betrayed by parents, family members, institutions, schools, by loved ones even the country of ones origin. I have felt a smidgen from all of the above. Yet, I forgave my family, my school, the class system, my beloved country.
Because I wanted to be free.
I huffed and puffed about the NSA, I applauded Glen Greenwald and Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowdon. I stopped worrying about who could read whatever I was writing privately or which ever websites I was wacking to because there is nothing private. Not any more.
My counsellor asks things like, “Where in your body to you feel the anger first?”
I began to identify the genesis of my anger and feelings of uncomfortability. It usually starts with a demand for money from a worthy cause. A picture or video of a screaming rabbit as it is having it’s fur pulled off or a pile of euthanized dogs waiting to be incinerated.
It was the hopelessness that infuriated me, the cruelty, the stupidity, the hypocrisy.
I came to conclusions in 2013. That I do not, have never had, am not interested in… A CAREER! Careers, I realized, are… for other people. For those who may be interested in a legacy. I stopped calling myself a film maker and started telling people, if they asked, that I do… nothing.
I understood that wherever I found myself both good or bad I was meant to be. It was all for a reason. A reason that would one day be revealed to me. That my life was a series of choreographed moments. The life of a narcissist. That the cameras I learned to love whilst in the reality show had always been there and had never gone away.
In 2013 I never gave up. I waited patiently. I didn’t worry about the future nor was I enslaved to the past. For this I was grateful.
Occasionally I hankered to go home but knew that after a few days in Whitstable I would find my life shrinking and darkening. I did not go home. Though, I spoke more to my Mother this year and was curious about my nieces and nephews.
Finally the JB entanglement came to an end one nondescript day in November. I wanted to write to him and make amends for the mess I had caused.
But I wrote this instead… it was never sent.
An apology is owed.
I was wrong to lie to you. I was wrong to lose my temper. I was wrong to fight you. I was wrong to have asked for money to be paid when you owed me nothing. I was wrong to have blamed you for any part of our unhealthy association. The blame must fall squarely at my feet for everything that went wrong. The moment you came out I should have politely walked way… I did not. I was advised by everyone I knew and cared about… to walk away from you but chose to ignore their good suggestion. I should have thanked you and walked away. I regret very much that I did not. I am extremely remorseful. Due to my weakness of character I initiated a drama that harmed you and caused distress to your family. I should have walked away. The moment you told me you were gay. I know that you are happy now. I know that your happiness will continue.
It took two years to own up.
2013. Un-subscribing to websites, making amends, keeping my side of the street clean, owning up, anger management.
Let’s see what 2014 will bring.
As the years pass by, unrelenting, amazing, fulfilling, desperate, happy, sad.
Even though I have filled my homes with art and furniture and friends and the lingering smells of delicious feasts… even though I have made films and plays and paintings…. all I have ever wanted, really craved… was peace of mind.
I’m getting there. Slowly. A Happy and Prosperous New Year everyone.
Ha. Don’t hold your breath.
Will you tell your grandchildren that you remember a time when nearly all top jobs in industry and government were taken by white men and your grandchildren raise their eyebrows in disbelief?
Will you tell your grandchildren that you remember a time when a gay man was shot in the face in the middle of the most liberal city in the western world for being a faggot and your grandchildren raise their eyebrows in disbelief?
A thousand years from now? Maybe that’s the kind of incremental change brown people, women and queer people expect?
When will you fight for more? Why do you put up with the status quo?
Fight for marriage and all things are equal? No. Fight for white men to stop taking everything, determining the agenda and we might get somewhere.
I wouldn’t like to hang around in gay bars right now. Not with all these emboldened haters amongst us.
Thank God I don’t drink.
I am wearing my pink shoes. People understand what I am when they look at my feet.
I’m trying to jettison ‘straight acting‘, I’m trying to abandon my invisibility but I know what that means. It means hostility from gay men and straight men.
I like it when they describe drag queens as fierce. That’s what I have spent life being: FIERCE. Of course, this has been perceived as angry or anti social or… can I explain something?
Anger is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation.
Anger management? The management of justified anger.
Listen to this. I have been reasonably angry for a long time.
I was a kid and I knew I wanted to fall in love with and have sex with men (and women) but the man part of my desire was outlawed, derided.
I fell in love at school. I fell in love and explored men’s bodies.
I remember when I was 14 I was walking along the beach in Whitstable. I met a man. I lay on the sea wall with him. Furtive. Illegal. I never saw him again. I wonder about him.
They hated us for something we could not change. I ignored them. I parried the blows.
I lived in a dream world because living in that reality was simply too painful.
Margaret Thatcher didn’t want me and men and women like me… she didn’t want us to exist.
I’ll tell you what makes me angry: Brown people not getting a fair trial. A third of all black men in the USA are in jail. Women in the military being raped and sexually abused. Drag queens damning trans people. I am angry that some people are denied bail. I am angry that my lover left me when I found my tumor. I am angry with myself for falling in love with men who could never love me back. I am angry that the breast cancer gene is privately owned, that innocent brown people are still being held in captivity in Guantanamo Bay. I am angry that gay men think that marriage is the answer. I am angry that I grew up with an angry step father. I am angry that Monsanto kill bees. I am angry that my neighbors park in front of my gate so I can’t get in and out of my house. I am angry that two young girls are criminalized for falling in love. I am angry that most agents (realtors and talent) are sociopath. I am angry with gay men and straight men for over simplifying sexuality.
How do you live with that?
I set it aside. The anger. I find peace wherever I can. I pull weeds. I walk the dogs. I feed the fish.
I forgive them for their sexism, their murder, their bullying, their insistence that they WIN. At all costs. Like the bees. Winning the market means… killing the bees.
When I buy something at auction the others applaud. They congratulate me. They tell me that I have won. I didn’t win. I just paid the highest price. It’s not hard to do.
So. Today I am wearing my pink shoes. There you go. ‘Nice shoes,’ they scoff.
Oh, I’m wearing them because I’m queer and I really want you to know. Because I exist somewhere between Liberace and Jason Collins but I’m still trying to work it out. Working out what kind of man I am.
I don’t think I’m alone.
Men make their own history but they do not make it as they choose.
I’m sure you want to know.
Firstly, I want to thank the ACLU for co-counseling my suit against the Sheriff.
They have worked for months on this case and they have every reason to believe in a positive outcome.
My personal suit separated from the class action.
I am suing the Sheriff’s Department for a considerable amount of money.
I arrived early at the ACLU office down town. I met with my lawyers. I watched the 30 or so cameras being set up from TV stations all over the USA.
Jennie Pasquarella spoke first. A more eloquent speaker one could not hope to listen to. A more brilliant lawyer one could not hope to meet.
Like all of the lawyers who work for the ACLU she is motivated by fairness for all.
The principle of bail is something so fundamental, that you shouldn’t be held until you’re found guilty.
I waited my turn.
I listened again to this startling fact: The Immigration Department is mandated to deport 400, 000 people a year from the USA.
This fact alone never ceases to shock and amaze me. The implications, I’m sure, are not lost on any of you.
The last time I faced a barrage of press like that I was at the Sundance Film Festival. It was all about me.
Yesterday I was representing thousands of the disenfranchised, the oppressed and the wrongly imprisoned.
In light of Jerry Brown’s veto of the Trust Act and set against the back drop of a recent, damning report documenting violence and abuse in The Men’s County Jail, this case could not be more relevant.
Sheriff Lee Baca has been effectively told that he is incapable of running a jail by the board of supervisors.
Humiliatingly the Supervisors, not the Sheriff, will find someone more competent to run the jail.
Within minutes of the end of our press conference the Sheriff’s representative disputed the charge that the Sheriff’s Department has denied bail to anyone because of ICE holds.
“If you are able to post bail — say it’s $10,000 — and you’re an immigrant from wherever. With or without an ICE hold, we accept that,” said the spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida.
An outright LIE.
A report by prison expert James Austin cites data from Baca’s office indicating that at least 20,000 Los Angeles County inmates, nearly all of them Latino males, were subjected to ICE holds in 2011.
Latino males arrested, held in the MCJ, forced to accept spurious guilty pleas and deported equals: ethnic cleansing.
Nobody cares about them. Nobody gives a damn about undocumented workers. They are treated like animals. Even by my most (so-called) progressive friends.
Latinos spending their lives doing jobs white people don’t want to do, refuse to do in SoCal. They are the real victims of the economic catastrophe.
During the good times, we turn a blind eye to these men and women working at our behest for minimal wages.
When things get bad they are thrown out like yesterdays trash, rounded up like cattle to satisfy immigration deportation quotas.
It’s the same everywhere, when things get tough: blame the immigrants.
I heard my own mother blame Eastern Europeans for ‘taking our jobs’ back at home in Britain.
The Spanish-speaking press asked me: “Do you think Lee Baca is anti-immigrant?”
“You mean, do I think Lee Baca is a racist?” I replied. “Well, he is just part of the racist problem in the USA but he gets to be the executioner.”
In a country where most people are enslaved by debt, lack of education, obesity, religious/corporate ideology and hubris it is very easy to forget about ones own enslavement and think nothing of enslaving and demonizing others.
The primary reason I would never vote (if I could) for a second Obama term, regardless of his so-called pro gay marriage smokescreen (designed largely to melt liberal hearts) is his appalling deportation record.
The Obama administration’s deportation policies, which rely on cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, have already been challenged in California.
Legislation that would have prohibited sheriffs and police departments from enforcing ICE holds in most cases was, as I have already written, vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month.
Barrack Obama has deported more people from the USA than any other President in this country’s history.
It goes without saying that the Gay media and my local Malibu newspaper will totally ignore this story. I am neither pretty enough nor non-controversial for either to cover the story.
Even though it may be of interest to both communities.
Most gay men are unaware that if they fell in love with a non-American their state marriage certificate or their Foreign marriage certificate would mean absolutely nothing to the Federal Immigration Department.
Their husband/wife would risk deportation.
The gay men I know think that deportation happens to other people… you know… brown people. Not people like us.
Those same gay men run the gay media.
Scott McPherson from The Advocate told me recently that he totally supported The President’s immigration policy and (after I explained to him what a drone was and who was being killed by them) he told me he had no interest in who drones were killing.
All Scott wants is marriage equality. Apparently, only for Americans to marry other Americans.
You might think that Malibu is a liberal, open-minded place…. with all those rich über gays living down there on the beach… but I have endured more homophobia in Malibu than even my small home town village of Whitstable in Kent where one might expect the crushingly narrow-minded.
My Armenian neighbor was so vile about me and my young gay renter, her invective so shocking… it almost took my breath away.
So. It has begun.
Where the runes fall… is none of my business.
Somehow the very act of laying ones self bare, open to all sorts of scrutiny, is a relief.
Regardless of the outcome, I am very happy to be of service to those who can least help themselves.
Dawn. So much to be grateful for.
One day, when the storm has past, I will tell you everything. Not just the pretty pictures. Not just the elegant parties.
Saw Premium Rush with John and Valoree Papsidera at a plush private screening room.
An exciting, gritty movie with a huge problem at its core: The bad cop played by Michael Shannon is not really a bad cop… he’s too funny.
So, come the last scene, the conclusion… I was left feeling cheated.
The last scene is terrible.
I did not feel as engaged with the story as one might have hoped.
There were too many chances for the main character Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to make different sorts of choices. He could have called the police. He could have returned the package. He could have stayed at home.
Perhaps, like so many people, I am in denial?
It is not far off… the conclusion.
I have had a lingering cold/flu. Sweats.
Script notes arrive and I am loathed to open them, even though I know that they will be good. Brilliant.
How does one turn a life event into a work of fiction? Well, obviously, you have to jettison the truth.
I spent the larger part of yesterday in Venice. My favorite location. Stalking my favorite haunts. It’s like Whitstable. I know so many people. Casual acquaintances. Unlike my home town, where they have known me all my life, their understanding of me is based on what they read.
After the LA Weekly piece they are well aware of what is going on and mask their desire to pry with small talk.
Sometimes I wake up and think I should go to an AA meeting but I’ll wait until I am in another city.
It is the truth: art heals. Remember when I was sick five years ago with my leaky spine? Good God, that was painful.
Convalescing, I stayed with David Philp and his wonderful wife (art critic and broadcaster) Hunter Drohojowska-Philp in their gorgeous Beverly Hills home. She brought beautiful books for me to look at and set art work at the end of the bed.
The pale yellow room designed by Jenny Armit became a temporary sanctuary. Until I was well again.
I had a long chat with an old buddy in London, someone I worked with repeatedly in the old days. A great benefactor.
It’s cold outside and hot inside the house. I open the door and let the mountain in.
The garden, this year, has matured into the garden of my dreams.
Bumped into Drew Pinsky at CNN, we were both sprayed orange for our various TV appearances. He was sweet, as he always is. We hugged and gossiped. He asked if I had read Jennie’s book. I told him that I hadn’t but I’d get around to it sooner or later.
The children make me laugh. I sit with them watching Barbie cartoons and they mock Charlie’s new girlfriend (Charlieissocoollike) children can be very cruel and very funny.
Weird clicking on my telephone. I think my phone is being tapped. Why?
It feels like I haven’t written anything for weeks. Living this simple and unexpected life. I’ve no idea what comes next nor do I care. Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to be back at home…Whitstable. It is waiting for me.
Sunday, I drove 100 miles North East to the Inland Empire to meet my lover. We booked into a cheap hotel and spent the day in bed. It was languorous and passionate. We ate free ‘home made’ cookies given to us when we checked in. We left the hotel briefly to buy fried chicken. We looked at the pool but didn’t swim.
After he left I walked on my own through a huge discount mall, I saw vibrant, sequined dressed for unplanned Quinceanera.
On the way home I wondered what the ham hocks would taste like that had been slowly cooking in the stove all day. They were delicious.
I have, of late, developed sexual desires and needs formally ignored. Today my legs are weak from indulging myself.
I like driving across country. I should take a different route but the familiarity of Route 66 lures me south.
I spoke at an ACLU event last week in the lush Hancock Park gardens of a rich gay man. His large mock Tudor home filled with Arts and Crafts furniture and paintings by dead artists like Otto Dix. Even though there were many sofas and well upholstered club chairs there didn’t seem to be anywhere to sit.
The speech was well received.
One afternoon last week (May 1st) I spoke to David Cruz, the KTLK liberal chat show host. I felt primed and confident. It was easier to talk about the LA jail system than it was to talk about Dorian Gray. Ethnic Cleansing. Secure Communities. Institutional racism and homophobia.
I have not been to any 12 step meeting but was stopped in the street by the crazy Sean McFarland sex therapist who kissed me and hugged me. I told him that the deaths of his clients should be on his conscience. He wished me all the best and crawled, like the slimy reptile he is, back into the Porsche despair has paid for.
On Saturday I met another 12 step buddy at Gjelina but we didn’t talk much. I don’t want to hear about the cult. Even though he is an old friend I eyed him suspiciously. We talked about my 85-year-old friend Coach who died last week. I’m glad he never knew that I turned by back on AA.
Robby and I had lunch last Thursday. He is delightful.
I have been ignoring calls from people I’m usually happy to hear from.
We peered briefly at the Super Moon. It was large and bright. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as seeing the comet, Hale Bop.
For the past ten days I have logged onto gay hook up app Grindr to see what is going on…what I am missing. I’ve been sent many picture of cocks but had no desire to sit on any of them…many pictures of asses but have no need to fuck. Next week I am going to publish them all here on WordPress in a password protected blog.
Life is all at once full up and completely empty.
Whenever I return home I am relieved.
Leaving the distractions and the doubt behind.
Cruel thoughts, many miles away.
Whitstable, it takes me a day or so to crawl back into my own skin. The scale of the town needs adjusting to. I feel like a giant towering over the small, clapboard houses. I cannot fit into the tiny shops.
The vitrine has not changed for many years.
The town has kept its original character.
Good and bad I know everyone on the street. Now I see people who I knew formerly in London. Gallery owners, actresses, commercial directors. They strut around thinking they own the place, which of course, they do.
“What are you doing here?” They say.
The children sit at their desks on tiny chairs in the same infant school where I learned about the autumn leaves, the saints and the sinners.
This morning we walked the grass paths on the freshly mown downs. In the thin sunshine the skin on my arms and hands looks brown and weathered. The fierce Californian sun, long forgotten.
I may just keep driving. I have everything I need.
Fried eggs and thick bacon, marmalade.
Northward again through the black country. Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumberland to the borders. I love you England. I love you.
I bought a pair of secondhand, brown velvet trousers and an ebony cane with an engraved, silver knob. I found a dark green cashmere and silk scarf, channeling Fanny and Stella in Burlington Arcade. It is cold enough to wear a beautiful hat, an autumn gown.
I am willing the winter moonlight.
I don’t want anyone else with me. This is mine.
I could not be further from the madness. England! Where my heart lies.
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.
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.
The smell of damp tweed. My collarless shirt and felt braces.
A mantle with fabric that may or may not be Bloomsbury. Mismatched luster wear cup and saucer. Chipped. These things used to delight me. Treasures found at the edge of the Thames. When did I cease to be a mudlark?
Laying the table for breakfast. Poached eggs. Marmite on my toast.
That tribe of gay men still delight me. I used to know them.
My cottage in Whitstable was full of tiny, beautiful things. With more money came larger, expensive things. Now I sit under a decade long avalanche of avarice.
Remember when we didn’t have radiators in the cottage? Frost in the sitting room before we lit a fire? The smell of coal and crackling kindle. Wrapping up warm before we left the bedroom?
I think this is how one might start again. Renting a room at the back of a house by the sea. I don’t have to live in Whitstable.
I am wondering hard again. Torn between two worlds.
The conversation from Facebook (above) that I have taken the liberty of reproducing made me feel homesick for small mercies…for a butler’s sink, for the sound of a mop bucket. For the back stairs in a country house. For sea views that may include the ghosts of women once dressed in white tulle and parasols.
Scroll down for the Patmos transcript.
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 garden herein Malibu is now 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 send me a collection of his writings that I have not had time to read yet. 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 that 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. We visit the charnel house.
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.
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.
Before I start my regular blog I want to write about Whitstable and The Red Spider Cafe.
The Red Spider Cafe was a charming shack on Whitstable beach that, throughout my childhood, served tea and cake. It closed some time in the late 70’s and stood derelict for many years. The Red Spider was finally demolished in the 1980’s during the massive beach renovation and sea-defence construction.
I have always dreamt of the Red Spider being rebuilt.
There’s something non-Whitstable people need to know about Whitstable Beach: it is an anomaly. Unlike most beaches in the UK which are owned by the Crown Whitstable Beach is owned privately by my friend Barry Green’s company.
There’s something else non-Whitstable people need to understand. If Barry had not bought the Whitstable Oyster Company and preserved it and the surrounding buildings the Oyster Stores would have been demolished. They were slated for demolition. Barry saved the building and by doing so saved the town.
Barry is not a philanthopist..he is a businessman. The Red Spider cafe will make a profit. It must be rebuilt because Whitstable needs to continue evolving and growing. People need jobs. Especially now.
Barry’s eldest son Richard and I instigated the restaurant at the Oyster Company (Royal Native Oyster Stores) that almost single-handedly regenerated Whitstable’s fortunes.
Nobody local took the restaurant very seriously when it first opened. I cooked, Richard served. Within a month it was packed. Every day.
During those early years I begged Barry to rebuild the Red Spider and now, twenty years after it was torn down, the Red Spider may indeed be rebuilt. However, Whitstable and the people who now live there, has changed. Middle class, ‘keep it as it is‘, ‘terrified of change‘ type people now vocally oppose the rebuilding of what was once a great, water-side resource.
They are frightened of alcohol being served at the Red Spider even though just a hundred feet away stands the Neptune Pub which is a very messy, unkempt affair.
They are scared of the suggested long opening hours even though the building is further away from homes than the nearest, noisy pub.
They say that the rebuilding of the Red Spider will have an ‘environmental impact’ which is just bull shit and proves how far these detractors will go to stop the Red Spider cafe from being rebuilt.
Obviously I am totally in favour of the rebuilding of the Red Spider Cafe as I am also, unfashionably, in favour of Barry rebuilding the beach huts along the beach. As one can see from the photograph above there were huts all over the beach when I was a child and they enhanced the charm of the town and more importantly the beach.
The sort of people who complain about The Red Spider are the sort of people who frankly don’t understand Whitstable and more importantly resent the difficult, unruly Greens and their stunning success.
Did you notice that the crude painting of the ‘red spider’ looks more like a tick?
REBUILD THE RED SPIDER
Oh yes, and before all you new Whitstable people wonder what business it is of mine…I am presently buying a property in Whitstable after only 4 years of absence.
Yesterday ended up being more fun than I anticipated. Occasionally things happen that inadvertently make sense of uncomfortable feelings. What started out as a day where I couldn’t even raise my head ended at an AA meeting where my perspective changed, my positivity regained.
What seemed important in the morning was less so in the evening.
This is the AA reality. It is almost impossible to burn ones bridges. The door is always open. It is a club where anyone is welcome…forever. The friendly faces may change but they remain friendly and welcoming. It really is the best club in the world for a person like me.
So, as I said, yesterday began with a feeling of uselessness. Even though I have more going on than I have all year (the film) I still felt like a husk, a useless, unevolved husk. I had a beard trimming accident in the morning so lost my beard.
The little Dog and I went for a long walk to the new Rambla Pacifico road which has come once again grinding to a halt.
I sat at my desk and ticked more things off of my moving list. Roger stopped by and ate pfeffernusse which are spiced german cookies. The choreographer visited later. He was a great deal of fun persuaded me to buy an album by Concha Buika (beautiful) and by so doing goaded me out of my bad mood and my house and into the aforementioned AA meeting.
Before AA I decided to go to the last few days of the RRL sale at the Malibu Lumber Yard. I bought a shirt, waistcoat, vest and a pair of gray woolen trousers. Ended up wearing this very fetching outfit sans beard at dinner with the choreographer. We ate at Sauce in Venice. We ate a huge plate of excellently prepared green vegetables.
Looking in the mirror this morning I do indeed look very puffy and unattractive but hey, that’s the way things are and at my age things are only going to get a whole heap worse so I may as well get used to it.
I don’t feel ugly on the inside. In fact, I feel very good indeed.
Spent the past couple of days in London. Stayed at Dean Street Town House which is just perfect. Perfectly well-appointed. Huge rooms, pale pink curtains, heavily interlined. A wonderful shower and a great coffee-making facility. Delicious, hand-made biscuits. The little dog and I luxuriated in acres of white linen and huge, fluffy pillows.
This morning I walked to Oxford Street through Golden Square. Lovely to be home in London. Lovely. I was stopped by a beautiful, blue-eyed youth who wanted to talk about the little dog.
The beautiful youth not withstanding the streets are unusually crammed with ugly British people Christmas shopping. Big faces on bald heads. Prematurely middle age. Marching up and down Oxford Street clutching at grim paper bags and their final straw. Pasty, miserable, bespectacled boats.
The damp streets. The gray sky. Oh this is my darling England.
Stopped in at a pop up gallery on Berwick Street and bought:
By Christian Brett.
I thought in the circumstances..very appropriate!
Anyway, if you are interested in this and other work go to:
As a free gift, comes with every purchase, they gave me an original art work by Banksy….a brown paper bag with a Marks and Spencer type logo that reads ‘Marks and Stencils’ and is already selling on eBay for ninety quid.
Had a long chat with the curator Sam (knows Wendy Asher) who felt that the whole STREET ART movement had been suspended in aspic for the past decade and I think that he may very well have hit the nail on the head. He didn’t feel as if he had ‘grown up’ that things had remained static, unevolved, complacent.
My own contemporary art world gripe: how come so few artists have anything relevant to say about world altering current events like Iraq? For instance? Who is making work about that?
Most conceptual, contemporary art is so bloody insular and self obsessed. The entitled, bloated Tracy Emin (for instance) has become unashamedly bourgoise and so, I am sad to say, are the rest of the YBA wankers.
Why make work about a corrupt war when I can tell you all about my vagina/blood/self?
The art of ME. I am all I ever think about… etc.
It’s Jay’s fault. He loves a good title and a decorative flourish. Jay Jopling has never been interested in political art and that, my friends, is very sad.
I mentioned Joseph Kosuth to Sam the pop up shop curator as an example of an artist who might have an opinion about the war and the bloody peace.
What is conceptual art? The ‘value’ of particular artists after Duchamp can be weighed according to how much they questioned the nature of art.
Conceptual art is based on the notion that the essence of art is an idea, or concept, and may exist distinct from and in the absence of an object as its representation. It is called Idea art, Post-Object art, and Dematerialized art because it often assumes the form of a proposition (i.e., a document of the artist’s thinking) or a photographic document of an event.
Conceptual art practices emerged at a time when the authority of the art institution and the preciousness of the unique aesthetic object were being widely challenged by artists and critics.
Conceptual artists interrogated the possibilities of art-as-idea or art-as-knowledge, and to those ends explored linguistic, mathematical, and process-oriented dimensions of thought and aesthetics, as well as invisible systems, structures, and processes.
Artists such as Joseph Kosuth and members of the Art & Language group wrote theoretical essays that questioned the ways in which art has conventionally acquired meaning. In some cases such texts served as the art works themselves.
Dinner with Nicola and Chris on Saturday night. Lovely. We ate oysters, game pie and vegetables. Ended up flirting with a cute doorman with footballers thighs in some club on Dean Street. He was ‘straight’ so I walked away. Damn.
This evening I met Charlie at a huge ‘A’ gay Christmas event. I met loads of people. Lovely (sexy, charming, witty and down-to-earth) Dutch/Kiwi man and his friend but the BEST was a gallerist/singer songwriter called Robert Diament who I could totally FALL for. I kissed him goodnight.
Out sexy gay man with a brain. Huh? How did that happen?
Well, it’s not going to happen In the cold light of this sober day (Monday morning) he’s far too young and until my heart is mended…I really can’t imagine letting anyone near me.
Drove back to Whitstable with Alma who is very funny and we giggled for miles.
Anyway, as I have said before..after letting you know my initial impressions of someone ‘special’ I won’t be writing about them again. Can you tell that I am having a nice time? That I am happy? Can you? I am safe and warm (house is a bit chilly) and enveloped by love?
I forgot to mention yesterday…I bought a hat at Kokon to Zai. It is rather splendid.
Then I went to bed…good night…sweet dreams.
Balls not withstanding. The heavy snow and cold conditions don’t stop me from getting in my little car and driving to Canterbury.
We are only seven miles from one of the most beautiful Cathedrals cities in the world.
Meandering through the snowy Kent countryside listening to BBC Radio 4 I arrived, parked inside the Roman city walls and walked down Palace Street looking for a man to unlock my iPhone. The ancient and the modern.
I love Canterbury, I love the tiny medieval streets, the busy shops. I ended up buying a cell phone…as it looks as if I maybe here for longer than I anticipated and I have to keep in contact with the hospital. I bought the correct adaptors and leads etc for my lap top so I no longer need to pop into Georgina’s and use hers.
The economy seems really good. Really good. The shops are packed with paying customers. We are well out of recession. It’s like the British are embarrassed to let the American’s know that our economy is just fine.
The average British person really doesn’t have a clue just how bad things are in the USA. No idea at all. They don’t know about the unemployment, the foreclosures, the corruption or the burgeoning right-wing tea party movement. They are oblivious to Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.
One day very soon they will wake up to a very different America and a very different world run by ignorant, xenophobic thugs.
All of the little restaurants and gift shops are packed with customers in Whitstable too. The Whitstable shopping equivalent: Venice CA the shops on the main drag Abbot Kinney are still boarded up.
If things are fine why is the government hell-bent of dealing so aggressively with what is evidently a self solving problem like the deficit? THE DEFICIT!
This British government is forcing austerity upon the nation because? Because the people have had things so good for so long?
This country is not falling apart, seems very stable and prosperous from what I can see..but under the guise of the DEFICIT reduction plan this new government stealthily returns to Thatcher type fiscal/social conservatism. The class havoc deliberately caused with unnecessary job reduction ends up merely furthering their class war aims.
Governments like drama.
British Governments, like Hollywood studio execs, cause problems so that they can be seen to fix them. The people, our British people, unlike the sleepy time/weed brained/prozaced citizens of my adopted home the USA…we will get off our angry asses and break some windows. Make our voices heard. No, you bloody can’t start charging our children for a university education…something you had for free. NO.
Thanks to the bankers to whom we are already indebted in so many, many ways we can give extra thanks that we can now officially add the innocuous word deficit to the list of things we are encouraged to fear. Along with Asylum Seeker, ASBO, global warming, that millennium bug thing (remember that?) and, of course…terrorist.
DEFICIT=TERRORIST. Something abstract and confusing to be frightened of.
In the UK everybody complains about their gas bill and it’s true that utility bills here are out of control…a recent price hike of 40%. Where the people have no option the corporation steps in and gouges whatever it can. Same as the Insurance industry. The law states that you must buy car insurance so the insurance industry just demands what ever it likes from whom ever it likes.
You want to know about the hospital? The German oncologist was very nice. Do you need to know more? We wait for further test results. Who could have foreseen that a jolly German oncologist would make his way center stage into my life.
I actually feel a great deal better already. I just trust European doctors more than American doctors and they agreed that me coming here was the best possible thing to do. Not having to worry about paying a huge amount of money to anyone anytime soon for what should be a human right sure takes the pressure off.
After it was all over at the surgery I came home and lay down under a pile of blankets and fell asleep. What with the Jake stuff this has not been a great year. Not one of my best. Not a great vintage.
The little dog just hates the snow and who can blame him? His little paws are soaked in cold water up to the ankles. He tags along after me very bravely.
last night Carol cooked a delicious dinner here at the house and we greedily scoffed baked potatoes, ham and a delicious salad made of crunchy endive and baby tomatoes and watercress.
Seeing Charlie tomorrow and others in London. Going to risk the roads in my little car.
Oh yes…I read yesterday that somebody somewhere in the US press demanded that Obama get some ‘backbone’. How dare anyone ask President Obama to have ‘backbone’ when his constituents lack any kind of skeleton what so ever.
In Obama the liberals chose a limp shield made of skin (albeit black) and gristle behind which to gripe about their own inertia.
We open the first book on this day September 5th, 1982. I am 22 years old.
I am in Greece, on the island of Spetses staying with Sir John and Lady Russell. I am still, at this time, Lord Rendlesham and have flown from Paris to Athens with an older nobleman called Guy de la Bedoyere of whom I had tired.
It was Guy’s Turner that I had marveled in Paris a few days earlier and whose butler, much to my horror, had washed in a washing machine my new Crolla ties.
The magazine Harper’s Bazzar had published the pictures of my infamous birthday party thrown for me by Scott Crolla at the Almeida Theatre. Word was just reaching me in Greece that people were not at all happy. Not at all.
If you click on the diary pages you can read the original entries.
I am in love with a beautiful Swiss boy called Robert and it is he that I wave goodbye to at the beginning of the entry.
The following year September 1983 there is no diary entry until I am released from prison on the 18th November.
September 1984 I am in rehearsal for Pornography: a Spectacle at the ICA in London. There are huge articles about us all in Time Out, The Face and a now defunct London mag called City Limits. I am living in Balham with a girl called Victoria. By day I am in a play about gay pornography and by night I sleep with what was effectively my girlfriend. So was the complexity of my life. “Every gesture must be full and complete.” says Neil. Neil Bartlett, director of the show. During these days he and I began to fall out. Irrevocably as it turned out. When we left each other in Toronto months later after our North American tour we would never speak again.
September 1985 I am writing whilst stuck in a tunnel under the alps on a train from Paris to Venice. My and Ivan Cratwright’s great adventure to Venice. Staying, en route with Fred Hughes in Paris.
The diary for 1986 was missing but now found. I will transcribe the entry. I am yet again in another heterosexual relationship with a woman called Louise. Why?
“Oh dear, I am in The General Trading Company off Sloan Square – Louise by my side. Firstly I did not expect the Bahamian bombshell to come back to Whitstable to see me. I rather thought that she might have given me a miss.
Yesterday before Louise arrived my pinks from Kingstone (?) Cottage arrived, they came to me in a brown cardboard box wrapped in local newspaper. I planted them carefully, laying a foundation of stones for good drainage and surrounded the root system with peat. Maria helped out the best she could but spent the best part of yesterday drawing on the beach. The day before that too she had worked hard on minimalist drawings incorporating the seascape – noticeably the foreshore and the horizon, terribly witty references to dead fish – (?) a family with prawn.
Ivan (Cartwright), we collected him from Whitstable station – Korda (Marshall) and I, he was in such a good frame of mind . He prattled on about being arrested for car thieving and told a remarkable story about having been picked up on Park Lane (London) dressed only in a full length pink, synthetic fur coat, cowboy boots and a micro polka dot bikini! He was picked up by a vast black men in a Buick.
Korda was completely freaked out by Ivan and as soon as he had the opportunity – left. However, Ivan enchanted both Rachel (Whiteread) and (?) with his wit and intelligence. We left for the pub far too late. Ivan was wearing a pair of black cotton stockings, a black tee-shirt and short black sweat pants all topped off with this platinum blond hair and that face which as you know contorts like nobodies business.
We all slept late and woke early, that’s why when big bertha arrived (Louise) I was knackered. We took off for a long adventurous but utterly fruitless journey to a closed park. We did go to Beech House (Hospital School in Chartham) I remembered yet again the horror of being taken there when I was a child – I remember that it was in that place that my life changed direction and I began to fight, so it was rather apt that I went there – my life again on the edge of a potential nightmare. India, 8th October 10.15 – 9 months. It rings in my ears.
As we drove to London yesterday Louise and (?) wrote that evening’s narrative. For she as an eye for the ironic. Firstly we locked ourselves out of Louise’s car and house then we saw the corpse of a man freshly killed, his legs crossed at the ankles, in the road. His clothing partially hidden under a green waterproof police modesty blanket. All of us knew that ambulances take only the living to be mended as best they can. Death has no care. I wondered about his family. The pulse stopped and the narrative ending for him. We drove slowly. Later the image of the corpse quietened me and made me listen.
Louise is my strength whom I do not deserve. Late last night I felt truly happy and secure. That’s enough isn’t it? Enough for a man who rarely lives safely, who is destined to become a lonely old man with personality problems.”
September 1987 I am a patient in the Henderson Hospital in Sutton Surrey where I spent the majority of that year. I had a breakdown after a particularly bad bout of Hep B. The Jay who would be fetching me from hospital is, of course, Jay Jopling.
For some odd reason I did not keep a complete diary in 1988. I am not fully well from my breakdown but have decided to go to New York to see Ana Corbero and Colin Cawdor. Paul Benny the artist was also staying in the huge apartment. An entire floor of a converted girls school just over the Williamsburg Bridge.
There is no entry for these dates in 1989.
1990, my thirtieth year. Living in Chelsea with Phillipa having what looks like a rather glamorous time.
1991 Coppers Bottom has opened at Sadler’s Wells. Karen, the lead actress is threatening to walk. I am now living with Anthony H. in South London.
1992 Tim and I are laughing about Damien Hirst not winning the Turner Prize that he seemed so certain to win. I rather cruelly called Jay and told him how sorry I was whilst sniggering with Tim.
Not long before I get sober. Just another 5 years.
After 1992 I kept a journal less and less. I began every year enthusiastically writing everyday like I do now in the blog but by July had lost interest or life was simply too overwhelming.
Anyway, that was fun?
I left LA last week (July 2nd) though it actually feels like months ago, so much has happened. I flew into JFK with bags and dog and chaos. He was waiting for me and whisked me off to a beautiful house set in perfect woodland and rolling lawns.
We ate and walked and talked. I never tire of listening to him. We have done our fair share of soul-searching these past few months and now it is time to have a few laughs. I know that at the back of his mind he worries, that he is not truly free.
Two days later we were in a taxi back to JFK and onto one of Air France’s spectacular Airbus A380. The huge plane was almost empty! Deciding to fly on July 4th was a great idea. Taking off over a million 4th July firework parties. Fireworks exploding all around us.
The first part of the journey was not without drama as we managed to get delayed for 3 hours by a bomb scare at JFK. The entire airport emptied out just minutes before we were about to fly. We were herded outside and sat around smoking cigarettes and drinking water. After a couple of hours in the sun we stampeded back into the building directly onto our planes and landed in France 6 hours later.
It is delicious to be back in Europe. Away from the tangled life I have left behind in the USA. Once in Paris we checked into Mama Shelter in the 20th, seconds from the cemetery Pere Lachaise. We loved it!
Although I smuggled the dog into the hotel-actually we had no need as dogs, we later found out, are allowed. The food and service were excellent. The only vaguely irritating thing was the Internet wi-fi connection which was linked to their rather modern but baffling Apple TV. Apart from finding it impossible to get on-line their sophisticated interconnected system meant that the TV remote would also remotely control our lap tops..hmmm.
It is so easy to concentrate on what is wrong in life or in others without noticing how beautiful things are. The staff at the hotel were gorgeous and we drooled over them everyday.
First day of Couture shows in Paris. We had lunch with William Stoddart at Hotel d’Amour near Pigalle. Gosh that area has changed so much! When I lived there with Claire Sant it was ghastly. Last week it was wonderful. The weather has been gorgeous everywhere we have been.
The beautiful Edouard joined us afterwards for coffee. We had dinner with him the night before and 6 others at Italian restaurant. Very pretty German model who was obviously rooting for Germany in the World Cup..she was tall and womanly and intelligent. We talked France’s ignominious exit from the competition and sneered at the British teams pathetic attempt to get into the last 8.
Three days in Paris followed by a train ride to Calais and a ferry to Dover after a short taxi ride home to Whitstable we were sitting on the beach eating venison burgers and the travelling companion couldn’t believe how beautiful it all was and complained that I had underplayed how Whitstable really is.
Today there are warnings that old people may overheat. We are going to take a train to London.
I am sitting writing this from my room overlooking the sea in Georgina’s home in Whitstable. It was my birthday yesterday. The day started well enough with coffee at Dave’s deli catching up on gossip and drinking his perfect latte. I left the companion in bed. He is not really a morning person. We met my mother for lunch at Wheelers where Mark Stubbs the chef there continues to surpass himself-this time with delicately spiced soft shell crab.
I really had no desire to see anyone other than who was at that table. I am certainly not interested in tangoing in front of 500 people like an eastern European gypsy. My mum and Georgina bonded over their hatred of Asylum Seekers. My mother pointed out that some asylum seekers were pretending to be gay so that they could stay in the country. If it’s not the Mexican’s it’s the Eastern Europeans..there always someone to blame for never having enough.
I thought that the fear of others getting something for nothing was an American phenomena but no! It’s British too.
After lunch Adam took my picture as part of his photographic Whitstable project and his lovely mum cut my hair. We sat in their lush garden drinking lemonade and lusting after his gorgeous, recently tattooed, diver brother. After the pictures were taken we walked the couple of miles home up the beach. I have never been so happy.
When we got home the companion had a drama unfold which he needed to deal with. When he finally tore himself away from the Internet we sat in the garden and ate dinner with Georgina. We ate huge organic pork chops that I managed to burn on the bbq. After dinner we sat outside the Neptune pub with Barry and other drunksters. The dog was tired and lay on the beach and fell asleep. The night was balmy and the sea lapped lazily over the shingle.
This morning I woke at 6am and walked the dog up to the harbor. He loves it here. The Greens who own the Oyster Company scrawl unfortunate notes on black boards all over their property. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Those black boards used to be charming now they just look vicious.
Some people like to get their own way..I am one of them. When you finally meet your match, as I seem to, it can be less than comfortable. I am trying to be sensitive to the needs of others but I am a stubborn old fool.
As for him..the traveling companion..he’s finding his feet and I am finding mine.
I thought about Whitstable today. I miss you so much! The shallow lazy sea, the honey coloured shingle, buying espresso from Dave’s deli, walking the little dog on Duncan Downs. I wondered, like I do occasionally, if I could ever live there again.
Part of me wants to be there but most of me is perfectly as ease with where I am right now.
If I went back what would I be returning to?
It’s a great place to visit but maybe it’s never going to be my home. Maybe it never was.
Taking that bloody, stinky train to London. I never had the money for a ticket. Hiding in the toilet. One hour and fifteen minutes. Faverham, Sittingbourne, Rainham, Graveney, Bromley South. Victoria Station!
Walking to Mayfair. Sweet-scented drawing rooms, thick carpet and polished silver. Oh God. I know why I am thinking about this! I am dreading being left on my own on Tuesday evening when the man/boy leaves for Italy.
I want to travel too! Paris, Sydney, Whitstable or New York where do I go next? If I go what am I running away from? I’ll tell you what: a great, gaping God shaped hole.
18th Century boy/man was up until 2.30 last night pottering around, tidying, making a mother’s day card and finally fell into bed exhausted. We had dinner at Axe on Abbott Kinney. I ate the farmer’s plate with prosciutto. This morning we toured the Santa Monica Farmers Market and bought fresh almonds and pale pink hydrangea and delicate budded peonies.
He reminds me of Patrick Kinmonth, the same sensibilities and creativity. He is so tall and elegant, so curious about everything, which can all at once excite and tire. It is good to live again with someone on my arm that has such an extraordinary zest for life. He wants me to teach him how to sew. I would love to do that, pass on a few of the many skills I have that were meant for some unborn child in an imaginary family.
I wish that I hadn’t killed the snake but I was scared that it would bite the little dog then where would I be? John watched the video of me killing it and looked delighted at the very manliness of my snake murder. I should have been more proud but I wasn’t. I value life, even the life of a dangerous snake or the rat I killed the previous week.
Josh, my sober A gay friend and I toured Barney’s yesterday. Trying on expensive clothing neither of us would ever buy. Bumped into a friend of Charlies who was wearing cut off denim shorts, a sleeveless tee, a man bag and Jackie O sunglasses. What a fucking STATE. Also bumped into my friend Jody who has recently had two surrogate daughters-the $250,000 a pop kind. I asked, like I would my straight friends, if he is signing them up for pre-school. He spat back that he had no intention of sending them to pre-school as their nanny had them on the Einstein system for infant learning. He said that he wanted to control who came into their lives as he had no intention of letting them socialize with other kids as they might pick up bad habits. Now tell me if that doesn’t sound unhealthy? Child as project. Lot’s of my gay friends have chosen this route when they become parents. However, this is not peculiar to gay men, I know straight parents who do this too. In my opinion it can only lead to disappointment and resentment.
I thought about my mother and where she might be this overcast mother’s day. I wondered if my brothers had brought her flowers or sent her a card. I did not. Then I thought about Kristian’s mother who seems to loathe the idea of his friends getting together to celebrate his life and I wondered how she could be so bitter about this simple act of remembrance?
I pay scant regard to my creative life. My desire to create comes in huge waves that crash inconsequentially and leave me feeling tired and unfinished. Why can’t I seem to finish anything? My novel remains unfinished, my film too-as for everything else? I don’t know.
As his departure looms so do the morbid thoughts.
I find myself thinking about the NYC man and grieve for what was and what is lost, broken or as dead as the headless rattlesnake. I am all at once in celebration for what I have and desolation for what was and how that affected me. Man/Boy asked if I was on the rebound last night which I strenuously denied. But, of course, there is some truth to his accusation. John cautioned me yesterday about euphoric recall, the yearning for an acting out partner rather than the fully fledged, present young man who I now have.
I have no reason or right to have wanted more from NYC man. As I have said before I was an inconsequential blip in his life. It’s hard to own that. Yet, in a way, it has made me a stronger man for what I have now. I look at this new man and love him and care about him with new eyes. The eyes of a man who has loved and lost but is lucky to have loved at all.
As for my sobriety, I am sober! I have that to be grateful for. Gratitude is key!
Have to write for the Good Men Project. I am going to write about how to be a man when other men don’t recognize the sort of man you were born to be: A quest for validation.
78 dogs on Runyon Canyon.
The transformers on Outpost exploded yesterday causing the fourth power cut of the summer. Thankfully I was not here for any of the others. John and I drove to Ralph’s and bought ice to keep the fridge from getting too hot. I bought three chickens for dinner-they were half price. I also bought melon and strawberries. In the line at the check out the young couple ahead of me had 20 boxes of microwavable hot dogs and a carton of diet beverage. He looked into my cart and said, “This guy eats healthier than us.” I enquired if they were having a party. The petite, pretty blond girl told me that this was their diet, franks and diet drink. “I don’t cook.” she said, “I’m frightened of raw meat.” Her gorgeous boy friend winked at me.
Alexa, Devon and Sabrina invited me to join them on a trip to Little India which is in Artesia some 40 mins from Hollywood along the freeway. The power out meant that the fans did not work so they lured me with a promise of air conditioning in the car. When we got to Little India it was just as you might imagine several strip malls selling sari’s, jewellery and indian food. We had a blast. I bought odd-looking raisins and nut meg and almonds. Being in Little India reminded me of the UK. Tea and digestive biscuits and Wheatabix. The smell of petuli oil pervading the hot streets. We ate lunch in a small restaurant and ordered Indian food that I had never seen in England. We took our chances and before long delicious things arrived in compartmentalized styrofoam trays. The Indians were watching me eat mine with some amusement-it turned out I was dipping my savoury main course into my desert. I suppose it was like watching someone put ice cream on their hamburger.
We all fell asleep, open-mouthed on the way home.
When I got home I stuffed lemons into the chickens and poured curry paste onto the skin and put bay leaves and garlic under the birds and roasted them for two hours at a very high temp. I boiled potatoes and then roasted them with okra and tamarind sauce. Thankfully I also soaked and prepared some barlotti beans which was just as well as Julia’s husband is a vegetarian.
8 people for dinner. Delicious. Julia Woolf who I have known for thirty years. Who would have thought it? If somebody had told me that the coolest chic in Whitstable would be at my table in LA when I was teenager I would have scoffed. Julia’s husband is very funny and dry. Josh and Sara are always great company. I love the way Josh knows film.
After they all left the internet yielded somebody for me to cuddle. Made it perfectly clear that I did not want sex. We walked together up the Canyon counting dogs and then he left.
38 dogs on Runyon Canyon today Sept 3rd 2006. For some odd reason these blogs are out of sequence.
The owners thankfully too tired to make small talk with their dogs. Yesterday, I shopped on Robertson but could not find what I was looking for. Lunch at The News Room with Dean West. The food was bland and expensive. I ordered a fancy fruit drink-wheat grass, pineapple and mint which had no taste what so ever. When I told the waiter it had no taste, that it tasted like water-he asked if he could remedy the situation by adding more ice. “Are you kidding?” I asked. He went onto explain that the ice would make the drink thicker therefore giving it more taste. I asked him to get me an orange juice.
I mopped the kitchen floor with bleach.
Met Sharon S at the Arclight. We saw Oliver Stone‘s new film about 9/11 which was, at times, very moving but I was over come with the feeling that it had been made too soon after the event. I mean, that’s why the US are still in Iraq isn’t it? Avenging the deaths of 9/11?
The film works best in the confined space underground developing the relationship between the two trapped men. I constantly had to remind myself that this was a ‘true’ story-it was so shocking. Sadly, above ground, Stone never really captured the horror and confusion of that day. As a film maker he needed to be less reverential and more grandiose/dramatic and only time passing could or would have allowed that to happen. It was apparent from this film that Stone finds directing women almost impossible, consequently the wives of the trapped men are woefully undignified. The only female performance of any note was Maggie Gyllenhall. Maria Bello‘s bright blue, over sized, contact lenses were very distracting. The flailing women erred, again and again, toward the dismally sentimental.
Nick Cage was physically suited to the role but he is so prone to under playing that I wondered if his inertia would finally get the better of him. Strangely, as I experienced it, the film felt like a ‘white’ film which was odd because one of the guys trapped under the concrete was latino-his family did not really get a sniff at the action-was the latino woman with Gyllenhall the maid or the guys mother? I found out subsequently that the hero who found those guys under the rubble was not a clean-cut white guy but a black man. A BLACK man found those men and WHITE film makers edited that out of the story. Stone is usually an oppinionated, egocentric film maker but ultimately this film, due to the enormous reverence to its subject, lacked a strong point of view and an unusual absence of ego became its downfall.
9/11 remains a ghastly pre amble to what Will Self calls the ’21st century commodity wars’. I would very much like to read the book that the film was based on. I cried when the film ended but I stayed angry long after we left the arclight, angry that today more innocent people would be buried under concrete by the US in Iraq. Nobody seems to have learned anything.
Saw JA in the line for another movie. She was wearing dark glasses. It is the first time that I have seen her since the cancer diagnosis. I suddenly felt consumed with anger that her stupid consultant had got the diagnosis so very wrong. It is such a terrible waste. Letter from DP yesterday expressing his concern for JA. We have all agreed to stand shoulder to shoulder should the time come.
After the film Sharon and I ate dinner at the Hungry Cat under that new apartment building on Sunset and Vine where I first lived when I arrived in LA. The bill came to $111. The food was decent enough-a bit complicated.
We talked about our sexual obsessions-after a life of sex how difficult it is to reorientate oneself toward a relationship. Sharon has huge tits and I kept on thinking about them during dinner. She told me that her next door neighbour is a very fit looking young girl who makes wrestling videos in her back yard. Sharon calls her Canyon Barbie. I tried to explain to her how PH makes me feel-like I am a MAN when I am with her. Filling out my own body.
Sharon has never met me without a beard so was delighted that I had dimples. I love intelligent, strong women. You know, it was Sharon who helped me cut the front of Dorian Gray providing solutions so that the beginning of the film sprints where it previously limped. We wandered to the parking lot arm in arm and then she dropped me at home in her black Porsche.
Dog Piss Canyon
“I’m frightened by the devil but I’m drawn to those who ain’t afraid..”
I passed 73 dogs on my walk on Runyon Canyon today. They call it dog piss canyon. I don’t think it smells at all. The dogs are all quite good-natured although I had a fear that if one of them did attack me it would be my fault because I was wearing black socks or had a beard. “He was wearing black socks-my dog hate men with black socks.” Most owners walk silently with their dogs but others keep a ghastly, high-pitched baby talk monologue going with their dogs, “Daddy wont be happy about THAT when we get home.” “Keep up with your brother.” Obviously the dogs are not related, one is a Yorkie and the other is a large black mutt. The illusion of family pervades the canyon, all these lonely people with dog brothers/sisters to feed and focus on. “Mummy said NO!”
Last night, after my 7.30-9.00pm AA meeting we ate dinner at Swingers on Beverly. The conversation was dominated by the rumour that Bush intends to use ‘little’ nuclear war-heads on Iran. I was dumbfounded by just how jocular the discussion was. Earlier, before the meeting started, a small Jewish guy was telling his friends loudly how ashamed he was of American foreign policy. Bush’s speech yesterday to a bunch of guys in fancy dress (ex-forces I think) was the usual war mongering pre-election bullshit. I keep on thinking about Michael Moore’s Oscar speech when he declared that we live in ‘lying times..’ How will we ever sweep away this bunch of liars, thieves and fools? We are the first generation of human beings who can not just pack our bags and find land to settle with like-minded people. We have no escape.
Apparently my towels are in Daniel’s room. He did not flush the toilet AGAIN yesterday. I feel too embarrassed to say anything. Shall I leave a note on the bathroom wall? I have not actually SEEN the towels yet but at least he has claimed responsibility and will buy new ones if they are vanished. I scrubbed the tea towel that was stained whilst I was gone. This is the third time that I have scrubbed it-it seems to be responding.
Joni Mitchell used to own the apartment block where I live in Hollywood. It is the most adorable pink building built-in the early 1930s. I have a huge sitting room, a smaller, well-proportioned dining room and the original kitchen and stove. There are two reasonably sized bedrooms and a bathroom off of a long dark corridor. Pamela (queen of the groupies) DesBarres lived here in this apartment. There is a photograph of Sid Vicious leaning against my fire-place.
I have decorated for comfort and relaxation. I have some of my photograph collection on the walls. Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Larry Clark, Tracy Emin, Larry Sultan and Gillian Wearing. It is a lovely little group. I also have the dregs of the Holly Soloman estate sale, above my desk is a wonderful painting called ‘A Peaceable Kingdom’ by Jimmy Kellough, which is a piece of tat really but I love it. How lucky I am to live in two such perfect places? Whitstable and Hollywood.
At 12 I went to my lunch-time AA meeting but it was a bad mistake-such a bunch of self obsessed relapsers. I had mass murder thoughts during the meeting which I have not had since I was last there-so in the words of Hunter Philip I shall ‘go where the love is’.
I had lunch with my celebrity friend who I can’t mention-maybe next time-at the Chateau Marmont. We were offered the table behind the hedge where they put all of the celebrities but we declined favouring the full spotlight. Since I have been gone they have put air conditioning into the lobby of the Chateau. Not as bad as I thought that it was going to be. The staff was having a serious meeting in the dining room. I waved but they all looked like they were being fired. We then went to see a cut of his new film that was, in a word, dreadful. Two words-dreadful and appalling. I could only sit through 30 mins of it without squirming off of my seat. The worst thing is he has invested $180,000 in it WITHOUT having seen any of the footage. I could have slapped him but I am TRYING not being so judgemental and he is a really great friend.
The oddest thing has happened. I woke up at 7.30 which is when I normally get up-I seemed to have totally got away without having any jet lag.
Woke at 4.30am. Still dark outside. Answered e-mails. Still cannot find missing towels. Sharon only used the white ones. Apparently everyone knows that Sharon cried when she told me that the laundry had lost my large white towel.
Spoke to JA yesterday who confirmed that she has cancer. They misdiagnosed the lump she had in her leg-it was the spreading kind of cancer and not the other sort that stays put. She sounded brave but angry that the mistake had been made and that Blue Cross is not honouring their insurance agreement.
I went for a long walk on Runyon Canyon as soon as the sun came up and looked over the city. I felt like Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo when he looks over LA sadly realising that his life is in tatters. Yet, it was not my life that was in tatters-it was my friends-a friend who had been there for me for over 15 years.
Last night I had dinner at the 101 with Dom and John R. We ate the fried chicken-Thursday special. It was delicious. I wish I had it to eat for breakfast. I am STARVING. The fridge is looking pretty bare. I have not had time to restock it. There are usually stacks of celebrities at the 101 but there were none to be seen last night. They had better things to do than eat the Thursday special fried chicken.
Dom and I have a private joke about Dakota Fanning being snatched by coyote from the terrace at the Chateau Marmont. Nobody else finds it very funny. If ever we see a small child or dog at the Chateau we ask if we can have Dakotas autograph. I was in Barney’s once with Dom eating kippers-they stank so much that our part of the restaurant cleared out. Anyway, there was a child there who looked like Dakota Fanning and I asked for her autograph and her mother looked piteously at me and told me that this was not Dakota Fanning. That is how sad our private joke is.
I tidied my desk today and sorted out the draw and threw out old receipts. I think that I have a shoe addiction. I buy so many pairs of shoes. If JA died it would leave a vast hole in my life. I think that she is going to die. It is the spreading kind of cancer and not the kind that stays put.
I felt a slight tremor yesterday. Watched the fan tremble. Thought about my bed, which is a four-poster and could save me if the big shake down happens at night. I was sitting quietly looking around at my new cushion arrangement. The blue ones on the white armchairs. The pink and orange ones on the sofa. The new paisley cushions on the floor with the mauve shot silk floor cushion. Where are my fucking towels?
Ian Drew called to get a quote he was writing about straight actors coming out in Hollywood for US weekly in the wake of the kiss between Travolta and that boy on the internet. The smoking gun. Finally, The secret is out. So what? Who cares? Who did not know that Travolta was gay? Will we believe him less when he holds up his sub machine gun and takes down a nation? Who keeps the gay boys in the closet? Other gays. They are vicious. Other gays keep gay actors from telling the truth about who they are. The velvet mafia must be reeling this morning.
I feel strangely happy and content. The walk did me some good. I should really go and buy my bike, which I did not do yesterday. I am secretly waiting for Dom to take me to the bike shop on Saturday and help me choose it. Must not lose momentum. Tuesday I start work on Valentine. Found old draft of script that reads well. All problems are structural. Must call Lisa B the casting woman and start talking. Perhaps my towels are hidden in Daniels room?
back in the la
Back in LA. The apartment was very clean and tidy. However, some of my towels have vanished and one of my beautiful French tea towels was used for heavy duty cleaning and I spent ages trying to revive it. It looks like with a few more hot washes it might regain consciousness.
I woke up far too early and set about plumping cushions. My beard has a huge hole in it from my nervously pulling at it at the airport. So, this morning I went to Vine and Sunset and my Puerto Rican hairdresser who shaved my entire head. I have had a beard for so long now I really did not recognise myself. I look like my grand mother when I am concentrating. Not very hot.
Courtney Love was on my plane from London. She looked pale but she always does. Sitting next to celebrities on a long haul flight is like going on a date. You get to see them so clearly. CL is on the wagon so she behaved impeccably but you could tell that the air stewardesses were waiting for trouble. A ‘difficult’ person is often made worse by the expectations of others. Everybody loves a good Naomi Campbell story and the mob loves to blame her for her antics but it is so often the goading behaviour of others and the nasty atmosphere created by the crowd that can make a celebrity attack-or anyone for that matter with a bad rep. Boxers are forever being offered to fight by complete strangers.
I know that I-to a lesser degree-can sense when people have a bad opinion of me or expect me to be the person they have heard I am. It is so hard, in those instances, to take contrary action. All too often I become EXACTLY who they want me to be and then all of their preconceptions are ratified. The contrary action is to ignore the baiting, the sly comment, the sneery look or the comment behind the hand. Of course, if one says anything about THEIR behaviour one is accused of paranoia. CL behaved impeccably. At the carousel where we waited for our luggage she dragged her own very heavy cream leather luggage onto a trolley and I felt for her, I really did. This much maligned woman whose celebrity relies, in part, on her earlier bad behaviour is finding it very easy to change her insides but the others will not let her change the outsides.
The last time I flew to LA I was sitting near John Major-though what he was doing coming to California beats me. Does he have celeb friends in the hills? Does he surf? Anyway, he was there reading the newspapers in the same row as me. I had previously seen Brokeback Mountain with friends at The Grove in LA and afterwards I had battled to keep from crying. I decided, rather stupidly, to watch it again. Heath is so mesmerizing. As the credits rolled I felt like crying so made my way to the tiny loo and cried. I was-making a terrible noise, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks and onto my chin. Anyway, when I had finished sobbing I opened the door only to find special branch-the UK equivalent of FBI-who were traveling with John Major outside the loo door. “Are you alright, sir” one asked and I said, bursting into tears again, “Brokeback Mountain.” and slammed the door. After a good half hour I went back to my seat and John Major looked very kindly at me and asked in a stage whisper if I was OK. “Brokeback Mountain.” I said and the ex-prime minster of Great Britain and all of it’s Dominions frowned and nodded understandingly.
I took all my shirts to the lovely Russian lady who presses them at the environmentally correct launderette. I could go to the local laundry but the walk does me good. I don’t think the one at the end of the street gives a fuck about the environment. This week I am going to buy a scooter. A Vespa. I am very, very excited.
I might hire a car this weekend and drive to San Francisco. I like it there a great deal and my friend Randy lives there. Or, I might go to Mexico city with Eugenio and the others but that might be a bit bonkers. JT asked me rather grandly (he is a few days under 90 days sober) what I was doing with those people doing drugs. He cannot fathom why I get a kick out of hanging occasionally with those guys. What he forgets is I found him at that house and now he is nearly 90 days. He forgets that I am doing out reach work-so to speak. People are genuinely amazed that I can stay up all night with them without doing drugs or drinking. Nobody else I know wants to do it-we lead by EXAMPLE.
I start Valentine on Tuesday with the new writer and it is not a day too late. The secret project is coming along very well. Dorian has ground to a halt.
My life as a film maker.
SS in Berlin thinks that I have a changed personality when I get here. I am going to make a concerted effort to be kinder this time. More accommodating. Now I don’t have a beard to hide behind-I need to be a great deal nicer. Maybe my beard made me aggressive in LA-or just the place. Hot, sweaty. Disparate.
Will add more later about this LA thing. Already have breakfast meetings scheduled for two weeks after labor day.
It is a blustery, bright late August day by the sea. Today I woke at 6.30 and started the packing process. I am taking the cushions I bought at Ralph Lauren and my red shoes from Asprey. I have packed millions of books as I miss them terribly when I am in LA. I am a bit worried about the weight of my bags but perhaps they will not notice at the check in. I dread the airport. Frisked by rude, aggressive men. The police with the guns. The stewardesses who behave like Gestapo. Horrible. I am leaving tomorrow but am staying with Phil and Moffy in Worlds End tonight. Phil is going to paint my portrait. I think that we may rent a house together in LA next year. I know exactly which one I want-the one in Hermits Glen. I love that house off Wonderland Avenue. How do I feel about returning to LA? Well, I have to work with a writer and whip My Funny Valentine into shape for the casting process. I think that it will be very funny by the time I finish it. I have to finish Dorian. I have to start my secret adaptation. Lots of real stuff to do when I get back.
So. This morning I walked up Whitstable High Street eating a marzipan candy bar holding a glass dish I borrowed from Delia at Wheelers. When ever I leave Whitstable I look at everything in the town as if I may never see it again. I look at the houses and the shops and I bumped into so many people I knew. I looked in on Billy Childish (Tracy Emin’s ex b/f) to see if he was there in his studio-he wasn’t. I saw Veronica with her grandson who looks like a very young Richard Green. His eyes are wide over his nose just like Richard. They called Richard Green FROG at school because his eyes were so far from each other on his face. They called me Bleached Nigger at school. That was because I had very long, afro hair like my mother.
There are MILLIONS of lesbians in Whitstable. I think that there must be a Tipping the Velvet convention on at the lesbian beach huts on West Beach. I call it the lesbian shanty-town. During the summer hundreds of lesbians live in the beach huts and cook tofu on calor gas stoves and show off their hairy arm pits. They have wild children with unbrushed hair. So many lesbians live here. I sold my last house to a pair of very rich lesbians. They were not very nice and accused me of killing their cat. They were always drunk. They moved out and told everyone it was because I had made their life so uncomfortable-it fact it was the other way around. Joe and I had lesbian neighbours on Fire Island. They looked like men. The men looking lesbians have an attitude I find quite difficult. I always thought that a gay couple and a lesbian couple might get on but in fact the lesbians we lived next door to in The Pines had the same attitude toward us as a homophobic male. They can be quite sneery. I had a lesbian friend who used to visit me in prison but stopped because she became a lesbian separatist and could no longer have anything to do with men-she even stopped her milk being delivered because he was a milk MAN.
I stopped in at the Deli for a coffee and sat outside on Harbour Street and ate a lemon tart. How do I feel about not being here? How does it make me feel? How is it to be back in LA? I like my little flat. I like the smell of the Jasmin and the garden and the small collection of art I have there. But it is September here and that is my favourite month. I am only in LA for a month then I go to Sydney to write. There is no anchor. Phil could be an anchor. She is so wonderful. Important woman. She has no agenda and has always let me be the man I want to be rather than the man they think I am.
I finished my coffee and made my way home. I should have taken my bike then I might have I would have taken a longer route home and stopped in on Lottie who was like a mother to me when I was a boy. She has MS and I think that she might die very soon. I did not go to say good-bye because I don’t like goodbyes.
The goodbye party I threw yesterday was great fun. Phil and Clare and Carol and Jennifer and Anna and Mikyla and Easterly Jason and Tino and Rob and 5 children all came from London to say goodbye and I made a huge cassoulet and crab cakes and tiny prawn tarts with béchamel sauce. Then we ate strawberries, meringue and cream-Eton Mess. It was obvious to everyone just how important Phil is to me and we spent all day being very close. The women talked about Clare being outrageously dumped at the altar last month by her policeman boyfriend from his greek stag do. The girls who have columns on the Sun and Mirror were eager to pillory him for her but she declined their offer. We also talked about my ex friend Susanna A who we believed might have a penis. We were being very rude about her. I told everyone that when we were on holiday in France last year I hade chanced upon her in the bathroom washing it but it had retracted into her vagina like a tentacle. That is the penis she fucks her friends and relatives with.
It was so wonderful having everybody there to say goodbye to me. I loved holding the baby which I did all afternoon and I gave her-rather grandly-a Jeff Koons print I had bought ages ago in NY. Every baby should have a Jeff Koons. They are such a great bunch of friends. Good friends-kind friends. I have been through the mill with plastic friends of late-the sort of friends I have in LA on the whole are work friends and the friends I have here I have not valued. Recently I made up my mind to open my heart to them. Open up my warmer side rather than being so austere. It really works. That new openness may be all about 9 years of sobriety.
After lunch and a walk we watched Welcome to the Dollhouse and then everybody left when night fell, after the glorious sunset. I was in bed by 10.30. The children had woken me at 4.30 that morning. They had been camping in the garden and the rain had woken them up so they decided to cause havoc. Children can be unwittingly destructive-the loo had to be repaired and the back door handle. Everything needs to have the tiny, black finger prints washed. Thank God they were not criminals. Thank God my cleaner is coming tomorrow.
When I get back to LA I am looking forward to buying my Vespa and cruising the streets of west Hollywood. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to my Saturday mornings with Dom. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to the sun on my back and Runyon Canyon and the spectacular views over..LA.
Threat Level Reduced?
The anti Muslim frenzy that the governments of the US and UK have been working tirelessly toward seems to be complete. I am at lunch in Vauxhall London with columnists from the Sun and the Daily Mirror-two highly influential British newspapers. There is also a political editor from The Times. There is a storm raging outside the house (thunder and lightning) and one inside (fire and brimstone) over the chocolate tart and chicken legs. Suddenly in my secular country people are diving along religious lines. The truth is being rewritten, I am told that the Muslim guys who were shot and arrested in Forest Gate are child pornographers/drug dealers/ black marketers. Suddenly the blacks are ‘just like us’ and the Muslims need to be ‘taught a lesson’. Now it is the Muslims who are stealing our tax pounds by claiming social benefits-even though I thought that last year it was the Muslims who had higher achievement levels in schools and ran small businesses with aplomb. Last year it was black people and asylum seekers who lived off of our white generosity-now it is the Muslims. How the fuck did intelligent people like the guys I was with yesterday suddenly become so blinkered-so incredibly malleable?
OK so, the innocent Brazilian guy gets shot in the head by cops eleven times at close range in a crowded subway. The Forrest Gate guys get shot and arrested and later released even though the ‘intelligence’ that had been collected over several months proved without doubt that these guys were manufacturing chemical weapons. Now we get this-the arrests of the men who were supposedly going to blow up planes with liquid bombs. Did the intelligence guys get it right this time or were they manufacturing moon shine? Perhaps they got hold of the mobile Weapons of Mass Destruction units that Saddam supposedly had? In fact those people arrested last week are slowly being released. Did you know that? But, in the mean time, chaos reigns over us. Hand luggage banned. Scary men with sub machine guns in the airports. What are they going to do with all those guns? Who are they meant to be scaring? Certainly not terrorists or insurgents. They are scaring us.
I am more scared by the British police than a Muslim with a backpack. However, I refuse to be intimidated by the anti-Muslims. I suddenly understand what happened to people’s minds in pre war Germany-how people were manipulated to hate the Jews. It is happening before my very eyes! At some base level we are all tribal beings-thankfully we here in the UK do not know which tribe we truly belong, we kinda get along with each other. WE always have. Yet somehow we all realised at the same time that the muslims were our enemies. Suddenly we are outraged that we do not want the muslims to steal our way of life-to take our social benefits and if they do they should be fucking ‘grateful’. “Because the way I see it.” She spluttered over her paella, -“WE feed them and they have the audacity to hate us.” Correct me if I am wrong, I replied, I thought that most of them were very well paid. I thought that they were angry because people were hating them for no good reason. Killing their fellow muslims abroad. “Are you with us or against us?” That’s what George W said after 9/11. Some people in this country are taking this question very seriously.
Even if it were true that the Muslims were taking our generous social benefits can we really expect to buy the loyalty of these people? Does $30 a week buy the loyalty of an asylum seeker? The friends I ate lunch with yesterday were sure that these parasitic Muslims were out to get us even though we were so god damned generous. They refused to make a connection between our behaviour toward their fellow Muslims abroad and their anger against us here. My friends are under the impression that we were all living in harmony before this happened. They refused to believe that the strengthening of a BNP (right-wing) party in the hearts of the Muslim communities was frightening to those people. Anyway, I thought that we had a wonderful low unemployment rate. I thought that we were striving collectively to beat race hate? I thought that we believed in the politics of inclusion? This new political landscape seems very foreign to me. Yet, I live in the USA and it is not so foreign to me there. Perhaps we have a diet of American TV for a reason-perhaps Friends and Ally McBeal have made us think that all Americas are funny and tender and inclusive and thoughtful like the girls in Sex in the City-that at the end of a busy day they take stock and make amends. No. This is a big fucking lie.
All afternoon I heard not one solution from my friends. I just heard hate. When I asked about solutions there was a terrible silence. After all, we know about ‘solutions’ in Germany and Yugoslavia. We know about Rwanda-about Soweto. These ‘solutions’ become increasingly more popular to people when they are manipulated to hate those they share their community with. We have seen concentration camps in the last twenty years in colour on our very own continent.
It was clear to me that we are creating/have created an environment where the people of the white ‘generous’ world will agree to any action taken against Iran or the so-called axis of Evil or Muslim world. We are being prepared to hate so that a war becomes inevitable. The innocents are forgotten-we are forced to forget or to reconsider how innocent they really were. The Brazilian was wearing a heavy jacket and carrying a back pack (lie). The Forest gate men were child pornographers. Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Do not think about the children under the rubble or the point-blank horror of the Brazilian electrician. Do not consider the terrible loss of life everyday on the streets of Iraq. Think about this: we are running out of resources at an alarming rate. Who controls those resources? Who has a trillion dollar debt? Who is making a fortune from all of this? Who will profit from our fear? From the death of innocents? From the death of our own evolved culture?
I suggest that our threat level be increased to its very highest level. Why? Not because we are scared of liquid explosive allegedly planned to cause havoc in the skies but because the very people we think are our friends are quietly and determinedly with perfect white teeth are eroding our culture and the things we hold dear.
Radix malorum ex Cupiditas
August 9, 2006 – Wednesday
my little soldier friend Luke just left. it is quite late. he is so sweet and polite. he kills people in Iraq. that is his job-like thousands of others. he is not liberating-he is at war. he is not doing what we were told they would do by our government. he told me that he killed an eleven year old boy who tried to shoot him because his father had been killed by british troops. today I had to deal with shit film people in LA-my job. let’s make a film about war, about mass migration about 9/11. let’s make a comedy about-FUCKING HELL. The suits where I work are not used to people like me with an opinion. JD and HK sitting in their office jerking off over girls on their lap tops-name dropping because that’s what we do for a living. I do not have to shoot an eleven year old boy in the neck because I have to-to save my own life. My friend Luke is only 19. I may include what he said in a script some day-that’s fair game isn’t it? Today they wrote about me in the newspapers-I was mentioned in the Evening Standard. They were saying that I (Hollywood Director) just moved to Whitstable. That is so funny. They think I just moved here. They don’t know that I am already meeting the sons and daughters of my high school friends who never moved away. They don’t know the contempt I have for most of the people I meet in LA. Let me tell you one decadent moment from my Hollywood life. I was at the private house of a well-known actor. I was waiting in line for the bathroom sandwiched between two other well-known actors. A young girl started flirting with one of theses well-known guys. She was drunk, she said she would do anything for these guys. She was their biggest fan. Anything? You’d do anything? The girl nodded brightly. So one of these guys who had been waiting in line for the bathroom for some time took a piss in the girl’s mouth whilst the other recorded it on his telephone. Luke is already being briefed about Lebanon. The cards are already stacked. Tonight another girl will let a famous man piss in her mouth. when I get back to LA I will go to Hyde and try my luck with a gorgeous actor. Tonight I rearranged my dining room. tomorrow the gas man will come and read my meter. yet again I am torn between my two lives. my two selves. betwixt what is right and what is wrong.
Budd House Summer Party
The Budd House Biennial garden party thrown by Charlie Parsons and his partner Lord Alli is always a delight. Set in the grounds of their 17th Century home in 25 acres of perfect Kent Sussex rolling down. I refused to eat all day as I knew the food would be excellent and wanted to eat as much of it as I could. I took my friend Melanie de Blank who wore an Indian soufflé of shot silk black currant pants and a heavily embroidered mid length coat. I wore a brand spanking new Dolce and Gabanna raspberry, silk velvet jacket and linen trousers and violently pink shirt remembering that it was Diana Vreeland who said that ‘Pink is the navy blue of india’. The party includes a huge fun fair (no waiting for anything) including a helter skelta, carousel, bumper cars and candy floss. There was a hot air balloon-taking people on short rides above the house. I have only ever been to that house during a party. Of course I had a good look around. Their home is so comfortable and gracious and reflects so well on the owners. You can tell so much from where a person lives and how they choose to decorate and the things they surround themselves with. I had a sponsor in LA who had a huge-I mean thirty foot-crystal octopus in his hall. It was rather cold and grandiose-a bit like my ex-sponsor.
Guests at the party included John Reed the Home Secretary with very, very good-looking special branch who whisked him away far too early after dinner. It was amazing just how many people he travelled with. Who could not consider themselves important with that sort of coterie? We met Peter Mandleson (no special branch) wearing cricket whites who still maintains a lofty hauteur. Mandleson does not walk-he glides. Sadly, it was not the time or the place to challenge either of them about Blair sucking Bush’s cock-although I was tempted. I think that special branch would have removed my plate of hot smoked salmon; man handled me into the balloon and cut it adrift.
There were other politicians there (Valerie Amos who looked stunning) as well as the Mitcham and Morden labour party members who arrived in a coach and were having a whale of a time. There were many entertainment industry people reflecting both Charlie and Waheed’s stella careers in TV. Michael Foster, who changed into a very nice Etro shirt in the lane behind his Mercedes in the car park, told me that he had sold his company recently-who can’t be impressed by Michael’s tenacity? I was so pleased to see him again as when we last met I had been rude to him-it was years ago at the premiere of Mortal Kombat in Edinburgh so I took this opportunity to apologise. It is terribly important to make amends. That moment has haunted me for ten years. I was drunk and fucked up and nasty and that night ended up face down in a puddle of my own (I hope) vomit. I had been very rude to Joelly Richardson too that night asking her where the lesbian bars in Edinburgh were because I told her she looked like a lesbian-I go red just thinking about it. It was such a relief to finally say a big heart-felt sorry to Michael.
The great thing about making amends is that after you have truly offered them, it is then up to the person to whom they have been made whether they accept them or not-but that bit is nothing to do with me, the accepting part. What one cannot do is make any amends expecting a good outcome, some people will never be able to accept an apology but that is the way the cookie crumbles. Keep your own side of the street clean. It is the truly meaning part of any amends which makes any apology important. Saying sorry when you do not mean it is very bad indeed for ones spiritual well-being.
I saw Guy M who told me that Jamie P my ex is now two years clean-that made me very happy. Jamie now lives in New York and works his CA programme. When I remember the chaos of our violent, drugged relationship it makes me feel very sad. I still have scars on my back from our fights. Yet, it was that relationship that shook me to the very core of my being and eventually got me clean and sober. I remember day after day praying to be relieved of the obsession of JP. It was because of that intensive praying that I learned one of the great secrets of recovery-to be brave enough to hand over any fear, anxiety or obsession that I may have to the God of my understanding. I leaned that if you have a guiding principled, higher power in your life-one has perspective. Eventually! It all takes time. I am still working it every day. As I sit here and write I know that I am kept safe by my benevolent higher power-what ever may happen to me in life or death.
It is apparent to me that most people live in a world of petty resentment and greed. These people do not have any God in their life and quite frankly, they scare me. I am not saying that one has to be a saint. All one has to do is try to follow a simple set of principles. God knows that I fail.
Other notable guests included Julian Clary who looked portly in a grand sort of way-we have never had much to say to one another. I spent most of the evening talking to my friend Rob and the delightful Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage who I will have lunch with this week. He loves oysters. He is such a tower of strength; he has had two heart attacks in four months. Paul talked honestly about how being seriously ill had scared him. You know that Paul/Lily has been so much a part of my life since I was a young gay man living in London and going to gay bars. He used to work in the Elephant and Castle pub which held amateur drag nights which I would never, ever miss. There was one drag artiste called Rose-Marie who only really sang two song (I Who Have Nothing and My Boy Lollypop) and as many dresses. Rose-Marie had exceptionally long arms and was not a very attractive woman and an even less attractive man. When she sang Lollipop she would throw lollipops into the audience. Sadly, Rose-Marie was murdered by some young boy she picked up. Lily used to work in that bar and thought to himself-I could do better drag than that. He sure did. The Vauxhall Tavern every Sunday Lily was there and I am sure he did the Two Brewers in Clapham. Adrella, The Trollettes and Regina Fong-why drag was such a huge part of my gay entertainment I do not know but it was theatre in our bars and I loved it. Regina/Reg was in AKA, just a little part-he died last year.
There were the usual Kent queens who I did not speak to and they me. They are so funny and ugly and STUCK. Of course I have been an ass but to keep hating me after so much water has flowed under the bridge-it is absurd and says more about them than me nowadays. Much to the amazement of people who do not know me very well I really find it hard to hold a resentment. Those Kent queens have made it their lives work.
Even though they were giving me the cold shoulder I met many, many people. As well as John Reed the Home Secretary there was John Reid, Elton Johns ex-manager off to the Hamptons for a month. Beverley Knight is charming and was thrilled that Joni Mitchell once owned my home in LA. There were at least five TV presenters and news readers-I saw one of them and his boyfriend in the sauna looking very sexy. We had a grand time finding the chocolate fountain, which was hidden on a lower lawn by the ha-ha. We dipped strawberries, pineapple and profiterioles into the liquid chocolate and watched the moon come up over the Kent countryside.
Melanie and I left at 1 and were in bed by two in Whitstable. Today Phil H and her daughter and the Piettes (all five) are coming for lunch so I had better get my apron on. Cooking lunch in Whitstable for 10 people on a barmy sea-side Sunday. I love it.
PS Melanie cooked the lunch-she can’t stand anyone else in the kitchen. It was an Italian feast of roast potato and rosemary and garlic and three huge chickens which we cut into quarters. A delicious salad of rocket and various green leaves. Strawberry’s drenched in clotted cream and vanilla sugar. We set the table in the garden then at 9 that night when the tide came in we all swam in the absurdly warm water.
Chris P and Sebastian Horsley in London
Sebastian Horsley’s Birthday Message to me this year:
Happy Birthday cocksucker. Hope it’s your last
Are you amazed that you have arrived at middle age without having syphilis?
Is it a terrible shock that you are getting too old to die young?
From now on I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Except grow old. After a lifetime of defeat we shall become senile delinquents.
So big boy. Stay Youthful: Watch the posture. Dress young. Keep your hair on. Hold it all in. Improve the bad bits. Avoid the daylight. And remember…There is only one real way to avoid getting old. hang yourself while young.
I met Sebastian Horsley in Edinburgh when I was 22. HE looked like a pop star. I was in a show ‘devised by actors’ and directed by Neil Bartlett called PORNOGRAPHY-a Spectacle. Ivan Cartwright, Robin Whitmore and me telling the audience through the medium of mime, physical theatre and contemporary dance what sort of sexual antics we got up to. We sang and danced and stripped and simulated sex and talked about the history of gay sex in London. It was Neil, at this time, who introduced me to Teleny-The Diaries of a Marianne, pornography attributed to Oscar Wilde. In my retelling of the story of Dorian Gray it is this book that Henry Wooten gives Dorian Gray rather than A Rebours (Huysmans). Teleny’s stories lingered with me for many years and so it seemed perfectly natural to use them in my version of Dorian Gray.
The show played at The ICA in London, “Now there are 4 queens performing on the Mall.” Neil used to say. We pulled in the punters, packed houses every night. The queens loved us although it took me a bit of time to get up to speed. I was petrified of the leering audience. Each night the others would try to assuage my fear by massaging me. That sort of stuff never works. I just get even more anxious. I over come my fear by having an almighty row. And, until I had a huge row with Neil, the director, I was dreadful. After the row with Neil, however, I found my performance and pretty much stole the show.
Ivan Cartwright is a wonderful, glamorous northern drag queen. He used to look like Bianca Jagger, a seasoned performer, he was well-known for his cult stage show in gay bars and arts centers performing alternative drag-not Judy, Lisa or Barbra for Ivan. Oh no, he came on as Imelda Marcos flinging shoes into the audience. More disturbingly, for some of the audience, Ivan did a cracking Myra Hindley.
Whilst we were on tour in Nottingham we went to the Nottingham Ice Rink (Home of Champions) where Ivan was going to teach me and Robin how to skate. Ivan was wearing a short black boucle skirt. After a while of us screaming and falling on to the ice we started attracting altogether the wrong sort of attention. It was obvious to everyone else on the rink that the very gay cast of PORNOGRAPHY-a spectacle was there; they didn’t appreciate our gayness-they began to circle us threateningly on the ice. Ivan whispered to us both to slowly start moving toward the exit. Tearing our skates off we were chased out of the building by a hysterical, Nottingham, homophobic mob. We fled through the front door. 6 yards behind us they were gaining ground-we could hear one particular girl’s voice screaming vile abuse at us. Hearing her shrill, youthful voice Ivan suddenly stopped in the doorway, rounding on them all with such a fierce model turn that they stopped abruptly, as one, in their tracks. In the face of this magnificent drag queen the ugly mob stood silently. Robin and I hid behind Ivan. The poorly dressed, screaming girl fearlessly took one step toward us. She spat on the floor and screamed at Ivan, “You are a fucking QUEER!!” Ivan, gathering himself up like he was performing his finale at The Black Cap, slowly raised his hand, pointed a bony finger at her and said,”My dear girl, I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about me-and what you say is correct. I am a fucking queer! Now you listen to ME! I shall tell you something about YOU. One day, young lady, you will have a child and I shall tell you now-that child will be GAY! Undoubtedly, my dear-you will learn to love that gay child-as my mother loves me.” It was like a spell had been cast. The mob looked at her appalled, the girl’s eyes widened in horror. She stood silently for a moment then she started crying. Ivan swept out of the building. I know in my heart that the girl had a gay child. I know it. Ivan’s powers were legendary.
We went to Venice together a few months after the show-him in full drag. I don’t mean bad drag I mean-really chic. We were in Harry’s bar and a Texan started proportioning him, which Ivan let happen for many, many drinks. I sat on the edge watching a far better spectacle than the one we had been performing. Toward the end of the night the Texan said to Ivan, “You’ve a very deep voice honey, have you got a cold?” Ivan let out a drunken screech, “It’s a lot worse than that daaarlin.”
Ivan did not come to Toronto with us on tour. Sadly, he stayed in London. Things got very bitter and twisted in Canada. I really thought I was a huge STAR by then. We were performing in the Poor Alex Theatre, which was tiny. I was only ever wearing black and kabuki white make up and pearls and drinking for England. There is one particularly bad picture of me taken at this time-it is almost worth scanning. Remember I had only just come out of prison. I was insane! Poor Neil really did a brilliant job of dealing with me. He was a saint.
Until we got to Toronto I had never met anybody with HIV or AIDS. I stayed with a couple of good-looking young men who were both positive. Then, to be positive was as good as dead. It was terrible. I never looked back to see if those men survived, a couple of years later every man I had met in NYC was dead.
Anyway, we are in Edinburgh on our UK tour of freezing theatres and I meet Sebastian. He was working for and being rodgered senseless by the famous, married ex con, murderer Jimmy Boyle. Jimmy ran a gallery there in Edinburgh and though him I met Richard DeMarco the gallery owner and Dione Henderson the art collector. They were so sweet to me. So, after the tour ended I moved to Edinburgh and the next chapter of my life unfolded as a gallery assistant. I moved into a huge apartment with Dione and her three children. I loved Edinburgh, walked everywhere, getting used to the smell of the brewery. I love a city with a mountain in the heart of it.
It was in Edinburgh that I met Jay Jopling for the first time. He stormed into the Demarco Gallery, he was wearing a poncho and demanded to know where Joseph Beuys was. When I told him that Joseph was at home in Germany Jay was FURIOUS. He didn’t believe me. I just stared at him. “I want to talk to Richard (DEMarco)?” he screamed, I just looked at him, looked at this great big charming crow of a boy flapping around in his poncho and smiled. That was the beginning. The usual gayness happened at some point but it might have been after the dance floor ecstasy moment we had in a gay club with DM and LJ and MN in Kent of all places. Dancing to Pink Cadillac. Riding in the back-cruising down the streets-spending all your money on a saturday night. Pink Cadillac. Until Jay got really famous we were really good friends. When I had my nervous breakdown it was he who collected me from the hospital. When he had his first Damian Hirst show it was me he dragged a head of the crowd and said “Look at the titles-they are genius.” I was so proud of him. It was at my house that he and Maia Norman came weekend after weekend. Maia left him for Damian Hirst. Jay was a real friend and my first real friend lost to celebrity.
I know that his other friends grumble about being left behind or abandoned but that is what he always wanted, the life he bargained for. I really don’t blame him. I am really happy for him. I am! Despite the art connections and the poncho-Jay never really made it as a a Dandy, he is brilliant businessman.
Sebastian Horsley, on the other hand, is a true dandy. He wears three-piece suits with Chartreuse lining. The knot in his tie is as big as a fist. I have seen him lose his wife and battle an addiction to crack cocaine. He and I were with each other the night they buried Diana of Wales. It was a dark night in London that night. He is a loyal friend who writes a sweet note every time we meet. I have pictures of him swimming with sharks, fucking a woman with no arms or legs, being crucified in the Philippines. I remember him wild-eyed on crack storming the streets of Soho hunting for prostitutes. I think he is perfectly normal.
Sebastian lives on Merde Street in Soho. On his front door are the words. THIS IS NOT A BROTHAL, THERE ARE NO PROSTITUTES HERE-which is total lie. There are always prostitutes there-in Sebastian’s bed. I think that it was in Merde Street that I hid from a gang of skin heads. Ivan had persuaded me, before a performance of PORNOGRAPHY, to dress in high heels, a mini dress and a long black wig and pose in Berwick Street market whilst he took photographs. I have no idea why-this behaviour is simply a result of hanging out with a man who likes dressing up in women’s clothing, eventually you get in on the act. “Exhibitionism is a drug and by that time I was taking lethal doses.” (Quentin Crisp) Anyway, as usual we had to run away from men who take an exception to that sort of thing. “The roughs are coming!”
Recently, I took a genuinely normal boy to meet Sebastian-my very sweet friend Chris P the TV actor. Chris is a an utterly charming boy. Previously I had taken him to The Colony in an attempt to delight him with a glimpse of an alternative London. My experiment failed. Chris thought that the Colony, the great beating bohemian heart of London was horrible. He didn’t like it. He looked scared. He was not interested in the art or the characters dressed in huge jewels or zoot suits. Those people in that tiny room shocked him, he was unaware of the history of that room. In that room the greatest art dramas had been played out, that Francis Bacon held court there, destroyed the confidence of his boyfriend publicly in that room. Go see the film: Love is the Devil if you want to know more about The Colony.
So, Chris and I are shopping in John Pearse on Merde Street. I bought a pink linen shirt. You know who John is? He made The Sargent Pepper uniforms for the Beatles. John owned a shop on the Kings Road called Granny Takes a Trip in the 1960’s. As we were on the same street, on the spur of the moment I wickedly decided to introduce cautious Chris to Sebastian. Chris is 5’10”. When Chris met Sebastian, 6’5″ tall wearing a lurid tie, his raven black hair swept into a huge bouffant in his rooms in Soho, he was struck dumb. He looked at the pictures of the crucifixion, the limbless woman and the sharks. He was visibly distressed when he saw the nails that been nailed into Sebastian’s hands during the crucifixion. He was appalled when I told him that Sebastian had fallen off the cross. Chris noticed the gun by Sebastian’s bed. “What is that for? Is it real? Why do you have it by your bed?” Sebastian, picking it up to show us the real bullets said, “I don’t believe in unprotected sex.”
My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Acquaintances,
today 21 small children were shattered into tiny pieces as they hid from terrible bombs that rained down in Lebanon.
Your president in the USA and our Prime Minister here in the UK are yet again united against the world in not demanding a cease-fire in the Lebanon. We cannot and must not tolerate this situation for one more moment.
My friend Karim who was in Spielberg’s film Munich is trapped in his home town of Beirut. He is frightened and unable to leave the country. He is a good man, some of you know him. In both countries today there are good men who are not full of hate for strangers, but this will change. These wars will make benign men like Karim hate other men. This is the tragedy of our age.
I urge you to do everything you can to stop this terrible carnage in Israel and the Lebanon. It is wrong. It is dangerous. It is a vile preamble for US domination in the middle east and a manipulated attack on Iran and Syria.
I urge you all to do what ever you can to help these beleaguered people in both Israel and Lebanon find a hasty peace. I urge you to call your representative in government to register your protest. I urge you to see this conflict for what it is, that these people are dying to justify attacks on a third nation. That Jews and Arabs are killing themselves to provide a smoke screen for a US/UK agenda in the middle east.
Only a few months ago Beirut was beginning to emerge as a confident democracy, there was hope for the future after many years of despair.
Did we blame the Irish people when the IRA bombed London for 20 years? Did we level Dublin because of the actions of some maniacal Irish? No, we fought a war against terror even though Irish Americans supported the carnage on our streets in London by donating money to Noraid.
I urge you, my friends, to help stop this destruction, end these lies and save the lives of more young children who will undoubtedly die. I urge you to look into the faces of your own children this evening and imagine how the parents of the tiny, shattered bodies in Lebanon are grieving today.
No more crimes against humanity. No more lies from our leaders. No more blind faith. No more biased reportage.
5:12 AM -
My Baby Drink Red Bull
My friend Randle Mann-yes the poet-he’s one of only three men who can make me howl with laughter. Gary D my casting guy makes me laugh like a lunatic. My LA friend Dom is the other person who can keep me laughing my head off all the time (constantly) I am with him. He’s a PR and I dont know how he puts up with half the people he works with.
I am still awkward and shy with most people-so consequently everybody thinks I am confident but its all a genius cover up. Ever since I went to my first gay bar when I was 17 I was crippled with shame. Gay bars are terrible places to grow up-especially 20 years ago, in London..shit..how did I survive? Not only the shame but AIDS how come I never got that? Everyone else did. Probably because I was a terrible prude and refused to have one night stands and refused to have sex just for the sake of it.
I have no idea why we treat ourselves so badly.
Gay bars do not have to be so horrible. I went to two opposite each other in Dallas with JBC a few years back, one was a typical techno bar and the other was full of line dancing cowboy types. In one it was dark and stainless steel and the music was pop/dance/hard the boys and men kept their eyes averted because if they looked it might be perceived as an invitation to have sex, which might precipitate a snub. In the other bar the lights were on, the men were dancing to be seen, there was no embarrassment. The music was understandable like the moves on the dance floor. Men stood proudly like men welcoming any attention that they might get rather than scurrying around like cockroaches in the semi dark, too air-conditioned, techno environment where any human contact or intimacy was reduced to cock and mouth and ass.
I remember Neil Bartlett saying once that if there were a gay ghetto he would move there. I love gay men at their excessive best. I love that they can, how ever macho they might appear, dress a room with individual style, deliver a brain splitting, catty remark and be that OTHER that I love.
When we lived on Fire Island in The Pines all the fancy muscle queens had twin poodles or miniature Italian grey hounds. The men carried them around on their bulging biceps or the little creatures would step out on bejewelled red lizard skin leads. I admit it I used to SNEER! I did, I am ashamed. Now, I hanker after those days because those very same men have traded in their little dogs for babies. Wombs all over the west coast are currently being rented to grow babies for gay men.
Why do I find this phenomenon so difficult to stomach? The two single men I know who have tried to have a baby seemed like such egomaniacal workaholics how would they ever make space for a baby? What is the point of getting a baby just to hand it over to a nanny on a daily basis? I asked my friend but he reacted badly, it seems that even a hint of gentle questioning is perceived as a full-blown attack. “Why shouldn’t I have a baby? Straight people can do it so why cant I?” “Straight people have been getting things wrong with kids for years-why cant I?” “I want a baby!” “Where’s my BABY!”
It feels to me like we are planting tiny little legal/emotional time bombs all over the gay ghetto-for what? I don’t have an answer for all of this. I just have questions that seem to upset people when they are asked. I don’t want to stop anybody having anything but the explanation for the ubiquitous gay baby is this: Of course I can buy a baby-its the American way. “It’s like buying a house.” I pointed out. “Exactly!” My friend threw his hands up in the air. The irony was lost on him. Another man was boasting that his baby was white and therefore more expensive. (When he left the table his friend said that the mother was a crack whore in san Antonio). Another man I know was furious that the surrogate mother of his twins had miscarried them, he said that she was a ‘bitch’ that she was ‘unreliable’.
I have always suspected that gay men in the USA, knowing that the Christian right want them gone, disappeared-think that if they make a relationship, buy a nice house, furnish it elegantly and have a baby, THEY (the Christian Right) might not realise that they (the gays) are there at all. Holding their baby toward the church gay men seem to be saying-“Look, were just like YOU!” “We can sit on the school board and be just like you.” “Look at our picket fence it’s just like yours.” “It is the American way!”
When did we decide that we wanted to be just like them? When did we opt for invisibility rather than the benign freak show that has formed my aesthetic and thinking during the past 20 years? I do not want to be like THEM. THEY are not my people but increasingly the baby owning gays are not my people either. Who are my people? European, free thinking gays? Perhaps. Peter Tatchell gays? More likely. Alternative queers? Absolutely.
I am not invisible. I do not subscribe to the notion that Brokeback Mountain was good for us and why do we have gay film festivals anyway? I do not believe that, especially in the USA, that we can integrate in any meaningful way without losing out on who we are.
In the 101 café a couple of gay men are holding their blond, blue-eyed baby above their head for all to see. My friend said, “That looks like an expensive baby.” Surely that child will ask one day, “Where’s Mommy?” Where the fuck is Mommy? Well, darling blue-eyed boy we bought the egg from an unknown woman in Texas and paid for an unknown womb in California-so there is no Mommy but don’t worry darling you are loved and that should be enough. “What? What do you mean there is no Mommy? Where is my MOMMMY!” The perplexed gay couple might say: “Straight people were doing a lot worse than this for years before we started doing it.” It is a lame answer and they know it. This morning over pancakes, as they toss the delighted child from father to father they are not thinking of the spotty, dispossessed teenager with a gun in his hand demanding answers.
Perhaps the child will not be like me and will not ask a million difficult questions about what sort of woman could do that. What sort of woman has a child and does not want to know it? What happened to that woman to make her give up her baby? Perhaps this blue-eyed, expensive, white kid will have had so many chemical solutions every time he asks a difficult question that his questioning nature will have been removed completely. Perhaps Ritalin or Prozac will do the trick? There will be no time bomb questioning-no desperate moments of desire to understand from the woman who bore him what sort of woman she was.
All I know is this: I remember the first time I saw into my father’s eyes, even though it was a photograph and he was long dead, I remember how I breathed a final sigh of relief that at last I understood who I was and the questions that had driven my emotional life were finally answered. I had recognised myself ion his eyes and where I had come from. The look on his face in one photograph relieved me of the burden of that nagging question.
The last time I was at The Abbey in West Hollywood with Randle Mann we saw two perfectly manicured, perfectly pumped and tanned men and their 6-month-old baby. They went to the bar and ordered drinks. I could see the bar man pinch the baby’s cheek. What does he drink? I imagine him say.
Randle and I looked at each other and howled with laughter.
“My baby drinks red bull.”
DORIAN GRAY-THE PROCESS
I showed Dorian Gray last Sunday. I like to show my most arrogant friends who have little regard for me because I am sure of a truthful opinion. Thankfully they loved it. My friend said that I had taken all the best bits of the novel and made it come alive.
I dont think that people in the US will get this film. Whenever Americans see it they ask a million questions without waiting for the answers that exist in the film. When I show it to Europeans they get it immediately. Theres nothing bad about this-its merely cultural. A question of a different sort of education. The history of ideas that informs a European viewer is quite different from an American. Roland Mouret the fashion designer and long time friend said-well you KNEW that was going to happen didn’t you? Frankly, I didn’t. The constant explanations required in US movies dampen and distort the narrative. The simplest explanation is all that is required, I am told this all the time. The problem with Dorian Gray is that it is novel about complex ideas and even more complex solutions.
When I decided to adapt Dorian Gray I was fascinated by two things, firstly the earlier, unpublished version of the book that was serialised in the Lippincott Monthly Review grabbed my attention. In this version it is perfectly clear that Basil is gay. He tells Dorian that he could never love a woman. He is explicit about his desire for Dorian. His obsession kills them both. The second, compelling reason for making this film was just how much of myself (and the description of my dead father) that I saw in Dorian. In fact people who have seen earlier cuts have told me just how Davids performance at the end of the film is just like ME. Obviously this was going to happen-David needed to morph into something quite unlike his role in 7th Heaven. He starts the movie like this but very quickly it becomes evident that he is changing-what he changes into is me.
Like AKA there are very highly stylised elements in Dorian Gray, the split screen the use of words on the screen-the constant references to art and artists. The film is deliberately arty and to that end I think is better suited to playing in galleries. How do we gage the value of an art film? I have no idea.
I am not frightened of this film being labelled as gay because I am and there are themes in both the movie and the book. However, it is more literary than gay. It was made for those of us who read and love the novel. I had to make a crucial decision at the beginning of my adaptation-do I make a film for people who think that they know the story or who definitely know the story. Even people who have read the novel are unaware of the age of Sybil for instance-she was 15! They are unaware that the story was written over an 18 year period-the time it takes a boy to become a man. Dorian, as played by David Gallagher, is a slim boy. We did not attempt to cast an obviously beautiful boy because beauty is subjective. For some I would never have chosen a beautiful enough boy. Beauty is subjective. Youth is indisputable.
Who is Gabriel? The most obvious and controversial departure from the original text is the character Gabriel. I was captivated by the line-‘poisonous influence of his own nature’. What did this mean? Instead of passing this by I decided to introduce us to the human form of the poisonous influence a character called Gabriel, a rent boy who may or may not have known Oscar, a traveller in time. Gabriel is Dorian’s poisonous influence-the voice of the ‘other’.
I was really worried that the final abstract chapters of the novel that chart his decent into hell would not work but we shot them anyway pretty much as they were written. In fact, these chapters work the best of all. The abstract decent into hell suits film perfectly. It is the earlier, dramatic part of the film that works more traditionally. Getting people to care, introducing them to the characters.
When we adapt a great novel we have to bring something of our own lives into the equation. It is not good enough to tell it as it was written but actually to reveal what it says about the way we live our lives now.
There has been so much discussion about what David will be like as Dorian Gray. Unanimously people who have seen his take on Dorian love his performance. They understand that they are looking at a remarkable young actor who holds the entire film together with understated, elegant performance. I love to look at David, it is apparent from the way we shot the movie that we needed to fetishise him. I needed to fall in love with David so that every frame of the film is devoted to revealing his beauty-just as Basil Hallward reveals Dorians.
Every element in this film adaptation of Dorian Gray originated from the words of Oscar Wilde. I wrote the adaptation in Sydney Australia-where I love to write. It took three months to sketch it out, to stay true to the original. Now we are making the sound track and Laura Karpman has found every musical reference in the book and is reinventing it.
It is a most exciting time.
I had not seen Jono for months. We met ten years ago in Covent Garden the day that HRH the Queen and I were having lunch at the Ivy. Of course, I was not at her table. Nor were Chris Eubank (charging his mobile phone) or Torville and Dean (too much make up) but we were, all of us, still in the Ivy that strange summer lunch time in the mid 90s. Jono was 20 years old and had-still does-the hugest most magnificent smile. He was selling throw pillows with Mao and Marx silk-screened on to them. He originally comes from the Pacific Rim and his long, aquiline nose on his face reminds me every time I see him of those huge heads on the Easter Islands. I think that I was still with JBC then and lived in Kensington.
Anyway, after the obvious cock showing and gayness we settled into a periodic friendship which usually meant that I saw him getting out of limousines with Elton or Patrick. Two things have tremendously endeared me to Jono; the first is purely selfish-he likes me. The second; a young boy over dosed and died in his bed beside him. Jono dealt with it so compassionately and well, dealing with the boy’s family and friends.
There was a Scottish boy who killed himself who used to hang around with that lot. He was from the northern most part of the isles up there in the Hebrides. He escaped the bleak north of Scotland by joining the army. I met him on a train and after the usual gayness we became friends. He was always so well dressed-so careful. However, he got in with the wrong gay crowd and one day he told all his friends that he was going to kill himself, said his goodbyes and then took enough drugs to kill three Scottish squaddies. I digress.
So Jono and I met up last Tuesday night in Soho, he was wearing a trim cut shirt and tight beige pants-Dior I think. We ate sashimi and I told him all my LA stories and he told me all of his world traveller tales. Like normal people are with rats-Jono is never more than six feet away from a celebrity at any time-they gravitate toward him so his stories are always fascinating. Art dealer and artist wife-he’s gay etc.
We wandered to café Nero to drink latte and as we were leaving a very cute, young boy passes us on Old Compton Street, the gayest street in the most liberal capital in the world. We both looked at the boy and agreed that he was cute. The boy reacted very badly and started asking us what we were looking at. I said-you, of course. You are very cute. He was FURIOUS! He started swearing and calling us queers. Well I tell you that in all the years that I have lived in London this has never happened to me.
Actually, it wasnt really happening to me. It was happening to Jono who was then grappling with this boy in a sort of pathetic argy bargy. The boy let Jono go and walked on and we were indignant but something began to overwhelm me. I was furious, absolutely furious. We kept a pace with the boy and suddenly he grabbed a bottle from a table and rushed at Jono. I grabbed the lads hand, made him drop the bottle which smashed on the road and then I took the back of the boys neck slammed his face into a parked car and beat his head with my fist. Apparently I was screaming “How dare you.” Anyway, the boy and I had more posturing on the street, including me creaming at him, “Go sell your ass in another part of town.” Then I went to Soho House for a strong coffee.
I was elated. He eventually ran off. Of course, it was like we had sex with the boy-and he with us. He wanted the attention of gay men or he wouldn’t have been there. He simply did not know what sort of attention he was going to get.
I said good-bye to Jono and gave him numbers to call once he gets to LA. Jono is one of those for life kind of friends.
two 29-year-old men
I know this guy, 29-year-old guy who was addicted to smack. He was in the Neptune tonight, he had a black eye and a grazed head. He was reeling around, out of control. He was pleased to see me because, he said, “you listen.” He hadn’t seen me since Christmas and then the summer before-so this was the third time we had met. He told me that he had told his brother about me. We sat down in the pub and talked about his drinking. He had got the black eye last night-he couldn’t remember how. He told me that his father had died drinking. “I was only eleven. Look at me I am a grown man and I want to cry.” I urged him to cry. Instead, he stood up and threw his beer on the ground outside the pub and kicked a car. I followed him and he sat down on the steps over looking the last of the sunset. He is a tall and handsome man, he has bright, intelligent, sensitive, brown eyes. He knows that I drank- that I was a drinker. He listens to me when I urge him to choose a life rather than a slow death. He listens for a moment, apologizes then asks me for three quid to buy another beer. Meanwhile my friend Karim is trapped in Lebanon. I spoke to him yesterday-he is another strong, intelligent man. He is a head strong actor. He sounded scared. I hate this-this terrible thing that is happening. I hate the lies and the double standards, I hate that my innocent, good friend is trapped in a war that nobody wants.
Just missing one day of exercise stiffens my joints. I set off into the Canyon. I pass 51 dogs.
On the first ‘level’ before the steep bit there were 8 old Russian men sitting on the bench howling with laughter, talking over one another and thoroughly enjoying the delightful crisp, Californian Monday morning in mid September 2006.
Yesterday, by ten am, I had already met a handsome black realtor off of the internet. I made it crystal clear that I did not want to have sex. He swung by in his flash BMW and we headed to the farmers market on Vine where I bought 8 huge organic peaches which are ripening in a pale green bowl in the sitting room as I write. The farmers market was JAMMED with people. I have been going to that market ever since I first moved here and I have never, ever seen it this busy.
I saw purple okra and delicious cheeses and ten different kinds of dates. I saw many local people who I recognised, how lucky we all are in Hollywood to have this perfect destination for our Sunday mornings. The internet date was hungry so we headed to the 101 where we were served by Ryan who is a friend of Aleksa and Devon. We had both been invited to Aleksa’s birthday party so Ryan said he would give me a ride over there when he finished work. Saw beautiful boy in 101-looked like a dark Justin Timberlake. I did not get his number.
Internet Date and I then drove to Bonham’s auction house where I saw a pale wood 50’s desk with really elegant legs that I had somehow missed in the preview. It was an early lot so we were far too late to buy it. One of the auction regulars that I nod to occasionally saw me looking at it and told me that it had not sold so I ended up buying it for $50! I love it. Needs some slight repair but mostly it needs to be loved. It has really beautiful legs.
Paulo, my friend who works there, was annoyed because he had been sent out to buy sandwiches. He said, “I didn’t spend $150,000 going to college to be sent out to buy sandwiches.” He is a funny Italian boy who wears a wife beater under his shirt. Anyway, after the desk purchase-which as I had credit at the auction house I did not have to pay for anyway-Internet date drove me home. I don’t know if I will see him again. There was no immediate SPARK.
Jane Garnett called to tell me the great news that she is pregnant. We talked about her film The Illusionist that is a huge hit! I adore Jane, we chatted about the secret project that she knows and she loves. We agreed to meet some time this week. I am desperate to see her, she makes me feel SANE.
Coincidentally I received an e-mail from Georgie Byng yesterday who originally introduced Jane and I several years ago. Georgia was in my performance work, The Host that we performed in The Royal Oyster Company Hall in Whitstable. She is married to Marc Quinn the artist who made Blood Head, one of the great art stars of the Sensations era. One of Jays artists. Marc is a very kind man. If I am mad and difficult, like they say I am, people like Jane, Marc and Georgia are willing to overlook my defects and concentrate on the man they have known and liked for many, many years.
Ryan collected me at 4pm, we drove a little further west up Sunset to collect his friend Steve who had played Dorian Gray in a rather wonderful sounding theatre adaptation of Wilde’s novel. Steve, of course, loves the book and quoted huge chunks at me. If fact, we disagreed about the source of one particular quote and I had to concede, after looking at the book, that he was right and I was wrong. It is always good for ones constitution to admit defeat to a younger prettier man. I really took to Steve, a complex mess of desire, pessimism and loneliness-all spread out on the table for every one to see. An emotional yard sale. There is nothing better than a beautiful boy with a problem. Of course, ugly people never get the opportunity to let everyone know their STUFF. Nobody cares.
We headed over to Aleksa’s birthday party in Griffiths Park. I met her manager Eric Black. Really liked him. Eric told his best friend, also there at the party, a friend who he had worked in the CAA mail room with when they were fledgling agents/managers all about me. Good God, in the telling of my story, Eric’s description of me from a managers perspective made me sound like a TOTALLY insane maverick.
After Aleksa’s party (lasagne and cherry pie) we drove to a friend of Ryan who was having a party near the 101. Valet parking, caterers etc. Met a woman I know from NYC called Annette who is an Australian editor, she in turn introduced me to Trevor Groth from Sundance. Joel Miklely was there with a boy/man web designer. Met another Eric Siddall, a lawyer from San Fran-intriguing. Ate marzipan and drank coffee. We stayed for a while chatting with film people but I never feel comfortable in those places. Inevitably they think they know a great deal more about me than they really do. Most of what they know is sensational gossip. This is why I like hanging out with actors. Actors are less condemnatory. Actors like directors.
We left that party but had a couple of hours to kill so were driving back to my house when I got the oddest phone call from my friend Tim in NYC. Tim is a Whitstable lad (26) who has done very well for himself as a sort of live in life coach for a very rich Jewish American family. He told me that Danny Gallagher was dead.
Danny, another young Whitstable boy, was badly hurt in a car wreck just before I came back to LA. It seems that he got some sort of infection in the hospital and never recovered. “I don’t know how I feel about it, Dunc.” Tim said. I felt exactly the same. You see, I have an affection for those rough Whitstable boys, but it is not always comfortable bumping into them as they drunkenly make their way up Island Wall. Danny, when he was younger, was very homophobic. He would sit outside the Neptune and sneer at local gay man Duncan. But, last year, we sat down and talked and he asked about my life and I listened to his story. His brother had died of cancer. From that moment on he always went out of his way to come say hello and ask how I was doing. I love those rough Whitstable boys. I always have. I am, after all, a rough Whitstable boy who just, for the time being, lives in LA.
You know, when those judgemental people look at me at those swanky film parties they don’t realise just how hard I had to fight to survive. You would have thought that one would not have had to fight so hard in a place like this but you have to fight harder. This is all part of my great AA dilemma. All at once I have to let go and let God, yet I am compelled by my ‘ambition’. I tried explaining my ‘ambition’ to Eric’s friend yesterday, I tried to explain the desire in me, the compulsion to make art rather than money. This is what I think defines me as a maverick. That and the fact that I loathe most people!
So, Danny Gallagher is dead and I am sorry for that.
Steve, Ryan and I then went home and watched my Dorian Gray on the Lap Top. Steve and Ryan really liked it. That made me happy-after all, they are my core audience. We drank strong coffee then drove back up Sunset to Peter’s show of films and photographs. I really loved his work. It is enigmatic, clean, great colours. All of his sexy model friends were there including the devastatingly handsome Jamal Cohen. We hung with them for a while (can’t write about celebrity associations at this party-Peter would kill me) then headed off to find a quiet place to sit. It is very difficult in Hollywood on a Sunday night to find a quiet place. We ended up in Famina! A small Japanese store on Hollywood and Highland and ate crème brule and watched the insane pedestrians, the only ones that are left on Hollywood Blvd at midnight. Finally stumbled into bed at 12.30. I am going to collect my new desk today and write…and go to the gym…and think about rough Whitstable boys.
September 17, 2006 – Sunday
Sunday, day of no walks on Runyon Canyon. No dogs to count, no fat to burn. No.
Runyon Canyon Emergency! Yellow notices posted all over the waste bins, the seats, the notice boards and on MySpace. Attention Everyone! The Parks and Recreation Department want to build a car park at the foot of the Canyon.
What do I think? Will it make any difference to the quality of my life if they build a car park at the base of the Canyon?
Yesterday I wondered if it wouldn’t be rather nice to have a rustic shack selling breakfast stuff at the base of Runyon Canyon with a wood burning stove warming on a cold morning. I found myself dreaming about that just as often as I tend to dream about running the Red Spider Cafe which used to be a rustic shack/beech hut on Whitstable Beach. This summer Barry Green, who owns Whitstable beach, asked me (as he must ask many others) if I wanted to run the Red Spider Cafe. He wants to re-build it. I found this idea very appealing. The simplicity of a very honorable trade: I make you tea and cake, you give me £2.75. I never ever dream about making films in the same fond way that I dream about serving tea and running a small hotel on the Kent coast.
Why can’t people just walk to the Canyon? I walk to the Canyon. I walk everywhere. I walk to the farmer’s Market on Vine. I walk to the Auction House on Gardener. I walk to the Chateau Marmont. I have walked, on many occasions, from Labrea to Doheny to my AA meeting. I even walked all the way from my house to Robertson and Beverly. I really love walking LA. I love peering closely at palm trees, I like nosing into gardens. I like taking alternative routes.
When I was a small boy I walked in my pyjamas from Whitstable to Herne Bay. When I had my drug problem I walked so hard from Kensington to Soho that all my toes turned purple from the bruising. When I was at Shotton Hall School we walked the length of Offa’s Dyke which is an ancient path that runs the border of Wales and England. We stayed in idyllic Youth Hostels and I remember packing coordinating outfits.
I prefer walking to taking the bus. There is so much shame heaped on people who take the bus in this town. I tend to linger away from the bus stop just in case anyone sees me waiting for a bus. Can you believe it? I shall be more robust about my bus taking in future, less shameful.
Unfashionably, I think that Barry Green should be allowed to build beach huts and Red Spider rustic shacks all the way along the stretch of beach that he owns. I do not, however, think that Barry Green owner of the Whitstable Beach, should be able to build a hideous mock light house and crowd generic ‘fantasy Whitstable’ type architecture on the new marina.
I went to see the plans for the new Whitstable Marina development before I left for California with my friend Charlie Parsons and we both agreed that the designs were HIDEOUS. The architect on duty told me that it was the council’s fault but this is patently untrue. The local council merely defines the architectural parameters for the architect: the height, housing density, materials etc. The architect is responsible for the imaginative response to those parameters. Whilst I think that the town will benefit from the new marina, the suggested designs were bland, depressing and what is worse one could already imagine abandoned polystyrene oyster trays being blown all over the ersatz cobbles on cold winter afternoons.
Continuing our Saturday morning tradition I had breakfast with Dom and John Roden at the 101 cafe on Franklin. This old-fashioned, mid-century diner is always stuffed with cute alternative people. Yesterday was no exception. Omelette, no toast, no potato. Yes, I’m starting THAT again Clare Swinburn. The smelly breath diet. We complimented some boy on his floral pants (trousers) and he said, “You have to be really straight to wear clothes this gay.” He showed us what was written on his ass and when we complimented his ass he said, rather seriously, “That’s harassment.” Who put the ass in harassment?
Spent most of the afternoon with my sponsor and then went home to meet Peter Youngblood Hills but lost my phone on the bus, then my afternoon went to shit-missed seeing/speaking with Peter, missed my opening at M+B gallery and when I finally resolved everything it was time to head over to Julia and Sim’s to see their gorgeous house in Silverlake, meet their divinely pretty daughter Elsie and meet their friends from Sheppey of all places and eat dinner in Silverlake. After dinner of Pork medallions and chocolate terrine I took them all up to the Soriano House and fell in love with it all over again. OH GOD!!! I love that house.
Stayed at Julia and Sim’s until 1am gossiping about Whitstable people. It was so much fun. No one was spared. Sim dropped me at mine and I slept like a log. The phone rang twice after midnight. I did not answer. I knew what they were. Two booty calls. Can you believe it? At my age!!
September 16, 2006 – Saturday
I slept until 8.30 this morning. Not even the morning sun pouring into my bedroom woke me. Disoriented by how late it was I started the day by checking e-mails, which, I never, ever do. The squirrel was in the Bird of Paradise tree outside my sitting room pulling seeds out of the huge pods. He was making a terrible racket. Chattering away to himself.
There were more that 80 dogs on the path today. SO MANY PEOPLE. I really don’t like to share the Canyon with that many people. I like the few odd die-hard who get up at six and watch the sun break over Los Angeles. I was wearing a red Buddhist punk hoody, red seems to attract a great deal of attention. I received many nods and unsolicited greetings. I passed the man who pushes his bike without his shirt on-he has a creamy naturally defined body. He looks but does not acknowledge.
I never take a phone or an iPod up the mountain. I need to experience it raw. It is still hard to get up the steep bit without a break but I am really noticing a difference. I feel lighter. I can’t feel so much fat on my back over my kidneys but perhaps I am just kidding myself. Next week I start working seriously at the gym. The fact of the matter is: I am happier when I get to walk my walk, meditate and write my blog. At the start of everyday I feel as if I have achieved something. You know, I kept a diary for over 20 years. A written diary. A Smythson’s leather-bound diary. I had Red calf, black calf, natural pig skin colour. I had a marbled one from Venice. I stopped writing my diary because, when I got sober, I wondered why I was doing it-and it was cumbersome to carry and then when I got here stupid people thought that it was a bible.
I passed the Russians with the blue-eyed dogs; they were rabbiting away in Russian then one of them said in English, “So Armageddon is finally coming.” Like he was expecting his aunt, aunt Armageddon. It certainly feels pretty doom-like at the moment. We get on with our daily lives but something else is determining our future. Maybe there really is a conspiracy of powerful Jews? Maybe Elvis is still alive? Maybe Freddy Star really did eat a hamster?
More OUTRAGE from Muslim clerics because the Pope quoted some odd Persian from an ancient text. Come on lads get some perspective. Who gives a fuck about the Pope? He wears Prada under his cassock.
At the start of my walk I saw an incredibly tall, svelte, young couple with their morbidly obese son. They were in their early thirties, athletic. He was 9 years old and a tub of lard. He was complaining about the smell on the canyon. They were reassuring him that everything was going to be ok. I thought to myself, Oh how sweet, these two are really helping their child. It must be tough, but as a family they are trying to get him in shape. I set off on my walk. On the way down the Canyon I pass the two athletic parents walking on all fours like dogs. The child is nowhere to be seen. They were walking on all fours like dogs. Stretching out their perfect, athletic limbs. Half a mile behind them, dawdling along is their huge son. Alone, fat, abandoned. What can I say?
Dammit, I always forget to mention the half-naked elderly man who I have only seen once crouching in the undergrowth wearing a dog collar and rubber shorts looking like an unloved, abandoned dog. If I was (when I am) a lonely old man, I might be tempted to think that someone might adopt me if I pretended to be a dog without a home.
Yesterday, I wrote, I read, took care of business and did more iTunes organisation. I chatted to Erik the writer about Valentine. I checked out the Bonham’s Sunset sale but there was nothing there worth buying. I saw Paulo, he needs to take me out for lunch sometime soon. Danny O dropped in for a cup of tea. I was meant to be seeing Gianni but Virgil swung by so I had to blow Gianni out at the last moment.
I really think that Virgil might be married. He is so secretive. Remember Quentin Crisps unattainable big, dark, man-kind of dumb but loveable. That is Virgil. He does not know his 10 times table. He eats KFC every day. I asked him what he talked to his best friend about and he tells me the conversation VERBATIM. It wasn’t very informative. He is a huge, gentle, light skin black guy in his mid 40s. He watched me make a salad dressing and when I poured it onto the salad he asked what I was doing. He had never, ever seen anyone make a dressing before. Do not be surprised my homies, this is the USA. Even my more sophisticated friends would not know how to make a salad dressing from scratch. The young ones think, ‘why should I?’ and the older ones think, ‘We never eat at home’. Virgil is a big sweet man. I asked him to take me to South Central LA but he scoffed. He told me that his nieces boy friend and the father of her baby had blown his head off with gun in front of them all.
Dont worry Virgil, I know people like that in Whitstable.
September 15, 2006 – Friday
22 dogs. One young man applauding his Jack Russell for taking a piss. “That’s amazing Billy!” he commended.
There were 15 gardeners trimming the mountain-something I never thought I would see but I suppose some one has to maintain the paths and trim back the vegetation. The undergrowth is so lush.
The walk was good. All the tight feelings in my chest vanished. It was really chilly up there on the path this morning. People at home don’t get the subtlety of the seasons in California, they don’t realise that we have winter nights or that it is very cold when the sun sets. ‘Why do people need winter coats in LA?’ I thought, when I first arrived. In fact, I get to wear all of my winter coats and even my fur hat.
It rained briefly as I was feeding the squirrel almonds from my hand. That animal is so funny. It chases the cats. American people say it is always raining in London. We deal in weather clichés. The truth is that we have had so little rain in the UK that we have to regularly ban the use of hose pipes and non-essential car cleaning, something that would never happen here. Read Joan Didion’s book The White Album if you want to know where LA water comes from-if you didn’t already see China Town.
I have been organising my iTunes library. 22 days of songs. The new iTunes 7 reveals previously unseen album covers on my lap top-suddenly I am excited again by my music collection, flicking through all the music I have. Seeing old friends-like Alice Coopers Billion Dollar Baby-the first ever album I bought. The first single I ever bought was Ben by Michael Jackson. You see! I have always been bi-polar! I was at boarding school in Dorset listening to Alice Cooper from my bedroom overlooking the verdant English countryside.
I liked being at that school. I learned how to make cheese, chutney, jam, milk cows and learnt all about Jason and the Argonauts. Saw a dead badger by the side of the road and when I pulled its tail the thing came off in my hands-I was 13. Country people are not scared of dirt or death. We would camp outside on the lawns and learn to listen to the earth. Check it out, it’s called Monkton Wyld Court. A beautiful gothic, Pugin inspired rectory. One winters day a kid wrote in the snow: Reunion 1999 on the terraces so we could all read it. 1999 came and went but I never went back to any reunion. I hitch hiked there from Whitstable once. Years ago. It took two days.
I remembered horseback riding in the snow, my fingers frozen onto the reigns. I remembered learning to play the piano. Where are those skills? Stored away just in case. Stored away with the detailed maps of Sydney and Paris and Glasgow or Cannes. Stored with my times tables. 7×8=56 Remember that one and you’ll be fine. 8×8=64. Stored with descriptions of Renaissance Art and Golden Rules. Gypsy tart. That’s there too.
Flicking through my collection of music like we used to-things coming full circle. Delighted by something you forgot you owned. An album cover that reminds you of a person or a place. The sound track of my life just here in the palm of my hand. I am listening to nobukazu takemura this morning. I like ambient music for my films and for my life. I listen to Aphex Twin and John Cage. Saw John Cage at The Almeida Music Festival in London when the US used to export its vibrant avant-garde.
At the next school I attended in Shropshire we listened to Roxy Music. Then, ten years later I am at a private audience with Bryan in Notting Hill. Ten years after that I am sitting in his kitchen with his wife. Then we are at the Saatchi Gallery with Tracy Emin signing posters. Makes me feel home sick thinking about Lucy and the kids.
Annie Lennox reminds me of living at Jane McAllisters house in Edinburgh whilst I was working for Richard Demarco during the Edinburgh Festival. Must be talking to an angel.
Yesterday I had a gentleman caller-no sex. Just being held is all I require lately. My new maid started. Angela was here when Virgil the gentleman caller arrived. Virgil and I sat on the roof and listened to our respective stories. He has three dogs and a daughter. Is that a deal breaker? Angela laughed when I followed after her putting all the ornaments, candles etc back in the correct places.
Virgil left at 3ish. Gentle afternoon in doors-some people called to see if I wanted to go out but I stayed at home and read. The Mormon beauty from the BAFTA party for instance-he called. When I first stopped drinking it was such a relief to simply stay at home and go to bed early rather than chase a party. I am not missing anything. Anyway, I have a very social weekend ahead of me.
In bed by 12. I think that I may go to Sydney next week for a month.
September 14, 2006 – Thursday
6.15. Runyon Canyon. Right hand path. 23 dogs. Two blind men with white sticks. Simon Doonan. Five people said hello.
On the way up the mountain I had a God almighty battle of wills between my acknowledged ‘dark side’ and the weaker ‘good’ me. My dark side always has such a compelling argument for any bad/naughty things I want to do. Dammit.
Yesterday I pissed a lot of people off writing my blog. I apologise. It was inappropriate.
Of course there are some things I choose not to write about in this blog but, unlike anywhere else in my life, this is a place where I can be totally honest. I am neither bound by fear of judgement nor at the mercy of a lie. However, I suppose that there are things that I should not write about. For instance, I do not write about sex, because when I did, it seemed to upset some people. I have agreed with myself new blog rules of engagement. I am no longer going to write about my EXPERIENCE of AA. From the moment I step into an AA meeting to the moment I leave the rooms of AA I will not report on what I have shared nor any opinions about who I have seen there-even if I am alluding to them and not making them obvious. I agreed tacitly to this when I joined and so it would be priggish of me to renege now, ten years down the line. I have agreed with my sponsor that I will share my AA type grievances with him. To this end I have removed the offending paragraph in yesterday’s blog and replaced it with a few apposite lines from the AA big book.
However, I will be writing in full about my experiences outside the rooms of AA.
Yesterday morning Chris picked me up from my apartment and drove six shirts and me to the ecological laundry. We had a very jolly time. We were both very happy. He is going back to England on Sunday. I suddenly realised that I would miss him. He is a spirited, sweet, honourable boy and even though I am double his age I learn a great deal from him. He wanted to take me to the Beverly Hills Hotel for breakfast. On the way there Joe called and asked Chris if he had read my blog. Joe was OUTRAGED! Chris, in a very difficult position, could not stop Joe from spewing his indignation. Chris cut him off, telling him that he would have to call him back later. We sat in the car and pretended to be posh for a good five minutes. Of course, if you are truly OUTRAGED by something you have read you do not call all your friends and tell them about it. “Have you read Duncan’s blog? I am outraged!” Even though Chris had the phone pressed hard to his ear I could hear Joe screaming. Chris and I, both having had a great deal of press attention in the past, know that when you are truly OUTRAGED you simply call your lawyer and deal with it. Recently poor Chris had to deal with adverse press and when he called me he was choked with emotion. He did not call all his friends to read the offending material and then be OUTRAGED. I noticed a huge swell in my readership numbers yesterday possibly because Joe was so OUTRAGED.
We ate a wonderful breakfast. We chatted and laughed. After my waffles we explored the Beverly Hills Hotel shop. We found the Beverly Hills Barbie and another Barbie holding the hand of a small child. “Look, Paedophile Barbie.” I said, holding up the box and shaking it. Chris went red and we scarpered.
Went home and read the secret script. It needs work but you can see how wonderful it is going to be. I had a day of DOING things in the house. I cleared out the junk closet in the hall and hung all of my winter coats in there. I closed most of the windows because at night it is now very chilly. I washed the glass. I fed the squirrel-it feeds from my hand. The maid called and told me in broken English that she would come on Thursday as she had a hospital appointment.
I took a cab to the Hyatt where I met Jon and we drove to the BAFTA garden party. OUTRAGED Joe was there not looking quite so outraged or if he was he was unwilling to confront me about it. In fact he did a great deal of cap doffing around Xan. The other aggrieved parties from yesterdays blog were also there and we mutually apologised and that was that. I had a very jolly time. Saw Charlie and Vicky from New York and hung around with them. I saw Marjorie and Xan, of course, and we ate pulled pork and black coffee and there was a very British raffle. Cute Mormon boy invited me to a party at Shag but I did not go. I went home and found places for my tools and threw out the last of Dee’s things that she left at the house.
I re-read the secret script which I love, as i was reading it the Valentine script arrived. That was less inspired.
I had a long chat with Xan before I went to bed. It was reassuring. I was reassured. I am going to pray that good things happen for Joe.
September 13, 2006 – Wednesday
I did not count the dogs on Runyon Canyon; I had a great deal on my mind. I saw the Russians with the baby and they all said hello. The cute boy with the hat totally ignored me. The lesbians said a cautious hello. I felt as if my body were changing today. It was easier to haul up the steep bits. Either I am getting stronger or leaner or tighter or maybe all three. When I lost weight before I lost weight gradually then I got horribly thin in a matter of a week. Must buy scales.
It was a cool, tranquil morning.
As I began my leisurely decent, deep in the wooded part of the Canyon a man started screaming. He was furious, angry against the world. I tried to see what he looked like but he was hidden under a canopy of trees. He was like a monkey in the rain forest letting everyone know that he was there. “Shut up you crazy fuck!” somebody called out to him but it was half hearted-they understood why he was screaming. He was screaming for all of us.
Yesterday was such a day of extremes. Corey took me to see another house. It was a house owned by an Italian writer in Beverley Hills. A beautiful modernist house designed by Georgescu in 1958, sadly it had a ropey view. I have made an offer on some of the furniture, which is all beautiful, mid-century modern. After the viewing Corey dropped me off at the Key Club AA meeting. I stayed for half of it then walked to my 1pm meeting with Jon Larson from the Directors Guild at the Chateau Marmont. I had the salmon that was far too complicated-too many flavours. We sat next to Selma Hayek. She looked great. I met Patty, the director of Monster and Brad Wyman’s partner. Brad was one of the producers on THAT film I directed in Romania. The problem with Monster is that, like The Devil Wears Prada, you have a great performance shining in a dull film. Let’s face it, if Elizabeth Hurley had been playing the lead in either of those films what would you be left with: The Method!!! Ha ha ha.
After lunch I walked home up Sunset via Bonham’s to see the dregs of the fine furniture sale. It all looked ghastly. This Friday is the preview of the Sunset Estate sale. I love this auction. I furnished my entire apartment with things from this auction. June Havers and Fred McMurray previously owned most of what I own. I have their bowling trophies, their bowling balls, furniture, silver, a chandelier and some delightful dining room chairs. Once a month there is an LA Modern auction and I bought pieces by Paul Lazlo. Auctions are my not so secret vice.
When I got home I planned to take a nap but, thrillingly, the secret project script arrived from London and I had to have a long chat with Seth my manager about Dorian and the secret project and Valentine which seems to be coming along well. Then I had a long chat with a financier about refinancing Dorian. Then I had to check my Dorian out-of-pocket figures. I guess that I am owed in the region of $150,000. By the time I had done all of that it was too late to take a nap.
John (works for Penguin) picked me up in his jag and we headed off to the C.U.N.T AA meeting on Robertson. This meeting, as you might have guessed from the title, is a British meeting. I think that my sponsor started it. For me, going to this meeting is like being dipped in acid. It is excruciating but I had promised my sponsor that I would go and embrace my enemies…
I put my hand up and I shared about my walks on the mountain. I told them that I was going where the love was. I hinted that I had found God in the mountains-that I was humbled by the mountains. I do my best in AA, which is all I can do.
After the meeting Corey and I went back to Silverlake to see the house at night. It was so COOL!! I love it. We also revisited the Soriano house on North Dillon. You know, it really is noisy up there. You can hear the valley traffic as if it were roaring through the garden. Too close for comfort.
John and I had a late dinner at The Chateau. I bumped into the adorable Dougray Scott who is working on Desperate Housewives. I met his girl friend Clare. Chris Rock was hanging about the lobby-apparently stood up by Courtney Love. I sat with Jessica Simpson briefly-she looked AMAZING. That girl has the most perfect skin.
John has a great story-he once woke up out of an alcoholic blackout on a plane. He had no idea where he was going. He was on his way to Buenos Aires.
John dropped me home at midnight.
September 12, 2006 – Tuesday
Just returned from my morning walk. 53 Dogs. Today I walked with Corey Nelson my realtor from Sotheby’s. Corey is a stunningly good-looking ex-Bruce Weber model. He and his girlfriend walk Runyon Canyon everyday. We decided to take the other, steeper path. We hiked the three tall peeks and that makes for an altogether longer and tougher walk. We met at the Fuller entrance at 8.30. On the way up it was difficult to talk because I was huffing and puffing like an old man. We passed 4 people. The views are stunning, really stunning. We looked over toward the sea on our right and the Hollywood sign to our left. We made our way down the usual way yet, astonishingly, everybody at 8.30 seems very social, most people say a warm hello. We chatted to people all the way down. I suspect that this is because Corey (26) has perfect pecs and abs.
The strange woman I saw yesterday with the Yorkie strapped to her chest told Corey’s girlfriend that she carried her dog like that because it had been bitten once by another dog so now she is too paranoid about him walking anywhere. We met a dog called, ‘Freakshow’, we met really cool lesbians. We discussed bikes and if I should get one and Vespers and if I should get one. Most of all we talked about property because we have seen so much of it between us. When I was friends with Georgina I am sure that all the Kent estate agents had mug shots of us with BEWARE!! TIME WASTERS written below our names. We saw property wherever we went. New York, Sydney, Fire Island. It is so much fun looking at other peoples’ houses. However, I am genuinely looking for a house to buy here. I have seen so much property but none of it speaks to me or if it does then it’s too expensive. When developers get there hands on it the property is ruined. The additions of prissy ‘Zen’ gardens and horrible hedges of miniature bamboo, I call it ‘gay grass’. They add huge, ungainly kitchens with slate work tops. They lay badly installed hard wood floors. A terrible uniform aesthetic. All the ‘done’ houses are done out of their individuality.
I fell in love with a Soriano house on North Dillon St but it was too expensive for what it was and ultimately needed too much doing to it. Also, if you live at the top of any Hill in LA however gorgeous the view-the noise is terrible. The rumble of LA all day all night would drive me madder than the maddest man in mad land.
I love Silverlake. All of the best architects have examples of their work there.
Yesterday, Corey picked me up at 9.30. We drove to Edgecliff Road in Silverlake to see a house for me to buy. It was wonderful. Built in 1964, perched on a cliff overlooking the lake it has never been ‘done’, thankfully no ‘zen’ garden with water feature, no designer kitchen built for a family of snackers and no gay grass. It is perfect for me. I am going to try to quickly raise the money today. The house really has had little changed since it was built. It is owned by two adorable old queens. They had great furniture too. We were there for hours. The 73-year-old man who owned the house said, rather obscurely, about his neighbor, “He wouldn’t know how to make a pie.” I asked him if he could knit. He couldn’t. I persuaded him to consider knitting as a precaution against arthritis. We laughed a great deal.
After the viewing I went home and I washed the filthy Venetian blinds in the kitchen with oxi clean then hosed them down outside-very satisfactory. I love Oxi Clean. Lazy day at home reading and writing. Should have achieved more but sat and thought about THE WORLD. A good day to think about THE WORLD. It is so hard to articulate ones frustrations about the state of THE WORLD. As I scrubbed my blinds I thought again and again about the choices that I had made that lead me to this place.
We planned a conference call with my manager, lawyer and producer of Dorian. It was the same old story. Arclight stalling, Carl failing, Effie dealing. Carl is the guy who a year ago came on board to raise more money for the film. He seems to spend most of his time on vacation. His big, bovine head grinning inanely. His LA teeth catching the sun. He agrees with anything anyone says. If I did not have the rooms of AA I would be tearing my hair out but this is God’s plan and I have to put up with it. I really don’t worry about it. Art comes when it is ready. It is born out of confusion.
If I choose to make unconventional films in an unconventional way I must expect there to be no convention.
I watched some of the 9/11 anniversary coverage. Did you know that there was an aircraft hanger at Kennedy with the most morbid collection of World Trade Tower scrap in it? Smashed fire trucks, three incinerated floors of one tower crushed into a molten ball, bikes chained to bike racks. It reminded me of something that I had not thought about for 35 years.
When I was 6 I was involved in a terrible car wreck. We were taking my aunt and her children to the airport. My grandfather, grandmother, mother, stepfather, aunt and five children packed into a large car that my stepfather had borrowed. It was a terrible night, torrential rain. My stepfather was driving fast to so we did not miss the flight. I was sitting on my mother’s lap in the front seat when the car hit a huge puddle and aqua planed over the freeway, over the central reservation and into oncoming traffic. I was catapulted out of the side window and onto the road. Thankfully nobody was killed. I suffered major head injuries-hence the scars and missing skull in my head.
A few years later I was staying at my grandmother’s house and found in the wardrobe of the room I was sleeping, zipped suit bags and when I looked inside I saw dirty, torn, clothes splattered with dried blood. I recognized the clothes immediately. I opened the bags and pulled out the clothes that we had all been wearing the day of the accident. My grandmother, unable to throw anything out, had kept them. When I told my mother the bags vanished.
At night, before I fall asleep, I think about the street where we lived when I was a child. I remember the house at the end of the unmade road in Whitstable. Stanley Road. I remember hot summer afternoons on Duncan Down wading in the uncut hay looking for lizards and chasing dragonflies. At this time of year I would collect heaps of black berries and my mother would make blackberry and apple crumble.
I remember the big department store that used to be on Whitstable High Street. I remember the smell of cheap furniture and Santa’s glittery cardboard grotto stored in a room at the back of the store. On occasional moments through the day I find myself in that store, on my own, wandering as a small boy in that strange, sterile place.
September 11, 2006 – Monday
We Are All Americans Now
I was on the mountain by 8am. 24 dogs. Only two hours later than I usually go yet the Canyon folk at 8am are radically different from the earlier crowd. Instead of my usual bunch of single-minded, introverted business people focused on their morning walk at 6am today I saw more people, fewer dogs but all of them seemed to be playing out their breakfast dramas there on the hill. I said a rousing ‘hello!’ to the cute boy in the hat-he was so taken aback that he nearly fell over. I stopped and talked to Jeff the dog walker with his seven dogs. Poo bags tied to their collars. I saw a trainer berating his trainee. I saw a woman with a dog strapped to her chest in a papoose. For the first time ever up there on the dusty Runyon Canyon path I saw a mad person running up the hill insulting people. He offered me his card, when I declined he said, “I’m writing a novel! Say good morning to Barbra Streisand when you get home.” I bowed my head in embarrassment. Did he think that I was Jewish? “If you see Michael Moore, put a bullet through his head.” He ran off.
The woman behind me was shocked by his behaviour. I stopped to talk to her. Gabriella, Italian brought up in Paris. Firm hand shake. Cute dog. We both agreed that the world was a more dangerous place since 9/11. I wonder how many people across the world will be celebrating this day rather than mourning this day? How many people across the world had sympathy for the innocent of the twin towers the day it happened who now celebrate that fateful day? It is a sad shame. As the years pass the complex politic that came to such an appalling conclusion that day is being revealed. It is as if the US wanted to show the world in the years since 9/11 exactly why it SHOULD have happened. What is this war on terror? What do we expect to win when we say that the war must be won? We cannot win a war against an ideology or a philosophy.
Both the US and the UK had no plan to win a war when they marched triumphantly into Baghdad. We were told that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. They planned to topple Saddam, find the weapons, win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and take the oil. TAKE THE OIL. If we had left the day after Saddam was deposed the jubilant Iraqis would have given us the oil for free! Where once the people of Iraq were pleased to see us now they hate us. They hate that an innocent 14-year-old girl is raped and murdered by American soldiers along with her innocent family then their bodies burned. If a white 14-year-old girl had been gang raped by foreigners, her white five-year old brother and parents shot in the head in Bethnal Green or Brooklyn what reaction would we have? I tell you now that the streets would be raging with the rightful fury and indignation of those frightened residents. Yet, if the people of Dahuc complain or protest or demonstrate they are accused of being Insurgents or Terrorists and risk their lives to say it how it is. What new FREEDOMS have the US and the UK brought to the people of Iraq? The same freedom the people of the US enjoy? The freedom to be poor, fat, uneducated and lazy? Is this how we express our divine right to freedom?
When the trial of Saddam is done will the people of Iraq reflect on what they gave up? When the US chop off his head will they see just another Iraqi bending to our white will or are they going to cheer? Who will cheer more than Saddam as he goes martyred to the gallows?
George W Bush, like a priggish child, complains that his fellow citizens have to buy oil from folks who ‘don’t like us’. They don’t like us. Why don’t they like us? We have DEMOCRACY for goodness sake and FREEDOM and our girlies don’t have to wear that silly scarf and can get pregnant when they are 13 years old and take drugs and join gangs and live a godless life without spiritual guidance. If we do well we can afford premium cocaine and drink ourselves silly. We can imprison our grandparents in stinking old peoples homes. We can can give our children prescription drugs so that their inquisitive natures are dulled. People of Iraq vote for freedom, for democracy, for decadence.
The day after the Twin Towers fell La Monde declared that we were all Americans now. After the cruel and divisive invasion of Lebanon I saw a placard outside the Israeli embassy that read, ‘We are all Hezbolla now’.
What was I thinking?
My body craved the daily walk up Runyon Canyon that I denied it this morning. My thighs hurt from the leg work out at the gym. Took the bus from Labrea to Doheny along Sunset. Walked down hill from Sunset to Santa Monica. The bus is the university bus so it has fewer mad people on it. Less amputees and hunchbacks, fewer old men singing religious songs. The bus along Santa Monica Blvd is the worst for that kind of freak show. Once I saw a man with his head bandaged in loo roll, a wad of loo roll stuffed in his mouth. He could have been Matthew Barney making some sort of site-specific artwork I suppose but I doubt it.
When I lived in Santa Monica I took the Blue Bus all the way up Wilshire to the agencies. I had meetings with teams of agents from CAA and Endeavour and ICM and all the usual suspects. When AKA happened I never expected the positive reaction and was totally unprepared. Unprepared for the BAFTA nomination. Unprepared for the applause. It is what people come here to LA wishing, praying for and I did not know what to do with it when it was offered to me. You should have seen their agent faces when I told them that I had taken the bus. This was EVIDENCE of insanity.
It should have been a wonderful time after AKA but it was a terrible stress. It was the only time in my life that my enemies had to work over time to keep me down. They were so desperate they ended up revealing themselves. It was good to know that I wasn’t a mad paranoid fool. I had evidence that people did not want me to get on in Hollywood. Threatening e-mails, anonymous phone calls to agents and double-dealing. It was funny that these people were going to all this effort-you know I cannot blame them. They have their reasons but it is true that what goes around comes around. We all pay for our cruelties in the end.
I went from being totally ignored in London, being told that nobody would be interested in my film by Paul T at The Film Council to having all the major talent agencies chasing me. They were tenacious. Even after I had signed with Endeavour one agent drove all the way to Santa Monica to beg me to change my mind about the agency I had signed with. She said to me, in an attempt to persuade me to sign with her, “We have so much in common-we both like being fucked in the ass.” Another, hearing my ambitions to make low-budget films warned that I would “..end up like Ken Loach.” I heard all of their best agent lines and was unprepared for them. I laughed at their rehearsed speeches. If I had that time again would I do it differently? Of course I would! I lasted all of one week with Endeavour.
One smug agent thought that my big black leather Smythson’s Diary that I sat beside me during our meeting was a Bible and calling in the assistant to bear witness to her wit asked me what chapter I was reading. I looked at my diary and said carefully, “September?” The assistant watched her boss squirm for a moment then offered me a coke.
Much of what being successful is, is knowing what to do when opportunity is offered to you. I didn’t. I accept my own part in that disaster. Thank God I have never truly desired more than I could have. The concept of ‘enough’ is alien to most people. I am a single man. How much do I need? Do I need a huge house to kick about in on my own? That would just make me lonely. I think that my house in Whitstable is too big for me. It only really comes alive when it has a family in it. That is what it was built for-a family. Children running and screaming up and down the stairs.
I sat in on my 11.45 log cabin AA meeting but I was twitchy and felt odd once again to be there. It did not feel the same as the ones I go to in London. I did not feel safe there. Spoke briefly to a Brit who wants to use in his hotel room. He may call. I did my duty. I reached out to another alcoholic. I am working my steps with my sponsor. I am doing what I can at this moment.
Claudia collected me from Starbucks and we ate a nasty lunch in a cafe on Cahuenga. We talked about Eugenio as usual. What a life he leads! I am glad not to be pimping for him anymore. Dragging boys up from Hyde or The Abbey to the ten million dollar mansion with Richard for EL to impress with his art and drugs. What was I doing there? What did I think could possibly be the outcome of such a friendship?
I napped in the afternoon.
Made dinner for Victor and Ken and Ken’s wife. We ate two courses then played backgammon. Lovely evening.
When they all left I settled down to write this. I thought about something that has been haunting me for months maybe years. I never understood why Jay Jopling and I fell out. It has always been a mystery to me. He was once my close friend-then I was ignored. One day, last year, I was with a woman who admitted to me that she had lied to him about me. She admitted to me that she told him lies that I knew would have upset him greatly. Jay is a loyal man and will not tolerate disloyalty. SHE destroyed our relationship. I suddenly missed him. I missed him being my friend as he had been and now never would be-even if that woman called him tonight and told him the truth Jay and I would have missed out on so much together.
I remember JBC telling me that our relationship would only work if we ignored what people said about us. My relationship with JBC lasted seven years.
Must go to bed.
September 10, 2006 – Sunday
Sunday. Day of rest. AA meeting to go to. I may walk this evening. The same young man just left the house that left last week. No sex. I was not interested. That’s cool.
Saturday is Dom Day. We had lunch at M Cafe on Labrea. Dom had his oil changed at Jiffy Lube whilst we ate the contents of a bento box. Nothing to say about our conversation. After lunch we drove to Fred Siegel and bumped into Richard Squire and his friend Saweeda. They looked happy. More comments about my beard. In store Velvet bomber jacket by Lanvin costs $4000. I was shocked. I wanted to try it on but they did not have my size. I laughingly told the shop assistant (really sweet boy) that I had no intention of buying a $4000 velvet jacket-what ever the label. I could buy a scooter for that or invest in a new artist. “They don’t care what you look like,” Dom said, “All they want is their commission.” They don’t care about you-it’s true.
After Fred Siegel I napped for an hour and then Devon, very kindly, dropped me off at Marc Selwyn’s gallery on Wilshire to see the work of Paul P. Beautifully executed miniature paintings of boys from historical gay porn. I was the first one there. I enjoyed looking at his work on my own in the gallery. Reminded me of Whistler and Carriere. The dry point was particularly fine. Xan Rufus-Issacs arrived who loved the work and I think he may buy one of the paintings if one comes available; it was, needless to say, a sell out. In that part of town there were very, many exhibitions last night. Mostly new artists showing in established galleries. At Paul Kopeikin’s gallery, however, amongst the new tat I found a perfectly lovely David Hockney photo collage of the artists mother and a young blond man. I loved it. I remember in the late 80’s being bored by those huge ungainly photomontage pieces. Now I see that they are great works. $40,000 seemed cheap.
Xan and I are really connecting. He is very funny and warm. I find that I am slightly in awe of him for all the wrong reasons but am aware of this. I told him what happened with my brother and mother when I was at home. He asked if I had ever made amends to either of them and of course I have never ever made amends to my Mother for past behaviors. I wrote to my brother S offering amends but they were rejected, described as ‘nauseating’. We drove to Gagosian to see some austere black and white Japanese show. It was dull, serious and lacked energy. The crowd was sexier. The men wore expensive hats.
After Gagosian Xan and I sat on Sunset in the Coffee Bean and Xan showed some comedy porn he had on his phone. We drank very sweet frothy coffee.
Marc Selwyn had very kindly invited us to the dinner he was throwing at his house off of Doheny. The most perfectly charming post and beam set in a tree filled lot. The garden had been set for dinner. A hedge of majestic Cyprus keeping the event secret from the larger houses on the hill. We ate chicken with prunes and cous cous. I sat next to some very sweet collectors from Chicago. There was a great deal of discussion about Iraq, Bush, Iran and Israel. There was one very loud, rich collector who had uninformed opinions which I tried to contextualize. He asked for my number. His wife was dressed in clothes that had names printed all over them and two huge solitaire diamonds on her fleshy lobes.
I met Paul P’s boyfriend Scott Treleaven who is a video artist. They live in Toronto but they are moving to Paris. I want them to meet my friend SS. I think that they will get on with her very well. Scott had met Jarman in London and was inspired by him to make video work. I was really impressed by these two young, gay artists. We agreed that American artists seem to shy away from making work that says anything political at all. Why? Are they scared of being un-patriotic? Where is the fire that ignites political art? Can Damien Hirst only make work about love? The only show I saw in NYC that attempted to say anything about current world politics was Joseph Kosuth at Andrea Rosen.
Where are our polemical artists?
I had a great night and was in bed by 12. The evenings are drawing in. Next week it will be impossible to eat outside at night without those fierce out-door gas heaters. Now, I am going to walk to Santa Monica Blvd. and get the bus to my AA meeting.
September 9, 2006 – Saturday
42 dogs on the canyon path today. The path that scars the mountain as you look up at it from Labrea. Blue-eyed man is slowly learning how to say good morning. He glances at me now and cracks the merest smile. “Good morning!” I say. I hiked much later than usual, seven-thirty rather than six thirty, as I had slept fitfully. Daniel came in late with Jesse his b/f. I could hear them crashing around in his bedroom. Another grey morning. I like it grey and chilly.
It started off grey yesterday too but the mist burned off by 11.30 when I set out to meet Xan Rufus-Issacs for lunch. My legs were sore from my first stint with a trainer at the gym. Will, the trainer, is a small 25-year-old actor from the east coast. If he were an animal he would be chip monk. He asked me what exercise I did and I told him that I walked up RC every day. He scoffed. He then proceeded to take me through a punishing and wholly worthless leg programme. My legs, after all, are my best bits. My calves are worked out every day and my thighs and butt get hammered on the Canyon. Will said, “How does that compare with your walk on Runyon Canyon?” I saw that what he wanted was to PROVE something rather than help me. I shall insist on upper body when I go back on Monday.
After my walk I eat dates and nuts and coffee made in the pot Will Self bought for the house in Whitstable.
Lunch was wonderful. Xan and I ate at Italian restaurant on Brighton Way. Our waiter was a bit smelly. I ate antipasto and chocolate cake. We talked about Gus Van Sant, The Dangerous Sports Club-of which Xan was a founder member and his weekend into the wilds of Wyoming. We talked for two hours and afterwards I felt totally invigorated and optimistic. It seems that we have a friend in common-Tim Hunt. I met Tim when I was Lord Rendlesham. I have a very old picture of Tim Hunt, The Princess Anne of Bavaria, Alexis deToquville and me at dinner in Paris in 1982. Tim runs the Andy Warhol Foundation now. I like talking about that time; I so rarely get an opportunity to do so with people who understand it. I must be the same age as Xan. 1978, whilst I was in Whitstable being bullied by my stupid stepfather Xan was leaving a huge stately home and going to Oxford.
Lunch $37 with tip.
Barney’s after lunch. I saw apricot silk velvet pillows that I have been hankering after for AGES reduced from $350 to $100. I had to buy them. Shop assistant gave me his number.
Instead of going home I decided to stop by early at Lisa and Neal’s house that is not far from Barney’s and wait there until Shabbat dinner. I had a wonderful late afternoon playing with Lola, Mikhail and the Bush Baby. They must be all under the age of 4. Isaac, 8, arrived and I pretended to be his father’s retarded friend that amused him greatly. 41 on the outside 8 on the inside. Amanda who is 16 came home from school. We looked at the pictures of her summer camp and then we wandered down to Saks to return a vile Lacost shirt. Saks closes at 6 so we missed it and wandered back. She still owns the shirt. I sat in the den with the Bush Baby’s dad Aaron watching bad celebrity TV. The house slowly filled up with relatives of Lisa’s and one particularly annoying Australian actor friend of theirs who is not only unsophisticated but also ugly. Chip.
Chip is one of those people who insist on trying to get the better of you. He behaves like an old-fashioned school bully. I first met him when he turned up at Amanda’s sweet 16 at Wacky Waffles on Sunset. He was with Nick Sawyer who was Orlando Bloom’s PA and now produces movies-notably he is producing Macbeth with John Maybury. There was some misunderstanding between Nick and myself about illicit drug taking and we needed to sort it out. Anyway, it was unpleasant and was totally inappropriate for this discussion to take place at Amanda’s sweet sixteen. The moment Chip arrived last night he starts goading me about this incident and was delighted that I did not find it very funny. Chip then asked me to open the wine knowing that I go to AA and really don’t like to do it. When I refused he took Lisa’s brother into the scullery and giggled. What a fucking IDIOT. I had my meeting with James Franco to get to at the Chateau Marmont so I took my cushions and scarpered. All the children came to the door to kiss me goodbye.
Arrived at the Chateau. Heard my name being screamed across the lobby. Chris Parker. I could not talk. He was with two girls who looked like they had their phones glued to their ears.
All I want to say about James is this: he is a gentleman. We watched the film. We drank Badoit. He drove me home in his Bentley.
Missed out on dinner with Selina and Aleksa. Will send apology immediately I finish this.
When I returned from London two weeks ago I felt energised. I felt strong. Two weeks into being back here and I feel put upon. That is the only way to describe it. I feel pressured by unknown forces. Low-level dissatisfaction pervades my day. I engage with fools and play their games. I am already sick of listening to the trials of others in one-sided conversations. I do not trust that people will do their best, I like to think that professionals in the UK give their all rather than here where people do the barest minimum. God works hard for me in LA. I hand over a great deal to him. Perhaps today will be better.
Go where the love is.
September 8, 2006 – Friday
How could I forget to mention that the towels have FINALLY been returned to the cupboard in the bathroom where they live. Hurrah! Thank you for your concerned e-mails and notes. Again, I can confirm that Daniel washed and returned the misssing towels.
It is a totally over-cast, grey day on Runyon Canyon. 35 dogs. The elderly Russian men had the stroller with baby as well as a miniature clipped poodle-the ginger variety. Getting to know all of the regulars, what they wear, the route they take, the smell of their antiperspirants. One-man prances down the hill, taking tiny, pointed toe steps like a Lipizzaner horse performing dressage. Bird life evident on a dull morning, I saw plovers, humming birds and crested grouse.
I hope today proves a little less frustrating than yesterday.
It started after I posted my blog. One of my oldest friends called from Europe-I was really pleased to hear from her. She is a very chic art collector who I met and had a brief but passionate affair with when I was in my late teens. As with all of my friends we have had our ups and downs. We have had periods of silence and moments of high drama. I was thrilled to hear from her-I always am but I could hear in her voice that something was wrong, the very same something that I have been aware of for some considerable time. She confronts me-challenges me. We end up having a furious row but instead of slamming the phone down I finally demand to know what was the matter? What was this all about? She tearfully told me that she was going to be 52 next week and the penny dropped. Menopause. It was that that had kept her up all night sweating, reliving the past, feeling inadequate-confronting her own mortality, wanting to relive past sexual conquests. On the edge of madness. It was this terrible hormonal upheaval that she could not speak about previously that now explained everything about our recent history. This is real! This isnt madness and nor was it anything to do with me. Now we have something to work with and work through. She seemed delighted as her friends refused to say that, “Horrible word.”
Chris P arrived for lunch and we talked about his recent past. We never talk about me. He never asks about me. He really knows nothing about me. All he knows is that I am mad. Ate at American Rag. $35. Bad shrimp salad-unsatisfactory French toast. Moody waitress expecting a huge tip. Tips get on my fucking nerves. Tips are for good service. Since when did they become mandatory? My worst tip experience happened in NYC when I paid by credit card and then left the tip (double the tax) in cash. I left the restaurant only to have the not very attentive waitress scream after me, “Where’s my God Damned tip?” I told her that I had left it on the table in cash-we went back to where I was sitting and there it was on the saucer where I had left it. I asked the waitress for an apology, she refused, I took back the tip. Chris and I discussed Joe Townley and why I don’t really want to see him. It isn’t him. It is who I become when I see him. I don’t like who I am when I spend time with Joe.
After lunch Chris asked me why I refused to get a car. No answer.
My friend Charlie P is a rich, successful media man. When I need advice or guidance I call him. He is incredibly generous with his time. Whenever we meet I insist that I pay for our lunch or dinner. I feel that it is right and proper that I do so. He is always pleased because nobody ever pays for him. It suddenly occurred to me yesterday why sexual favours are so prevalent in this city. I have sat on so many occasions with actors advising them about their careers. Who to go to, who is good, who can help etc. Do these people ever think for one moment what this is worth to them? Do they consider that it might me nice to take me to lunch for helping them? Then I realised. They have nothing to give. Young poor men and women have only their bodies to offer for good advice. That is the currency of the Hollywood meat market economy.
I was quoted in US weekly yesterday re John Travolta. Good quote.
After lunch I was meant to be seeing another actor who used to be in Angel but he failed to show up. This flaky arrogant behaviour is so LA. I called him and shouted at him for ten minutes. He is a deeply closeted actor. He accused me of being over emotional. This is the second time that he has let me down. I could have been with Gil and the kids or seen my sponsor or prepared some writing. Instead of which I sat around waiting for a tosser who could not be bothered to call.
I joined the gym. What a palaver. I had decided that I wanted to join LA Fitness at the end of the street. It is walkable, it is new and the facilities are good. I made up my mind, my credit card in my hand I told the girl at the desk that I wanted the introductory offer of $35 a month and could I get a membership? Nothing so fucking simple I’m afraid. I had to meet Carl who was going to show me the ‘facilities’. Carl told me all about his marriage break-up. Carl made no bones about the fact he thought I was gay. ” This is the kiddie room but a man like you won’t be needing that.” He asked what I thought I was doing climbing Runyon Canyon at my age-he suggested that I had to take care of my ‘brittle bones’. “I want you to come HERE every day Roy.” “My first name is Duncan.” I told him for the 5th time. “Is that your black Bentley parked outside Roy?”
Finally, after being shown the sauna, the cardio area and the racket ball courts I got my pass.
Peter Youngblood-Hills for dinner. Peter was in AKA he played Benjamin. We have had many adventures all over the world together and now we both live in LA. He arrived at my house on the scooter I want to buy. I cooked dinner. We had a great time together. We looked at his amazing photographs. He showed me the ones he took of me in Baja. We discussed JA who we stayed with there. We knew then that something was wrong with her. She was so thin and her jaw jutted out. Baja killed JA. All that misery she had to deal with. We talked about the whales we had seen and what a majestic experience it was. Peter has been in Africa with his friend Leonardo. Scoober diving with manta rays. He found cave dwelling shamans and photographed them. We discussed the Sufi myth The Conference of the Birds, which Peter Brook staged in Paris in 1980. I remember seeing that play as if I had just seen it yesterday. I had made my way to Paris just to see the play. I used to love theatre. I just hated making something that existed then there was no real evidence that we had existed at all. It is my arrogance that demands that I leave a mark.
Peter has a show of his work on the 17th September.
September 7, 2006 – Thursday
Only 12 dogs this morning on Runyon Canyon.
I woke at sunrise and slogged up the hill. Very few people are out and about that early. Before the sun breaks over the horizon it is easier to see the path ahead of you. It is not going to be so hot today, 10 degrees cooler. Every day, before my walk, I pray for JA. Yesterday was another bangingly hot day. After yesterdays hike I wrote e-mails and noted that, annoyingly, my blog had moved out of sequence.
Yesterday was a simple day. Chatted more to Chris P about his career. Had lunch with Clifton at American Rag we sat next to two very over weight managers who said things like, “He’s the next Charlie Kaufman.” I ate the avocado stuffed with coronation chicken salad. $50 including tip.
After lunch my beautiful actor friend Josh came over to discuss his auditions. He is so fucking handsome yet lacks that essential oomph that gets him the job. He is probably a good enough actor but when you audition and are THAT fit you need to follow through with direct eye contact (he has piercing blue eyes) and crack that cheeky smile and every single door in LA will open before you. Josh is worried that people will perceive him as arrogant if he is too sure of himself. When you are that beautiful people expect you to be a little bit arrogant. Nobody wants a nerd in buffs clothing.
I have never been that good-looking but I exude confidence and I genuinely believe that things are going to work out. I rarely feel defeated, even when things are DIRE. Since I got sober nothing frightens me. So many people live in so much fear. Financial insecurity, snakes, Muslims, preparing raw meat. When I was younger I was ok looking, young-looking, but when I walked into a room people were aware that I was there: by reputation, by the way I dressed but mostly by my presence. It’s a fact.
Josh is a war hero fresh from Iraq-he should be super confident. I will take him to the next Hollywood do I go to. He needs to be out there, dressed up, making things happen. Letting people know who he is. We all do that in this city. It is like living in 17th Century Versailles. The etiquette, the pecking order, the instant recognition that leads to stellar patronage. Who sits where in restaurants or how they are sitting and with whom they sit. Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford is a great book to read if you really want to know how Hollywood works. As a maverick film maker (Sharon calls me the gay film enfant terrible) I am intrigued by it all but do not invest in it.
One day I would like to make a film about the three most powerful gays in the city. The producer and the two agency bosses. Each of them have such a different style in business and their relationship with boys can be used as a metaphor for their general dealings. One of them is corrupt and corrupting. One creates protégés in the boys he dates and the other hires boys then dismisses them.
The less powerful gays jump up at the table like dogs of these three and a most undignified sight it is. My advice to any young actor arriving in Hollywood: There are certain hot tubs in LA you must avoid at any cost!
Had long chat with Effie Brown who is post producing Dorian Gray. She is a saint. Very business like though, very strong. I really like her, you know exactly where you stand with Effie. No bullshit!!
The Internet introduced me to a young man who came over as a prospective date. We fed the tame squirrel nuts. No sex. He left when Dom turned up to take me to dinner with his friend Andres who is moving to Zurich. Oddly he knows the sister of Antoinette Stern with whom we spent New Years Eve.
The Beef ribs we gnawed on for dinner were disgusting. $25. I was a bit hyper after having spent all day with Josh. Conversation about Lindsay Ls vagina on the Internet. No knickers as she got out of the car. Poor LL.
Will join gym today. May alternate between Canyon and gym.
8:14 AM September 6, 2006 – Wednesday
thirty-four dogs on Runyon Canyon. Saw a group of elderly Russian men pushing a baby in a stroller. Had sudden panic that I could be arrested for smiling at lesbians. “I smile at everybody.” Would be my pathetic defence in the courtroom. Nobody smiles on Runyon Canyon.
Sprinting up the canyon I thought about my father dying of pancreatic cancer when he was only 53. The last pictures of him are on his hospital bed looking defeated but still very fat. He only had one eye. Lost it in a Porsche racing accident. I thought, as I was running up the very steep bit of the canyon, my heat pounding, if I should really be taking it easy at my age. I could just drop dead at any moment. I thought about this: When my father was a young man somebody threw him out of a second floor window because he owed them money.
Yesterday began with Erik L the writer arriving to rake over My Funny Valentine for comedy ideas. We began discussing each character, their motivation etc. We decided that the leading man’s sidekick needed to be a group rather than an individual. We nailed the ‘heavenly’ side of the story into shape and made sense of what happens on earth. Discussed casting. Needs to be cast by AFM. Erik left just after lunch.
Dan Glenn popped by to cheer me up even though I was perfectly cheery. A few minutes after he left Chris Parker arrived with chocolate muffins. We sat by the back door and ate them. The squirrel that lives in my yard likes me spraying him with cold water. Chris and I amused ourselves with that for a little while. Chris may go back to London and get on with his acting. I used to scoff at LA dream chasing but now I see that it is all part of the process. We discussed his career then he too drove off. I am a refugee in this city. I cannot go home and do what I do here. Very hot yesterday and the day before.
Tony my neighbour dropped by to say hello. He had been in Redondo Beech dressed as a Hot Dog for three days being paid $50 an hour. Children hugging his legs. He lost a lot of weight in that costume.
Dinner with Ian Drew at The Chateau Marmont. As we arrived Will Carter screams at me, “Have you been doing BED AND BRAKFAST?” I am stunned. Why would the maitre de of the Chateau Marmont know such a thing? I admit that I have. “It’s all over town.” Ian pipes up. I flounder for a moment. How can I explain just how important it is for me to honour both sides of who I am? When I do b and b I serve rather than be served, I listen rather than be heard. It is terribly important for arrogant bad Duncan to be of service. That’s why I do Reiki. I looked a little perplexed but thankfully Nicole Richie arrived and kissed us all and the B and B topic was, thankfully, set aside. Anyway, this perfectly describes the collision of my two lives.
Ian and I have a very jolly supper. Shrimp/Artichoke/Steak. We discuss my life pre Whitstable this summer when we sort of lost contact-I was traded in for a boyfriend. I told him how mad it became going up to see EL every night. Night after night with Lindsey Lohan and that gang watching them party. We discuss the Prada party that neither of us bothered going to but was apparently the best party of the season thrown by our friend Amanda Demme. The last memorable party she threw was a Prince private concert for 200 people at the Roosevelt. I went with Ian and we must have been the only non-celebrities there. Ian is best known for giving evidence at the Michael Jackson trial. Half way through dinner Ian made us move inside to a very bad table because he thought he saw Elizabeth Taylor. It wasn’t.
I see my friend Steve Garbarino (editor in chief of Black Book) with Stellan Skarsgaard and sit with them for a moment. Maddy, Steves divine girl friend is packing in her room before she heads back to New York. I see the adorable James Franco eating dinner with his charming friends. We will meet this Friday to watch my film. Joel Mikely was busy with Peter Bogdanovitch and Brittany Murphy. I love Joel.
Sadly, I also bumped into DP (Paramount number cruncher) and TB (bit player) who are ghastly people. Snobby DP telling more dreary stories about getting drunk-she had just returned from Deauville film festival and was disappointed that there were too few parties. She boasted, “Last time I was here at the Chateau I was up until 5 getting WASTED.” Ha ha ha. When is she going to realise just how un-cool that is? TB may be amused by the John Travolta US Weekly issue. TB is a (very cute) gay who is vile about gays in public. Ian complimented DP’s new longer, wavy hair extensions.
In the lobby Will introduced us to two very handsome marines who had some how got past security. They invited us to have a drink at the Bar Marmont. I had lemonade. Ian was impatient to get to Foo Bar and belt out something by The Rolling Stones. We love karaoke. Monday nights are better but we had a great time anyway. The marines were sweet and very gay/gay friendly. After Ian brilliantly sang to us all we said goodbye to the marines and drove to Beige on Sunset but it was dead after labor day. Ian introduced himself to anybody we met as Kate Moss. “You filled out a bit Kate.” one rather cute Latino boy cheekily spat back at him. Of course all I could hear on the way home was, “Do you think I’m fat?”
September 5, 2006 – Tuesday
Only 23 dogs on Runyon Canyon today. Why?
After the holiday weekend perhaps everybody had already hiked by 7am or perhaps they come later after a heavy night. I whipped up the Canyon in no time. I had a great deal on my mind. At first I thought about not going or taking an easier path but every time my head tells me to take a day off my workout-to take the softer, easier path-I remind myself that JA is savoring every day as it may be her last and so, out of respect, should I.
On the way down the Canyon I try to say good morning to everyone I meet. I have learned that to simply nod and smile is ignored. The sort of nod and smile that I would appreciate on Whitstable beach for instance. A mouthed ‘morning’ always solicits a reply from old people and people of colour but never from young white men or women. A hearty British old-fashioned ‘Good Morning’ shakes all of them out of their self-obsession. Of course, one can look totally insane doing that. The best way to make contact with any of them is to say hello to their dog. However, I refuse to talk to dogs. “Come on Philip.” Calling dogs’ human names is, quite frankly, batty. I like Dogs to have Dog names like Scamp, Napkin, Ruffian etc. If owners must insist on human names for dogs then choose names that express something about the nature of the specific dog e.g. Napoleon.
Manny’s on Fairfax for breakfast yesterday with the gang (food is just OK, the waitress forgets to post order so food arrives 40 mins after we did.) The couple on the table next to us arrive carrying a dog in a basket-a shaved Pomeranian. Just its face remained Pomeranian looking. They pulled the dog out of the bag and plop it under the table. “Is your dog friendly?” They ask the couple next to us. “No.” I say. We all laugh. We make small talk about the Pomeranian. I tell them that their dog looks like Dakota Fanning. “We never heard that before.” They say, laughing. I ask them if they are trying for a baby. I am forever asking straight couples if they are trying for a baby. “That’s our baby.” she said. On another table there is an Italian Grey Hound that is so thin it obviously has bulimia. “Does your dog have self-image problems?” I ask. They laugh. Imagine that thin dog thing hanging over the toilet-it’s little paw shoved down its throat. My friend arrived with his dog Nick which is a terrier/chihuahua mix and quite sweet I suppose. When we got home I realised that Nick was going to be like a third person in the apartment. When we went to lay on the bed my friend insisted Nick came too. Call me old-fashioned but I do not think that sleeping with dogs is entirely hygienic. So, rather than spend time with me on our own and put the dog outside the bedroom he left.
What preoccupied me as I climbed the mountain? My roommate, Daniel. Where do I begin? The towels have not been returned. Daniel and his very young boyfriend pick at my stuff in the kitchen, nuts etc., but not enough for me to make a decent complaint. I buy a huge carton of kitchen roll; he buys two (to make matters worse his towels are printed with gold-fish). He occasionally forgets to flush the toilet leaving the lid down so when I lift it…
Then, last night at 3.45, I wake, as if from a nightmare, hearing a huge crash in the kitchen, of course, think that somebody is breaking into the apartment I leap out of bed. I see that the rug in the hall is folded over and rather than be timid I shout. “Who the fuck is there?” and charge toward the kitchen. Standing in the dark is Daniel holding a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice. He is obviously very drunk and calmly begins questioning me about why I am screaming around the house. His tone is sinister. “Tell me exactly why you found it necessary to scream.” I heard him say as I retreated. I go to bed. I can hear that my neighbors have heard what is going on and will need to explain to them later.
Joe Townley called. He is having a great time in early sobriety. I remember my first sober New Years Eve. I was in the Sydney Opera House watching The Magic Flute. During the interval we watched the midnight fire works that set the entire Sydney Harbour Bridge ablaze and then we returned to the opera house for the second part of the opera. Perfect. My first six sober New Years Eve were even more perfect than the last. Three mediocre New Years Eve followed (including one with Georgina in Sydney) and then last year, of course, I was in St Moritz with the wonderful Antoinette Stern.
Today Erik the writer comes and Valentine begins in earnest.
October 4, 2006 – Wednesday
‘If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.’
What does an artist do? What does an artist hope to achieve? I can only do what I did yesterday and write. I sat here all day and wrote. After my walk.
This morning, at 6.30am I saw a great big hawk. A beautiful bird of prey intelligently surveying the world around it. The bird watched me pass the Ukrainian peasant people on the corner of the street.
At the gate of Runyon Canyon I noticed a huge yellow sign. If it has always been there I don’t know but today I noticed many things I had not noticed before. It said: CAUTION RATTLE-SNAKES.
I had a miserable/wonderful day yesterday so I was determined to shift what ever it was that was holding me back from my serenity. I used the walk this morning to unwind some of the confusion. Contrary action I decided. Contrary action: that is what is needed. Literally. Instead of climbing the path anti-clock wise I walked in the opposite direction. As a result of this simple alteration I noticed so many different things. My perspective changed. For a start, I didn’t stop to rest: I forged ahead. I noticed that the Russians were wearing their slippers and pajamas. I saw the Canyon differently. I enjoyed it rather than conquering it. I said hello to nearly everyone I passed and had two or three decent conversations. I did not care how many dogs I passed.
Yesterday, I met David at the Chateau Marmont for breakfast. Lindsey L arrived in a hat and dark glasses. Either she had just arrived home from a party or she was up early for a meeting. I wonder. Saw Jeffery Rush eating breakfast. Maria called from London. Very good. Good start to the day. Good walk, good meeting then a great screening at the DGA for buyers. They loved the film-loved it. What more could I want? They understood it, loved the style.
I walked home from the DGA, which is less than half a mile. MISERABLE.
Then I began to read the secret project and it made me so sad. Lost love. Unavailable people. The central character of this film has emotional defects similar to mine-the same as many people. I sat at my desk and let out a yelp like a dog. I sat at my desk crying, an odd mixture of pain and pleasure. Big fat tears dripping all over my desk. I sat and read the last few weeks of my diary. Recognizing the miserable truths. There is no grand declaration I can make that I can honestly stick to. Will I choose inappropriate people to pin my hopes on in the future? Certainly I will. Will I spontaneously fly across the world to see someone I think I can love? Yes. Will I always be the subject of my own mythology? Certainly. This is the way it is.
Yesterday, I was crying because I began to see the same thing happen that happened with AKA. The strange delight that ones work can cause. No longer alone with an idea or a series of dislocated moments but a fully formed work that spoke to the people who saw it.
I was crying, pathetically, because the very person I wanted to call was not there. I am an idiot! I had many people I could have called to share the good news. Friends who love me and who would have been over the moon but none of them were the person I wanted to tell (NO! NOT the man in the suit) not some strange man in a suit. I wanted to call my father. I wanted to call my father and make him proud of me.
It was like when I won all of those awards for AKA. Awards mean nothing if you cannot share them with some one you love or who can love you unconditionally.
So I walked clockwise around the mountain and I saw the Russians wearing their slippers and I looked out for serpents. I felt the autumn chill on my lips and by taking this simple, contrary action I managed to start the day with smile and a spring in my step.
Had dinner at Pace with Marc S after Bonham’s 20th Century sale. Saw Russell Brown AGAIN for the third time in a week. We exchanged numbers. Accidentally kissed Marc on the lips when I got out of the car. THAT was funny.
October 3, 2006 – Tuesday
Go Where The Love Is
22 dogs. I wore a hat. Most everyone said good morning.
I saw the elderly Ukrainian couple who stand on the corner of my street. They greet me politely. They must be 70 years old, no taller than 5′. They have dark, tough, wrinkled skin. They look like the circus performers Diane Arbus used to photograph. They wait there patiently every morning. She wears a heavy coat and carries an old-fashioned handbag. He smokes unfiltered cigarettes, his pants and shirt are beautifully pressed. This morning they were still waiting when I got back from my walk. I asked what they were doing but she said, “Speaky no inglis”.
Yesterday. Went to lunchtime AA meeting. Had lunch with Gil. Shopped at Trader Joes. Wrote nearly all day.
To my profound irritation I could not get hold of any of my closest friends. Tried calling and e-mailing and texting but nobody replied. It felt like I was stalking my friends! Sascha seemed to have just vanished. Maria, who always returns my calls, vanished. Dom, Ian and Peter: vanished. Sent article to Eric-no reply. He’s new so doesn’t realise. By the evening I was exceedingly grumpy and paranoid.
By 7ish most people had replied but by that time the damage was well and truly done.
I was seething.
I decided the best way to deal with my irritation was to walk to Neal Spectre’s house near the Peninsular Hotel in Beverly Hills for his Yom Kippur celebration. I walked all the way down Sunset then turned left near Rodeo. Stepping off of the busy road and into those expensive streets. It is so quiet around there. I passed no one, not one other pedestrian. The hiss of the water sprinklers misting the lawns to keep me company. It took over an hour and a half to walk from where I live in Hollywood to Neal’s house.
The party was in full swing by the time I got there. The entire family were at the party, Lisa’s brothers, sister and Mother and various cousins, Neal’s Mother Lois and Stepfather Alan in all there must have been 40 members of their extended family. I sat with Lois and Alan. Alan is a Scottish, dyed in the wool Republican/Conservative. I was in no mood to have yet another heavy-handed discussion about the relative values of George Bush so I changed the subject and we talked about buying $92,000 Hermes Kelly bags in Cannes. It was easier. I like Alan a great deal. Regardless of his mad cap politics.
Bloody hell, two in one week.
My head is already in Chelsea. I am going back to London at my favourite time of year. The leaves are falling, a bite in the air. Whilst Moffy is at school I can take Phil for delicious lunches and visit galleries and generally pamper her. I am taking cashmere and velvet collared coats and twill trousers. Go where the love is.
October 2, 2006 – Monday
Pink clouds drifting over LA this morning smeared onto the pale blue sky. 26 dogs. Triathlon boy with amazing calves. My troubled morning head crowded with stuff that I could not seem to shift.
Yesterday, after my walk, I had breakfast with Gil Bellows at La Pain Quotidian. I missed the chip giving at the 11.45 Log Cabin meeting so I did not collect a chip anywhere for my tenth year. Instead I ate a delicious ham and cheese omelette. Met architect and his wife from London. He said that he was scared shitless of when, “the tide turns” meaning, I think, when the Muslim world truly retaliates. Do you think that will happen?
On the mountain two ordinary women were discussing Iraq, “Attacks on US servicemen have gone up from 1 to 100 a day”. I put that situation to the back of my mind. The implications are far too much for me to contemplate. I am overwhelmed with waves of that terrible feeling of powerlessness. I should write more about the war. I don’t want to be one of those diarists who looks like he is burying his head in the sand but I have to get on with life. Life here in LA. Virginia Woolf kept a diary and you would never have guessed that a world war was raging around her. Perhaps that was the way she dealt with it. The way she coped with the unimaginable horrors.
After breakfast Gil and I drove to The Hollywood Farmers market to buy flowers for his 12th wedding anniversary.
Spent yesterday afternoon with David the talent manager. We killed time by visiting open houses and dropping in on Bonham’s 20th Century decorative art sale. There is an unusual Lautner kitchen island on sale.
Drove to Sasha’s for tea, biscuits and gossip. Sascha lives in a house that looks like Clough Williams-Ellis might have designed it. Clough Williams-Ellis designed Portmeirion in Wales, which is a madcap mish mash of odd Italianate houses and used as the set of The Prisoner, which was a cult British TV series in the 1960’s.
Had a long conversation with Eric. I was sitting overlooking the valley where Sascha lives off of Woodrow Wilson.
My 10th year AA anniversary was mostly quite dull-no fanfare. Many people called to congratulate me. I suppose that it is some sort of achievement. I suppose.
I was in bed by 12. This time next week I will be in London. Already I have delicious things planned. Must remember to take autumn coats and good shoes.
October 1, 2006 – Sunday
Warren Beatty and Annette Benning
A sluggish start to this Sunday morning. I was up and down the mountain by 8am, which, for me, is really late. It must have been one of those days for a whole heap of the usual walkers as I only counted 27 dogs. Almost everyone said hello. I was wearing red. Everyone says hello when I wear my red hoody.
I took my time, this morning, looking back at the city where I live. The usual traffic roar from the valley was non-existent. I could hear unusual birdcalls. The sun obscured by a thick sea mist. When I got to the top of the hill I sat on the bench next to a mortgage broker called James from New Jersey who within ten seconds was telling me that he made 10k a month if he was lucky. His boss made 30k which he didn’t manage this month because it was so ‘slow’. “Now he knows what it feels like for the rest of us”. James sneered. I had to get away from him just in case some of his stinking thinking got into my head.
On the way down the hill I thought about the seven deadly sins. I thought about James. I thought about dealing with my own worst defects/capital vices: Arrogance, Anger, Lust. One simply has to stay pure of thought to have the best possible relationship with oneself and God. I don’t want to live a life of guilt or shame or unnecessary complication. I really don’t want to live in James’s head.
You know, it was on this day ten years ago that I got sober and stayed sober and did not have another alcoholic drink one day at a time. No wine with dinner nor glass of champagne at New Years. Nothing. On this day ten years ago I made my way from Adam and Eve Mews in Kensington to my first AA meeting. I weighed 50lbs lighter, I was wearing a black Dolce coat, a black polo neck sweater and I was driving a brand new pea green Porsche. Within two years all of those fancy trappings had gone. Before I got sober I could not leave the beautiful house for more than ten paces, black discharge drained out of my nose onto my white shirts, I was desperate, broken and alone.
It was on this day ten years ago that everything began to make sense. I knew that there was more to life than drinking and drugging. It was on this day 10 years ago that my priorities changed. Every day since that day, whatever happened, good or bad has been a good day for me as it is one more day alive. During the past ten years I learned and came to trust in this one important truth: As long as I stay sober, what ever happens, everything is going to be OK. It always is.
Today is also my stepfather’s birthday; a hideous coincidence.
I left San Francisco on Friday. Randy, very sweetly, walked me to the BART and I took the train to the airport $5. We had spent the morning drinking more chai. Yet again I saw that the more open and kind I was with Randy the more I allowed my long-suffering friends to love me. I have been of late so less irritable, impatient or angry. When the photographs arrived from my six weeks in Whitstable I scarcely recognised myself I looked so at ease. I am capable of being at peace with myself. I am capable of loving and being loved. The first flush of something like love began to take hold of me in San Francisco. I began to wonder again what it might feel like to be in love.
I took a cab from LAX directly to Neal and Lisa’s Shabbat dinner. It is always so great to spend time with their kids. I love Neal’s mother Lois who is very funny (and a terrible fag hag) dressed in Issey Miyaki. Neal had just installed a HUGE Gilbert and George in the Dining room. G&G painted gold and performing ‘Underneath The Arches’. It is a spectacular piece and very bold. Neal was a bit grumpy as he was fighting with one of his children. They live in the heart of Beverly Hills in a huge, sprawling mid-century bungalow with a tennis court and pool and toys everywhere, the house is groaning with art. They also own a really lovely Baldessari.
That night I could not wait to get into my bed.
No walk on Saturday. Will picks me up at 7am for 8am AA meeting. After meeting I drive with new sponsor (who is a fucking DREAM) on impromptu trip up PCH.
In the afternoon Corey and I meet to take the modernist house tour of Silverlake. We had a very jolly time made all the better by our meeting Anne L who instantly reminded me of Margaret Matheson or Ann Skinner or any number of the very strong, intelligent, independent women I have been attracted to all my life. Ann is a 50 something teacher at a progressive school in Pasadena she lives in a Shindler house. Of course we talked all about Monkton Wyld. We didn’t stop talking. We saw Shindler, Neutre etc but best of all was the Gregory Aine communal living apartments that were SPECTACULAR. Apparently communists lived there when they were built.
Communists like John Reed and Louise Bryant?
I met my friend Sharon at the DGA later that night to see a special screening of Reds, Warren Beatty’s epic tale of love set against the backdrop of the USA’s entry into the First World War and the tail end of the Russian Revolution. You know, I was living next to the producer of Reds when it was being made in London. I was living in Islington on Furlong Road next to Simon Relph. I met Warren with Simon Relph and his wife Amanda. Isn’t that odd. It was 25 years ago. Warren and I talked about that briefly last night. I think that it is fair to say that Simon pretty much directed that film with Warren. I remember, one day, popping around to see Simon and Amanda and found them in that huge house separating Diane Keaton and Warren (who were an item) at the top and the bottom of the house still unable to stop them screaming at each other.
Annette Benning was in the audience with their children. I wondered what it must have felt like for her to have watched this very graphic portrait of Warren’s relationship with Diane played out for all to see. For some totally obscure reason they asked the foetus Bennett Miller to interview Warren after the film. Bennett is really enjoying his fifteen minutes; he arrived with Courtney Love and spent a good ten minutes glowering at me. Courtney, since I last saw her a month ago, had had some kind of radical facial over haul. Her lips are huge; she has cheekbones and seems to have new teeth although I could not be certain. Her hair was now ballooned into Blonde Mountain of curls.
Bennett just gushed incoherently over Warren for an hour after the film ended. A more sycophantic interview I could not have imagined. This was a totally wasted opportunity.
Met Craig Emmanuelle. Met the guy who directed Fly Boys and his wife who produced North Country.
Had long, constructive chat with Sharon on the way home.
In bed by 1.30am.
September 29, 2006 – Friday
San Francisco Day 3
Friday, San Francisco 2006.
I am on my way back to LA today. I used to say, on my way ‘home’ but of late I do not feel like LA is home. Whitstable is home. Whitstable is my home where I live and I will die. I keep dreaming about what I will take back to London with me when I go. The art, that’s all. I will take that wonderful collection I have amassed so quickly.
Yesterday, Randle was in the gym by 7am so I just lay in bed until it was time to meet him off of the Castro in a small café called the Spike which sold delicious chai latte, my new favorite, anytime hot drink. Randle and I looked at a house to buy on Sanchez which was a rickety old shack selling for $800k. The house next door had been covered with marble free form mosaic. There were banana trees in the back yard. The house is on a friendly street in a neighborhood with shops and cafes. You can walk and say hello to friendly faces that you may or may not know. Totally unlike LA, which is a scummy shit, hole with no friendly faces and stinks of rotting avocado, which smells like semen. I over reacted. I love LA. No I don’t. I am there to finish my film. If that’s the case I may be there a few more years.
To prove my point there was a very cute boy draped over his Harley Davidson watching us. Randle asked him what he was doing and he said, “I haven’t showered for two days, I sprained my foot and lost my job”. Within ten minutes he was drinking more Chai with us in Samovar, which is a cool little teashop opposite where I used to buy wool for knitting. Within ten minutes we were discouraging him from becoming a rent boy. I became bored with him after this and sat playing with my Blackberry. He was cute but obvious. How can any intelligent young man seriously consider being a rent boy?
After lunch with Eric the previous day whilst trying on flip flops I saw, to my disgust, that my toenails were less than attractive. So yesterday afternoon Randle and I had pedicures and manicures and I scarcely recognized my feet after the sweet Vietnamese woman had finished with them.
Foolishly, had a nap in the afternoon that ended with me waking up grumpily and making phone calls which is always a fucking disaster. Had to call my new sponsor who was very helpful and made everything calm again. Seriously, I have to make some hefty decisions about my film situation.
At 7.30pm Eric and I met at the sushi place on Sanchez and he was surprised, I think, by how delicious the food was. I was worried that my choice of restaurant might not be good enough, that this basic sushi place that I love would not send the right ‘message’.
Eric, what do I think of you?
I rarely meet anyone who inspires, challenges, and infuriates me quite so immediately. His naive republican politics aside he is a cultured, warm, elegant man. He dresses like an Italian aristocrat and drives a Vesper. If he did not have a boy friend I may very well have made a terrible fool of myself. As I sat there opposite him the conference of insecure voices chattering away told me that I wasn..t as witty, intelligent or worthy of him as I thought. Thank God he has a boyfriend. Than God he is 31. Thank God he is so far out of the picture that I do not have to give that romance thing a second thought. I did think about it when he said that he wanted to work a farm he owned. When he mentioned it he seemed to come alive. Long before Brokeback Mountain my fantasy was to do the same. How can a man be possibly fulfilled by writing contacts in a law firm? A man like that? Or am I just projecting my own prejudiced views of lawyers onto him?
It is always a bit of a test to mention that I have been in prison but he seemed to take it in his stride although what he might say to his friends later is another thing entirely.
We will see if this has legs, if we can be friends. He has the most beautiful eyes.
Randle joined us after dinner with the potential rent boy and made a few quips that had me laughing like a drain. Thank God. After discovering that Eric was a Republican, Randle quickly morphed into Martha Stuart and disingenuously complimented Eric’s Gucci shoes. Realising that this was not going my way I dragged Randle with rent boy in tow toward the Castro.
Eric drove off on his Vesper.
You know, I am so happy when I am with Randle Mann in San Francisco. We are always laughing yet our humor can be quite cruel. Nobody is spared our treachery, least of all ourselves. Every defect of each others character exploited for our own humorous ends. Over his beef burger Randle ribbed me mercilessly about Eric. Boy with rent boy aspirations sat there looking dumb. Randle does not like Republicans. Are we more than our politics?
Eric is more than his Barbour his finely made hands and his questionable past with Mitt Romney. I really like him.
Read Andrea Dworkin’s Right Wing Women.
In bed by 11.
September 28, 2006 – Thursday
6.51am Hancock Street, San Francisco. I arrived here two days ago. The weather is perfect. Grey and cool. I am staying with my poet friend Randall Mann in his swinging 70s apartment up here in the Castro. A few days away from LA, I left Daniel to deal with Angela the Spanish-speaking maid.
The morning I left LA I had breakfast with Neal Specter. We discussed our Dorian ideas and he was more than helpful. It is true to say that the people who GET IT really get it and are inspired to help. He realizes that my excitement and enthusiasm need to be tamed, managed. He very gently talked me through the way this opening needs to be handled.
I need to calm down at these meetings. I could feel myself tripping as the ideas flew. I could feel myself sinking in my own thinking juice as my brain ruptured and the ideas spewed out of me, drowning me in notions. Neal just waited for me to stop rambling then he let me know how simple it all could be. We ate prime rib hash. It was delicious. The meeting was delicious. All any artist wants to feel is connected to others of like minds.
After breakfast I cleaned the inside of the freezer that had not been touched since the melt down they had had whilst I was away. It was disgusting. Cleaning, however, is a great antidote to any intellectual maelstrom that one may be experiencing. After I finished cleaning the freezer I scrubbed the kitchen floor. Marlene Dietrich would clean the entire theatre with her bare hands before she performed a show anywhere. It is a great opportunity to collect ones thoughts and have an instant feeling of gratification.
On Tuesday afternoon I went back to Bonhams to buy the rug I really wanted. It was cheap, really cheap. The auction room was crammed with dealers so I knew that I was getting a bargain. Thankfully the auction had a very slow beginning so I did really well. I am going back to London on the 8th October so I will lug it back with me then. I am going back to London. That will be fun. I am staying with Phil. I can’t wait.
The flight to San Fran was not at all bumpy-those flights along the coast can be very turbulent. I had Russian cab drivers at both ends. Randall and I immediately jumped into our double act that has me literally doubled up in laughter. Ate dinner at Diamaru, which is my favorite sushi place here. We discussed the Americas Next Top Model poster, which is a gruesome affair, all drag queens and emaciation. One of them looks like she only just had her Adams apple removed.
The following morning my whole body was desperate to spring out of bed and climb a mountain. I waited for Randall to get back from Yoga and we walked to a great lesbian run diner where we sat in a booth next to Tracey Chapman. We then walked to my favorite furniture store stopping on the way at a thrift shop which had a wonderful moss colored velvet, deep sofa that had just come in for only $175. I urged Randall to buy it. Took the sub way shamelessly down town to the Embarcadero for lunch with Eric. I ate sausage, quite a Freudian choice, as Eric is very handsome.
After lunch Randall and I saw The Science of Sleep that I really, really wanted to love but I could not. I met the director M Gondry some time ago. Gondry is not an enigmatic man, in fact he is a bit of a charmless nerd and one realized very quickly that he simply got Gael to be him, that the preoccupation with the troubled genius unable to get a girl was HIM. Oddly, I met Gael the day he met M Gondry for the first time in New York at the Mercer Hotel. So here was the film. Some directors need to be reigned in. There was a great deal of showing off. There were many, many great ideas but they some how got lost in all of the genius. For a start he obviously had too much money. I like not having any money at all because it makes me THINK. There were a glut of ideas expensively executed but who ultimately cared about the sulky, self obsessed central character?
I wanted to love this film so much. I occasionally loved the imagery, the bedroom in the cave reminded me if The Singing Ringing Tree. I liked the eastern European filmic references but ultimately I was never given what I needed which was the perfect union between the man and the woman. Gondry needs either another great Kaufman script to tame his worst excesses or he needs to embrace the more obscure thoughts in his artists head and make an art film and show it in a gallery. I would have been far more interested to see this film in that context.
AA meeting followed by chicken and salad.
In bed by 11.
September 26, 2006 – Tuesday
Good Day/Bad Day
The phone rang twice last night as I slept. Twice. Then the bloody phone fell under my bed and the bed is so big I fell off it trying to fish it out from underneath. To make matters worse I had a call that I had to take early this morning so I ended up lugging the phone up the mountain with me on my walk. I am very grumpy about this. It was a total waste of time taking a BLACKBERRY up the mountain. No meditation, no serene thoughts. I may as well have just sat here at my desk.
So, there were 34 dogs. The entire mountain was cloaked in a huge cloud that has enveloped LA this morning. The entire character of Runyon Canyon changed. The cicadas chirruping through the grey soup, I past the tangled remains of the old OUTPOST sign that was once bigger that the HOLLYWOOD sign and lit with neon. There’s a notice explaining the history of the sign up there but some vile person has graffiti marked it with black aerosol. I stopped for a moment to look at what was left of it and wondered what it must have looked like. If the Outpost sign had outlived the Hollywood sign: “Mother, I’m going to the USA to make a film, I’m going to OUTPOST!”
Breakfast with Neal S, sat next to Billy Connolly.
Yesterday was good.
Had lunch in Benedict Canyon with Sacha.
His glamorous friend Clare who manages Paul McKenna drove me home.
Calls from people who want to buy Dorian,
Had drinks with Jon King from Focus. Discussed Rocco etc.
Went to bed at 10.30.
Yesterday was bad.
My house in Silverlake went into escrow with some body else. Shit happens.
September 25, 2006 – Monday
“You Must be Very Excited”
6am. The sun rising over LA. I saw: 15 Dogs, The Chinese Man running backwards. Dressage Man. I met and walked with Denny the interior designer and Regina his 8-month-old puppy with topaz eyes. We both admitted to praying on our walk on the mountain. Today I prayed for serenity and a moderate disposition.
Many folk acknowledged us.
I am so excited about The Secret Film Project I can hardly remember a thing that happened yesterday. I spent the morning re-reading the Secret Script and then at 12 I called the writer of The Secret Project and we had a most energetic and satisfactory chat. We are meeting in NYC on the 24th October to discuss with interested parties. She said, “Everyone has tried to warn me off of you Duncan but I have rather taken to you.” We agreed to be utterly truthful and transparent with each other and be true to our vision of the film. I refuse to let the wreckage of my past destroy this wonderful opportunity.
I appreciated her honesty, her candour.
In one bold sentence she totally defined our relationship so that it might work and bear fruit. She did not, as so often happens, hold onto the fear of what rumours there are and cause me to behave thus. As I have said before and I will say again: Let me be the person I am rather than the person you have heard I am.
Even better than all of that: I can shoot the film in England if we so wish.
Keeping a secret is so bloody difficult; this week I have drawn blood biting my tongue.
Needless to say, yesterday the sun was shining. It was Sunday. I had a very jolly lunch with Ian in Larchmont. He told me that he thought DP (Paramount Number Cruncher) looks like ‘Seal in drag.’ We couldn’t stop laughing. Had the chicken parramigano. $15. Dan G collected me after lunch and we went for one final trip to the house in Silverlake before I make my offer today. Strangely, the door was wide open as if the woman who used to live there expected us.
I had an hour-long chat with Phil. I miss her so much. I think that in large part it is her confidence in me that makes me able to face the difficult days. It is she that makes firm and resolute decisions when I am disabled by self-doubt. Some times I can feel myself falling in love with her all over again. I had to physically stop myself the last time I saw her. Will see her next week when I pop back to London to fetch last of essential things.
I had a nap at 5.30, which, was a huge mistake because when Vic came to collect me for dinner I felt sluggish and bad-tempered. It took me a good two hours to regain my earlier positive mood. Vic stayed over but we just slept in the same bed.
People tell me that I must be excited about buying the house. “You must be so EXCITED.” Well, I am not excited about BUYING anything. Only art and the process of making art excites me. How lucky I was to be inducted into the world of The History of Ideas when I was so young. I remember with great affection the amazing woman who taught me everything I know, Vera Brumby my History of Art teacher at Medway College of Art. She said, “The history of art is the history of civilization.” She showed me how I could chart the route from those first Stone Age marks on a cave wall to Giotto to Gericault to Jeff Koons and everything in between. I had other inspired teachers, there was Judith, at school, who taught me the History of Music, she made me listen to Palestrina and John Cage. Goddamn it, how lucky was I?
They said, “Never be frightened to ask. If you don’t know-ask. Keep asking.”
As a result of these marvellous teachers I came to believe that if a human made it I could understand it. That is why I knit, cook a great Cassoulet, make films, and build houses. This also leads to terrible disappointment when I see that the person I have employed to do a better job than I, rarely does. God is in the detail! Thank God for Joel Plotch who edited Dorian and did a better job than I could ever do!
Before she died Vera called me and she said with unusual pessimism, “Duncan, I think that we are living in an increasingly evil world.” I hoped that she was wrong about that but look around you.
Look at what the corporation is doing to our lives.
September 24, 2006 – Sunday
The Roughs Are Coming
7.45am Runyon Canyon, September 2006. 45 dogs, 1 screaming Chinese infant. Happy Russians. Many isolated, miserable looking ‘attractive’ 30 something white folk. Squirrels noisily harvesting what ever they can find in the palm trees. The sun is shining. LA looking marvellous.
From way up there in the mountain I can see how green LA really is. Who planted so many trees? The Jacaranda that, in springtime, blooms so as all of its branches are covered with mauve flowers. Now those thick trunked, spiky trees have huge, succulent, pink orchid-like blooms all over them.
Yesterday I met Dom at the Grove. The Grove is a themed Mall with dancing fountains tacked onto the Farmers Market which is no longer a farmers market in the sense that we understand it. We saw the film Hollywoodland. Ben Affleck was really very good. Diane Lane superb. I loved the way they all laughed at their own and the various quips of others, just like they did in the films of the 1940s. The film had such style. I got a bit lost at the beginning of the third act but it did not impair my enjoyment. Glenn Williamson, who also produced American Beauty, produced Hollywoodland. Glenn makes very elegant choices. He is a very calm, intelligent man. A real filmmaker. I was honoured that he said very complimentary things about AKA.
As I sat in the cinema I knew even more keenly that the path I had taken with Dorian was the right one. Cinematically the great reveal in Dorian Gray really works.
I feel unencumbered today, like I used to when I first got sober. I don’t think that it is truly possible to explain the feeling of being in ones own body after having such a profound sense of being emotionally AWOL. After years of what can only be described as an out-of-body experience re-entering ones own skin, inhabiting ones own head is such a RELIEF. Of course I still have the occasional, odd moments when I desire not to be me. To run away and hide, lost in the tsunami, surfacing twenty years from now in a white Panama hat in some obscure fishing village in South America. I think about what it felt like not be me when I had that other name. I thought about it there on the mountain this morning.
At the movie theatre Dom pointed out a man he thought looked just like me. The man was 45ish, very tall; he had a very fierce presence. He said, “You nearly ran into your doppelganger.” Do I look like that? Again, I got a surprising sense of how people perceived me. I do not and have never had any idea of what it feels like to be in my own company. “People are scared of you.” They say that. I am dismayed when they say that. How could that possibly be? Is that the sum of me?
In the evening I met Internet Date man and Ian Drew and we saw a rather odd performance by David Leddimont (?) in Santa Monica of a sort of homage to Quentin Crisp. Quentin was, in the 1970s, a rather grand old tranny who wrote a best-selling book called The Naked Civil Servant. London Weekend Television subsequently made it into a film. I watch it often with Gary Davy and we scream with laughter. We use many of the lines from the film to amuse ourselves, for instance if either of us ever got laid the other would say, “It must have been foggy down the ‘Dilly tonight, dear.” Or, just because it was so funny in the film, “The roughs are coming!” Which will mean nothing to anyone unless you watch the darn thing.
Anyway, I have to tell you that I thought the show we saw last night was very poorly conceived but happily it reminded me of Quentin who was brave and clever and suffered, it seemed to others, unnecessarily for his art but that was what he was compelled to do. His friends in public for fear of association shunned him and he learned to exist on the out side of society and make the best of it until he was invited into the establishment fold at the age of 70.
I first saw The Naked Civil Servant on TV when I was 14. Moved to tears I immediately wrote to Quentin from my boarding school in Shropshire. During the next few years I received many letters from him and I would meet him occasionally in coffee shops in Fitzrovia. I saw him last in New York a few months before he died. I am ashamed to tell you that earlier this year I threw out all of the letters that I had kept from my school years. A great big box of letters. I knew as I was doing it that I was making a big mistake by not sorting through them. I couldn’t bear looking at all of those letters from my Mother. It made my feel sick. For 6 years I received two letters a week from my mother, grandmother, and various other members of my family. There were also, sadly thrown into the recycle bin, letters from Quentin Crisp and many other media types who bothered to write back to me during those years when I had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning in the school library than hunt celebrity.
Melvyn Bragg always replied to my adolescent questions and encouraged me to write explaining that he often suffered from, ‘Multiple contractions of apprehension.’ whenever he wrote anything.
In bed by 1am. I don’t like going to bed so late-it upsets my routine.
September 23, 2006 – Saturday
I went to an AA meeting instead of taking my walk. I will go walk the Canyon tomorrow. I feel great. I can’t tell you just how much better going to a good AA meeting makes me feel.
You know, believe it or not, I did not get sober to make films, buy more stuff, get a better job, make friends, have more sex, get a partner or a bigger house. I stopped drinking and taking drugs 9 years ago so that I could sleep easy at night. All I wanted was a life without fear. I got sober for one reason: I wanted Peace of Mind.
Yesterday, Peter YBH collected me for Breakfast. We went to Dough Boys on 3rd. We ate the blueberry pancakes that were covered in seeds. Dunno what kind of seeds. Shiny seeds like beetles. The poached eggs came on the side in a small white dish. This ‘side dish’ remains, to me, one of the great unexplained American mysteries. Why isn’t the poached egg just on the plate like everything else?
Whilst I was at Dough Boys I heard via e-mail that my house in Whitstable had been broken into. I knew immediately who had done it. I just knew. I am sure that it was the young man I met on the train from Sittingbourne to Faversham. Kass had seen him skulking around the house before I left for LA. Anyway, he must have made a hell of a noise breaking into the house because he didn’t get further than the kitchen. Perhaps he didn’t want to steal anything. Perhaps all he wanted was to see me? You never know. The house was fine. I just felt sorry for the poor people who were renting it-they were terrified.
On the table beside us a young woman was wearing a tee-shirt that said in bold black letters: ‘I’M NOT INTERESTED’ over her huge nip tuck tits. I went up to her and said, “Oh, I’ve got a tee-shirt like that, it says, ‘I HATE EVERYONE'”. She laughed, “I like that, where can I get one of those?”
I should have said that I had a tee-shirt that said ‘I suck black cock’.
I don’t have either of those tee shirts.
After breakfast, Peter and I went looking at galleries; we went to M+B and Regan Projects LA. There was nothing in either of them to write home about. Then we went to the rug sale at Bonham’s where there was plenty to write home about. I ticked off a few rugs then Peter and I hung out at mine looking at the David LaChapelle mega book.
Finally, after WEEKS of waiting, the rest of the black leather dining room chairs arrived. They look great.
Dan G popped by at 5ish and we walked to the Italian Saint’s Day street festival that the Grandsons of Italy in America were having behind the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. We ate all sorts of delicious Italian food, meatballs, sausage, doughnut and thick black coffee. On the way there we saw that yet another transformer had blown the man-hole cover off and into the middle of Hollywood Blvd. Plumes of smoke pouring out of the road. The police standing by. Traffic snarled up as far as Highland Ave.
Michael invited me to party at The Cabana Club but I did not go. Stayed at home writing and reading and watching makeover reality TV.
My regular favourite makeover TV moment used to be when Ricky Lake took a cool teenage goth/punk/emo and ‘transformed’ him/her into a ‘regular’ kid which, at the moment of revelation would always cause the parents of the poor goth/punk/emo to burst into tears. Fat Goth girls stripped of their black make up/cob web clothing and face jewellery and forced into cheap, badly designed skirts and blouses forsaking their individuality. It was proof, if I ever needed it, that most Americans distrust ‘individuality’.
I was in bed by midnight. Daniel the room-mate, by the way, has disappeared.
September 22, 2006 – Friday
Are You Still Working on That?
The mountain was so fresh and breezy this morning. I saw, at least, six blue jays. 54 dogs. All of the Russians said good morning. Unusually a couple kept pace with me through out my walk. They discussed James Blunt, he told her about his job as a writer on some TV show and she told him with a rather embarrassed laugh that all of the guys she dated in college were now gay. She couldn’t understand her ‘super power’. It was nearly at that point on the walk where we would peel off from one another so I turned and I said, “Perhaps gay men know how to listen. Perhaps they want to hear what you have to say.” She looked at me askance for a moment. A stranger was talking to her. Then she replied, “Yes, perhaps that is true.”
Years ago I wanted to make a documentary about Fag Hags, when the Queen Mother was still alive, she was a notorious fag-hag. After a great deal of research I saw that all being a fag hag really boiled down to was this: Some women need a man to listen. They don’t care what kind of man. Just any man will do. Finding a straight man with no agenda is obviously, judging by the women I have spoken to, very hard. Lonely, rich older woman are want to find a similarly aged gay man to dote on, shop with, ask for opinions and get brutally honest replies. “Darling, you look GHASTLY.” Truman Capote had his ‘Swans’ but he let them all down by writing about them. It is a mistake I often make-getting too attached to some women that I can only be gay with. Phil was different. She had ‘super power’. I wanted to be her lover. Is that so unusual?
Today, I am listening to Jimmy Scott and today I am very happy. Today I am really happy. Pray for a dream to come true and it usually will. I can’t tell you the best bits of what happened yesterday because if I do they will go away. Needless to say part of my good feeling is about Dorian Gray, the screening the other day yielded very good results. The plan for Dorian’s birth are beginning to make sense. The Big Idea began to happen before my very eyes. I desperately want to say but I JUST CAN’T!
Something wonderful happened whilst I was writing about being Persian. As I wrote it down something shifted deep inside of me: it was a revelation. It made me feel strong. Being understood or understanding ones self, what more could you really want from life?
Everyone here is talking about The Queen, Steven Frear’s new film about how the Royal Family dealt with the death of Princess Diana.
Of course I remember when Princess Diana died. I still think about it. I was in bed with Jamie P at Adam and Eve Mews in Kensington. JBC called in the middle of the night. I think that I was one of the first people down at the gates of Kensington Palace. During the next few days after they pulled the wreckage out of that tunnel I remember with disgust the vitriol poured over her memory by the establishment. Old cavalier politicians like Lord Norman St John Stevas telling us all that we should not grieve. It was very sad and strangely chaotic. When you get to see the great and the good with their knickers down by their Royal ankles your opinion of them changes. I remember two things about that time very clearly. After she was killed I drove down to Whitstable and you know, no one on the roads was driving faster than the speed limit. Not one person. We became our polite and considerate best. We had a great deal on our minds.
The other thing I remember very clearly thinking was: The Royal Family don’t understand this, they underestimate just how ‘powerful’ they really are. They’ve worked tirelessly to create one of the best-loved soap operas in the world yet they didn’t understand that any well-loved character in a popular soap has to have a conclusion that is made with the tacit agreement of us, the viewer, the subjects.
Of course ‘the people’ thought that she was murdered what else could they think? She was a rebel, a soap opera rebel. That’s what happens to a rebel in any good drama they die in a hail of bullets or they are taken out by the secret service. Regardless of whether she was pushed or not we knew that she could not survive. She had a big mouth, she told it as it was and they hated her for it. I was shocked when she talked on Panorama about her marriage. I was delighted and terrified and despaired for her. She was signing her own death warrant. I wrote to her to say as much. I stood in the crowd as the hearse passed by. I cried when her brother spoke. Later that night I went to a party with my friends Rachel and Sebastian. They did crack. I watched Rachel vomit out of a black cab.
Yesterday I had lunch with Bram, fried chicken special at the 101. Tony popped by in the afternoon we drank coffee. John collected me for dinner and we went to the 101 and ate fried chicken again. I’ve told you once but I’ll tell you again: Thursday is Fried Chicken Special at the 101 café on Franklin. I love it.
I’ll tell you why I go to the 101 and the Chateau so often: these people know me. Not in a grand way but in such a way that the staff know how to respect your dining experience. For instance, a familiar server will know that I do not drink alcohol, they know that I don’t like being interrupted mid flow with inane questions and most of all they understand when one has finished eating. In England we are used to setting our knives and forks at half past six on the plate so as a server can SEE that we have finished and take our plates without having to ask, as they do constantly here, “Are you still working on that?” Am I? Do you mean, have I finished? Can’t you see that the plate is still covered in food? Leave me alone until I indicate that I have finished by placing my knife and fork just so.
Am I still working on this?
Went to bed at 10 so I could be up at 5 for my walk.
September 21, 2006 – Thursday
On What it is to be Persian
There is nothing simple about me or Iran; the country of half my origin. I have been struggling with this problem since my Mother told me that my Father was Iranian when I was 13 years old. It was this fact alone that upset me most about my mother’s confession. I did not care that the man I had been calling my father was an impostor: I was relieved. I knew instinctively at that moment of revelation that the reason I thought and acted the way I do is because I am Iranian.
Even though I was brought up in England with everything that is quintessentially English (I am sitting here in LA listening to The Archers) my ways were different, my thinking was different and no matter how hard I tried to fit in with those around me I could not.
My mother did not want me to have anything to do with my real father, she lied about his name, she refused further information that would have helped me find him. For years I honoured her decision then one day I demanded to know who he was. Once I had his correct name I posted a ‘I am looking for..’ notice on the internet and within a week a lawyer contacted me from Canada. He said, “There are three thing that you need to know about you father, 1. I’m sorry to have to tell you that he’s been dead for seven years. (He died of pancreatic cancer). 2. You have seven brothers and sisters who really want to meet you and 3. If you’re looking for the inheritance there is none.”
I met my dead Father’s 7 children in my mid thirties. My sister Jess is the most sensible. My brother Dominic arrived in a Ferrari. Rebecca brought a huge box of photographs for me to look at. My brother James did not want anything to do with me when he heard that I was a homosexualist. MK is addicted to crack. MK told me that our father was an opium addict but this may very well be the myth of my father rather than the reality. I began to hear all sorts about him; what kind of man he was. I realised that it was imperative to understand not just the character of my Father but also the character of Iran for me to make sense of my own complexity.
Who was he? My Father. Who was that man? My Father was married 3 times, yet did he ever get a divorce? My Father was rich yet where is the money? Is it true that on his deathbed he impregnated his best friend’s wife? Is it true that he threw a gold lighter at his young son’s head scarring him for life?
I am appalled by these stories but I am also secretly in awe.
I am certainly British and I am delighted to be so, but my nature is unswervingly Persian. I am proud, arrogant, and I have one hell of a superiority complex. Of course, unsurprisingly, this makes me very awkward to handle. Like Iran I want to be taken seriously but I love challenging the status quo. I am declared anti-establishment.
As a descendant of the great Persian Empire I apologise for being so when I am calm and British but I can never say sorry, never make amends for what I am when I am in the grip of my Persian, explosive self. Persians have a rich cultural heritage, nearly 3000 years of written history. My Father, who only married British women, told his best friend that when his wife’s ancient ancestors were collecting berries on an English moor his forbears had hospitals for their pets.
You may find me difficult to understand but you find Iran difficult to understand. I am a Persian, not an Arab. Arabs invaded Iran. I am an equal mix of Persian and British; the Iranians have always respected the wily British.
Because of my terrible yet wholly Iranian arrogance, I suffer on occasions from a glut of confidence. Sadly, that does me more harm than good. I often over reach myself and when I fail, as I do on occasions, I feel victimized yet I never feel beaten, I never give in. I get up, brush myself down and I start again.
Of course you find me intolerable, flashy, charming, obnoxious. That’s what we are.
It is too dark to go for my walk. Ten minutes to six. Silence. The fridge groaning and shuddering in the kitchen. Waking before sun rise with a clear head. Lucky Jesus on my desk peering at me with his one good eye. He is made of mercury glass, he has a painted white face and red lips. Lucky Jesus is holding a chalice in the folds of his robes. I bought him in Romania in a tiny antiques store, I think I paid a dollar for him.
At his feet, propped up on my new desk, are the only two photographs of my Father that I own. In one of these black and white photographs my Father is leaning against the railings overlooking Margate beach. This photograph was taken in the summer of 1959. My Father is looking directly at the camera; he has a wry smile on his tanned face. On what is obviously a baking hot, high summer holiday the beach is packed with British sunbathers.
I recognise the buildings in the distance quite well, they looked very fine in 1959. Margate is not like this now. It is a sad, empty place. Even though they say that Margate is regenerating it seems that there has been too much damage to the integrity of the town. Too many beautiful houses carved up into tiny bedsits. Too many abandoned shops. The large hotels accommodate a fragrant immigrant population made unwelcome by fearful locals.
The other photograph of my father is very odd. He is holding a gun, perhaps it is only a toy, but he is pointing it at a boy’s back. The boy has his hands up in surrender. This, I think, was taken on the Downs by the King’s Hall in Herne Bay. In both pictures my father is exquisitely groomed and perfectly dressed. He is wearing well cut trousers, a crisp white shirt and in the first he is wearing a plain, straight tie. In both he looks very Persian, he must have been quite exotic for the North Kent coast in 1959. I bet he knew how to look after himself. I wish that I had met him just once. Even though he was, by all accounts, a difficult man.
Yesterday was not a great day. After my walk in the Canyon Dan G came over and took me to the Coffee Bean. I was not really present for that. I was far away. In the afternoon I had a few annoying e-mails, a couple of disruptive phone calls. One of THOSE days but I was largely on top of it.
The best part of the day came when I went to the DGA and watched, for the first time, The Picture of Dorian Gray on the big screen. I saw, for the first time, that it really worked. Oh thank GOD. It really looks and feels exactly as it should. I invited a couple of friends of mine to come see it with me. Joel Mikely and his friend Cameron, Neal Spector and Alex Spendore. I was aware, as usual, of every fidget they made. Excruciating. Thankfully they are a tough, honest crowd. It’s a very sexy film on the big screen. David looks great! Better than great! Joel said that he was scared, he was worried that it was going to be bad. Thankfully he really liked it. What will happen to Dorian Gray now? Now we can put it back into a box until all of the financial problems are resolved. From now on I am going to concentrate on the property I want to buy.
After the fantastic screening I had some very nasty phone calls from a deranged english man I know who has substance abuse problems. He said that he wanted to kill me. So, I had to spend time talking to the police and lawyers and I will, unfortunately, have to deal with this today. Thankfully, after the first mad call, I had the foresight to record the second abusive, threatening rant. This second homo-phobic, racist, violent, death-threatening call lasted for over 17 minutes. My father would carry a small recording device everywhere he went for just such an occurrence.
My third date with Sunday Internet Man was spent at Cobras and Matadors which is by far my favourite tapas restaurant in town (avoid the lentils) then we explored The Grove and finally we just sat in his Mercedes and cruised the hills, exploring the tiny, winding roads around Beachwood Canyon. It was very romantic. We stopped in at mine for an hour and he rubbed my back and shoulders with his strong hands until I slept.
8.30 am I just got back from the most wonderful walk. Beautiful morning. I saw 56 dogs, 1 chameleon, 1 Blue Jay, 2 men covered in tattoos and a 50-year-old Russian woman taking her tee-shirt off revealing a huge flesh coloured bra. I saw one cute man. No top models. Took the left had route. On the bench at the crest of the hill there was a lady with a branch tucked into her belt at the FRONT. She sat quietly peering through twigs at the view of LA.
September 20, 2006 – Wednesday
76 dogs. A great deal of unchecked poo. Dogs’ pooing behind unsuspecting owners. I took the less steep route. There is indeed a strong, unusual smell in the Canyon but it isn’t dog piss-it’s the smell of vegetation, damp straw, exotic bark and animals other than dogs. It is the smell of nature at its pungent best.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog that from the tallest mountain Corey and I climbed we could see below us, for the first time, the 101 freeway carving through the other canyons. It was almost beautiful. We were surprised that we had never before noticed the shimmering 101. There was very little haze and for a brief moment the sun lit the tarmac and the tiny, glinting cars. I thought to myself that in 20 years time silent, electric cars would choke these huge LA roads. I thought about the public transport system that used to exist here and how it will undoubtedly return. As hostile nations hold onto their oil reserves our transport will, thankfully, adapt into something less noisy or smelly.
The house on Langton Street in Chelsea where Phil lives in London has three coal-holes. Every house along that street burnt so much coal. Where the bricks have not been scoured at the back of Phil’s house you can see how sooty black London must have been. I have a distant memory of a steam train roaring into Whitstable. I remember the smell, the acrid smell of burning coal. The diesel trains that ran between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stank so badly even on the coldest day we kept the windows open. I thought we were lucky not to live in the age of coal smoke but we live in the age of exhaust fumes and the sound of the 101 the 405 the M2. How could they live like that? My children’s children will scoff at the memory of us. “How could they live with those smells?” When would it have been good to live on earth without fear or fumes or disease? Never I suppose.
Yesterday Steve the beautiful actor came with his huge car and we drove to Bonham’s to collect my new desk. When I got it home I was so excited because I had to rearrange my sitting room to accommodate it. I LOVE rearranging; it is and has always been my greatest pleasure. I filled the draws and set out my lucky desk creatures: my lucky bird, my lucky cow, my lucky Jesus, my lucky saint. It is, I am certain, the gay gene that determines that I know how to scatter cushions and place ornaments in such a way that when Greg Yeardye popped over last night he said: “You have such great taste.” Thanks GY. Darling Phil used to berate me for talking about home décor rather than deal with any problem we might have. Even when I was in prison my cell was perfectly clean and rearranged and the other prisoners would stop by and hang out.
Had long chat with Lawyer, with mortgage broker and then Sunday Internet Date came over and we drove to Silverlake to look at the house and then we ate lunch at American Rag. I had the smoked chicken Quiche that was so delicious it must have been very, very bad for me. Need a project-not a film. Need to rearrange massively. Internet Date is very distinguished and kind. He is realistic. Getting to know him slowly is delightful.
Had dinner with Greg Yeardye. I am very fond of Greg but after 6 months of him just disappearing do I want to be his friend again? Greg is a big, straight man. He is very competitive which I find unnecessary, he calls me on my shit-I like that, he is a terrible old gossip which is endearing and he is grandiose in the most vulgar, gold Rolex kind of way. He loves to let everyone know how rich he is-but is he? He is the brother of Tamara Mellon who my friend Oscar Humphries had a well-publicised affair with. Tamara owns Jimmy Choo. Tamara is rich. Greg’s mother wears Chanel and lives in a huge house in Beverly Hills. HUGE!!! I love how utterly indiscreet Greg is. Within minutes of getting together he was booming information that would be worth MONEY to unscrupulous gossip hounds. What I love most about Giant Greg is how he wears the most ghastly shoes and does not give a toss. We will see how this pans out.
Before I went to bed I thought about a friend of mine who had started drinking again after a good few years of abstinence. I had the weirdest reaction: I was jealous. Even though he only drank a couple of glasses of cheap red wine I was jealous that he could start the whole sobriety thing again from the very beginning that he could wipe his slate clean. I was jealous that the path for him now seems to me so simple once again. Staying sober by the grace of God one day at a time, a daily emergency (no doubt) but all the same, think of the ATTENTION, the support, think of the unconditional love.
September 19, 2006 – Tuesday
I only have thirty mins to write my blog. I wanted to write about kissing. I wanted to write about the best kissers I ever had. I was expecting some kissing last night.
Today is jammed packed. I started my walk at 8.30 up Runyon Canyon. Took the vicious left hand route and consequently I am sitting here my thighs on fire. We beat that fuckin mountain in 18 minutes. I went with Tom Cruise look-a-like Corey the Realtor. He is the sweetest man. We saw 17 dogs and a top model on our walk. Nobody really said hello to us. It was a different crowd today: housewives with tiny dogs.
Yesterday was mostly spent at home doing home things and e-mails and writing. I washed dark clothing and drank black coffee. I spent time on the phone with Clare Swinburn and we discussed Christmas plans. I really want her to come out here for pilot season-whatever that is. Can some one please explain what Pilot Season is?
Had God-awful row with team about money that did not get resolved until I spoke to my lawyer today. Losing interest in everything connected with Dorian.
Dinner at Chateau with Chris my Mormon friend. The Chateau is such a performance! Will Carter starring as the maitre de with attendant non-speaking assistants. Nicole Richie hugging everyone. We are the family that is the Chateau Marmont. We sat on best table for two at the back. I had the Caesar Salad with shrimp. Mormon Chris had the steak. Then, to my left, the Dupont twins arrived whom I said a fleeting hello. In front of me Stellan Skarsgaad who I am frightened of sat speaking Scandinavian. On my right Jeffery Rush and family were eating a late dinner, the children went to bed then they had to put up with a woman just joining their table and introducing herself.
Rush might make a great lead for our secret project. Saweeda and her friend pitched up with no news of Richard Squire. On the table behind the hedge were Nick Jones and my friends from Soho House New York. I said to Mark, “I’ll see you at the Oscars when I crash the Soho House party this year.” We laughed. He gave me a huge hug.
Mormon boy found that we were unable to have a conversation because we were sitting next to the screeching Duponts and their motley crew so I had us moved into the lobby for coffee and cheese and there, sitting on the couch, was the scrumptious Jake Gyllenhaal. We waved, I kind of know him as we had long conversation waiting for broken elevator in Mercer Hotel in New York years ago and now we bump into each other periodically. I loved that he won the BAFTA. Like so many STARS he is becoming a kind of caricature of himself. The arched eyebrow, the strong jaw. Does he look in the mirror and think about how he photographs? I wonder. Like that freak Conan the red-haired chat show host.
When he left the girl at his table stroked the seat where he was sitting and said, “He’s adorable.”
Mormon dropped me off at home then Steve popped over to run lines-that’s what we do in Hollywood, we go home at 11.30pm and run lines with actors.
Slept fitfully thinking about THE WORLD.
November 7, 2006 – Tuesday
Woke at 6.30. Answered British e-mails. Sadly, when I started my hike, I had already missed the Latvian dwarves. For the first time since I started my daily walk up Runyon Canyon I noticed the terrible stench of dog piss at the Fuller gate. Starting an hour later than usual means that there are many more dogs (35) and people in the Canyon, it was also very, very warm. Earthquake weather. I took the steep path. I did not stop to rest. The view from the summit was spectacular over the city to the ocean. I always forget to mention just how many trees there are down there amongst the houses.
Sadly, there were three, very annoying dog owners shouting at their hapless mutts. Poor Roxie the Ridgeback belongs to a couple of old queens of the Liberace variety. Roxie had decided, rather unwisely, to take a faster path down the mountain causing her overly distraught owners to bellow her name in tandem again and again. Roxie, frankly, looked like she had enough. The other screamer was the type I described last time. A fat straight guy who wanted us all to know how powerful he was. Screaming after his dog at the top of his voice. I told him to shut up. He looked less powerful after that. Nobody wants to listen to screamers first thing in the morning. Nobody.
The weekend was potentially fraught with relationship tensions. I did not see Sharon.
On Friday morning I drove to Santa Monica to meet with Jason at the American Film Market and discuss our project Funny Valentine. We will get there one of these days but what a God damned struggle. It was fun to see Jason in his new capacity as MD of Velvet Octopus. He had new specs on which made him look like a Dutch diplomat-very elegant. Saw Houston King, saw Tiffany Whittome-it was obvious that I was going to bump into a bunch of familiar faces it was AFM.
Met with Eric S for lunch. He is such a beautiful man. I then sat in on his conversation with Jason as they discussed how hedge funds work in the film industry. Even though I did not understand half of what they were saying I felt like taking a shower after Matt explained what a shady business it all is.
I cooked dinner for a bunch of architects at my house on Friday night, roasted some garlic and bacon and chicken. Baked potatoes were delicious. Aleksa brought over some home-baked strawberry pie, which we ate with cherry ice cream. I was in bed by 11pm exhausted.
On Saturday morning I drove to my AA meeting in Brentwood then had breakfast at the City Café. Maury prepared some succulent French toast made of Brioche with caramelized apples. Met Eric S who ate more French Toast then drove to his orange, 5 bedroom Spanish Hacienda in the Palisades which he is clearing so that he can rent it. He was going to chuck everything out but his brother and I persuaded him to have an impromptu garage sale. We put up two hasty notices sprayed onto cardboard and the customers arrived in droves. Before long most of the junk had gone and we had pockets full of cash. An honest trade. I am obsessed with this notion. It is the Iranian in me.
On Saturday night I met Nathan for dinner, we had a great time.
On Sunday Nathan and I had breakfast at the 101. After breakfast I sat in the auction rooms at Bonham’s and bought an eight-foot jigsaw of a plane crashing. It is wonderful.
Lunch with Jane Garnett and Marc in Santa Monica then collected Johnny T from airport. Dropped Johnny’s stuff off at his hotel in Century City then ate dinner at Chateau M. Saw Steve Garbarino (editor of Blackbook) and his girl friend Maddy sitting with Val Kilmer. Steve congratulated me on the piece I’d written for him about Oscar Wilde. I loved writing it. I used to write for The Sunday Times Style Section when Tim was editor. When I arrived at Steve’s table I made that terrible cliché of an error of thinking that I already knew Val Kilmer and asked enthusiastically how he was doing and what he was doing next before realising that I did not know him at all. The last time I did that was to Diana Ross in First Class from Cannes to London. OH GOD. How foolish.
After dinner we drove back west to Jason’s party, which was hugely entertaining. Saw Peter Youngblood with the guys who own Revolver. Saw Tiffany Whittome. Did not stay long. Back on the Freeway home. Dropped Johnny off at Guy’s. That boy is going to be a huge star.
When I got home I paid my Canterbury City Council tax over the phone. I then realised that as a single man I was entitled to a 25% discount that I had asked for some time ago but had not been applied to my account. Consequently I have been overpaying my Council Tax for 6 years. They owe me 6x£300=£1,800. When I complained they told me that I was not considered a Whitstable resident. NOT A WHITSTABLE RESIDENT? I immediately contacted my lawyers.
November 3, 2006 – Friday
Thick sea mist cloaked the Canyon. The sun diffused through the cloud like sand blasted glass. The path became mysterious, dogs emerging from nowhere, crickets chirruping, a jogging man singing loudly to himself. Everyone else walked silently on the damp earth crunching under foot. I enjoy the silence.
At the foot of the mountain one man was shouting at his dog. I am developing a violent reaction against people who shout at their dogs. Screaming at the top their voices ‘Come here!’ There is a man I hear regularly who wears ripped jeans screaming at all three of his dogs. One of them is called Lily. He is not shouting at his dogs because he believes that the dog will not come. He shouts at his dogs because he wants to let me know that he is assertive, powerful, that he can bend the will of those around him.
On Tuesday night I had dinner with Erik, my lawyer, at his house in Bel Air. He has an expensive, modern home with a Zen garden. If one HAS to have a Zen garden then I suppose this one, with its Mount Fuji waterfall was fairly accomplished. Inside was a mish mash of mid-century furniture and huge black and white photographs by Herb Ritts. There was a particularly beautiful David Hockney. We watched my film, which obviously baffled my dear friend. We ate tofu burgers and sweet potato chips. The dog snored all the way through which I thought might have been Erik. You can’t win them all.
The following day I visited Katherine Ross who has just moved from NYC to her vast new home in Hancock Park. In each of the tennis court proportioned reception rooms were no more than a sofa and a dining room table. When I asked when the rest of the furniture was arriving she told me that this was it. They live very minimally. They have not, however, had time to install any of their huge art collection so I am sure that when the art is there it will all make perfect sense. We had a very pleasant time together discussing the vagaries of LA and housekeepers and what an exciting time it is for both her and her husband.
I then drove to my lawyer’s office to collect my hat and sign a letter of engagement. Tea and pound cake with Lisa Specter at her house in Beverly Hills and then The Shave where I had my hair cut, my beard trimmed and the gremlin hair on my ears removed. I also had a manicure but the blond woman with the huge breasts who cut my cuticle was a little too eager and this morning I can scarcely type as the ends of my index fingers are red raw.
Driving back up Wilshire I decided to drop in on Marc Selwyn who is showing Mel Bochner in his dear little gallery. We hung out for a little while discussing Dorian, which I intend to open in a gallery setting when the film opens in February. Marc told me that the art world in LA had tried for 50 years to make a relationship with Hollywood and failed. He had various theories: transient population, financial insecurity, cultural insecurity. None of which really made sense. Film people, who already consider themselves artists, simply don’t understand the more obscure art that people like Marc sell in his gallery. They cannot see how buying art will benefit or enrich them in any way more than the art that they are presently engaged with-film making. Ultimately, to buy art one must disengage with ones own cynicism and very expensively engage with half-baked concepts and conceits. Film people are loathed to do anything so dumb.
Whilst we were discussing art my car was being towed. Spent next hour and a half and $180 dealing with that little palaver. By the time I got home it was time to get ready for the Bobby premiere, which was showing at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood and doubled as the first night celebration of the AFM. Sharon brought a couple of very chic dresses and a very pretty fur coat. We looked like a very cool couple as we walked to the theatre from my house-Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is only two blocks away from where I live. When we arrived we went directly to the head of the huge will call line, we were both starving so ate vile hot dogs and diet coke. Spoke briefly with Lindsey L who looked very nervous. After 5 tedious speeches from various dignitaries including the very high voiced Emilio Estevez, the Mayor and Harvey Weinstein we watched one of the worst films I have ever seen. It was like a long episode of Hotel with famous people in it. It was vacuous, tedious, clumsy, laughable. What astounded me was that this terrible film was meant to be a tribute to a man who might have been great? Then, I realised what it really was. Using my Versailles/Hollywood analogy it all made sense: The King and Queen want to provide an entertainment for all of the courtiers and insist that the dauphin and duchesses all take part. The King will write the script and make a humble appearance and all of his friends and the friends of his friends will play the various roles. The King is a genius.
I wish I had not worn my Dior smoking jacket.
Bobby Kennedy had 11 children.
The after party took place at the Roosevelt. Sharon and I dashed over to the buffet where we ate ravenously. We met charming people including the very dashing Paris Latsis who I first met at Eugenio Lopez’s house. Everyone was a little too embarrassed to say what they really thought about Bobby. People we did not know would tentatively ask if either of us had anything to do with making it before telling us how dreadful they thought it was. Holly Elwes, the producer, was standing in the Dakota restaurant at the Roosevelt. She looked shell-shocked. She was wearing a horrible dress. Of course we all told her how wonderful the film was. How amazing she was. How exquisitely the dauphin and the dukes and the little cardinals had performed.
We left at 1.30am. I did not wake up until 8am. Hillary came over and we messed around at mine then drove to hers. Sat in the knitting shop and knitted. Went to Marc Jacobs and bought six pairs of shoes in their one day only 80% off sale. Drove to sponsors house and spewed my guts out about starting a relationship-how vulnerable it makes me feel. The great thing about my wonderful sponsor is that he speaks a truth I understand. His wise words make so much sense to me. I love my sponsor.
Errands included laundry, DMV, cleaning Daniel’s disgustingly dirty room that he finally vacated on the 1st November. I have never in my life been so happy to see the back of someone. I can sleep without fear of being disturbed. I do not lay in my bed expecting to be woken in the middle of the night by party boy lodger and his foetus b/f.
Ate dinner with Ian at Chateau Marmont. Sat next to Geoffrey Rush who was discussing Are You Being Served. We then bowled over to the BAFTA/LA awards at Century Plaza. Sharon had a ticket for me for dinner and the celebrations. Stephen Fry hosting the event very amusingly. Dustin Hoffman, Tim Robbins and Forest Whitaker presenting awards to Sidney Poitier, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Minghella and Clint Eastwood. The awards were good but the party afterwards felt like a suburban dinner and dance just like I remember my parents going to when I was a kid. Blousy women wearing too much make up, too many sequins, the men in moth-eaten tuxedos. The invitation should have read: Join BAFTA/LA to honour Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood with a dinner and dance in the Hove Cricket Club situated behind the gas works. Carriages. It actually said ‘carriages’ at the end of the invite. It should have said, Self Parking.
We ended the evening at Hollywood Social at Aldomovar party where drunk, gay Sony Classic publicist made a fool of himself.
October 31, 2006 – Tuesday
This morning, the polite Latvian dwarves were not standing silently on the corner of El Cerrito Place waiting for their ride to the day care facility. They were at home screaming at each other in Latvian. Rather, I saw the old woman dressed in a floral, floor length house coat on her 5th Floor balcony screaming back at what could only have been the silent husband. She held, in her right hand, a long carving knife. She kicked thuggishly at her screen door on her way back into the apartment. I lingered on the street for a few minutes wondering what would happen next but I really did not want her to clock me out there on the street listening to them..to her. Aleksa told me that the old lady was well-known for screaming, everybody knew about her on the street. I was so sad. She had always been so polite to me. “Good morning”. She would say softly, reverentially.
Amazingly I got ‘looked’ at today on Runyon Canyon by somebody quite cute. Even though I knew I would never act on it just being looked at in that way gave my day a tiny kick-start. When ever I get my beard going I am looked at all the time. My woollen beany over my eyebrows and a big bushy beard and I get looked at. There were no more than 20 dogs on the path this morning. One of them belonged to a very striking fellow who showed me where below us the 101, the 405 and the 10 (freeways) all connected. Very useful information. You could see the 101 snaking over towards Silverlake.
Yesterday was a horrible day. Horrible. I don’t think that I can even bring myself to tell you what happened yesterday morning but needless to say it was all about relationships, expectations, disappointment. Damn! What can I do about this? By lunchtime I was in no mood for anything else to go wrong but it just so happened that this was another day when calls were not returned as eagerly as I wanted them and e-mails remained unanswered.
Spoke to Gary D, really pleased to hear his voice.
So that I might try to fix my feelings in a positive way I caught a bus to the coffee bean on Sunset and Fairfax and ordered a blended caramel frapaccino. I sat outside on the chilly patio and watched a homeless man trying to get food or money from who ever would listen. The people he begged from were polite but he didn’t manage to get anything from any of them. Finally, he sat down at one of the empty tables opposite me and picked shreds of thick black skin off of the souls of his feet that he then placed carefully on to the table. I will never, ever drink a caramel frapaccino ever again.
I went to two AA meetings yesterday after the homeless foot skin incident; I went to one at 5.15 and another at 7.45. The first made me feel OK the second compounded the feelings of utter misery. In between the two meetings I managed to cram in a screaming conversation with both my realtor and the realtor of the house that I am meant to be buying. Buying houses is a shit experience in LA. Shit.
I was in bed by 11.00.
October 30, 2006 – Monday
The sky is grey but it is not cold. The clocks fell back on Sunday so I can climb the mountain at 6am and it’s not going to be pitch black. Today, there were mostly women on the path. 23 dogs. The craggy dwarves were on the corner of my street, she was wearing lipstick..again. He looked very carefully at me when I greeted his wife. Apparently they wait there to be collected for day care. There goes my maid/butler fantasy.
I came home to the smell of fresh coffee and pineapple. I am really loving where I live, at just the moment I am about to pack up and leave. Isn’t that always the way? I spend hours rearranging the furniture, the rugs, the bits and pieces that I have hauled in my luggage to this town to make myself feel better about being here. A big bowl of green apples and papaya on my mirrored table gives me more pleasure than anything I can describe. On a cloudy day like today in LA when there is a certain chill in the air I relax a little more than I usually do. Like taking a roast leg of lamb out of the oven. The juices seem to settle.
On Saturday morning I called JA who has cancer. I dreaded calling her, as she has been so understandably angry of late. But for the first time since she knew how ill she was she sounded really optimistic, joyful even. She spends two weeks in Germany being treated for cancer then flies back to Mexico to build her houses. She really is an amazing woman. When you have a life or death emergency in your life everything becomes very clear. The decisions that you have to make to survive are non negotiable. I heard it in her voice. She told me that she would be spending Christmas in London with her children and I wondered, of course I did, if it would be her last Christmas and if it was then London is the perfect place to be.
The weekend flew past. I spent almost all of it with Sharon zooming around in her little black sports car. We drove to Malibu on Saturday, walked barefoot in the surf, ate huge prawns in a Greek restaurant then headed home. There were several graceful young dear on the Pepperdine lawn looking over at us in our fast cars. That night we had dinner with Sharon’s friend Jeff. Jeff lives in a house close by to where I live but his Spanish looking home is built on a bluff, high up, overlooking Hollywood. There is no access whatsoever by car to his house or the twenty or so other houses he shares his bluff with so one has to take a rickety old elevator from the street to get to it. What happens if his house catches fire, how would the fire department get to him? Jeff made me carve a face in the side of a pumpkin. Ann L says that Halloween is her least favourite American tradition. I think that you probably need little children to truly enjoy it. Anyway, I carved the face in the pumpkin then we had a very jolly dinner of pork ribs, salad and great conversation. Jeff is a 35-year-old producer. He is writing a book called: How to get out of Hollywood. It sounds very funny indeed.
On Sunday morning after my solitary walk up Runyon Hillary came over and cooked our breakfast. She is so funny, nearly as bad as me at falling out with everyone. I found her honesty about it very endearing. When Sharon arrived to pick me up I smelt of bacon and eggs. We went to an 11am private screening of Venus starring Peter O’Toole. Just us in the cinema as the woman from the studio who was meant to be with us had a rat problem at her house so had to leave and call exterminators.
The opening shot of Venus is the view over the Swale from my house in Whitstable. That was exciting. The film was so very nearly brilliant. So very, very nearly. It was a terrible shame. Leslie Phillips was wonderful. Peter was very good. Vanessa Redgrave was redundant and theatrical. That woman’s acting has suffered from doing too much TV. The editing was ghastly. Hanif Kureishi’s crude excesses should have been cut out. So SAD. So very nearly a masterpiece. I could go on. I won’t.
After the disappointment of Venus we ate lunch at M café sharing a plate of roasted vegetables and iced water. In the afternoon I had a nap then drove to Wholefoods with Aleksa and Devon who bought fish for our dinner with Steven Francisco who is the dear from Effie’s party the other night. In bed by 11.30.
October 28, 2006 – Saturday
Saturday morning. Not going for my hike until later. Not going to my AA meeting.
The day before yesterday, after my walk, I had a busy Dillon St/Dorian Gray day. Mortgages, counter offers, meetings with publicists and finally dinner at Ago with Ruth Vitali.
For whatever reason, known only to my mad self, I am being dragged kicking and screaming into this house purchase. Buying a house should be a delight! Instead it is all so fucking complicated and moves at the wrong pace. I feel bullied into making important decisions quickly without due consideration. So, I started the day in the vilest mood making poor Corey the realtor sweat buckets. By 2pm I still hadn’t had anything to eat. I was insane with hunger. The Mexicans in the deli where Corey works looked terrified when I stormed into their quiet lives demanding a cheese sandwich. When I finally ate something I felt normal again. I signed the offer and Corey sent it over.
At 3pm I met Bettina at Fred Segal where we checked over the evolving Dorian press release. I am getting to really like BK even though she has a laconic countenance and a squeaky voice. She gets to know me slowly, deliberately and is obviously very suspicious but why shouldn’t she be? I think that she has prudently learned to keep her cards close to her chest. LA is a tough city.
After our meeting I followed a gorgeous Cuban around the men’s department of Fred Segal. Picked up a pair of Lanvin pants priced at $1,700, and that’s minus the tax. I was outraged! I threw them back at the assistant. Again. Boycott Lanvin! Saw Holly Elwes buying $5,000 dresses.
After no thought what so ever I bought a Dries van Noten cardigan with a long belt. Looks great with my baggy Comme cords. I felt a bit guilty however, so I walked from Fred Segal to The Log Cabin on Robertson in the hope that there might be an AA meeting I could go to but the door was bolted. Took taxi home. I went via Marc Jacobs where the rudest shop assistant in the world quelled my desire for more treats. Thank you God.
By the time I got home it was time to get a cab back to just where I had come from on Beverly and meet Ruth V for dinner at Ago. I was early so I chatted to the swarve Italian guys who run the place. When Ruthy arrived she looked perfect in Chanel, as always. “Of course I still go to London to get my hair cut”. Ate carpaccio and lamb shank. There were six of us gossiping over dinner about the industry. There seems to be a great deal going on at the moment behind the scenes. There was much discussion and conjecture about agents being laid off at CAA. I sat next to Ruth so we mostly chatted all evening but I particularly liked David S who is a smart, very well liked film journalist. After chocolate tart the assistant of the guy who made Perfume dropped me back home. In bed and asleep by 11.30.
On Friday morning I was up the canyon as soon as the sun broke over the horizon. 23 dogs, very chilly, did not pass anything notable. Went up the mountain fretting, came down the mountain with a more placid disposition.
Did not stay placid for long. My mortgage broker arrived and irritated the pants off of me. He simply does not understand how not to be arrogant. I then had a one-hour conversation with Cingular Wireless about my account and how I might get them to send me a letter confirming that I had paid my bill for a year. They refused. I called the man who refused me all sorts of names but he still refused. Tried to keep calm by eating muesli/granola. Drank coffee. That did the trick.
At 3 I had a conference call with the knob who runs the company who is meant to be selling Dorian. I left my rottweiler of a lawyer to deal with him. Our intentions are clear. We do not want this company to rep us as they have no feeling for the film. They hate me and they seem to hate the film. Took A and D to the house-they loved it. We then went food shopping in Koreatown. I invited 8 people for dinner so there was a great deal to prepare. My new dining room table fits eight to ten people perfectly, David F and his wife Aimee, Effie B, Sharon, Ann L, Peter L and Aleksa and Devon. The table looked great, the food was excellent and they all seemed really happy.
We all agreed that even though most of us were in the ‘business’ we were all definitely off duty. David F and his rather condescending wife left early to go to another party.
Sharon stayed over so we could get up early to go hiking. As I write there is no movement from Sharon who is sound asleep.
October 26, 2006 – Thursday
6 Hour Relationship
The Canyon. It was pitch black until 7am this morning. Pitch black. The air was cold and damp. As usual the small Armenian couple were out there on the corner. As usual they were not speaking, as usual he was smoking, as usual it was she who said “good morning”. I could smell the aromatic tobacco from the gate. Everything about these two was as I had left them two weeks ago except she was wearing lipstick on her thick, old lips. I suddenly wondered why she had made that decision, this morning, looking in the mirror and I wondered if she had put lipstick on for him, the silent dwarf.
On the mountain I tore up the dusty path. There were fewer people, fewer dogs. I only counted 17. One black man in a bright yellow track suit running backwards past little birds taking dust baths at the edge of the path. A pink sunrise over the city. I wore a woollen hat pulled down over my eyebrows. Angry start to the day. I worked off my fury on the incline, one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. My legs turning to jelly at the summit. Why weren’t people more sensitive to me? What about me? By the time I had worked over the summit I was amused by my self-obsession rather than a slave to it. Yet, if I had been sitting at my desk with those feelings I may very well have picked up the phone and alienated myself from who ever was currently not doing things my way.
On Tuesday morning, after we dropped the Hudson News heirs off at their private High School, Tim drove me back to Manhattan. I realised that his job was best described as ‘life coach’ to those rich, teenage boys. Back at Soho House I lay on the huge white bed thinking about everything I needed to do. That afternoon I sat on the 6th floor in the Club Room and met Laura Day who is a famous (apparently) writer of inspirational thoughts. I rather liked her. She asked me to look after her bags when she used the rest room. I thought about Gary Davy my friend in London who is constantly worried that the thieves will come to steal his bags/watch/camera/anything he owns. When she returned she told me her life story.
That afternoon Michael Goduti came to see the film and we watched it in my room. He was thrilled. We ate a late lunch in the new Diner on the corner of 14th and 9th Avenue. My fried chicken was greasy and uncooked. Met very cute actor called Johnny (22) and his shady, older gay friend. I just didn’t trust the gay one and as it turned out I was right not to trust him. He works as a male escort. The escort had too many teeth, too many stories and not enough of the truth. When the gay boy left us Johnny and his mid-west girl friend told me that the he was trying to persuade them to take up escort work too. I baulked. I’ve got nothing against male prostitutes. I used to know Aiden Shaw. In fact, he was in my musical Copper’s Bottom which played for six weeks at Sadler’s Wells. Aiden would get his huge penis out at rehearsals and show the delighted, screaming queens we had dancing in the chorus. I think I had sex with him once. I did have sex with him once. He was lithe and young-as was I. I saw him on the King’s Road recently. We have changed. We are all now so thickly built. Aidan is a great big bull of a man. Many of my friends have been hookers they all had great big smiling faces and dead eyes like fish on a marble slab. I’m glad that I never sold my ass. God knows that I could have.
I left New York at dawn and resigned myself to the humiliation of the security search. Shoes off, belt off, lap top out, keys and phone in the tray, throw away expensive scent, throw away toothpaste. The guys on the x-ray machine are rude and unhelpful. The floor is cold. I don’t like getting dressed at the end of the conveyor belt with strangers watching me. I don’t like any of it. After I put myself back together I went to my gate and saw one of the most beautiful men I have ever seen feeding his baby apple sauce. I introduced myself to Adam (29) and Jayda his beautiful 23-month-old daughter on their way home to Hawaii. So, at Gate 23C began a wonderful 6 hour relationship with a man and his baby in a jet plane over the USA. Before long I was holding the baby, the three of us getting along just fine in row 25. All the hostesses on the plane thought that we were a gay couple traveling home with our baby. I wondered for the first time what it might be like to have a baby with another man. Adam is married but seemed really gay, effeminate almost. It worked, the effeminacy, with the baby in his arms. I saw how things might have turned out if I had been more interested in effeminate men. By the time we landed at Salt Lake City I was smitten. I may never see him again but he taught me something profound about what I might have had, what I could still have.
By the time I got to LA I was so tired but had to summon up all my energy to meet DF and a gallery owner about Dorian and what I intend to do with it. I thought that it was going to be a very hard sell but it was astoundingly easy. After a few minutes I got exactly what I wanted. So, perhaps we should aim higher if that is going to be the level of interest. I was irritated by how many jokes DF cracked all the time and it was this that I thought about up the mountain. I find it difficult to concentrate when there are that many jokes flying around. It did not make me feel very safe.
DF drove me home and I checked to see if any of the silver teaspoons had reappeared. None had. I knew then that it was the end for the lodger. The apartment looked and felt great but I knew that my time there too was limited. I know that I have to move to my own domain, my own home. North Dillon is certain. Whitstable is coming to an end.
Why would I want to move to a city that I patently hate? Why would I move here? I can’t tell you. I just know that I have to be here and that being here means that I have to find a place to live and commit to. I think that I am that sort of artist who needs to be in LA. So, I will learn to love it and make it my home.
John and Susan invited me to John’s birthday dinner. He made the most delicious curry served with that flat Indian bread. I left at 10.30 and went to bed. Slept well.
This morning, after my walk, as I was making coffee Daniel told me that he would be leaving on the first of November. I had sort of made it impossible for him to stay. After hearing his drunken boy friend vomiting in the bathroom the other night. It was over. It was all over.
October 25, 2006 – Wednesday
I am finally, after nearly two weeks of miserable sickness, my normal fit self. The flu’ has gone. No more shivering discomfort. No more sore throat. No more morbid thoughts. I will resume my walks on Runyon Canyon immediately upon my return to LA.
Waiting at Soho House in New York for Maria to turn up and discuss the secret project.
An Orlando Bloom look-a-like is sitting opposite me drinking a cappuccino. I am eating the éclairs they set out for tea. New York!! It is exhilarating to be back east. It was exciting to see the enigmatic city from the train at Newark. It is deliciously chilly yet the sky is huge and brightly blue.
Yesterday, on the plane from LA, we stopped off in Cincinnati because a woman collapsed in a dead faint along the aisle. At Cincinnati airport I have never, ever in my entire life seen so many people with such huge asses. On the plane I sat next to a massively gelatinous woman, her fat arms spilling over onto my side of the armrest.
I arrived at 9.30am in Newark, took the air train to the LIRR then the A train to 14th St and walked two blocks to Soho House. Took me about 30 mins from the Delta terminal to the great big brown velvet sofa I am sitting on right now. Nobody looks ashamed using public transport in NYC. This is where we gather, flirt, deal, and hustle on the subway and the street. On the streets of New York are strangers from every social class making all kinds of connections for the benefit of all. I much prefer this to my sterile street life in LA.
Had Dorian screening yesterday for more buyers. Dunno how well that went. I did not stay for the screening. Brian Jackson the DP saw it too. He loved it. We agreed that we would work together again in the future.
Before the screening I had time to kill so I had a long massage and a hot, hot steam in the Cowshed.
Stayed in Alpine New Jersey last night with Tim N from Whitstable who is working as a live in family counselor for the man who owns Hudson News. It is a made-of-chip-board mansion just like all of the homes here. I don’t know as if you can even raise a mortgage on a wooden house in England. The house has a cinema, basketball court and an Olympic sized swimming pool in the basement. He has a bunch of mates over from Whitstable to help celebrate his birthday. Burt (builder) and Josh (stone mason). They have this really funny game where they congratulate one another for using long, complicated words. We ate dinner at Florant in the meatpacking district. Great food. I had chicken but I should have ordered the skirt steak.
Now, irritatingly, I have to play catch up. So many days have passed since I last wrote anything for my blog. I get overwhelmed just remembering everything that happens. I much prefer to see where the memory of the previous day takes me.
Saturday. 8am Westside AA meeting. Afterwards I sat on my own in the bakery opposite eating a fruit salad. I sat there wondering why such a huge building was being so badly underused. The space effectively benefiting from only 25% of the available sales floor. Ended up meeting the guy who owned the joint who also owns The City Bakery in New York. I told him all about The Good Shed in Canterbury. He was inspired by the notion of a daily farmers market. We exchanged numbers. He already checked out the Goods Shed and wanted to know how it was set up.
Later that same morning I ate another breakfast with Dom at the 101. Hillary popped by. Went up to North Dillon St. The door to the house was open. For some peculiar reason best known only to himself Dom pressed a panic button that, once upon a time, would have been in the master bedroom, the bells were insanely loud. We scarpered.
saturday afternoon Romaine came to visit. We drove back to Dillon and met the builder who told me how much it would cost to make the essential renovations. $300k.
After a long nap I headed over to a party at Effie Brown’s house, yet again I found myself in Silverlake. I met a young boy over there who was very funny, not very attractive, good (social) crime partner.
Young boy and I drove to The Chateau for a late bowl of hot chocolate. We said hello to Heath L who looks great. Better than great. He was drinking tea and his eyes were bright and hopeful. A different man from the crazed haunted man I met last year at the Oscars.
Young boy and I then drove home but he is straight so he slept on the sofa.
Sunday. The following morning we (young boy and I) went to 8am AA meeting in West Hollywood. Breakfast at La Pain Quotidian. We waited so long (45mins) for our food that when the bill came I refused to pay. The manager agreed and comped our food. Comped is a good word. In America we are as precise about our description of the use of money as Eskimos are about snow.
Sunday afternoon the young boy and I drove around the Hollywood Hills visiting random people before going over to Silverlake to see the North Dillon House once again and calming the nerves of the realtors who are waiting for me to get my act together. Ate more food in Silverlake. Pancakes and a side of bacon. Young boy drove me to the airport.
I have really missed collecting my thoughts on Runyon Canyon.
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October 20, 2006 – Friday
Back in LA. I still have had the flu’. Sitting in germ soup on the plane sandwiched between two of the most miserable women alive did not help. What, you may ask, was I doing in the back of the plane? Can’t be bothered to explain that drama.
I am spluttering phlegm all over my laptop as I write. Consequently, due to illness, I have not been up to much. Invitations to LA fashion week went unanswered. Meant to be going to New York today but can scarcely move from my bed. I hate being ill. Ill means weak, ill means powerless, ill means unable to climb the mountain. Stalling at the base.
Thankfully I am sleeping well. In bed by 9.30 last night. It is cold in the apartment at night though. I am sitting here wrapped in a pale blue shawl like a little old lady. I could just turn on the heat. Won’t do it, too British, old-fashioned, put on another jersey or climb into bed.
The day I returned there was an urgent message to call Corey my realtor. He told me the startling news that the house on North Dillon had fallen out of escrow again. Again! That poor house has been sitting there for seven months without anyone to love it. Three times in and out of escrow. Three times. One of those times was me of course. We agreed to meet the following morning to write another offer.
So, on Wednesday Corey collected me from my flu’ pit and we drove in his black Hummer to the Social Security office to get an SS number. The office on Vine was very clean and the staff very helpful. I now have so much to do. For a start I need to get a Californian driving licence.
After the social security office we had lunch at American Rag on LaBrea. Sat next to Ashton Kutcha who has that same creamy complexion David Gallagher has. It is a bit of a lunchtime scene in there. Jennifer Jason Leigh sat sulking with a very loud friend two tables away.
Spent Wednesday evening at home instead of going to parties. Sweating hot and cold.
On Thursday morning, after 18 months of messing around, I walked two blocks from my house and I hired a car. I was so weak and had so much to do I could not stomach buses, taxis or walking. Who writes my freaking rules? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
The moment I pulled away from the strip mall in my rented car I became a Californian.
Before I drove to an appointment with my lawyers in Beverly Hills my friend Hillary popped by for a cup of tea. It was great to see her and for the next hour and a half we luxuriated in a trough of delicious gossip. By the time she left I felt bloated on our feast of The Misfortune of Others. It was very, very naughty.
Met with Erik the lawyer. Discussed various up coming projects and what we were going to do with them all.
I forgot to eat.
Drove home to see Scott at my house where we hung out there for a couple of hours. Drove back to Beverly Hills, stopping on the way at Capellini sale and met with Bettina at Le Pain Quotidian on Little Santa Monica. Strategised and ate huge chopped salad.
As I was close by I stopped in at the Spectre’s house on Whittier but only little Isaac and their mad Mexican cleaner was there. He is such an entertaining little boy, so intelligent. I sat with him for an hour until Lisa came home then I set off for Silverlake but got stuck in horrible traffic listening to some mad man (Tom Likas) on the radio advising young men not to have relationships until they turn 30. He was fascinating. He believes that men can treat women as badly as they want, have all the sex they want and that marriage is for losers. He recently said on air that he would sleep with a fourteen year old girl if it was legal. When challenged he simply stood by the statement.
Even though I was stuck in traffic listening to a mad misogynist I was pleased not to be on the hot streets negotiating the cracked pavements and the cracked out pedestrians.
Dinner with Ann L and her very intense artist husband. Really had a lovely time. They live in a spectacular Schindler house with many, if not all, of the original details. It is one of those houses one instantly loves, it is packed with interesting things. Every piece of furniture they owned was worth looking at carefully. Ann dosed me up with vitamin C and then we had dinner at a Brazilian restaurant nearby but I could not really taste anything.
Dom insisted that we meet on Santa Monica for a frozen yogurt. I sat there on the street sweating, desperate for my bed.
October 18, 2006 – Wednesday
Feel sick, felt sick on the plane. Back in LA, resident alien. Sick as a dog. I spent all day chasing North Dillon St once again. Fuck. That house has fallen out of escrow three times. I really love it. What is God doing to me?
Too sick to climb the mountain this morning, I stayed in my bed until Angela the cleaner turned up with her huge smile. I asked her to iron the pillowcases and wash the windows.
When I got home last night I rearranged the house. I was meant to be eating with Devon and Aleksa but ended up frantically rearranging books and the mantle piece. I was naked. The curtains were not drawn. I did not care.
The day before I left for LA I had to haul my sorry ass down to Whitstable. I had a goodbye breakfast with Phil and Paul at the Mona Lisa. We had had a wonderful time during my stay at her house. Phil was affectionate, undemanding and generous. A good friend. Phil and Moffy left for Portugal and I caught the bus to Victoria Station and then the hour-long trip to Whitstable. I walked from the station directly to Wheelers where I had a coffee with Anita and the gang. The gang being Mark, the genius chef, Adam (Smalls) the teenage recently ex virgin looking all languid and manly and Angela who I affectionately call Sheppey’s Elizabeth Taylor because she has been married more than once. Oh, and Sid was lurking in the back preparing puddings but he had split up from his girl friend and was all quiet and odd.
Whitstable gossip included: the Barratt girl (toughest family in Whitstable) had smashed Shivonne Hewlett in the face at the pub because Shivonne had stolen the Barrett’s boy friend who is down to the final eight on X Factor. The Barrett girl had then sold her story to the Sun and filled the ex boy friend’s piano with tuna.
Bumped into the Barrett girl outside Dave’s deli sitting with two girl friends, suddenly she looked very glamorous as if a dose of minor celebrity really suited her. Oblivious to her recent brush with notoriety I told her how wonderful she was looking. Apparently, according to them, X factor is all a fix because Shivonne’s mother Therese is a friend of Sharon Osborne’s.
What a load of bollocks.
As fate would have it Monday was Danny Gallagher’s funeral so I took my life in my hands and decided to go to the wake, which was happening up at the Marine Hotel in Tankerton. When I got there I realised that there was not much building, plastering or plumbing going on in North East Kent that day as every builder, plasterer and plumber for miles around had found themselves a black suit and was now eating pork pies in the paved area at the back of the Marine. Saw Ronnie R (antiques dealer) who owes me £100. Poor Stuart A (plasterer) was given a very hard time when I arrived his friends raised a huge chorus of light-hearted jeers as I had once very loudly told all of his mates that I thought he was one of the best looking men in Whitstable. I think that crown now belongs to Andy R (electrician) who although a bit dull is very cute.
Saw the very personable Sibley’s (chef and builder), as I sat with them one of my Whitstable brother’s friends said, “There’s Martin Roy’s brother”. I think that it was meant to be a rather convoluted put down. The Sibley’s and I just looked at him askance and continued our conversation.
I stayed all of twenty minutes.
I went back to Wheelers to report on the wake then walked home along the beach with Delia who showed me her plot behind the sea wall where she is building a very grand beach-hut sandwiched between Georgina and Barbara equally manicured plots. When we arrived Michael Fitt, Anita’s man was doing something with his shirt off with string and fence posts.
Finally I made my way home but not before three other people had told me the Barrett/Hewlett story and how Sharon Osborne was fixing it at X Factor..
When I got home Babs took me to my house and good God I have never seen that place look better, cleaner or more organised. Babs had ironed every sheet, weeded the garden, dusted every shelf and vacuumed every carpet and scrubbed every floor. It was immaculate. I felt really odd raiding the bookcase, taking shoes and filling a great big bag with stuff for my new resident alien status in LA.
They made me a delicious pot of tea and biscuits and gave me a lift to the station. They are such good people.
On the train back to London I met Ben the mechanic. HE was delicious. I am always meeting cute boys on the train to and from London.
Dinner at La Famiglia on Langton St with Louise and Toby Mott. Louise is now heavily pregnant and looks a bit tired. Toby seems quite Zen. Their builders have ripped them off. Rabbit and carpaccio. Delicious.
Bed by 10.30, woken at 11.30 by Piers making midnight supper in the kitchen. Crashing around with pots and pans.
October 17, 2006 – Tuesday
Frieze Art Fair Day 2
Listening to Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix.
Spent all day in bed with a horrid cold. Both Phil and I blighted with aching limbs and throbbing heads late last night. Isn’t that odd to get simultaneous colds? I am never, ever ill with this sort of thing. However, I couldn’t think of a better place to be ill than here with Phil. We are in beds at opposite ends of the house. I can hear people arriving upstairs, I can hear Moffy leaving the house with her chums then hours later her footsteps in the hall, chattering about her adventures, “We took the wrong bus, we ended up in Shepherds Bush-there were chavs EVERYWHERE..”
When I was in prison I began writing a novel. It was as if today had been a perfect slice of that novel only on that fictional afternoon there was snow on the ground. Snow on our boots. Fresh snow. I just lay here all day and felt incredibly safe. Nothing could hurt me here in this room. Here in this huge house, sleeping where the cook probably slept once upon a time. Here in this room I do not have to deal with liars or the disingenuous or the black dust that settles on everything in LA. I do not have to climb a mountain to find my serenity.
Melanie De B arrived with medicines and vitamin C and the Sunday newspapers. Her husband had a stroke last night yet she still made her way over. I don’t really have any friends like that in LA. Then Kat G came in the afternoon with chocolate biscuits and we drank hot tea with Phil and Paul. After the second visit I fell into a dreadfully sweaty half sleep. It is now 9pm.
I have not written this diary since Friday and there is now so much to report.
On Friday morning I was meant to be meeting Bella F but we were both late getting up and ended up not meeting. We had a long chat on the phone. She is designing for Biba, which sounds perfect for Bella. Kate B, my glossy mag friend, said that the Biba collection was very good. Kate mentioned that Maia Norman’s collection was excellent, better than anything else that she had seen at London Fashion Week. Maia is Damian Hirst’s rather wonderful wife. Phil and I drove over to the Electric on the Portobello Road and ate eggs with Tiffany Whittome who has recently gotten herself engaged. I saw George, my assistant from The Method; his head seems to have doubled in size. I was very polite to him.
Received very odd e-mail from my Berlin friend insinuating that Phil had left the art fair the previous day looking distressed and then tried to blame me. She warned me to ‘be nice to her’ this advice coming from a woman who, estranged from her husband, sleeps with her 12-year-old son. Both Phil and I found this very amusing.
After our rather late breakfast I made my way over to Maria A’s in Kennington. It was so easy to find her house on the bus. We ate pasta and talked about the secret project and her imminent visit to NYC that corresponds with mine at the end of the month. Maria has the most beautiful garden and the house has been very sensitively renovated. It is one of those huge houses at the east end of Kennington Road. Huge.
At 3pm made my way to Georgia Byng’s in Primrose Hill-another huge house stuffed with beautiful art mostly made by her husband Marc Quinn. I met her new little baby who is a dear and discussed teen violence on Primrose Hill with Georgia’s daughter from her marriage to Danny Chadwick. She is a very pretty, intelligent, 16-year-old. Drank delicious hot tea and ate chocolate. Georgie has had huge success with her Molly Moon books. Sold in 37 territories. It is wonderful to see her doing so well.
As I was leaving she mentioned a conversation she had with Will Self about my film, which intrigued me. I will write more about this at a later date. Will, as you may know, was once a very good friend of mine. We had, at one time, discussed the possibility of adapting his novel Dorian into a film as I had contributed to the research by way of contemporary descriptions of New York etc., which he used verbatim in his novel. Will loved AKA. However, when I realised that he had no idea how a film was made and delivered a 300-page script that he insisted was a ‘shooting script’, which I never even bothered to read, we went our separate ways. I ended up adapting my version of the film from the Oscar Wilde Lippincott original. I sat pouring over Oscar Wilde’s only novel every morning for two months at Sullivan’s hotel in Sydney until the script was finished.
G. Byng was on such good form. I loved seeing her. Have really made the effort, this trip, to reach out to all of my old friends.
From Primrose Hill I took a cab to The Whitehall Theatre off of Trafalgar Square where I met Phil in the foyer and we saw a rather dull production of Bent. Moving but dull. One can’t help but be moved but I am afraid that the lovely in-real-life Alan Cummings ruined the production. He was all over the place. This was particularly sad because Horst played by Chris New, who I met with Christian C the other night, was amazing! I wish that Alan had been a little more focused and less..well..Alan. Perhaps he was jealous that Chris’s performance was so good.
Generally the production was annoyingly over directed, the German soldiers skipping around like scene queens.
Phil and I took another cab to Soho House where we met Clare. She was sitting with some very pretty friends who we persuaded to move to a bigger table. Phil was on the phone to I don’t know who but when she came back she looked perplexed and left quite soon after. After some fun with Clare’s friends we left Soho House for Max Wigram’s party for Ryan McGinley at Laundromat but it was DREARY and terribly ‘arty’.
At Laundromat I saw a boy, who I met at the Miami/Basle art fair, who describes himself as a ‘curator’. He was dancing. I had met the same boy in NYC dancing at an artist’s studio. Now, here he is in London..dancing. Clare and I decided to make a 3 minute art film called ‘The Curator’ some random boy dancing at art fairs all over the world. He said, “Look, art! It’s the new Hollywood”. If only it were my friends, if only it were. A bunch of crazed shopkeepers describing their 15mins in the sun as the ‘New Hollywood’?
We were desperate for an antidote to the pretentious art/new Hollywood party so we decided to go to The Shadow Lounge where we had a blast dancing and flirting until 3am. I met a man who tried to persuade me that we had ‘great sex’ in a bath ten years ago in my flat off of Brick Lane. Even though I knew he was wrong (I never had a flat off of Brick Lane) he was so persuasive that it felt rude not to agree to the memory. I wanted to kiss him and then I wanted to kiss some other good-looking boy for a moment before I realised that I did not have to. The only lips I wanted were elsewhere.
We fought our way through the 3am Soho crowd, the aggressive mini cab men and the drug dealers then Clare drove me home. Slept intermittently. Red bull is a bad idea at 2am.
All day yesterday and the day before all I could really think about was my dinner with Harry on Saturday night. I thought about him as I was thinking about kissing those men in The Shadow Lounge and then I thought about him all through brunch at David Gill’s spectacular gallery in Kennington on Saturday morning. I thought about Harry as I wondered who would buy an 8′ pink Perspex flamingo from David Gill for $60k. I thought about him as I ate delicious food and drank apple juice and played with Melanie De B, Michael Wolfson and Dan Macmillan. I thought about beautiful Harry as I flirted with Desiree and ignored Jane Barclay.
I thought about him as I waited outside the Royal Academy for André for 40 minutes attracting attention in my pink stockings and red shoes and pantaloons. I thought about Harry as we nipped into Bryan Ferry’s house to collect something Melanie needed for dinner. I thought about him all afternoon as I tried to fight off the beginning of the cold I have now.
All I could think about was the tall, fine-faced Harry. All I could think about was looking into his blue eyes and listening to his beautiful voice.
Bye bye squirrel. I love Harry now.
But, when Harry arrived at Langton St at 8.30 I was half the man I needed to be-my cold was now in full swing. Phil thought he was beautiful, Moffy thought he was beautiful, Paul thought he was beautiful. I think that Harry is the most beautiful creature who ever walked the earth.
Dinner with Harry.
All I could think about was mucus in my eyes, nose and throat.
October 13, 2006 – Friday
Moffy stayed in bed yesterday ill with the ‘flu. Poor darling, all limp and pale like a rag doll. I sat on the lilac sofa and wrote my article for Blackbook and filed it by 12 o’clock.
I then headed into Soho on the bus through torrential, almost tropical, rain and ended up in Soho House sitting with Nick Love who I have not seen for a couple of years. He was sitting quietly reading the Sun and drinking a cup of tea. I sat down and it was as if the last two years had simply not happened. After the tiniest amount of hesitation the damnedest thing happened, I realised that we were both suddenly relieved of the burden of fatal competition. Neither of us had anything, any longer, to prove. We looked each other in the eye and it was all OK. What ever it was that had bugged both of us when we stopped talking all that time ago-had gone. Instead of strange looks and odd recriminations we laughed about Tuesday’s Sun newspaper witty headline after Kim il Sung exploded the nuclear device: How Do You Solve a Problem like Korea? Genius. It was delightful to see him.
Nick and I were at film school in Dorset ten years ago and at that time and for a few years after we had a pretty intense, inseparable friendship. The same sort of co-dependant friendship that I had with Richard Green during most of my twenties. These homoerotic, non-sexual, highly charged friendships I associate most with my alcoholism. I have had them with both women and men and they usually end very badly. They are creatively and emotionally explosive but regardless of the outcome, for me, have been the greatest relationships of my life.
When Nick left we gave each other the hugest hug. I kissed him on the neck.
I took the tube to the Frieze art fair where I met Bettina who is organising the press for Dorian. Bumped into and chatted warmly with Tracy Emin, Benedict Taschen, Max Wigram, Simon English, Sam Hodgkin, Paul Kasmin and many, many others. Apart from Benedict, I have known most of these people for most of my adult life. It felt very good to embrace all of them. We are getting older and less ambitious. That is a very good thing. Saw Jay from afar but can still not bring myself to say hello. His rottweiler hench men prowling the stand.
What did I see that I liked? The only ‘art’ I liked was ironically on Jay’s stand. Jake and Dinos Chapman were sitting in a wall papered booth painting people’s portraits, Leicester Square style, for £4.5k. Very witty. Right on the money. Genius.
Missed buying Ryan McGinley’s pissing boy by ten minutes.
I did not see Samia, which was very odd. She was there but we curiously missed one another.
After the show I hooked up with Robert Yates from the Observer and his fiancé. We went to a ghastly Deutche Bank party at 5 Cavendish Square-I stayed ten minutes then walked to Soho House (the epicentre of my London social life) where I met Christian C and his blonde friend from university. The friend wanted, very amusingly to get ‘fucked in the arse’. He was adamant but we remained at the bar and Christian and I just jawed for hours about LA and London and the relative values of each city. The friend, eager for a stuffing persuaded us to go to a tacky gay bar a few streets away where a toothless drug dealer tried to sell us cocaine and pills. I was wearing Dior so had no intention of staying in that ghastly place for long.
Christian, realising that I was in no mood for gams and the young took me to Trisha’s on Dean St, which is a basement room with pictures of the Pope on the wall. An old-fashioned speak easy. It was rather wonderful. Chatted about ‘The Queen’ and Diana of Wales and soap operas. When we ran out of cash we headed over to Soho House where we met Alan Cummings and the cast of Bent. We hung out with them until 3 in the morning and then I took the night bus home. Briefly thought about taking a cab as a bunch of Asian youths were brawling on the street and I was wearing red shoes but thought better of it and caught a number 38 which took me directly to Phil’s. Crept into bed. Slept like a log.
The following day I really did more of the same. Phil and I drove back to Frieze Art Fair where I bought a Ryan McGinley. We had a slight consternation about Moffy and mobile phones, which meant that Phil had to dash off almost as soon as we arrived but before she left we bumped into Samia and her friend Isabella. Samia truly is the chicest woman alive. Mauve chiffon blouse, patent pumps and raven black hair.
I had tea with my brand new obsession de jour-Harry C. We walked from Regent’s Park to the Dover Street Hotel and sat in the lobby, now remodelled, where Scott Crolla and I used to go when Crolla still existed. The high tea with scones etc. cost $150. Absurd. Harry is a blonde, willowy, 25-year-old Etonian with the sweetest disposition. Married. Lives in Paris. Beautiful.
After tea I headed over to Sotheby’s for the Whitechapel benefit auction preview. Beautiful Peter Doig painting on the cover of the catalogue. Saw Danny Moynihan and his very funny cousin who has a company called Joe Boxer and lives in San Francisco. Danny begins shooting his new film in seven weeks, Duncan Ward directing. Apparently everyone thinks that it is MY film. That can’t be good for either Danny or Duncan! Saw Max Wigram, also ex-Etonian ex-willowy, ex-sweet disposition. He called me a weirdo-which I suppose I must be. Danny and his cousin left Sotheby’s to find Maia Norman at the Armani party in Knightsbridge so I hung out with Dominic Burning for a good while. Very funny. Raving about Margate and art and how ART can save the day.
From Sotheby’s to the ICA on the Mall for the Cerith Wynn Evans show, it was very dreary. Max Wigram called me a weirdo there too. The best thing about the ICA was that it reminded me of performing there in our performance art piece PORNOGRAPHY: A SPECTACLE. I could smell it. The memory of being there. 3 weeks of performing in that space. I think we performed The Host there too. Georgia Byng, Marc Quinn’s wife, performed in that.
Ended up, of course, at Soho House with Nick Moran for late egg and chips. Night bus home.
October 11, 2006 – Wednesday
Pouring rain. Soho House.
I left LA on Sunday after the Bonham’s Sunset sale. I bought an African head-dress. I don’t know why. I love auction rooms; they have a very calming effect on me.
Dom came over for coffee. We discussed my roommate whose b/f is becoming rather annoying. He woke me and the neighbors the other night loudly vomiting in the bathroom. When I confronted my room-mate about it he told me that poor J was drinking the night before-bad excuse. Very bad excuse.
Andreas collected me from my house in his white Porsche and we drove to LAX in light Sunday traffic in took merely twenty minutes to get there. I had almost no luggage so everything was very light and easy.
I met a very sweet boy in the departure lounge who sat next to me on the plane and told he his life story-took about ten minutes. I fell asleep.
We flew into London over Kew, the pagoda there is so pretty and I realised that what I missed most about home when I am in the US are these great acts of public generosity made for the greater good of the people. We have so much to love about our towns and cities, so much that distinguishes them from each other. In LA we have the HOLLYWOOD sign. LA is a one-postcard town.
Arrived in Chelsea and met Phil at the Mona Lisa on the Kings Road where I ate a huge plate of greasy fried eggs and chips. It was wonderful to be back. Phil looked great-really happy. We jawed for hours. Told her about Peter D accusing me of showing off and she said that some people would always, deliberately misunderstand my enthusiasm.
Phil and I went to evensong at St Martins in the Fields then dinner in Soho. After dinner on the way home had to get passport pictures-had them made in Sloane Square photo booth. It took all of 3 minutes.
By the end of Monday I was exhausted. Desperate to go to bed. Slept very badly. Up at 4. Answered e-mails. Could not sleep. No mountain to climb.
Yesterday morning I headed over to Mayfair on the bus where I had business to attend to. Lunch with Bettina at Soho House to discuss film then hung out with Luca M all afternoon at his house until Phil arrived and ate deep-fried spring rolls. There is a new Carluccio on the Fulham Road where Luca and I bought espresso.
Tuesday night NA meeting. Really good.
Dinner at the Chelsea Arts Club with Phil, Piers de Lazlo and his mad, drunk ex-girlfriend. I know that this may cause some controversy but in my opinion drunken women make appalling company-much worse than men. They are so undignified. Bumped into Laura and Peter Carew who were looking very elegant. Peter asked for Xan’s number as they were in the Dangerous Sports Club together and Laura was moved to tears when I told her that I had met Patrick Kinmonth in LA after 10 years of not seeing him. She misses him terribly. Sardines and stuffed pork belly for dinner.
This morning wrote article for Steve G then took bus in pouring rain to Soho. Bumped into and was delighted to see Nick Love who I had not seen for ages. He looked like a man-which he is nowadays. We were at film school together and have been on off friends for 15 years. As he left he gave me a huge smile and a cheeky wink.
October 8, 2006 – Sunday
Friday was another day of boring lawyers and stuff that I simply had to get on and deal with. Signing with new agency, management, publicist and lawyers in one foul swoop. Exciting and EXHAUSTING. All of that palaver had to be handled by the time I leave for London tomorrow. It had to be done. A new broom.
Lunch at Barney’s with Bram.
Had dinner on Friday night with Michael C and two other producers in Beverly Hills. It might have been a jollier evening but I was tired.
I am in London for ten days then I go immediately to New York for Tim’s birthday party and meetings with buyers. Then it’s Sydney for all of November.
Today went to 8am AA meeting. No walk. Coffee in Urth café with Will.
Alexa came with me to Bonham’s to view the Sunset Estate Sale and guess who I bumped into! Peter D. He was Outraged!! He said, “I don’t appreciate that you wrote about me in your BLOG (see yesterday’s blog). I’ve never trusted you. I said to (?) ten years ago ‘I like him but I don’t trust him’. I didn’t have to be pleasant to you first thing in the morning. Showing off about your party.”
This indignant tirade about my blog, which one of my helpful readers had passed onto Peter D by e-mail. How speedily news travels! Then he changed tack and huffed and puffed about how ‘grateful’ he was to me for alerting him to the dangers of gossip. Alexsa, listening in, just laughed as discreetly as she could out of Peter’s view. It took will power not to laugh at his pathetic tantrum there in the middle of Bonham’s. Paulo, sitting behind the desk, asked us three times to leave the foyer.
“Was anything I said made up?” I asked. “No”. he flamed. “Then how have I been untrustworthy?” “You’re right, I shouldn’t gossip”. He said. “So it was you that was untrustworthy?” I asked calmly.
Peter had waited ten years for evidence of untrustworthiness and finally he had PROOF that I was indeed the person he always thought I was, or heard I was, because I simply and honestly reported what he had told me yesterday. As he blustered I just kept thinking, this is nothing to do with me, this man has been waiting ten years for me to let him down. A long-term self-fulfilling prophecy. As I tuned back into his diatribe he said, “How many people did she kill on Everest? Was it two or three?” As he was unable to let the story go I thought that I should, at least, defend my hostess as she had been so generous to me. Armed with a little information from the Internet I said, “What proof do you have that she killed any people on Everest? From what I can gather the worst thing she did was have a copy of Vogue sent up the mountain. If any one of your society friends whom you DO approve of had done that you might very well of thought it humorous. The worst thing Sandy did, as far as you and the bunch of piranhas you hang out with are concerned-is survive”. At that point he totally capitulated and resorted to petty insults.
The great thing about this blog is that I find out very quickly whom I can depend on. Those who loathe being mentioned are usually snotty ex pat Brits who are embarrassed to know me. People who dip into my life to see what is going on but too embarrassed to say that they have been there. Like visiting mad people at Bedlam.
The fact is, I have never felt very comfortable around Peter. He insists on making totally unprovoked bitchy jibes. “Darling, you need to get my boyfriend to give you botox.” I have tried very hard to be as friendly as I can but ultimately this argument has revealed him to be an old-fashioned, self-serving, godless snob. His best friend is a camp, Greek illustrator with an active drink problem who battles Peter in some vile post-modern contest to see who can be more offensive. Peter lives a metaphysical farce.
He is consequently a very angry and resentful man. Of course I know exactly why, but THAT is something I would never, ever write here.
To his credit he did say that the only blog worth reading was Arriana Huffington’s. I agree. It’s very funny and informative and deliciously personal. But, one thing is sure, if Arriana Huffington had had to fight for survival on the side of a mountain like Sandy H did that fateful day in 1998 Peter might have given some thought to what it must have felt like to make life or death decisions. Decisions that in the decorated drawing rooms of West Hollywood would not have seemed terribly chic at all-darling.
Had lunch with Alexa and Sharon at Cheebo.
Dom for malted milk shakes this afternoon.
Michael C picked me up at 9.30 and we drove to the Hollywood sign where a rather odd 40th birthday party was taking place. A drum circle, fire pit, belly dancers and women on stilts. Met a couple of actors, a rocket scientist and a comedienne. After a couple of hours of not really engaging and some spicy chicken wings I walked home.
October 6, 2006 – Friday
I have just returned from my later than usual walk. Finding it hard to focus this morning. Do I need to get my eyes tested?
Yesterday Romaine, my friend from Nice, came to the house whilst I did the laundry and we drank coffee and killed time before I prepared to meet Amanda R in Bel Air.
I had been invited via Amanda R by Sandy H to: A pre-Halloween celebration: “Dinner of the Dead Poets”.
‘It will be held at my ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley on the night of the full moon.
This will be a formal, black tie and ball gown, dinner for just 12 people. I know that you possess both the imagination and the wardrobe to be an important guest at this artistic evening. Please come dressed as a dead poet and bring a poem to recite which was written by the character you have chosen.
In order to facilitate your transportation needs, I would like to send my plane to bring you to Santa Ynez (a 30 minute flight from Santa Monica airport, leaving at about 4:30 PM) and to return you back to Los Angeles before midnight on the 5th’.
So, that is what we did. I decided to dress as and read from Oscar Wilde. As a dead Oscar I interpreted the event accordingly. I wore Miu Miu knickerbockers; my new Dior jacket and long pink stockings with red shoes. Thank God I took my huge aubergine silk velvet scarf that Tania Sarn gave me and threw it over my head. It was freezing!
On the way there I sat next to the pilot, which was wonderful watching the journey unfold in front of me. I was not at all frightened. It was like having goggles on underwater. I can’t swim without goggles because my biggest fear is the unknown. On the way back I sat in the back and I felt every bump-it was scary just because I couldn’t see.
When we got to the tiny airport we were chauffeured twenty minutes to a contemporary house that looked like a vert de gris Mayan Temple. The house was filled with amazing furniture by George Nakashima-one of the best collections of his work that I have ever seen. A beautiful, 24 seat dining table was particularly stunning. The only other person to have such beautiful Nakashima pieces is, of course, Eugenio Lopez.
The really great find of the evening was Bo, our hostess’s 25-year-old son, who is a friend of Oscar H’s. He drove me, at great speed, in his turbo Porsche to the party, which was set in a vineyard ten minutes from the house. Charming, sweet boy.
We ate in the winery, which had been beautifully decorated for the occasion. The twelve of us sat under a diaphanous golden awning. We all had our photographs taken. We then ate amazing organic food that had been fedexed from Ohio. There was a small band that played suitably dead music and a young woman sang gently in the background. Spookily the accordion player looked EXACTLY like Vivian Westwood.
Each course had a poetic theme. Mince and Quince for instance (Lear). Our hostess was charming and funny and dressed as a 9th century Chinese poet. She was wearing a wonderful plum coloured fortuny dress and earrings that were once owned by Diana Vreeland.
In between each course the guests, in order of when they died, stood up and introduced themselves. I stood up as Oscar Wilde and told them about my life and work. I then read the first part of The Ballad of Reading Jail. When I finished Ovid said, “That was intense”. I sat between Emily Dickinson (who looked more like Janice Dickinson) and Bo’s very pretty girlfriend. Amanda R went as Rilke, which was a great choice as she got to wear a wonderful Vera Wang dress. However, the dress was so sheer the poor thing, who is all skin and bones, just began to fade away in the freezing room. By the end of dinner Amanda/Rilke had totally lost her voice and she may very well have consumption by sunrise.
After dinner the car came and we were flown home. In bed by 1.30am.
This morning there were 41 dogs on the Canyon path four of them belonging to Peter D who I bumped into as they were leaving the park. I heard him before I saw him, as did the other concerned walkers who exchanged worried looks at the sound of this man screaming at his dogs. He was shouting at one of his small Yorkies to get back on the path. Peter K in tow.
I cheerily said hello and kissed them both. We were all a bit too sweaty for that kind of greeting. He asked about the film and apologised for not returning my calls. It was at this moment that I began to have a sort of out-of-body experience. My outer me saying, “LEAVE, walk away from the area, don’t tell him anything, just get out of there as quickly as you can”. My actual body is now fully engaged in conversation. I asked about the Sunset Sale at Bonham’s. “I’ve already been”.
I began to tell him about the party I went to last night, he snapped “She’s a NIGHTMARE, she killed two people on Everest”. I did not react. I just looked carefully as him and began to gently erase him out of the picture. I felt rather sorry that he was so angry. “I rather liked her,” I said. “We had a wonderful time”. He just looked at me as if to say of COURSE you would like some one like that. “I’ve got a meeting at the Palisades”. He barked at Peter K who was pulling twigs off of the dog. Peter D, angry before I got there-I bet he’ll be angry all day. He was wearing lurid pink underwear.
October 5, 2006 – Thursday
12 dogs. Russians. Ukrainians. A dog called Mike. Clockwise. Beautiful, sunny, fresh.
Yesterday, as a result of my commitment to contrary action, I had a very business like day.
Met bank about mortgage.
Chatted more with Ruth about film.
Sent various e-mails terminating various business relationships so I can concentrate on the next phase.
I bought a jacket at Dior. I bought socks at Turnbull and Asser for the party I am going to this evening in the desert.
Spoke to Eric. It is raining in San Francisco.
AA meeting at 7.45.
Alexsa and Devon for dinner. Cooked chicken, boiled potatoes and peas. Strangely delicious.
In bed by 11.30. Heard Daniel get in at 3am. How does he do it?
Yesterday, in the hotel dining room, there were a sweet couple who are visiting Toronto for the weekend to get married. One was a very young, very tall, strapping jock and the other a much older, smaller, Jewish man who did the talking for the both of them. An odd couple. A pair that I would never even had pegged for a successful date let alone as lovers or as married but there you go, they were obviously very happy and excited by the prospect of their ‘big day’.
After an hour of quite baldly intrusive questioning I determined that they were getting married for all the ‘right’ reasons. They loved each other. They were committed to each other. They wanted to celebrate their union in the company of their friends and family. They were not concerned to have retirement/health/tax benefits. This is Canada so that is already part of the deal. In the USA the gays who bay for marriage seem to think only of what it means to them fiscally.
Why is it that US gay political figures have not advanced the rights of gay people in any meaningful way during the past 20 years where as we in the UK (with our deliciously out gay, joint toting cabinet ministers) and Canada, South Africa, Australia and across Europe gays have equal rights? The tactics used by American gays are obviously not working.
My gripe, ultimately, is with the gays and not the withholding ‘straight’ majority. The majority are just that: THE MAJORITY. Using the gay marriage stick to beat the straight donkey just makes the old mule stubborn and refuse to budge.
Gay activists must make many lawyers across the US very rich indeed. Demanding things from the entrenched. Making headway then having it all taken away. You can get married, you can’t get married. The wailing of the gays. Stop asking to get married because you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. AND you are pissing them off or worse delighting them every time they flick their tails and repeal your meagre reforms. I know that it may seem an odd question but given that you can’t and wont be able to any time soon in any way that equalizes your financial/inheritance situation. Why do you even want to get married? I want to know. The Toronto boys would have been perfectly happy with a get together on the beach with their family. All they wanted the world to know was that they were in love.
My concern for gays in the US is that they just want to be like ‘everyone else’ that they refuse to acknowledge their obvious difference and embrace and celebrate it. The middle class gays that determine the gay agenda are committed to the politics of invisibility. They want the right to get married not because they love each other GOD FORBID but because they want to be just like them (straights). Gays want to get married, have children, and live in elegant houses just like them. Sit on the school board just like them. The middle class gays with heterosexual aspirations want the trappings of the lives their parents had, the comfort and middle class normalcy and when they get it genuinely believe that the OTHERS might not realizes that there is any difference between them and us.
There is a huge difference, no matter how much we hide in fear from their reproachful eyes. We are different. However much we love ‘straight acting‘ ‘100% masculine’ we will always be evident in the way we walk, talk, dress, play-it is time to acknowledge that we are the ‘other’. In accepting who we are we can then stop demanding from the majority that they respect us. Nurture us. Give us permission to be just like them.
I have no intention of being anything other than what I am, I will not pretend to be more like them so that they can tolerate me, or worse ignore me because I have made such a great job of pretending a life that they have prescribed.
I have made a choice to live in a ‘free’ society. I have made a choice to commit to the freedoms of the USA. Yet, from my meager bluff overlooking the sea I don’t think that many people in the US are free at all. How can you be free when you live in fear? When you weigh so much that your ass can scarcely fit into a car, when you cannot identify the flora and fauna around you?
As I tour the US and the world with Dorian I listen to the way gay artists make work-although most gay artists are only eager to talk about money-and I am fascinated by how little new drama for this huge audience is being made. Where as once we were thrilled to have our stories told, the language and locations of gay life revealed-now we are perfectly satisfied to see ourselves on Desperate Housewives. Yet, ironically, mainstream gay and lesbian product is being made but it is not allowed at gay and lesbian film festivals. Gay and lesbian film festivals are not allowed to show Notes on a Scandal or Transamerica because the distributors of these films don’t want to be ‘pigeon holed’ as if amazingly they cannot embrace both kinds of audience. As if showing these films to gay audiences will some how devalue their product? This is unbridled homophobia and we colluded with it. We have little or no respect for our own culture so whilst the distributors get away with willful homophobia then gay film makers are not going to show or make work for gay audiences because they understandably feel that their work will not be taken seriously by those who hold the purse strings.
When gays devalue their own culture when deferring to the mainstream they become a lot dumber in the process. We have traded our rich culture for the mindless thump of our clubs and bars, spend our money on drugs and alcohol yet if prodded pretend that we are just like them, no difference at all. The similarities between Quentin Crisps 1940’s London and present day USA are startling. The attitude of gay men that by being different we ruin it for the rest is all too common.
I see men my age at bars in West Hollywood at the big cock contest, or men older and more powerful than me who will only sleep with straight guys. What have we become? I almost want to buy a wig and paint my nails, after all, drag in its purest form has always been an effective act of aggression.
May 17, 2007 – Thursday
There is a large John Lautner house out on the PCH for sale, it will cost who ever buys it 33 million dollars. At night it looks like it has been carved in amber.
I am in Toronto, here for the gay film festival. I am staying in a bed and breakfast that was once a very grand house. Dorian is the opening night film and I can’t get out of bed. I can’t move out of my room. I am ‘on line’ to various friends. Various websites. Looking, my eyes getting very tired.
Isabella Blow killed herself. She drank weed killer, paraquat, and took 3 days to die. Her husband’s father did the same. Her grandfather committed suicide too. She was an occasional friend to me. When I made The Baron in The Trees she oversaw extra ordinary pictures of me for Vogue. The week before she died she visited with Philippa in Langton St with her sister Lavinia. The last time I saw Isabella she was at a party Lucy Ferry threw with Si Newhouse at Lucy’s home in Kensington. She was with some Argentinean man who looked like a second-rate gigolo. I don’t remember her for her hats. I remember going to Hilles to see her and Detmar and Amory with Philippa and my friend Justin from Whitstable who was a simple lad who also committed suicide a few years later after he was set upon by homophobes in Camberwell. Isabella took him under her wing, realizing that he was totally out of his depth and said,” You know what you need young man-a pork pie!” and dragged him in his car to the village and bought him a HUGE pork pie.
I have one very funny picture of Isabella and Jay Jopling in my photo album. He looks bemused and she looks like an alien in mourning. He looks young.
You know that she was Tim Willis’s girlfriend for years but left him for Detmar Blow. I called her the night before she was to marry Detmar to ask why she was marrying him and she said, “I’m not marrying a man, I’m marrying a house.” Which was true. I used that line in AKA.
KB wrote yesterday:
‘Sorry, darling Duncan, missed all the excitement around Dorian – though I saw Mrs. Merton last week, who mentioned she’d seen you. Issie’s funeral yesterday. Amazing send-off with horse-drawn hearse (very beautiful – though I forgot to remind Detmar that she had wanted a glass coffin a la Snow White!) from Glos Cathedral. kept remembering their wedding there and was sad, but service was rather uplifting and Rupe Everett gave a very good address. Detmar did a good wake at Hilles afterwards and I saw lots of old friends.’
I met Issie when I was twenty-four. She was seeing Tim Willis in those days and they had just moved into Tim’s apartment in Notting Hill. Tim Willis married Joanna and then I became the God Father to their child. Issie could not have children. There was some shenanigans about Hilles and children and how Detmar’s mother wanted her daughter (can’t remember her name) who married Crusty Levinson (who was married to Philippa’s sister Francine) and their children to have the house. In aristocratic circles to lose out on the big house is a DISASTER. She indeed married the house but it was stolen from her.
Good-bye Isabella Delves Broughton nee Blow.
Since I last wrote my blog I have moved to Malibu and now sit high above the sea on a small bluff. Everybody visits so I am not alone. I am in Toronto unable to leave my room and I miss it terribly-my house. The very light traffic outside my hotel room woke me at 5am.
I moved from Whitstable finally-just as the peonies were about to bloom, ants on their sticky buds. I have not really stopped grieving my Whitstable loss but will do when my stuff gets to Malibu. In some ways I wish that the whole lot would sink in the Atlantic. But that might mean that people would get hurt which I don’t want.
Dinners during the past month included: Birthday dinner for and with John Dewis and Kevin West where I met the utterly adorable Elliot Hundley. Opening of Dan Flavin show at LACMA. New age baby shower on Mulholland with babies spirit guide who had been ‘communing with foetus’ and wanted us all to celebrate that the baby was looking forward to being born, to be made flesh. Derek Frost and Jeremy invited me to dinner in Pimlico when I traveled to London for premiere of Dorian. Dorian, up on the big screen in Leicester Square. How did it feel? Not great. I love the film but others were not so kind. People who get it-get it. The others are the others and perhaps they are right. Even so, this experience is more exciting than AKA, which was only great when it got to Outfest. Then that soured when the onslaught happened and I was unprepared for them, for when they love something and you don’t believe it.
Melanie threw a dinner for me with Mickey Wolfson and others came too. My new best friend Wendy A had lunch in Malibu with her and Barry Levinson and others.
Seeing a great deal of Joe who made moving effortless and wonderful. In fact he is making my life all that much nicer by being good to me.
I gave my brother Martin my Porsche, which seemed to delight him. I gave my fridge to Babs and Tony. I took down all the curtains and deconstructed the house. I said goodbye to every one of my plants. I felt like such a traitor for leaving them behind. Tim came by with Jo and Sibbley. He brought gypsy tart and we ate it at Babs house with hot tea.
When I returned from my final month is Whitstable Dom collected me from the airport and when I got back to the new place Joe was in the new kitchen cooking dinner. The new garden is a huge undertaking. Thankfully I have discovered a nursery that is closing down on the PCH and is selling everything very cheaply. Yesterday I bought an 8 foot cactus and planted it.
Bought Euphorbia and aloes and agaves.
I listen to the coyote at night howling and chattering and eating baby deer. I am eager to see a rattlesnake. I saw a mountain lion. A raccoon got into my car and ate skittles. A Blue Jay raided the humming-bird nest and stole all the baby humming birds. Trevor stopped by and heated the Jacuzzi and we lay in it with Eyal the Israeli boy who is dark and mysterious.
So much more has happened but I can’t remember or don’t want to remember. I had a great time in Miami and lay by the pool at the Raleigh with VD and CZ. I am as brown as a nut and looking forward to great wrinkles on my face.
April 9, 2007 – Monday
I walked from my house on Wavecrest to Janet Street-Porter’s house half a mile away toward Seasalter. She has attached an ugly wooden fence to the sea wall since the coastal defense agency raised the height of the beach.
I only saw two dogs. The beach is much brighter than it was. They spent last summer trucking tons of new stone onto the old beach filling the gaps between the new wooden groins. They used a whole forest of timber, I wondered if it came from a sustainable forest.
From the train the new beach looks beautiful but the new stones are mostly flint like a Deal or Dover beach rather than a Whitstable beach. The stones on a Whitstable beach are small, treacle and honey colored pebbles. These flint rocks are huge and difficult to walk on. This has caused much consternation to the dog walkers and weekend strollers. People collect the larger flint pieces and stack them up for others to see. The spring tide had obviously been very high as there was a ribbon of black, dry seaweed swept onto the new pale shore.
I walked back into town and bought a free range corn-fed chicken that I am going to cook for Cathy and Rufus. I stopped in at Wheelers and drained a cup of tea. Mark Stubbs the genius chef arrived, as I was half way through my cupper. I sat in the parlor at the back and finished my tea and flicked through the Whitstable Times. Mark Stubbs is the chef at Wheelers and I have known him and his delightful family since he was a teenager. I have seen him evolve into a fine chef. He understands how to take risks with flavor, he knows how to set something onto a plate and make it look delicious. He is a master because he cares.
Most of the shops on the High Street were closed, as it is bank holiday Monday. I had promised Cathy that I would make bread and butter pudding as per Arabella Boxer’s recipe. It requires that I use stale French bread. Thankfully Dave was in the deli and gave me a heap of stale brioche so I will use that instead. My God, what a change! When I first started making bread and butter pudding 15 years ago it was impossible to buy a vanilla pod on the High Street let alone stale brioche from a friend.
I felt sad in bed last night. I kept thinking about Danny. I am a long way away from my LA AA. I received e-mail from one of the morning gang, urging me to come home. It cheered me up tremendously.
I have no idea if I will be moving into my Malibu house when I get back as I have heard nothing from Kelly. I may just stick around in London. I have everything I need here.
The house next door has been renovated so mine looks spectacular. I got used to living next door to a derelict house. I am almost pleased that I am staying. The plot at the end of the garden has been cleared and looks like the building work is well underway. It is good to be grateful for the world around you. I try to and see the best in everything. However, when I get ill I tend to have a very bleak outlook. Jet lag, a cold and a long way from an AA meeting made me feel despondent.
I wish that I had my Premiere tonight I would feel like I could rise to the challenge.
After a few years in the USA with their can do attitude I am dumbfounded by the petty attitude of the British. The ones I know-but mostly I don’t. They say sneeringly, “Oh you art directed your own film.” As a sort of put down. Why should this be? Of course I want to art direct my film. I would shoot it and edit it too if I could. Last week, my head full of cold I was in no mood to defend my film. This week I am.
April 8, 2007 – Sunday
I am sitting on the balcony overlooking the pale gray/blue sea. I have been in England for a couple of weeks but have still not overcome my jet lag. Part of me seems absent without leave. I slept in a bed on the plane from LA. It was very odd. I decided to open the B&B for Easter. I hung the freshly painted sign and made the beds with new linen and made a trip to Somerfields to get bacon and eggs. This morning I cooked the eggs and bacon for my guests. They were a nice couple from Stratford; they worked for Carlsberg-good folk from the Midlands. She ate a bacon sandwich but he ate the full English and I was pleased as they left too much on their plates yesterday.
A bee is trapped in my bedroom and keeps bashing its face into the glass. The front of the house is gleaming white as after the guests paid me I took a mop bucket full of soapy water and a stepladder and washed the ship lap. I used a dishcloth on the boards but in fact I should have mopped the front of the house but this idea only just occurred to me.
Rather a lot happened since I last wrote my blog.
So, as I am back in Whitstable with no real plan to return to LA I shall start my walking and writing routine once again. There are no 7am AA meetings here. There are no mountains. I began smoking again three weeks ago. Have stopped this past three days.
The Oscars, lets start with them. They were very dull this year. I spent the few days before the big day and the day after with Todd Eborly the Vanity Fair photographer. Todd very kindly dragged me willingly from one obscure party to the next. We originally met at Eugenio’s house at some function although I may have met him with Samia at Art Basel in Miami. I think we met this time at the Robert Wilson after show party. Amazingly, ever since I had my run in with the ghastly Doug Christmas I bump into him everywhere and it was at the Ace Gallery that Robert had his show. I first met Robert Wilson in Paris when I was 19 years old. He didn’t remember me but we discussed Philippe Chemin and his girlfriend (now his wife) Robin who apparently are still together.
It was because of them that I (apparently) fell out with Samia all those years ago-a resentment that the old ferret had held onto for 25 years. After ten years a resentment has more to do with the person who bears it than the person it is about. Anyway, Robert asked me what I thought about his show and as I had not seen it I made some clever, nondescript remark that amused Todd. Met Darrel Hannah and a bunch of über gays. Doug Christmas and I looked at one another suspiciously across Eugenio’s huge drawing room-past the Twombley and the Warhol’s.
Two days later Ronnie Sassoon, Todd and I watched a huge Jeff Koons, green metal elephant craned high into the blue LA sky reflecting the palm trees and dropped into place in Eugenio’s newly landscaped garden whilst his maid fed us Mexican food and the curator of his collection danced like a demented pixie in the street in a black satin Balenciaga rain coat and fedora. It was bright but bitterly cold. Ronnie and I wrapped ourselves in cream cashmere blankets.
Eugenio has bought a bunch of bronze spiders that look like they are by Louise Bourgeois but in fact are just tat. When I asked Richard Squire at our lunch with Joe Townly and that sweet lesbian he hangs out with why Eugenio would buy such rubbish Richard replied that it was really none of my business as Eugenio was, “Richer than God.” Joe and I, to this day, laugh about his answer.
Soho House opened in LA for their usual Oscar fortnight in a huge house quite close to where Eugenio lives. Ate lunch there with Ronnie and Todd. Given much free stuff. The night before Oscar night snogged Sharon there again. Met Amy Berg who was nominated for an Oscar for her documentary about child abuse. Met Hillary the real producer of Children of Men who was furious that her picture had been ignored by the Hollywood establishment. She dashed furiously about Soho House followed by three assistants who trailed miserably in her wake.
The Diane von Furstenberg/Barry Diller party at their sprawling Bel Air estate was very pleasant. I met Paul Allen and Shirley MacLean. I ate lunch with David Hockney and discussed the camera obscura. Helen Mirren was adorable and I was happy to have had the chance to meet her. I flirted a great deal with a realtor called Chris from Malibu and have met him twice since then. Dennis Hopper and I reminisced about Romania. He had just seen Coppola’s new film-an art film. Dennis was deliciously confused. Rupert Murdoch, David Geffen and other powerful men as well as the prerequisite fashion crowd who were horrendous. Tamara Mellon and her fat, gay, best friend who is some how related to Joan Collins sat with her ex husband. Oswald Botang was there with his bunch. There were a few film stars and a cute waiter as well as some delicious boy from Sydney. Todd and I stayed till the end. I will prob never go to that party again so I was determined to squeeze every moment out of it. Paris and Stavros were also at Barry’s garden party dressed in almost middle-aged, sensible clothing, they looked like a perfectly normal young couple.
However, at Paris Hilton’s birthday party the following night at her ugly little house she transformed into PARIS! the celebrity with crop top and trashy hair. I am convinced that she has two homes, one for trashy Paris and one for chic Paris. Her birthday party was only worthwhile as one got to gaze longingly at Stavros who is not only incredibly beautiful but also the most charming man alive. Paris’s trashy house is full of portraits of her and terrible people but Todd, John Dewis and I had our pictures taken by a company who make 3d laminated fridge magnates. We spent more time in the valet parking than the party.
Spent the Oscar awards at Dede Gardener’s (runs Brad Pitts production company) and her husband’s beautiful house in Hollywood. As the ceremony unfolded there was much talk about Brad Gray and Brad Pitt and their involvement with Scorsese’s The Departed. All too convoluted to explain here. Their child is adorable and her house is packed with great stuff and marvelous art. Great vintage wallpaper in the bathroom-huge silver cranes dance against a pale blue landscape.
I spent time at Soho House and did not go to the Chateau Marmont.
Very sweetly Damien (Hirst) invited me to his show at Larry Gagosian’s and the party afterwards at the Bar Marmont. There was a very odd moment when I found myself with Damien and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I didn’t say much. We just kissed and that was it.
Spent a good amount of time with Maia, Damien’s wife. She was wearing a white pleated leather dress by Jil Sander.
I met my friend Justin the model at the after party and we headed over to Eugenio’s when we tired of Damien’s crowd.
Met Lynn Wyatt and a bunch of elderly, stick thin socialites at some gay rich boys Hollywood house. Dominick Dunne and others there. Fried chicken-apparently he cooked the food himself. Todd took wonderful photograph of Lynn Wyatt by portrait of Betsy Bloomingdale.
Ronnie commissioned Todd to take pictures of the Singleton House by Neutre, which she has restored. It was very beautiful but I am afraid not nearly as beautiful as her own house, which is so stunning, I cannot begin to describe it. It was so beautiful it made me cry. Actually, the Singleton House is ruined. I cannot beat around the bush and as much as I love Ronnie she has ruined that house with sunken bars and huge non descript rooms. There, I wrote it.
My film premiered in London to a bunch of sour faced gays and lesbians and five baby celebrities-the Geldof children and some band front man. This is exactly what happened to AKA. Sneered at by UK gays. If I had been a Mexican or Japanese they would have loved it but as I am home-grown I tolerated their pursed lips and arched eyebrows.
I couldn’t care less about them. Two days previous my good friend and occasional lover Danny Ross was killed on an LA freeway so all I could really think about was his sweet face. That night I erased his number from my Blackberry. I was numb. Stayed with Sharon Marshall in Brixton. The girly self-help book that she is writing with Tara PT strewn over the dining room table.
I have stayed numb ever since I heard about Danny. His death has made me angry and despondent. Nothing really matters.
Since I have been home my cousin Caroline came to visit me, her huge, sad Irish eyes and long fingers in my kitchen. She wanted me to remove any mention I made about her father in my blog but I refused. Nothing will make me censor the truth in these pages.
I bumped into my brother Martin; I walked The Kings Road with Joe. Phil and I could not sleep so we sat up into the night drinking tea and giggling.
I have lost a bunch of weight and last night a man I know from London drove here and stayed over. It was a fruitless exchange. My head was with Danny on the freeway, thinking about his body smashed to pieces on the cold hard road. I thought about his smile and delicate kisses. I could not stop thinking about how much I wished I had made time for him the day before I left LA but instead I was finishing a film for a bunch of piss elegant, precious gays who did not deserve my time.
I know that Dorian is flawed, like an unfinished work of art. It is art. I know it.
I know that my film is sort of broken to pieces but I love it. I know what I have to do to fix it but I can’t. It’s too late. I am angry about the death of my friend.
February 2, 2007 – Friday
I am back in LA. Feels like I am back at work/school/LA. Various pre-Oscar dramas unfolding, Hollywood intrigue playing itself out in front of me. I am not as invested as I was last year. Last year I was at the center of it all with Sharon to see how it worked. It was utterly exhausting. I will not be going to the parties this year. I may pop into the Soho House rented mansion. Anyhow, I am just not interested in the films they have in competition this year.
Went with Kevin Zegers to Hyde. He is a sweet thing. Interesting listening to his take on the making of Trans America. He is Canadian. Liked him a great deal. At the Golden Globes last year Brad Pitt said to him, ‘Trans America is your Thelma and Louise.’ Which is a pretty damned cool thing to hear. Kevin stole Trans America from David Gallagher. David lost TA and made DG instead.
Up on the Canyon this morning it was very cold. It has been really cold here. I like it. There were very few people there, fewer dogs. The guys that tend the path were using a very noisy machine, a ‘low blower’ they said, and that is what it does-very loudly. It blows dust all over the place. What about using a broom?
So, I thought about how lazy we all were and how much I hate the TV remote control and how it was the best and worst invention of the past fifty years. I thought about those ‘home entertainment’ rooms that folk have here and how many remote controls these people have lined up in front of them desperate to be entertained. Last week I invited a friend to my home and he was amazed that I don’t own a television set. American TV depresses me. It makes me miserable. The commercials are grueling, relentless and mind altering. The content is formulaic baby food. When I live in NYC I lay on the sofa when I can’t sleep and watch the Home Shopping Network because there are no commercials and the content is exactly what it is-selling. The Home Shopping Network is authentic, amusing, dramatic, reality TV at its very best. I love it. Occasionally I am tempted, like an alien from another planet, to pick up the phone and buy something. Austrian Art Glass or a cover all powder that gives a translucent glaze to any skin in any tone. I listen to the rehearsed testimonials and I am transported.
Jean and I drove in his Mazeratti to Malibu and the mountains around there. As the sun began to set, low in the winter sky, the grassy hillocks at the base of the mountains were covered in silver grass that looked like fur. We had gone to look at a beautiful modernist house perched on 15 acres of land on the top of a huge mountain that is For Sale and we were tempted to pool our resources and buy it. The air was bitter. Remember it had been snowing in Malibu only two weeks previously.
Had lunch with Amanda Ross who invited me to Laurie Simmons event at The Billy Wilder Cinema at The Hammer. It was an ‘art’ film. Meryl Streep can sing! There was much applauding the work but I must be honest, I do not understand why Laurie Simmons feels that an obscure art film needs a conventional narrative. I don’t get it. Laurie’s film was shot by Ed Lachman who had introduced me to Brian Jackson the Dorian DP. She had worked with Mathew Weinstein who I had a brief affair with when he lived in London 20 years ago. He was so gorgeous then. I had dinner with Merle Ginsberg at Red Pearl Café after the film. Met Amanda’s rather handsome fiancé.
Had meeting with my agent at Urth Café flushed from his trip to Sundance.
Back at school, getting on with shit. Every moment of every day, in every situation in LA we work toward our filmmaking goal. Every relationship and situation unfolding in front of us like so many jewels, sifting out the paste from the diamonds.
January 28, 2007 – Sunday
FIGHTING IS MY GENIUS
I seem to have fought all of my life with people, places and things yet I perceive myself as having a placid soul. For as long as I can remember it was inequity, in all its manifestations, that caused me to become furiously angry. As an infant I knew instinctively that the way my stepfather treated my mother was wrong and caused us all the loss of dignity. I fought hard against him even though his cruelty was more than any match for a small boy. I knew that the way my Uncle Norman beat his wife was wrong and caused her to lose her baby but nobody seemed to do anything about it. The desperate screams of women were familiar to me when I was a boy. My brothers may scoff at this description of our shared history but sometimes I think that they may have lived in a dream of our childhood where their father was some how absolved of his brutality simply because of their blood relationship with him. Because they were his children the beatings they received were not as unjust as mine?
Even though we had a tough time at home it is good to remember that only sixty years before I was born in Whitstable there were still child prostitutes in Victorian London that a man could buy and take to padded rooms in Wimpole Street and kill. We were, my brothers and I, lucky children of the post war, 1960’s modern world and all of the promises of the age were just revealing themselves to the men and women of my parents generation.
When I was born my shamed mother and I were hidden away from society yet only ten years later life in Britain had changed so radically that my ‘behavioral problems’ had been identified and I was taken to child psychiatrists, sent to hospitals etc. so that my maladjustment might be healed with group therapy and words. The massive head injuries that I received in a car accident when I was 5 would nowadays be factored into understanding my erratic behavior and vile temper but this was simply overlooked.
Like so many men I have tried, all my life, to make sense of myself. To have the luxury of sitting comfortably in my own skin. Ten years ago, after a life of therapy, hospitals, transactional analysis, cognitive therapy, prison encounter groups, sweat lodges, reike, traveling etc., after a life of talking it through and telling my fucking story over and over so that sooner or later the truth of my mad bad head would be magically revealed I ended up in a beautiful house in Kensington on my own snorting coke first thing in the morning knowing for sure that things were not meant to be like this.
By the time that morning came around I was unable to leave the house due to paranoid delusions and periodically black liquid flooded out of my nose at the most inappropriate moments, at dinner in Quo Vadis for instance. Ten years ago I self-medicated with hard drugs and alcohol and even used to attend sessions with my expensive psychiatrist high on coke.
I then began my sober journey.
It became apparent that the question I so badly needed answered by so many therapists I did not know how to frame. I knew that I was a mess, that my life was in ruins, that I was somehow responsible but the fundamental question remained. The question that I needed answered through out my adult life was this: How come I hated my stepfather so much yet became so much like him? How come I had scant regard for those around me when I was so plagued with the terrors of inequity? How come I thought nothing of screaming at those who were only trying to do their best? How come?
The answers are not always palatable, even to me.
The reality is that I do not live a good-hearted world of benevolent people eager to do the very best for one another or even themselves. The skills of hard heartedness that my stepfather taught me are skills I needed to embrace rather than heal with therapies.
Recently I have begun to thank my stepfather for making my skin thick enough to fight for what I believe in or take the hard knocks and learn how to box with precision. I do not tolerate being beaten by those who give me pains or lawyers who give you bad, self-serving advice or untrained, untested co-workers who expect an opportunity but give very little in return. Married women who want you to fuck them yet blame you when you do. Straight boys who put out but hate you for exploiting their desires.
I can thank my step-father for teaching me not to be led by the nose or having overwhelming capitalist fantasies. I don’t want a big house. I have never wanted a big house. All I have ever desired is one room with a perfect view. What else could I possibly want? What is ENOUGH for one man?
At Anthony’s house this week he asked me what he needed to do to make a low-budget film. ‘How did you do it?” If I have been asked once I have been asked a million times. How do you do it? As if there were a private door from a previously hidden corridor that they may not have noticed behind which the secret of making a low-budget feature film lay. Usually I am polite when I am asked this question and try to help who ever is asking delude themselves that they will make feature films. For part of the truth is this: If you are asking me this question it is unlikely that you will ever make a film. If you are looking for a softer, easier path then you will never make a film. The secret door does not exist.
The truth of how I continue, against the odds, to make films is: I am a GENIUS.
I am a GENIUS because: I get off my ass, I write the script, I raise money, persuade people to work and then I force the film into the world. I do not feel fear and when problems arise I deal with them creatively and in a way that benefits the final product. When the film is made I call my friends in the press and get them to write about it and then I sell it all by myself. That is how I do it and if I need to do it this way then so be it. I never answer questions about budget because it’s personal. When people ask me how big my budget is I tell them that it is 8 inches long and quite thick. Asking about a person’s budget is more personal than how big his cock is. Don’t ask. Nobody ever tells you the truth.
I am a GENIUS because I am making films and you are not. Do gallery owners get asked endlessly how to open a gallery or novelists asked endlessly how to write a novel? I have no idea. When I made theatre nobody ever asked me what they needed to know, what great secret I had that they needed to know to make theatre.
I am a GENIUS because when I make a film I can’t take no for an answer and for that I am truly grateful to my beastly step-father and Derek Jarman who gave me that piece of advice long before I even contemplated making films.
I am a GENIUS because even if I had to make a film using my mobile phone I would do it.
Remember the other great and terrible truth about film-making: Nobody wants to make your film.
Even if you are really, really famous and well-connected and a marvelous director nobody wants to make your film.
The only films worth making are the ones that you are passionate about.
So, I am a BAFTA nominated, award-winning GENIUS and so is everyone else who gets off their ass and makes a film.
I have only one person to thank for this: My step-father who taught me to never back down, to take it on the chin and ultimately not be afraid and keep on fighting. He taught me to think beyond what was expected of me and anticipate problems way ahead of anyone else. He taught me to ignore what people say about me, the lies they tell, whether it is Oscar or Joe or anyone else. Perhaps that is why I never really found it hard to forgive him and never forgave my simpering Mother.
I have wasted most of my life trying NOT to be like my stepfather David Roy when all along I needed to follow in his footsteps and embrace every single thing he ever beat into me as the living truth.
January 24, 2007 – Wednesday
I killed a mosquito this morning. I slapped it against the wall with a pair of yesterday’s underpants. It exploded all over the place with my fresh red blood, blood it had just sucked out of my foot. I am sitting in the Book Kitchen waiting for Zoë, Anita and Teddy so that I can order my poached eggs. Last night Zoë’s landlord’s Ross and Renata cooked us dinner and their highly entertaining children (Dom 6 and Nick 10) amused us with made up jokes and mayhem.
I spent the afternoon with Anthony S in his rather nice Woollarha house watching The Corporation, which is a very long documentary essay about the history, excesses and fight against capitalism. Susan Sarandon’s voice was very irritating. I was moved by the description of the Bolivian water riots. Decided to make some changes in life when I got back to UK-am already not leaving too much of a foot print but could be leaving less. Anthony’s gruff, rich, stepfather arrived in the middle of the film and Anthony turned it off as if we were watching pornography. We continued watching only after he had left the room. After the film we ate sweet things in Jones The Grocers then I drove home.
Two weeks ago I saw Steven Frear’s film The Queen. I didn’t really want to see it because I find anything to do with Diana very, very disturbing and, like Brokeback Mountain, did not want to risk bawling my eyes out. Anyway, I had to see it as I am a BAFTA voter and take my voting very seriously. The experience turned out not to be as painful as I thought. Helen Mirren was great but I really wouldn’t expect anything less. She is an English Character actress who has worked with really outstanding people-Peter Brook for instance. Pretending is what our actors do best. Pretending to be Tony Blair and The Queen shouldn’t be that hard with a voice coach and a good wig. In fact I thought that Mirren’s range within her role of The Queen was rather limited, she spent the entire film pulling one face, a perplexed look of gentle concern. Like she was gazing into the middle distance desperate for answers. Do people really think that HRH is like this? Do they think that HRH is a sweet, benign little old lady? Do they think that Cherie Blair provided fish fingers and comic relief to her husband and children and is capable of feeble thinking as written by Peter Morgan? Did he forget that she is one of the most highly regarded Barristers in the UK?
This my HRH The Queen evidence:
I saw her once at Smith’s Lawn shortly after I left prison and could see her suspenders quite clearly through her boucle skirt. I saw her on TV crying when Blair took away her yacht Brittania. She did not cry when the rest of her people were crying at the death of Diana.
Strangely, some years ago I was invited to a gruesome, Conservative Party Dinner and Dance held at the cavernous Kings Hall in Herne Bay. I sat next to the ex Mayor of Canterbury. I can’t remember his name but he was a kind, small old man of simple taste and brain. I asked him if he had ever met the Queen. To my amazement he told me this story about HRH The Queen.
In his Mayoral capacity he had to greet the Queen upon her arrival in Canterbury with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent and sit in the car with HRH and Prince Philip for the duration of an official engagement. It was a freezing cold, winters day and The Queen arrived by Royal train at Canterbury Station for some Christian event at the Cathedral she is, after all, the head of the Anglican Church-nothing between her and God. The train arrived late and one of the equerries or Ladies in Waiting sprinted over to the Mayor and his party giving him the heads up that HRH was in a filthy mood as she hates being late for anything. A few moments later a very grumpy HRH got off the train, leapt into her car refusing to stop to speak to wheel chair bound constituents who had been waiting in the cold and wet for hours. The Mayor begged her to stop for a moment to speak with her subjects. “Do we have to?” She moaned. At the Cathedral she met the Arch Bishop performed her function then the worthies retired with her to the Arch Bishop’s home. At this point the Mayor had to present HRH with a book as a present from the people of Canterbury. When he handed it to her she said, “Not another book!” Dismayed the Mayor, a very simple man, said, “It’s a very valuable book Ma’me.” The Queen looks at Prince Philip and says, “Oh valuable is it? That’s good, we’ll sell it when we lose all our money.” The Queen and Prince Philip then have a fit of laughter at their ‘joke’.
The mayor was neither impressed with the behaviour or attitude of The Queen or her notoriously rude husband.
I met Paul Keating (ex Prime Minister of Australia) this week. He has the most famous HRH story of them all. The back touching. The faux pas. International outrage. He was pottering around at his house. Paul Keating is definitely one of my heroes.
Katherine Phillips, my occasional friend, had lunch with HRH in Scotland but was thrown off the table for having a cold, “Has that girl got a cold?” HRH said. Now, I don’t know if this last story is true but worth retelling anyway.
So, I saw Frear’s movie The Queen and I thought that the Royals came off rather well. What really happened at Balmoral may very well have been a lot less calm and openly hostile to the memory of our Princess Diana. The Princess, which The Establishment worked so tirelessly for us to love in their gruesome soap opera was dead. When she died I will never forget how they wheeled out those old, bitter Queens to defend the Monarch, St John Steevas and that hump-backed monster historian who has the history show on TV and The Moral Maze. It all makes me feel sick. Yet, do I subscribe to The Establishment, The Corporation or The People?
When Diana was killed in the car accident and the flowers started piling up outside Kensington Palace Princess Alexandra sneered at them wondering if the poor had better things to do with their money than spend it on the memory of Diana.
Like The Corporation The Monarchy will go to any lengths to protect its power. So, The Princess is killed in a tragic accident. Within hours The Establishment seeks to disable our memory of her and refocus us on the good works and youth of The Two Young Princes Harry and William. It takes time but finally we embrace them once again. We do so eagerly, as we are told to do. But as hard as I want to forget I will never forget that morning when I woke up and, like so many people, believed that I lived in a country that had assassinated it’s ‘people’s princess’ regardless of whether it was true or not.
Book Café, Surrey Hills, Sydney
It is raining today. Hard. The streets are flooded. Rain drops loudly on the tin roofs. Nobody complains about the weather because of the drought. This morning, like every morning for the past week, I have ordered poached eggs and bacon.
I spent the early part of the morning at the dentist having a crown replaced that fell off in the 101 Cafe in LA 6 weeks ago. I did not feel the needle go in. My nose is still numb from the anesthetic and I am concerned that stuff is hanging out of it because that’s how it feels. I have to go back tomorrow to have the last of the mercury fillings removed and replaced with white porcelain. Finally getting rid of all those ugly, unnecessary fillings British National Health Service dentists made us suffer just for an extra tenner a pop. That’s what they were being paid by the government to fill our teeth. Taking perfectly fine teeth drilling them and filling them with mercury. I have been traumatized by British dentists just like so many 40 something men and women. Consequently, my poor gentle Australian dentist has to deal with me in his office sweating and squirming and swearing at him.
As the end of my Australian trip approaches I must tell you all that I have had a lovely, relaxing time. I left my hotel on Oxford Street and stayed with my friend Zoë Wane. Together we have traversed the city from one huge house to another. When we weren’t enjoying the many mansions of her rich friends we sat in the Cricketers Arms that Zoë’s brother runs where we sat with Vito who looks like Bart Simpson all grown up (see pics) and Jack who looks like Castro and her twin friends Teddy and Larry. Last week, Anita, Teddy’s girlfriend cooked a Malay feast at her home which was so delicious I thought that nothing I would ever eat again would ever compare to what she served at her table that night. Zoë and I ate at Fratelli in Potts Point with Zoë’s friend Ben Brady and endless coffee shops in all the Eastern Suburbs with various combinations of the above.
Last night Ben’s girlfriend Jasmine and her mother prepared Persian food and we sat and ate on their balcony discussing Lebanon and Iran and watching forked lightning dance over the sea.
I had dinner with my friend Vassilli Kalliman who took me to his brand new gallery and introduced me to the wonderful work of Sally Smart and David Griggs. We ate at Bird Cow Fish on Crown St., which was very satisfying. I saw Sophie Mears and Anthony Sissian and swam with them at Bondi they told me that they had been living three blocks from me in LA. I walked around Coogee bay with Kate Fisher and we sat fully clothed on the rocks being sprayed by huge waves. I ate pasta on the lawn of the Darling’s beautiful home in Bellvue Hill with their son Daniel and his gorgeous South African girlfriend.
My dear old friend Charles Wilson, the furniture designer, and I ate dinner at his house and whilst trying to assemble his very chic candelabra I spilt a huge mug of coffee over my white trousers. Ken Neal took me to one of many dinners I had at Fish Face on the Darlinghurst Road. I ate the sashimi on every occasion, had everything on the menu once and the fish curry twice.
I saw Jess Cook who prepared a lunch time avocado salad for me to eat in her loft. I saw Rose who took me to a one nighter at the Flinders Arms called Health Club. I tanned on various beaches and had occasional tangled phone calls with people in other countries. Saw Dreamgirls and hated it. Saw Babel and respected it. Saw Marie Antoinette and loathed it but remembered what it was like to shoot AKA in Versailles. I finished the first draft of my new Untitled LA Project and I wrote a gratitude list every day and sent it to my AA sponsor.
I slept alone and often wondered about someone I had left behind in NYC-you know who you are. I thought about Sharon and developed a nasty resentment against Samia who has not returned my e-mails despite the fact that at this time last year she was so obsessed with me that she flew uninvited to LA and behaved toward me like Glen Close in that bunny boiling film. As usual I got all the blame.
Unsatisfyingly bumped into Oscar H at Fiveways who was all snipes and false promises and Peter S at The Bayswater Brasserie who was frankly annoying although I enjoyed seeing his brother Charles and his charming uncle.
I will miss the friendship, the food, the beauty, the vista and most of all I will miss who I become when I am here. The man I allow myself to be. Calm, kind and full of hope. I will try to carry all of this good me back to LA and The Oscars and to Baja Mexico where I started blogging last year and where this year I am meeting Phil H to watch the whales migrate at the beginning of February. Thousands of them.
January 10, 2007
The Book Kitchen, Surrey Hills, Poached eggs.
I have found a new walk to walk every morning. Bronte to Bondi along the coastal path. Up at 6.30 I wake poor Zoë and drag her out of bed, drive to Bronte and we walk. God damn, such beauty we pass in nature and human form. “You missed that one.” Zoë said this morning as some perfect being sprinted past us and out of sight. And such is the nature of my addictive personality I want to run back and catch a glimpse of what ever I had missed. We mostly both walk quietly, however, lost in our own thoughts. Gazing out to sea. It always looks so inviting even though there were warnings of bad currents at Bronte. The air is wet and piquant with sea spray that dries the moment it touches our faces. I love my morning walk, all my thoughts are collected there. I don’t have the same sort of meditative experience that I have on Runyon Canyon but quite frankly I am never so full of loathing and resentment here as I am in LA. Here I am calm and fearless. Perhaps my renewed vigor in AA has caused me to be less furious. Perhaps I just feel safer and why shouldn’t I? Anyhow, what ever it is, I am losing weight, being calm, tanned and start the day with a new kind of optimism. I passed three dogs on the path. This is not a dog culture. No tiny house bound, constipated dog children to negotiate, no screamers, no dust.
What will be will be.
We were going to Bronte yesterday to swim with Teddy and Anita but ended up at Nelson’s Park which is a harbor beach packed with Greek families swimming within the confines of the shark net. We swam beyond the net risking being eaten by great whites. Met Eugenie who used to go out with Oscar and had a brief flirtation with one of the Grimaldi boys and a bunch of Zoë’s very thin chums who were being perved over by men who sat like vultures at the periphery of the group. The girls are so thin most of them look like boys. No wonder thin women feel they need breast augmentation. I swam with Teddy and James in the warm water then we went for a precarious rock climb along the shore. I am not a sprightly as I once was and lagged behind these 22-year-old boys who scampered over the rocks like lizards. On the way back we discussed how a lobster sheds its shell. They did not believe that a lobster could shed its entire shell and sit soft and vulnerable on the ocean bed whilst it waited for its new exoskeleton to harden up. This odd knowledge comes from me hanging around the kitchen at Wheelers listening to Delia, who, by the way I miss terribly. When we all got home and verified the disputed lobster information on the Internet I won a $5 wager.
On the way to the beach a small, old woman was trapped in the drive of her huge Vaucluse home by a selfish person who had parked in front of her gate. We commiserated with her and wondered who could have possibly done such a thing. I told her it was probably the muslims which she agreed with without a seconds thought. It would seem that Muslims and global warming account for all most every bad thing that happens nowadays.
Anita cooked dinner for us all at her Mother’s house and then we drove to Hyde Park barracks to listen to Hip Hop, which was all part of the Sydney Festival. Ugly Duckling were the headliners and of course we found ourselves back stage with the politest most unthreatening rappers you ever did meet. I entertained them with my meeting Jay Zee in New York and The Game in LA stories which dumb found people who know about rap. Anyway, Zoë knew the guys who were on before Ugly Ducking who are the sweetest, blue-eyed, public school boys who rap about how nasty stale muesli is and his mum asking him to tidy his room. Very sweet. The white, middle class audience bobbed around half-heartedly. White rap is not as authoritative as black rap. You simply don’t feel that thump in the chest that you do when you hear black rapper men shouting at you. We went to the gaslight after the concert and bid farewell to James who flew to London this morning. I did not envy him flying back to London. Not one bit.
January 7, 2007 – Sunday
It is cloudy again today but deliciously warm and humid.
Most of my days here in Sydney are spent doing what I came here to do: write. I write in the mornings. I get up at 6am. I spend a good hour messing around on the internet. Read mail, the news: BBC, Huffington Post, look at messages left for me on various web sites. I write my required AA lists then my private diary. I leave the room to write my film (75 pages so far) and this occasional blog at a deli on Victoria Street where I am in love with the boy who serves coffee (flat white). As we all know it is impossible to buy a bad coffee in Sydney. I get back to the hotel room and check the Dorian Gray web site stats. We are getting a huge volume of hits from France where David Gallagher is a TV star. I mean over 2000 hits a day, which is phenomenal for an unpublicized site.
On occasions I don’t write at all and just explore the streets of Sydney either on my own or with my friend Ben. On Sunday morning Ben, Jake (the artist) and I found a cafe in Erskinville and ate chicken salad, drank delicious coffee and I poured Demerara sugar straight from the bowl on the table into the palm of my hand and ate it like a child. We sat there for hours discussing Australian art whilst tropical rain fell torrentially onto the streets. A uniformed policeman and his female mate came into the cafe to escape the rain, he was so beautiful I asked him if he was a stripper.
I walk despite my poor burned hip which is horribly painful. I have bought books and food but little else. I am training myself to follow a pre-planned path and not get way laid by beauty. I have only seen one must have item: a modernist carved marble lamp in my friend Ken’s shop in Darlinghurst.
Cooked dinner last night at Zoë’s house. Huge frizze salad with boiled egg, lardons, walnuts and chopped freshly cooked asparagus. We bought some delicious salami and mozzarella and Turkish bread, which we all tore apart and devoured the moment we sat down. Baklava for pudding with guava juice. Ben, Zoë, Rose, Teddy, Larry, Jack, Jack’s girlfriend and another girl all no more than 22 years old. Very Sydney, so much fun.
Zoë is renting a beautiful basement in Surrey Hills and has invited me to move in tomorrow so I rented a car and am suddenly FREE! Whenever I get here I am trapped by old habits. I never really move from Sydney yet there I was washing my smalls in the hotel laundry waiting for the dryer to dry and I started looking at a map of Australia. I knew immediately that if I did not take advantage of this opportunity I never would. I am going to drive into the desert, the red heart of Australia. I have only ever explored New South Wales and parts of Victoria. I have been to Nyngen, Forbes (Charles Wilson’s beautiful country house), Melbourne, Tilba and Condoblin where I travelled with Georgina and Oscar Humphries who wrote very offensively about the Australian country tradition of the Batchelor and Spinsters ball. I took millions of pictures that ended up in a sunday magazine and an exhibition of Australian reportage.
Back in tedious LA things have been going a pace. Before I left Hollywood I realized that I had been the victim of a terrible fraud and so had to deal with it. The worst thing about knowing that things are ‘not right’ when you are naturally paranoid is sorting the fact from the fear based fiction. I had to write a difficult letter. The truth, and nothing but the truth. It took a week to write the bloody thing. That said, when it was done I felt a whole heap better. Lawyers in these circumstances are not your best friends. When I fought my ‘divorce’ in court I did it on my own and as honestly as any one can in the circumstances. The courtroom and the truth are not, one quickly realizes, synonymous. Even after I had written the letter my index finger hovered dangerously over the return key for a good few days. I just kept praying for guidance and asking God and my few trusted friends what they thought of what I was doing.
I hate having to fight fairly yet when I fight unfairly I end up loathing myself. In a world which seems rigged against most of us most of the time this primitive side of my nature becomes essential. The courage to change the things I can, it’s tough to be courageous. It’s hard to turn up in a city with nothing and make a film from scratch. It’s tough to do things in an unusual and challenging way. For all of producer Brad W’s defects of character he taught me to pick my battles wisely.
I pressed the button and off it went for only God to determine the outcome.
I have been thinking a great deal about Tracy Emin-what a great artist she has become. I saw a photograph of a sculpture that reminded me of the roller coaster at Dreamland in Margate and of course that is exactly what it was. A scaled down naive sculpture of the roller coaster at Dreamland. It was so wonderfully evocative. Tracy and I both come from Kent, villages that are not so far away from one another and we are about the same age. She was the girlfriend of Billy Childish who I was at art school with and very close friends with. It was because of Billy, I suppose, that I was suspicious of the authenticity of her work but let’s face it: if she was ever influenced by Billy Childish as he loudly claims she has well and truly flown his coop. When she makes work away from the mirror she excels. Building the Whitstable beach hut in the Saatchi gallery for instance was a stroke of genius. I loved her helter skelter tatlin tower at White Cube and now I love her roller coaster. I remember the experience of Dreamland so well. The coconut matting to slide down the helter skelter. The clockwork ticking of the roller coaster, the abrupt ending and the fearful screams. I loved it, as did she. Tracy has evolved into a bone fide arts star. One of the best of British.
I cannot tell you how much I love being sober, how much I love my sobriety and how I am loving writing the most thorough and grueling step one. Sometimes I feel so ‘here’ that it’s as if all my skin has been removed and I experience the world as a raw unborn thing.
Every night I watch the bats in the sky, huge fruit bats flying haphazardly in the twilight. Streams of them, black flapping chattering to each other all the way home.
January 6, 2007 – Saturday
Sydney. lay on Bondi beach yesterday with Charles, Anthony and Sophie. Had dinner at Lotus with Cameron and Zoe. Decided to go to bed early. Burned my hip in the sun. I am happy. Not really worrying. Drifting aimlessly when I am not writing or walking or going to AA meetings. I am bored with my hotel so am going to move. I may hire a car tomorrow and drive down the coast. I will. I think that I will.
The script is coming along very nicely. It is better than I expected. Works well.
Decided definitively that I am going back to London to live as soon as I can.
When I walk the streets I am inspired, alive, able.
December 28, 2006 – Thursday
Sydney New South Wales Australia
I am back in the southern hemisphere, arriving on the chilliest day of the summer. It was a relief, however, not to step into sub tropical Sydney. A delicious wind cooled the usually sweltering mid summer city. I left my lap top in the taxi but it was returned to me. At night I noticed how hot the stone buildings were, that my skin was already mildly burned. I managed to deal with the jet lag in two days. This morning I woke at a very respectable 7am.
Since I arrived in Sydney I have eaten three times at the new Tropicana (chicken salad) now finally at home back in its original place on Victoria Street. I have eaten flourless orange cake at the new Dov also on Victoria Street and tasted their delicious, home-made, sticky nougat loaded with candied cherries and almonds. I saw Ursula and Kate who now part own Dov with Matt Onions. I walked the streets to see what else has changed. I walked so hard that my calves hurt. I joined the gym, and worked my chest and shoulders. I found NA meetings and AA meetings and caught a cab to Bondi Junction and met Ben and drank more juice at The Tropicana.
I visited the dentist and had my teeth cleaned. I made further appointments to have a small filling in a tooth on my upper jaw and replace a broken veneer.
I listened to the varied bird song and realized what I missed so much in LA but for all my bitching and complaining how LA had reconnected me with AA, a connection I hadn’t felt for years and years. I bought a phone and got myself a new phone number. I smelt the sweet lush blooms on the trees on the street and listened to the mewing of the birds that sound like crying babies. I looked out for familiar faces and found them. I looked at the bald black-headed egrets in Hyde Park; I gazed at the huge bronze sculpture of Queen Victoria. I was just too damned excited. I have not seen the huge fruit bats migrating from Centennial Park but I am sure that I will.
I walked to Kings Cross, Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay and Woolloomooloo. I began walking up Oxford Street to Paddington but decided to do that some other time. I realized that the lower gay part of Oxford Street was now filthy dirty and far too many toothless drug addicts asked for spare change. For every fit, beautiful Sydney boy/girl there was a scrawny homeless addict to remind one where one might have ended up or might yet.
Surprisingly Sydney does not feel as optimistic as it once did. It feels like an anxious place to be compared with the ebullience I felt here a few years ago. Apparently, according to friends, China is making some parts of Australia fabulously rich but not here. Buying minerals, feeding the great 21st Century Chinese expansion.
I have no expectations for New Years Eve. What ever happens, happens. May go to bed, may watch the fireworks.
I have written 21 pages of my new script and I am falling over myself to complete it. It flows out of me like a torrent. It always happens like this here in Sydney Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere. I find my voice. It was here at this table that I wrote Dorian, it is here that I am writing Untitled LA Project and already a new world exists on the page. What could be more exciting than that?
December 19, 2006 – Tuesday
Deal or no Deal
I am still in bed with what has developed into a hideous chesty cough. I should never have gone to my AA meeting last night or had dinner at Ago even though I love risotto and had truffle shaved all over it.
As I lay in my large bed my mind drifted from this illness to the first time I remember being in hospital when I got my scull crushed in a car accident when I was 5 years old. The next time I ended up in hospital was when I was 13 years old for being a nuisance at school. I thought that I might spend some time this morning writing about that. I remember playing canasta with Edna, hiding the drugs they gave me in my ear so that I did not have to take them, St Augustins, Pandora with the flakey teeth and the morgue. I thought that I might write about my being hospitalized when I was 25 in Sutton at the Hendserson Hospital and describe Sarah who killed herself and the blood in her room and knitting during group therapy but I have decided that I am going to write about that some other time.
Instead, I am going to write about people who read this blog and try to use it against me. Who contact friends and organizations with disinformation, who try to derail my film and me. For it came to pass this morning that I was sent a whole heap of e-mails from people I had worked with who are dissatisfied with me, who are working tirelessly against me and my film.
The more damage these people cause, the less likely I am inclined to get the film out of the box and try to raise money to finish it. The less likely I am able to attract an investor. As you may know, if you have been diligently reading this blog, I am about to start making a movie in the UK. Some of you naughty minx seem to be under the misapprehension from you’re e-mails that you can do damage to me. If I lived in the scum you call you’re lives then no doubt you could indeed hurt me badly. But I do not.
Nothing you can do to me will ever stop me being creative or living a wonderful life. Nothing you can do to me can take away my sobriety, which is more important to me than any fucking film or any one of you.
I have passed these e-mails to my lawyer and any further attempts to scupper our film will be met with fierce counter measures. You are not the only ones who can make life very difficult. I urge you to consider this: You do not hurt me when you do these things you merely hurt the people who genuinely want to benefit from making art. the DP, the actors etc. By reducing the value of the film you merely stop yourselves from getting the money you are rightly owed under the agreement of your deferment deal. You do not and cannot hurt me. You merely hurt yourselves and the others that are owed money.
I urge you to work with me to deal with this problem as best we can.
December 17, 2006 – Sunday
Last night I dreamt that it snowed in Los Angeles. The snow glinting in the sun, melting fast, too fast to fetch my camera. The snow held on longer in the valleys in the deep shadow. It was an exciting dream.
I have been very ill in bed with my cold. I am too ill to leave the apartment, too ill to call anyone. Dom came over yesterday but I no longer trust him and eyed him suspiciously over the matzoh ball soup he very kindly delivered me. He is so crazed with love for Joe it is embarrassing and frankly, tragic. Joe is just as bad using poor Dom to fill his time before he does the decent thing and goes back home to England to do something sensible. Dom genuinely believes that he can be Joe’s boy friend.
By yesterday, full of phlegm, I had had just about enough of being here. I craved my little cottage and the brown Whitstable sea. I craved The Tudor Tea Rooms, Wheelers and The Whistle Stop. I craved Mother’s pride and Marmite. I craved poached eggs. I craved anything that wasn’t me here and now. It was apparent that nothing I could do was going to change any component part of what I am suffering.
Joe the mountain scientologist visited me and showed me his new bicycle helmet. Merritt swung by and set up the printer that had been sitting in it’s box since it was bought weeks ago. Devon brought more soup as did Aleksa’s mother Sabrina who made a wonderful, soothing concoction of limes, cayenne pepper and hot water.
Being ill here reminds me of this time last year when I ended up in Cedars (hospital) with that terrible leaking spine. The devastating head ache, unable to speak, to stand up. Then being saved by and staying with David and Hunter. Meeting Hilary. The way the doctor fixed it with that blood patch. I refused the anesthetic. Laying there begging that the pain be taken from me. I thought that I was going mad. I thought that I was having a nervous break down and all along spinal fluid was draining out of me. Just like George Clooney.
Phil left text messages. Cheered me up. She will never make it here-maybe in February for Mexico and the whales.
It was cold when I woke this morning; there was a bite in the air. I cannot stay in bed all day. I can’t do it. I have to do SOMETHING productive. Make lists. Write.
Apparently, if you threw a cat onto a 15th century funeral pyre the cat represented the devil. When I was a child I had a recurring nightmare that I had thrown a kitten into a fire.
December 15, 2006 – Friday
December LA. I have just returned from NYC. Whilst I was there Will Self walked (for the press) from Kennedy Airport to his Downtown hotel. He is here in the USA to promote his new book. It will be just as bad as all of the recent others. I can just imagine him striding pompously along the LIE puffing on his pipe baffling the accompanying journalist from the NY Times with a whole lot of long words. He is truly the Gerard Manly-Hopkins of our age.
It is not perhaps the time to admit this but whenever he used to visit me in Whitstable I was always terrified that he would break something. He would change a shitty baby on a white bed or open oysters directly on wood causing great scratches in the wooden kitchen counters. One night I had Janet Street-Porter, Will Self, Deborah Orr and Jay Jopling around that tiny zinc dining table in my Whitstable kitchen. They are all HUGE people in stature and ego. Deborah used to be huge laterally which caused everybody I know to think that she was extraordinarily fecund. You just have to imagine Will Self and you start using words like fecund. Will is a sweet man but he uses his celebrity to ensnare then his verbosity to crush too many willing victims. What ever may or may not happen to Will and I, I am glad that we have been friends.
Time is the greatest distance between two people.
From a distance one quickly sees the people one has known for who they are and forgive them their defects of character. Janet is a cold fish, a snob to boot but her eccentricity is what makes me proud to be British. At dinner Deborah asked Janet why she had never had children. It was a question only Deborah could have ever asked Janet. Janet told us that one of her husbands had had a child who died. She said that she never wanted to suffer the pain she saw him endure. It was really very touching.
Deborah Orr. I never really trusted her or her incessant moaning. She is undoubtedly a genius, more so than her husband. Her intellect is a thing of great beauty. I would much prefer to hear her spout than her moribund husband. She endlessly reminds anyone who will listen that she comes from Govan, a very rough part of Glasgow. When Deborah and I met Lulu at Jay’s house one night I made Deborah tell Lulu where she came from and Lulu made a grand whooping noise and brushed her fingers against her nose to indicate how POSH it was. Lulu grew up in the Gorbals, which used to be a total shit hole.
Anyway, enough of the aptly named Self’s.
I walked the Canyon at 7am this morning. It was so pretty but my heart was heavy. I cannot imagine living here after I get back from Australia. I will do a few months of Dorian then it is time to get on and go back to Whitstable. I expect to be there by June. I listened to the same sort of conversations on my way up that I heard when I left, two frumpy women in badly fitting sweats complaining about some one who had wronged them. On the way down two executives were discussing powerful studio men. They were in awe.
I have done my stint, paid my dues to LA. I have stayed sober in LA. LA has been an interesting home for me but as I have said before it is like living in Whitstable, yet there in no allure. LA is a small town with small people. Self important, heartless and occasionally very, very cruel. The squabbles are no different or important from those I might hear in The Duke of Cumberland. The fights I witness in Hollywood are as vicious as any I have seen outside the kebab shop on Whitstable High Street.
Thankfully my shrewd investments may make this year my most profitable yet my ‘profit’ of course would scarcely pay for the mixers at one of Jay’s parties!
I am on the edge of something here in LA. On the edge of a continent or on the edge of my own life? I cannot continue this journey without a serious moment of reflection yet wherever I settle I am at the mercy of my own madness. My life has been all about shopping and fucking yet with none of the irony that this may suggest.
Somebody once asked me if I had ever been proud of anything in my life. I can honestly say that I am proud of every achievement I have ever made. Every play, film, dinner, room, article, sobriety, garden, blog. I am proud of all these things because I have had to do such terrible battle with myself to get anything done. The worst part of ME has always been my most terrible adversary. There is no one else to blame. I used to blame my stepfather but whatever seeds he sowed I have propagated. Every day I wonder who will get the best part of my day, that Duncan Roy or this Duncan Roy.
Finally, whilst in NY I contacted very old friends. A Whitstable friend and someone I had not spoken to for seven years. It was such a relief to call him. I was walking in what used to be the shadow of the twin towers. I suddenly remembered his telephone number and like a spell, a long forgotten spell I dialed the number and listened to his voice. It was wonderful.
Today I counted 27 dogs on Runyon Canyon.