Here is my father, the year he met my mother in Margate and Herne Bay.
There is no easy way to tell you this. No easy way to write these words.
My brother Martin’s 35-year-old, long-term partner Juliet has died. A sweet-natured, complicated woman who wanted a baby very much, finally conceived two years ago.
She was a wonderful mother to my nephew Oscar. A really lovely child.
We heard the results today (13th Sept) of the autopsy. She died of acute kidney failure which lead to a heart attack.
Not one to complain she may have been in some discomfort for months but failed to tell anyone.
She lay dead on their kitchen floor for a very long time before my brother found her body. My infant nephew sat by her, maybe for 24 hours.
The neighbours heard him crying but did nothing.
My mother told me that the little boy had opened cupboards looking for something to eat. He found a pot of yogurt.
My brother broke down the door. He found her. Found them.
There are no suspicious circumstances.
Oscar has gone to live with my mother, his grandmother. My mother is a really great-grandmother.
The local newspaper report here.
OK, so here are a few interesting clips from 1991.
There’s quite a bit of nudity and cock…so beware.
Bournemouth Film School…the house I shared with Lawrence and Charlie.
There’s some great stuff from Green Street, Orlando’s club in London.
Damien Hirst, Maia Norman, Orlando Campbell etc.
Kevin at City Gym in Sydney. The beautiful Dane I met in Florence and spent the summer. Whatever happened to him? I wanted to weep when I saw him again. He was beautiful.
The local Whitstable boys. Luke, beautiful Luke.
If any of them ever loved me I was blissfully unaware.
And…there’s a lot of…hair. During most of this…I am drunk or fucked up, remember that. I wouldn’t get sober for another 6 years.
There’s a lot of dancing and dressing up. I seem to be lip synching to Judy…missing some man. Again.
What a destructive theme.
She is a generous, kind, strong woman. A great friend to me and many, many others.
Please, Whitstable people make sure she is safe and well. Look out for her. Keep her in your prayers.
Like most people in Whitstable, I have known her for most of my life. We have been on all sorts of adventures together. Had our ups and downs. Who doesn’t?
She needs peace and quiet to recuperate.
I wish I could be there with her now to help but I am here. Perhaps I should get a flight this afternoon?
I am thinking of you darling. Thinking hard. Good, kind thoughts.
Scroll down for the Patmos transcript.
Look at the view! It’s a warm morning where I am. The sky is pale pink, the sea is almost blue. The rain this winter has caused every Ceanothus to bloom. Almost blue.
Not like the one I planted in my Whitstable garden which bloomed purple, fleshy flowers.
The Malibu garden is Fire Safe. They have cleared the brush and hoed the beds. The trees are almost fully in leaf. The tiny quail and their tinier babies search in the tilled soil for food. I don’t know what they eat.
Stephen, Kristian’s one time boy friend, sent me a collection of his writings that I have not had time to read. Kristian Digby. Where are you? I wish you were here. I wish you were alive.
I think that it may be Jean’s memorial today. I’m not going. It would be hypocritical. We were once friends. I want to remember what it was like to be his friend. Sit quietly with the memory.
Too many deaths recently. Too many unnecessary deaths. Each time they tell me that someone else is dead I have to look at my own fingers and imagine them bone and parchment.
I want to find you the page in my diary when we were on Patmos, Phil and I, and we looked into the charnel house and saw the desiccated remains of… people. Tangled together, wearing their simple peasant garments.
I couldn’t sleep.
Phil splashed cologne around our bedroom. It soothed me.
It’s a beautiful day today. Best I concentrate on that?
I felt the shame. Shame is like scraping meat off the bone.
I’m writing about one isolated man being saved by less isolated men. Was this past year such a waste? This was the year when obsession became my higher power. Now I have a chance to know God once again. Will I ever get home?
Here are the Patmos diary entries for August 1990.
I am with my darling Phillipa Heiman. We are staying in her mother’s beautiful summer-house overlooking the Aegean.
We are lovers. 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.
- Pretty Patmos – Pátmos, Greece (travelpod.com)
Gary once introduced me to Mark Ruffalo. Mark wouldn’t remember me, Gary would.
Gary was one of the forward thinking guys who set up the ground breaking film production company InDigEnt. He was a really, really sweet man. No news as to how he died but I think, from what I can remember, he may have had a serious illness that he kept quiet about.
He was very discreet.
Crikey, so many deaths! I just diligently report them. It’s rewarding to find something nice to say about the recently departed like poor Wally in Whitstable.
In Jean’s case, it was quite hard. We hadn’t spoken for ages because we had a money issue that neither of us wanted to resolve. He was a terrible drain on his friends and family. Let’s put it this way: it was very hard for Jean to enjoy his gifted life without endlessly complaining or taking drugs.
People die. I just put on my bombazine shift and write the bleeding obituary.
Perhaps I should try writing my own?
I would entitle it: WEAK TEA or LOUD AND DIM or NOTHING REMARKABLE.
To be run in the Whitstable Times in the event of my death:
Surly Duncan Roy (65) found dead in his Swalecliffe bed sitting room. Former Lord of The Lies refused medication for obvious mental illness and made unremarkable films. Campaigned for the Red Spider Cafe. He will not be missed.
I have not written a last will and testament so the fuckers can squabble over what is left. I may leave it all to that little girl or to a bat charity or Jake’s ex-girl friend. That would be funny.
Watched Oscars. Was James Franco stoned? No! He’s been sober for YEARS. He just looked a bit unprepared. I would have preferred if Social Network had won best film. It deserved to. The Kings Speech is constipated TV tosh. Tom Hooper is a director of no importance. Why does Colin Firth KEEP telling the world how important Tom Ford is to him and how he wouldn’t be receiving these awards without having met him? I thought that Firth had a rather long and distinguished career before meeting Ford? Are they or have they been…fucking?
It occurred to me why Portman trumped Benning…Portman has more mileage in her and will generate more cash for CAA. Poor Annette Bening so obviously deserved that Best Actress Academy Award but she’s an old mare and who writes great roles for old mares that Meryl Streep isn’t getting first refusal?
Clip Clop Annette.
You know how much I love Whitstable? That would be one of my ‘weak tea‘ successes: my relationship with Whitstable.
I love it there. I know everyone. We really know each other. For good and for bad.
Well, today I received some very, very sad news. My Mother‘s friend Carol who owns the Tudor Tea Rooms on Harbour Street…well..and this is terrible…her son Tony died.
Known affectionately as Wally to everyone who knew him, he was only 40 years old, tall, gentle, ran his mother’s business with aplomb.
When you order a pot of tea at The Tudor Tea Rooms you get a pot of tea made with loose tea and a strainer. Quality.
We used to say that they served school dinners at the Tudor but we loved going in there. Fire burning in the hearth all winter. Closed on a Wednesday. Real steak and kidney pudding with a thick suet crust.
Wally was killed during the day on the train tracks at the end of Glebe Way. Struck by the coast-bound 11.22am Victoria to Ramsgate train just before 1pm. I have no idea if he committed suicide or not. That’s what people are saying but I really don’t want to believe it.
He was such a nice man. Wally and his sister Sue had run that Tudor Tea Room since they were kids. Since we were all kids. Serving Steak and Kidney Pudding…opening the tea garden. He was the sort of bloke you’d see in Prezzo Pizza Place with his young family.
As every Whitstable pub and every other shop front became yet another super chic gastro pub or seasonal/organic eaterie…the Tudor kept the same decor, the same menu, serving the same Whitstable us who didn’t want the bother of seared scallops or poached samphire.
My Mother and I saw Wally just a few weeks ago when I was home for Christmas. He served us a good old-fashioned English roast. My mother mocked me for drinking tea with my lunch…like ‘some one from a council house‘ she said.
He stood at the till and asked after my life in LA. I felt embarrassed to tell him what my life was like in California. What he didn’t know…what he could never have known…was what I was thinking that cold December day a week before Christmas: that I would have quite easily traded my life in Malibu for a chance at running the Tudor Tea Rooms.
From where I was standing…his life looked perfect.
Poached eggs on toast. Every day.
My mother accidentally pushed Peter Cushing off his bike one day when she was getting off the bus from Canterbury.
Anyway, Wally was killed on the railway lines. The third person killed in the same spot in less than two months. What’s happening? What a waste of a good life, a sweet family man. I feel for his wife and children, his sister Sue and his lovely mum Carol.
If you get the chance listen to this Jellybotty’s track, Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable.
It mentions the Tudor Tea Rooms.
Actress Fay Ripley has moved into the house opposite my old place. Saw her today in the most elegant shearling coat and big glasses. Celebrities stalk my home town…jabbering away loudly on mobile phones.
Even the little houses beyond the High Street that I never thought would be interesting to London people are now 300k and never on the market for longer than a few weeks.
Recession? Where is it?
I am still really pleased I sold both my houses.
I never really liked the Peter Cushing house (number 3 Seaway Cottages) it was large and draughty and I think I must have been to the beach maybe twice in 13 years. The beach was the front garden..but I am not a beach man.
I really loved the other house (number 2 Seaway Cottages), the house next door that I renovated from scratch. It looked superb by the time I finished with it.
I poked my nose through the door yesterday and the Anthony Gormley coat pegs are still in place. The rather beautiful kitchen lamps have been replaced by ugly, modern, cheap looking, brushed aluminum sconces. Everything else is just as I left it. The fig tree in the garden has been severely pruned as it should be.
I had an unfortunate incident on Sunday night. Went to see my friend Cathy for dinner but she was so drunk I turned on my heels and left the house.
Last night, through a genuine blizzard, walked to an NA meeting. I looked like a snow man when I got there. Expecting the worst (crack addicts) but instead met with a group of sober people with surprisingly good, modern recovery.
It was great.
Sometimes I think that NA has more to do with SAA than AA. The Step work and traditions of NA as written in the Green and Gold Book have really appropriate text for addicts of any kind sex/drugs/drink.
I had lots to write about the past couple of days but…the memories escape me right now.
Long walks with the little dog around the golf course. Tea with Georgina and family. Sunday lunch time went to the Monument Pub and ate roast pork with crackling. Entertained myself with the Monument Football Team who are all, every single one..to a man…GORGEOUS.
Ate home-made pate today for lunch with Carol before she crawled into her workshop…you know she’s a potter? A ceramicist?
Back in LA Ashley tells me that the waterfall that thunders under the Malibu house drive is thundering nicely. By the time I get back the garden will be a jungle. I was worried that the new road would be washed away. I bloody hope not.
The sun’s gone dim,
The moon’s turned black,
For I loved him,
He didn’t love back.
21/12/09 – 21/12/10 Adieu my darling.
There is something unbelievably comforting about being admitted to a hospital.
I walk through the door and hand my will and my life over to you. You, in this instance, is Dr Eddy… a wonderful surgeon.
I said, as he was checking my testes, “Well. at least I get my balls played with…” which, of course, he must hear a million times a year from anxious men willing a joke out of a miserable situation.
This wouldn’t be the first time. After our car accident, when I was a kid, I stayed in the very same hospital for 5 weeks with major head injuries. It must have been very traumatic for my Mother to have seen me smashed to pieces at the edge of the road..after having lost the big dog like that..what must it have been like to see your own child covered in blood?
Being in hospital is like returning to the womb…like taking heroin.
Georgina waited for me in one of the long hospital corridors and a man in a wheel chair asked her to help him take a pee. She declined his offer.
Yesterday I drove to Calais and dropped the car at the ferry terminal saving me $500 in fees. I sat on the boat and marveled at how ugly and badly dressed everyone was. On the way there I ate a sandwich and on the way back I ate fish and chips.
On the train home I met a really beautiful twenty year old blonde boy who took one look at my pink shoes and..well, he knew what the story was/is. Anyway, bright as a button, cheeky chappy decorator who I may see later on in the year when he gets back from Australia. I love men like him.
Somebody else, spotting my pink shoes, called me a homo. I began to think vengeful thoughts..then I met the blonde man and things took a turn for the better.
I love Shoreditch too. I love Soho. I love rioting students.
I love (particularly) the paint splattered Rolls that the parasite Prince Charles and the hag Camilla were caught in the other day by the ‘off with their heads’ militant protestors. hahaah.
I am really loving being home. It has settled something in me.
After my fuck session (which will do me for some time I might add) I wandered happily all over Shoreditch.
I stopped in at a number of cool looking shops: like the funky Japanese run clothes shop that sold padded linen overwear, the odd man’s pop up shop that sold Swedish soldiers head-gear and ‘vintage’ socks.
A shop that sells second-hand mens socks. Eww.
I dropped into White Cube and resisted calling Jay. The show was spectacularly lame. The entire space devoted to a 37 year old artist called Rachel Kneebone. Lamentations 2010 is the name of the downstairs show. Huge white porcelain tangled/mangled/reconstituted genitals on huge marble plinths set against slate grey walls..beautifully lit. The usual soulless, inchoate nonsense you might expect to find in White Cube. They reminded one..obviously of the Chapman brothers and their obsession with the dark, chaotic imagery of the unconscious.
Jay is already showing new artists who cannibalize existing White Cube artists. Apparently Kneebone is expressing the ‘trauma of death, loss and grief’ and shown differently these works might very well have achieved her aim but so elegantly displayed they had the guts knocked right out of them. I went upstairs to see the rest of the show but was told to leave as I had the dog with me. I wasn’t leaving the Little Dog outside so I left.
I wandered around. I met a man in the street who offered to blow me but I hadn’t showered that morning after a night of sex… I declined more for his benefit.
I found a wonderful shop called Labour and Wait which can be found at:
This charming store is really worth a visit. I thought, when I found the 1940’s lilac, enameled milk-boiling pot pictured below: Oooh, I thought, my friend Marilyn Phipps would like this.
As if by magic..who did I bump into today?
Marilyn has the most wonderful home in Seasalter called The Battery.
The Battery, a nineteenth-century naval building, is a huge, bright blue, wooden house that sits right on the Whitstable beach and faces onto a 120ft secluded sea-front. The Battery is a shrine to Forties ‘utility’. The kitchen was put in during the Forties when the house was used as a holiday retreat for disadvantaged children.
Marilyn has carried on the Forties theme throughout the house. The two huge wooden doors between the dining room and kitchen were made in the Forties for Ramsgate post office. The kitchen walls are lined with teapots, sugar shakers, vinegar jars, and salt cellars.
A huge kitchen clock was bought locally and the chunky table was already there.
The Battery can be incredibly hard to keep warm. Marilyn solved her problem by installing an enormous wood-burner for the dining room. She painted it midnight blue, making it more abstract sculpture than functional heater…she calls it The Beast.
The Battery has a fascinating history and features in the book Wooden Houses. It was built as two big wooden sheds at the end of the nineteenth century. The first housed two cannons, the second was a drill hall for sailors, and during WW1 it was a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.
Marilyn still get’s people visiting who remember it from their childhood holidays in the Forties, saying they had the happiest time of their life here.
Totally trapped in Whitstable! So many old friends to be trapped in the town with. Lovely seeing everyone. Had tea in Wheelers with Anita and Michael. Adam and I drank more tea and ate mince pies by the fire at Carol’s house. Saw Tim at Tea and Times where Ronnie came a’visiting and I caught up on all the local gossip.
Ronnie showed us pictures on his phone of a dead polar bear.
Meant to be in London today dealing with Jake’s iPod fiasco but God dumped a trillion tons of snow on Kent so we are all stranded. Hurrah!
The Little Dog just LOVES the snow as you can see from these pictures.
I am rather hoping that I get stranded here for Christmas!
By the way, did I ever mention to you that whilst I was in the police cell that miserable day in July Jake met a man from Manhunt and sex with him. That was supportive wasn’t it?
I am in Whitstable. It is really cold. The water-butt is frozen. I slept under two comforters.
Carol woke me this morning with a fresh lemon and ginger infusion and a big plate of steaming porridge. Ate another breakfast at Copeland House with Georgina.
It’s later on Saturday morning and I am laying under a blanket at George’s house. Feel very beaten up. I managed to wear myself down so badly that I now have bronchitis.
Terrible cough, phlegm, headache. Best thing is: I am at home so everything seems very dealable with. I am so glad that I don’t own anywhere here. It’s so much nicer crashing at Carol’s or laying here on George’s sofa.
My head is too painful with real pain to concentrate on anything else.
Whitstable. Last night. Sitting with Georgina and her grand-daughter Poppy eating shepherd’s pie. Do you remember Poppy? Poppy!
Carol and Marc dragged me out to a small town on the other side of Canterbury to watch a ska band. Even though I felt pretty bad it was nice to be included.
Feels safe here. I arrived from Paris on Friday morning. I rented a car, drove to Calais on the A1 toll road (20 euro). Ferry to Dover (120 euros) then drove to Whitstable. Dropped in at Wheeler’s, Dave’s and Carol’s place.
There is a cute gay boy running the new coffee shop.
Dumb man that I am…I decided to watch Brokeback Mountain again on the flight to Paris. I could scarcely get through the first few moments without having to change channels and watch Friends reruns.
Went back to it and still cried buckets.
Remember when we left for Paris on July 4th? That seems like it happened decades ago.
Why did it take me so long to leave NYC and why didn’t I write about it? Well, we didn’t go because the Little Dog wasn’t well and vomited all over the place so it wasn’t prudent to go anywhere. Anyway, the vet advised me not to.
I was offered a very kind room in a very beautiful hotel to rest my weary body…for free. They really looked after me.
I stayed on 10th St for a few nights. During the day I would practice what it would be like to live in NYC again.
I sat with friends outside Mud, I hung out at the Derby and Joe’s Pub with Amelia. I made many, many new ‘friends’ on line and met with them at obscure locations.
After a few days of being in the city I totally forgot about Jake unless, of course, I found myself on 1st Street or outside the Judd Foundation or on the roof at Soho House which is cleared away…just like the memories I have to clear away.
I no longer thought that any man who resembled him was him and instead marveled at how many men there were who might be him. Cute, short, hairy men with winning smiles. On occasions, as the days passed, I realized that I told too many people about him…that it was obvious to them that I was having difficulty letting him go.
When they asked if I was still in love with him it was difficult to say no without crossing my fingers.
The emotions are far more complex and seem to exist on a far deeper level than I ever planned which is why I took time away from my blog because it just riles me and I find myself posting things that I regret.
I had a number of dates with really extraordinary men but one in particular made my heart sing. I ate dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village and met some good gays. A producer, a stockbroker, a TV anchor and a journalist..I found myself thinking: Jake would like these men.
He would get a kick out of these intelligent, ambitious men.
The anchor (Don Lemon) was a cool black dude who said that in his opinion Obama was frightened of white people. Which explains, he said, why Obama is such a loser. The anchor’s bf of 3 years was 20 years younger.
I don’t know how I felt about that.
Aleksa P and I had supper in Chelsea. She talked candidly about how much fun it is for her making Boardwalk Empire. I told her that I get hundreds of people a week looking for references in my blog to her hairy armpits. She showed me how shaved they were with a wry smile but lamented how she must start growing them again soon.
We talked about our absent dads and how this shapes our view of ourselves. We talked about her gorgeously happy marriage. We laughed a great deal. She showed me the pictures of her in Vanity Fair and I felt as proud as any dad could ever be.
We talked about Jake. She was sad for me.
Brokeback: I had forgotten that Ennis and Jack had that fight. That their fight had more to do with their love and their frustration and how much they would miss each other.
Dressed as cowboys their fight seemed more romantic than ours on the King’s Road.
The last night in NYC I met a man who I could imagine being with. Just like that. I have no idea if it will turn out like I want it…but we connected. I am excited to see him again. One thing is for sure: I ain’t writing about him. Not any time soon.
TSA pat-downs are really thorough. At JFK the rather good-looking man who inadvertently (or maybe not) held my balls whilst looking for what ever they are looking for looked up at me and I said seductively, “My balls have been held by a lot worse.”
Woke up at 4am. Bugger. Spent a little time online then went back to bed. Fell into deep sleep.
A charming and funny woman who is currently dating a very beautiful ‘A’ gay director friend of mine. What a gorgeous couple! The meeting was meant to last an hour but ended up lasting 3 hours. Ashley joined us at the end.
Firstly, he taught me that being gay could be WONDERFUL. That man, an antique dealer from Thanet, was called Christopher Stocking. He drove into Whitstable weekly to search for antiques and that’s where he found me, sitting at the back of Zoe’s antique shop one cold winter’s afternoon playing with her kittens by the fire.
The shop used to be on Harbour Street opposite the harbour entrance which was rather sadly demolished in the 1970’s when all that grubby Georgian architecture seemed to bore town planners. Thankfully, Whitstable was largely ignored by Canterbury Council so there was little to no ‘urban regeneration’. No wholesale destruction of our old homes and shops. Whitstable was left to decay. Thank God.
Jake and I went to Whitstable…he loved it…that was a nice moment.
Anyway, Christopher Stocking found me in the back of the shop and realized IMMEDIATELY that I was a trainee homo and took me for a spin in his pink Jaguar. I remember his sweet and unusual smell. He asked a bunch of questions and I remember being so ashamed of where I came from that I think I lied every answer.
He’d say, “He’s gorgeous isn’t he?”
And I would get all red-faced and nod my head.
He was a perfect role model…consequently I never had any difficulty being a gay.
It all seemed perfectly natural.
A couple of years after we met Christopher told me that he wanted to tell me something. Seriously. We sat in the Tudor Tea Rooms, he held my hand and told me very gravely that if I was going to have a good life, any life..he stressed the word life..I would have to leave Whitstable. That this small seaside town wasn’t going to be big enough for me.
He told me urgently,
“You have to get out of here and make something of yourself.”
I knew that he was right but I didn’t think it was possible, plausible…mine to have.
Heroes are never quite who you expect them to be.
A man and a boy holding hands in an English Tea Room talking about the future. About the future. He was saving my life..and he knew it. He knew that there was no one else in that place who could possibly tell me what I needed to know.
That my life could be assured if I left Whitstable. That I would be valued, validated, loved. Sadly, his dream and my dream for enduring happiness diverged as I grew older.
The disease of more. Who could have foreseen that outcome?
For those of you who think bad thoughts..no..we never did anything inappropriate. He was a very appropriate man. I was 10 when I met him and 14 when he vanished. If he had made a move would I have let him? You betcha.
That afternoon in The Tudor Tea Room I saw my future reflected in his face and knew instinctively that it was essential for me to listen very carefully and remember every word he said.
Amongst the shop owners there were other gays. There were the gay twins who ran the antique shop on the corner of Albert Street and Harbour Street which is now an elegant tapas bar. Johnny and Jimmy. Clones: checked shirts, full moustaches and tight denim jeans. They scared me a bit but they were kind to me.
They guessed, they knew, they never made mention, they saw the bruises, they held out their hands just in case I needed to hold on.
The years passed.
For a few weeks I moved in with Michael the gay tax man.
Our local gay bar: The Guinea on Island Wall. Florence, the very grand landlady, was always throwing people out for no good reason. She had thick red lipstick on her lips and teeth…a crow black bouffant.
When the boys got too hot and bothered in the snug she snarled, “Darlin’ you’re barred.”
The kissing boys would feign outrage, throw their scarves over their shoulders, theatrically deliver a particularly vicious bon mot from the threshold of the pub, slam the door and scamper out into the night..until tomorrow of course when they would sit in exactly the same spot nursing pints of thick, warm beer and kiss each other as Florence was serving out of sight.
I remember when you could be thrown out of a bar, a gay bar, for kissing another man.
So, this morning, Kathy and I talked about gay men and the community. Our community that existed around the bar. Every community has a bar. THE BAR.
When the Guinea closed we headed to The New Inn, Margate. I didn’t drive and God knows how I did it but I got there and back 30 miles every Saturday night. Compelled by the need to meet other gay men.
I rarely went home with anyone. They were all so pig ugly. When the pub closed at 11.30 my very camp friend Mark and I went to a ghastly Margate club which was always half empty..called Skids. Ew.
The men there knew I was different from them. Somehow. They urged me, like Christopher had years before, to take my big ideas elsewhere. In their own way they let me know how much more of a world there was than the one I had chanced upon in Margate.
We talked about being bullied and I told her that I was bullied at school and life was pretty miserable for a few years but I just knew that high school was not the sum of my life. I knew that Christopher and men like him were out there somewhere. That I could and would be like them.
I knew that my time at boarding school would eventually come to an end. Anyway, as I mentioned before..bullied by day, blowing by night. Usually the same boys.
All these bullied kids killing themselves. I know it’s hard to be singled out to be gay by your peers, but you can’t be so sensitive. Get tough! Fight back. Ask for help! The sad fact is, when I was being bullied I rather enjoyed the attention. I learned to fight back. Ruthlessly. I knew the people who bullied me were simply appalled by my difference. It scared the shit out of them. I learned that to be different you had to seek out your own kind.
I have searched and searched.
So…I went to Paris and New York and I ended up here.
Thank you Christopher Stocking..wherever you are.
I owe you my wonderful life…when I can remember that it is wonderful. I owe you my Malibu view. I owe you my aspirations. Thank you Christopher, thank you the boys..thank you the girls..where ever you are…thank you for reading…thank you and good night.
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.
50 years ago this month my Mother, eight months pregnant, was scrubbing floors for nuns at a catholic ‘Mother and Baby’ home in the depths of rural Kent. For 6 months, this teenage girl, had undergone an emotionally disfiguring baptism of shame.
The young girls in this Catholic facility were persuaded that for their acts of fornication and subsequent pregnancies they should be punished before God and their unborn, bastard children maligned.
This penance would not edify my Mother. She would not repent. She had already glimpsed the burgeoning freedoms of post-war Britain. She had met a rich, well-dressed, exotic, Persian boy who drove a sports car and had given herself to him. She was aspirational, a teenage girl with an appetite for the modern world. She wanted what he had, the freedom he had but he wanted less from her than she from him and after moments of unbridled passion she was pregnant and abandoned. One can only imagine how dreadful she felt telling her Edwardian parents that she was carrying me, knowing that her life would never be the same again.
My grandmother, disgusted by her willful daughter’s precocious ambition, spoke to a priest who organized seven long months of incarceration at the Mother and Baby home where she would be forced to abandon her dreams in exchange for shame, resentment and fear.
My grandparents abandoned her to her fate. During the 7 months she was sent away they did not visit her once. After I was born they accepted her home begrudgingly.
Most of the girls would give up their babies. Some of them willingly some, like my mother, unwillingly.
She could not breastfeed me. I refused to suckle. Perhaps I already knew that life was not worth living? The nuns insisted and forced me onto her nipple. My mother left me behind at the Mother and Baby home to be adopted but fate or circumstance or racism intervened. I could not be adopted. My skin was olive toned, my hair curly, my eyes jet black. It was obvious to all the prospective parents who viewed me during the time I was offered up for adoption that I would not fit invisibly into any nice, white family.
By July the 8th 1960 the day of my birth the door had well and truly shut on the promises of the age.
Remember, during the first few months of the 1960’s my mother was unaware that this decade in the United Kingdom would be described variously as ‘swinging’, ‘progressive’ and ‘free’.
What of these nuns now? These Brides of Christ? Where was Jesus when all of this was going on? Where was the love of God?
My Mother was neither free to keep me even though she begged to do so and the home I would eventually end up in, although loving, was certainly not progressive nor swinging.
My Grandmother, in a rare moment of charity, decided to go fetch me and I ended up, once again, with my teenage mother and her mother and her mother in a small, semi-detached house in a genteel seaside town. Besides these three women I lived with my two aunts and my sickly grandfather. Victorian Herne Bay was, was at that time, still enjoying the benefit of the second longest pier in England, a bandstand and the cavernous Kings Hall where polite tea dances were held.
There are photographs of me ensconced in the bosom of this dysfunctional family. I was the son my grandfather never let my grandmother have. She doted on me, walked me through the streets come rain or shine. Then, she let me go.
During the darkest days of my childhood I would try to get back to that house. A house I knew and loved but when I got there it was never the house I remembered. She sent me back again and again.
I lived there for two years until my mother married a local lad and we moved to Whitstable. My Grandmother was thrilled to have her sullied daughter married. It was, in fact, against all the odds. She was ‘taken off my hands’ my Grandmother later told me.
50 years ago. 50 years. I have lied about my age for so long that I am in shock when I type those words. The number has come too soon. I am not prepared to be this old nor was I ever expecting it. Shocking! Why did I never expect to live? On many occasions during my childhood I expected to die at the hands of my angry step-father.
When I finally escaped that man I sought out equally destructive situations.
I have been hankering after the long sleep since I was born.
As I sit at my desk in Los Angeles my greatest triumph, if at all my only triumph, has been to survive. To avoid the catastrophic blow that I expected every day. I may not have fulfilled my potential but I have certainly achieved more than I ever expected, more than I was told to expect. In spite of my temper, my addictions, my desire to take up where my murderous step-father left off I am alive!
It is only recently that I tentatively acknowledged that life must be lived.
For as long as I can remember I have imagined and reimagined my death. For long as I have flown in aeroplanes I have reveled in turbulence. As often as I have picked up strange, beautiful and dangerous men I have wished death come to me.
Shame has cast such a deep shadow over me that all I ever managed to do is struggle blindly down life’s treacherous path. Stumbling into people along the way who could see. Many of those people realizing that I was blind did not help without benefit to themselves. Many of those people, when I understood what monsters they were, were shocked when I ferociously bit their hand off up to the elbow.
Perhaps this is why I stayed close to my family home, a family that did not want me. Even to this day I hanker after Whitstable. There are still elderly parents of friends my age who remember the small boy who escaped his home whenever he could and seek refuge in theirs.
During the next month I am going to write an abridged memoir. We know the beginning and most of you know where I am right now. So, as I make my way East through New York and Paris back to my old hometown of Whitstable I will let you know what I remember, what I care to remember from the last 50 years.
Today, the little dog is on my bed waiting to walk through the Californian sun to our local coffee shop. There are people there who know me from the television. People who might wave a tentative hello. Tonight I may hear from the man I love and tell him so without shame or expectation. It’s not much to ask is it? To be loved, to love. To be loved..to love?
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.
On my way back to the United Kingdom. Even though it is to deal with very bad situation at home. Includes a long journey so I can travel with the little dog: New York, Paris, Calais, Dover, Whitstable! One month before I leave-will arrive there May 30th. I am excited. I will stay there for three months-one of the many benefits of not having a career!
Anyway, a great deal to sort out. Nothing much to write or worry about today.
I found a charming little video for you to watch.
I am tired of selfish boys. Tired of his jet-black hair. Tired of waiting. Tired of mistress censorship.
I want to see Amanda, Tim and banter; with Simon Finch and hold my nose in the air.
I want to stroll down Old Bond St in my red suede boots, visiting Patrick in Hanover Square.
I want to smoke cigarettes in West London with Katrina. Let me ride horses in Hyde Park with Martha; explore electrical hardware stores with Toby and Arthur. Clandestine giggles with Joe and Adam and Eve, cottage amusements with George.
The train to Bromley and Chatham through the Garden of Eden. Where the Thames meets the Medway and the Swale beyond.
I am tired of you because I don’t trust you, but I know very well what it is to lie to some one you say that you love. To meet in some dark, wet guinnel, to feel your warm body under your navy blue coat. To feel your lips and always your lips.
Oh I miss you so much my darling hometown, and wish you invited me Whitstable style. Up on the downs overlooking the sea. Turbines, the horizon that chased me away. I have arrangements with banks to consider and beg that homeland security take me away so decisions are easier where no choice is to stay. Wholesale foreclosure, redistribution of wealth.
Take me. Take me away.
I am tired of selfish boys with raven black hair and myself in every one of them. Just you. I met just you.
Let me forget these people, struggling with prosperity and stemming the tide. Seeking solution and tanning the hide. Let me go home. Let me go home. The 12 step recovery clichés that keep me in purgatory with less time to go than one hundred years of perfect sobriety. Oh please send me home to smoky church halls and WI and no multi-malls. Remind me of jet beads stitched onto her bodice, of peplums and bagels and tottenham forest.
I am TIRED of you showing me men that are hot, hotter than me or you for that matter. I am tired of boasting to keep us alive, to stimulate interest and punish my precious child. I am naked before you my darling creator. This and more like it is all I can offer.
So take me away with you darling Ophelia on the Thames and the Medway and the Swale far beyond.
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.