Thursday, 29 January 2015


'Til death do us part

I've just seen an article on this ex-Playboy model who has fallen deeply in love with this 82 year-old, Austrian billionaire.

She has dated a few young men in the past, apparently, and all she wants now is a real man who wants to show himself to be one, as he helps her bring up her child for a while.

Another heart-warming story.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Heart-warming story

This may sound like I am trying to make myself sound like a human being, and - to a certain extent -  that's true, but it's much more of a heartwarming story for me.

There is a young woman, ex or not so ex junkie, Big Issue seller here, and she only has one arm. She's very pretty, in a Gormenghast sort of way, but that's not why I like her. I just like her, that's all, but she has a haunted look in her eyes.

I know she had a child a couple of years ago, and I know that child has been taken away from her.

Last night I was walking down the street, and I saw her standing there with tears streaming down her face. I hate seeing anyone cry, let alone adults or female adults, so I asked her what was wrong.

Some bastard had stolen all her clothes apart from the ones she stood in, stolen her iPad which she had for Christmas, and hit her.

I gave her £20 and she gave me a hug in return. Her tears dried up.

I got home and told H.I. and we both hoped she would not just rush off and spend it on smack. That was a real risk I took by giving her money, and I hope she would only spend half of it on drugs.

This morning, I bumped into her again and asked her if she was feeling better. She was dressed in a completely different outfit and actually looked quite glamourous. She said she had bought it all from a charity shop, but the boots were new and only cost £10. She had spent the entire sum I gave her on clothes. She said she felt much better today, and gave me another hug.

I was so bloody relieved and glad that I gave her a few quid - imagine how I would feel if I hadn't, through some understandable suspicion? My faith in human nature was restored this morning, together with my shaky faith in my own judgment.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Oh alright then

Everyone's been complaining that I took down the picture of H.I. and the girls, so here it is back up again.

Daughter - right, centre - always complained that everyone would turn around and stare at her mother when they walked together in the street. I think that really pissed her off, but she's over it now.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Holiday romance

Mise has been talking of holidays in the Algarve, Southern Portugal, and I compared my experience of lying next to an open sewer on a beach for a week, to her idyllic, sun-drenched, laughter-filled, halcyon days in the midst of picturesque, ochre-coloured villas surrounded by Mediterranean flowers. How many different worlds it is possible to inhabit at the same time.

In the middle of January, most Northern Hemispherical people start to dream and plan of escaping, and we are no exception. For a while, H.I. has been hankering after a particular area of Sicily made famous by de Lampedusa's 'The Leopard', but I have been having misgivings to do with what I suspect to be the actual reality of the place, which is quite unusual for me.

I think that - aside from de Lampedusa -  the Italian detective series, 'Montalbano', has coloured her vision of the place, but when I watched the opening titles and credits rolling up over her shoulder the other day, I couldn't help noticing that Napoli seems to consist of a low mountain which has absolutely no space left to place another white-washed hovel on it, and - from the air - it looks as though its factories spread right down to the water's edge as well. The street scenes also make it clear that it would be even easier to get lost here than Venice, and it would be pointless to ask for a room with a view, unless you wanted an uninterrupted view of you nearest neighbour - your very near neighbour.

Good holidays always entail quite a lot of hard work, and are usually only appreciated as being good once you get home and start looking at the photos. The only exception to this was our trip to Havana, which was unremittingly good right from the moment we arrived - at two in the morning, to be served our first Moquito by a man high up in the Sevilla hotel.

I suppose that, by the time we arrived, they had already kicked out the hoards of gangsters and sent them over to Miami, but although you don't hear too much from the Mafia these days, I think that their spiritual home is still based in Sicily.

There was a spate of handbag-snatching from the backs of Lambrettas a few years ago, but this was low-life stuff and was unlikely to end up in finding a horse's head in your bed when you got back to the hotel. True gangsters tend to view tourists as civilians and therefore an almost legitimate source of income, so we have little to fear from them when on holiday. I am sure the handbag-snatchers were harshly dealt with by the Mob because they were damaging trade.

I spent quite a while in Hamburg, living in a friend's flat on the Reeperbahn some years ago. Hamburg is known for its gangsters - clubs, sex tourism, etc. - and the Reeperbahn is one mile long and has clubs and bars either side of the whole stretch. The mobster's territory is divided right down the middle - the middle of the road.

Every morning I would go for breakfast in a little, English-style cafe and be served by elderly women in ordinary clothing - it was an early morning oasis from the 24/7 sex clubs which surrounded it.

There was always a handful of gangsters sitting around when I went there, and after a while they got to know me and bid me 'good morning' every day. You could spot a gangster in Hamburg because they were all about 6' 3", very beefy, had long tash moustaches, gruff voices and huge mastiff dogs always in tow.

After a week or so of visiting this place, I was told that there had been a little dispute amongst them a few days before, and one lot of them had crossed the street, went into the cafe and shot some of the others dead before going back over the road.

The old ladies just cleared up and carried on as normal.

It is everywhere. Over the road from here is a Turkish restaurant. One night I noticed a middle-aged man who was reverentially being served food and drink by all of the waiters, and he accepted it without a word, not paying for anything.

"Who is that?" I asked a waiter. "You don't want to know who he is," was the answer.

I have a good Chinese friend who just happens to be a Triad member - you are born into it, apparently. He took me out for a Chinese/Thai meal one night, and nothing was spared in food and drink for the 4 of us. I went to pay, and he said, "What are you doing? We don't pay."

Saturday, 24 January 2015

I never forget a face

For some reason, soon-to-be superstar John Gray always casts John Hurt in the role of me, and I always think that Frank Kelly (above) would be so much more suitable. I think that I am pretty much in touch with my feminine side, but not as much as the wand salesman.

All I would need to do to play Father Jack would be to put on a few pounds and wear a white contact lens - everything else is up, running and ready to shoot, including the dark stain on the sofa.

I occasionally give myself a nasty shock by accidentally hitting the Photo Booth button on this machine, and am instantly faced with a non mirror-image of myself in full, unforgiving daylight.

When I was young and handsome, I was walking down a street when I turned a corner and came into view of what I thought was another person, but was - in fact - me, reflected in a large shop window.

I don't know about you, but I have always been one for making instant, snap judgements about people based on their physical appearance, and because these judgements are made inside my head (at the moment) I do not hold back for fear of hurting the feelings of others.

In the split second I saw the reflection of myself in that window, I thought, 'what a twat' before realising it was me a second later. That was a very sobering experience. Heaven knows what I would think of myself now if I could conjure up that sort of detachment.

They (I think it was an ancient Greek philosopher) say you have the face you deserve by the time you are 40, and I think they are right.

I would probably be a lot better looking without all those fags and booze, but I'm not sure I would be any richer without being the sort of tight-arsed, handsome man of the sort I secretly - and sometimes openly - despise. I like spending money when I have it. It's always burned a hole in my pocket and I am of a generous disposition.

John cast Juliette Stephenson (no relation) as Rachel, and this produced mixed emotions in me.

I used to really fancy Juliette Stephenson about 30 years ago, but somehow she has morphed into an illustration of The Duchess in Alice in Wonderland - her features have grown disproportionately to her age, in the reverse of a puppy's paws.

I watched Maureen Lipman in the re-run of 'Smiley's People' the other night, and remembered how I was - and still am - attracted to dark-haired, very Jewish women. It is a shame that us men are not gifted with the ability to find white-haired, Jewish grandmothers just as attractive when we reach a similar age. It's worse than a shame, it's a curse - a punishment for past deeds, probably.

I am not bragging when I say that over the last 40 years or so, I have shagged a hell of a lot of women, but all that seems to be in the distant past now. Bath - being an overgrown village - means that I occasionally run into some of them, and many of them are still not talking to me.

I was once sitting in the pub when a good-looking woman of about 35 came over and asked me how I was. I replied politely and then made the mistake of saying that although her face was familiar, I couldn't quite place where we had met. She stepped up a little closer, told me that we had slept together six weeks ago, then slapped me hard, full in the face before leaving. I haven't seen her since.

I sometimes am out walking with H.I. when I see one of these old flames, and I helpfully tell H.I. that - in 1976, say - I had my wicked way with the rotund, elderly woman as she walks past, ignoring me.

"That?!" H.I. will comment with a subtle hint of jealousy in her voice.

"Well she didn't look like that in 1976," I say in my own defence, "and I was drunk at the time."

Maybe they ignore me because they don't recognise me?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Scratching my arse

I've been a bit quiet of late, sitting around and scratching my arse, longing to go back to bed. Instead, I have been herding cats - cats who have found themselves the unwitting custodians of millions of pounds of other people's money.

As soon as the cats feel the heavy weight of responsibility that this entails, they turn into headless chickens. As soon as they turn into headless chickens, someone needs to step in and herd them using a combination of benign (but totally assumed) authority and the clear-sighted common-sense that only an outsider can provide.

You wouldn't believe the crazy decisions that most people make when they are trying to please all of the people, all of the time, and you wouldn't believe the state of blind panic that they find themselves in when someone throws a very expensive, hot potato in their hands.

Aside from my 15% project management fees I am earning from one aspect of these jobs and the great deal more from the other, I have undergone a flashingly bright and brief education process which is truly worth more money than you could ever afford to pay for it.

In a microcosm of National Politics, one job entails every single ingredient involved in running a piss-up in a brewery, but in an infinitesimally smaller scale. Not that it seems small to the people who have had the hot potato thrown at them, mind.

Ever wondered how Alistair Campbell got himself into the situation he did? Ever wondered how Machiavelli did the same? Or Rasputin? Try knocking some sense into the manifold heads of any committee and you will find out.

What's the worst that could happen? You drop a £250,000 sculpture and it becomes worthless - to the owner. You lose a million quid and 350 people lose a few thousand pounds - and their jobs. Do I look as though I care?

Well I do actually, but I am only pretending. It's the only way to keep a clear head under fire. That's a trick I learnt from Tony Blair, plus a handful of other assorted psychopaths.