October 29th, 2003


Vatican Blues

Of all the times that California might just need Schwarzenegger at the helm, he's not yet in office. That's still Gray Davis - I know nothing about this man's politics, but I wouldn't call myself Gray if I was a politician, shades of John Major - so no chance for Arnie to fly in hanging from the side of a chopper with an oversized gun. Of course, the gun would be of no use against the fires but it would be hard to make a hosepipe look like anything but a flaccid penis and there's enough innuendo and rumour floating around the future Governor's member already. Here in London, we're warming up for a possible leardership contest in the Conservative Party. There's a candidate called David Davies (so good they named him twice), I guess that's like Ivan Ivanovich or Nikolai Nikolaievich, etc. They are a luckless bunch at the moment, the only candidates who might have any appeal to the non-Tory public - Michael Portillo and Kenneth Clarke - won't be standing. The party is over for them. Yesterday on the radio they were interviewing various party faithful, even their accents distance them from potential office. Unless they rethink their whole approach (go for a radical pro-Europe stance or become rabid nationalists), it's over. Losers. Adios.

Article in the paper yesterday about Burrell's remaining secrets. Well, he's milking the future paperback rights obviously. If he doesn't get what he wants (I've no idea what that is, but it involves people saying they're sorry to some extent), he may well spill those beans. The article was to do with how such rumours are known by some people and this knowledge makes people feel either excluded or privileged. I've heard plenty of rumours about the Royal Family, but I've no idea which ones it might be: who exactly their parents really are, the lizard heads they conceal beneath those masks, someone caught in bed with a servant (possibly not consensual and man-on-man), their hoard of Nazi and Albanian gold, Di was pregnant, Camilla is really a man, Charles is really a large tuber, etc. Similarly the Beckham rumour the article alluded to. I know one Beckham rumour, but how do I know that mine is the same as everyone else's? Is that the one that involves the absence of Spice and the presence of John? Pish! As Dickens might have written, most importantly, why are our heads being filled with this flotsam? The future of the Royal Family isn't threatened by these rumours, but my life is devalued by having to consider this stuff. We're all too strung out on these rumours to kill the hands that feed us. A revolution that promised to rid the world of such speculation wouldn't get anywhere, everyone would be jonesing on street corners in days, we'd have to face the pain. Not many are prepared.

There was a story I almost told some time ago, but I was so worn out by the writing (or rather, remembering) of the other that I didn't. Moreover, had I written another story about an Italian girl I fell for, it would just lessen and devalue the tale of the C______ sisters. There's enough space between these entries now and it's early, I've an hour or so. I always get up early in these post-daylight saving months, there's so little light that it's easy to spend most of your time in darkness. I'm glad that so many of those Russian miners made it out alive.

F_________, or rather F____ as I knew her, came from Rome. Thinking about that time now, it was clear that I was heading for some eventual profound moral fall. It's getting ahead in the story, but I've always held that I've never cheated on anyone. This is a very legalist stance. No, officer, I wasn't speeding, I ploughed through those pedestrians under the limit. When our relationship became potentially serious, I had just started seeing L_____. She was always adamant that we were not going out. It was something easy to believe and, whilst this grieved me at times, it made it easier to consider going out with F____. Well, except that she lived in Rome. So in this period, I could claim technically that I didn't cheat on either. But this excuse means nothing to me now. I've too many friends at the moment who seem to be having relationships with about three people. No wonder they can't make their minds up. No wonder they don't really feel anything in particular. I think there's a reason that marriage developed as an institution. Part of that reason, and certainly not the whole, is that humans aren't capable of loving infinitely through a series of people in that way. It's very much a spell, smelling of magic, and it's only ever cast a certain number of times, before that bottle runs dry. Marriage recognises this. Marriage, not in this present time though, pushes you towards First Love, because it suggests that an element of that bond will be enough to sustain a life together. A challenge for marriage may perhaps be the length of our lives currently, but the general modern conception is that you play the field and then settle for something after a process of experimentation and trial and error. This seems a logical and considered solution. Seems.

Now, whilst I've never considered myself particularly profligate sexually in comparison to others, there's an element of Lou Reed doing anti-drug commercials to this. Of course, you can make that stance now, Lou, you've emptied the whole pharmacy and have learned some important lessons along the way, but the pharmacy helped teach you those things. Perhaps it needs to teach me too, I thought when I saw that advert. But love and drugs, which are both in part incidents of brain chemistry, can lose their appeal. Chasing an idealised memory, a perfect event, that time then... So much of human development, these social customs and their moralities, are there for a purpose. They evolved as strategies for survival and they are not the work of idiots. They are us. The modern world, the modern experiment, proposes that we can break this link as our intelligence is enough to see through the fallacy of these various arguments. This is risky. For whilst the nature of society has changed sufficiently to make older attitudes seem hopelessly outdated and irrelevant...it's bye bye world, hello noble adventure! Yea! Let's go! The children have taken all the toys out of the boxes and might realise there's no one who is going to tidy up after them. By the way this paragraph is going, you might think I'll be voting Conservative soon or advocating that children should all be made to join one of those American staying-a-virgin associations. No, I'm not saying that. I guess I'm saying that I'm scared. I'm also trying to excuse my actions back then.

I didn't go out with F___ from the outset. She invited me over to Italy and I spent a week at her house over New Year's. We wandered around the city, met up with other friends we had in common. I have to say that I really didn't see eye-to-eye with many of her friends especially the men. She told me a story about her then boyfriend pouring a lot of wine down her and awaking to him trying unsuccesfully to get his prick inside her. She told me a lot of stories and I liked the way she'd tell them. I have more letters from her than any other person I've ever met. We'd write once or twice a week, speak on the phone. I really don't remember how it happened that I ended up with her. Close and then closer still and then there you are.

I can remember L____ saying to me later "If you want to sleep with her, you can go ahead, it's not as if we're going out..." This was one of those early points where I should have thought: you know, you're right, and this unattractive moral duplicity of yours might indicate that things are going to get very fucked up if we stay together. This writing is getting very sloppy. I'm not telling this story right. After all, what is it that you really wanted to say about her? As opposed to what you think you should write.

It's this. When that period had ended and I returned from Japan, I can remember the shame I felt for how I'd just stopped writing to her. I wrote a letter to her, tried to tell the story, apologised. I never saw her again. But she did write back and the letter was ultimately forgiving. Yes, things should have followed her path and not the other one taken. But they didn't. A few years later, the phone rang and it was her. 'Do you know who it is?' 'Yes, it's you, F____' 'No one calls me that anymore! They call me F________ now'. She laughed. Told me about her boyfriend, living in Germany. I never heard from her again, but unlike the C_____ sisters, whose fate was very unclear to me, I still know where she is. I looked it up recently, she's working for that German company, even found an entry about a holiday she took in Mexico a year ago.

There's a series of photos I took out in Rome on one of my visits. The film rewound and ended up double exposed. These pictures of her, me together with her, we have merged with the architecture and sculpture. I can hear her laugh through these, I can remember her Roman accent with that attractive German twang to it. I can remember magic and I can remember her true companionship as much as the uncertainty of my love. Why did you do that, L_____, and why did I end up following darkness and not the brightness of her light?

JG Ballard wrote a section of his autobiography called The Kindness of Women. I've always liked that title, because it was a celebration of women and a very welcome statement of tenderness and adoration. These friends of mine, I never hear them talk of women softly. I don't know whether it's because they just don't feel that way or that it's what men so fear expressing in their lives, in particular to other men. I guess all that I wanted to say about F_______ was to do with remembering her kindness. If it hadn't been for those pesky Jesuits continually bursting into the room at every opportunity, who knows?
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    Silence, but now I intend to play some Francesco di Gregori