I've got nothing
whatever to write about this week; which at least should make it easier to
understand. Since Friday, which is four days ago as I write, I have
written ten thousand words of a new novel which suddenly gripped me when
Moon's garage rang up and said a new starter-motor would cost £50. I had
three days' carefree motoring after spending £200 on brakes and tyres.
"Why not get a small English car?" asked Eli. (Rhyme
it softly with Daily.) Eli is a beautiful Norwegian girl you
must have seen in the glossies; she is
married to Rickie who is a
probation officer. They're known in our clan as crime and punishment,
though I haven't sorted out which is which.
"Because I like to pace up and down," I told her. I also like to sit out
in the car and read, it being slightly larger than my room. When your
life is made of roads you must have one moveable part of your home. Jesus,
I'm really dull this week. The brightest thing that happened was this
lovely Indian girl in a mini-dress who asked me to take my trousers down.
"Either you should wear some support or else see a surgeon," she said. I've never had a pretty
girl say that to me before. She's apparently standing in for
my doctor who is on holiday
(you've noticed no "Jack Trevor Story is on holiday" notes on this column
this summer). I can't wear supports, especially right in the middle of my
moose-hunting season. As for surgeons, I would die under the anaesthetic.
My breathing is very unreliable, always has been. "What about
"That's not heart trouble," she said, after holding
my left hand for several
seconds. My left arm hurts and my little finger's gone numb. You may have
noticed the "Z", "A", "Q" and "!" are kind of weak lately. "When you get
older," she went on, relentlessly, the bones in the back of your neck can
get slightly out of alignment and press on a nerve. It simply means
wearing a collar under your chin for a while."
Great; I have a support and a collar under my chin and on top of that that
loose tooth dropped out eating Paul McDowall's birthday cake last week. I
shall see I shall have to do what
my flatmate Jean-Claud has done and join a computer
dating service. His English is not perfect so I've been doing the
introductory phoning for him - he allows me 10 per cent. I listen to him
making fine passionate speeches and then ending with "good evening".
My happiest bit of reading this week comes from Abbie Hoffman's "Woodstock
"Daisy Johnson go to the red tent in the hog farm. Myron Cohen wants to
I haven't switched television on since "D" for Dover day in early June and
you may have noticed my shortage of current topics. It all comes out of my
head, folk, doyng, doyng, doyng! However, they haven't forgotten
me for Joe Steeples rang
me this afternoon and invited
me to make a four-minute
home-movie next week to be shown on London Weekend's "Eleven Plus"
programme (whatever that is). I've got two days to do the script:
EXT. HAMPSTEAD HIGH STREET. DAY
STORY appears wearing a truss and neck collar and keeping his hand over
his missing tooth but still giving his handicapped smile to passing
And talking of Hampstead, I see they've ruined a nice old pub, The Three Horseshoes,
by making it smart,
chic and dark as P J Clark's on Third Avenue where the
menu is written in braille. With two
more pages to go we come to a
bright new item, Unknown facts about the author:
I get neurotic if people come into my room and read anything of
mine before it's been printed.
To get a clearance on a line of
mine from one of my victims I mask the rest of the page. Reading a writer in
ms without permission is like
whistling in a theatre - it's death.
The last nerve-twanging days of August are upon us (to get back to normal)
and on the 31st, Lee's and Saroyan's birthday, Maggie's work-permit in Brussels will be withdrawn. Since everything's gone sadly quiet
lately I have a feeling she won't know what to do or where to go. I'd like
to quote part of a short story which I was quite shocked to find at the
bottom of one of her
dressing-table drawers which I just got the courage to open. It's dated
27th May, 1970, and I had no idea she'd written it. It's headed with the
song title "Leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back
"After our final row I decided to go to Paris - wasn't that where I always
intended going if and when our relationship ended..." There's a
thousand-word first-person account of adventures and an affair in Paris
which ends when she falls sick and her lover is impatient to get off back
to the coast. The ending is as follows:
"That little room was so small and lonely as I lay there all day, lethargic, wanting nothing
except to go home. This present affair could only last as long as we were here in
Paris and, now that he
had left, the affair was over. The following day I was better, but
detached in some strange way from the present, and from the past. I forced
myself to see once more the now familiar sights of Paris, and said a
silent goodbye to each one. If I ever come back I thought all this will be
I cried in my room as I packed and so put off phoning until I reached
Orly. When his phone stopped ringing I said brightly, "Would you
mind picking me up at the
airport - I'll be on the 5 pm flight which arrives at..."
But that was Maggie's fiction, whereas August this year of 1972 has been
filled with her inescapable realities.
(The Guardian, Saturday 26 August, 1972)