8 May 2011
In the end, it took me a year to get the book published. All in all, not bad, and during that year life got much simpler.
In the spring of 2010, Dad was living in a drafty cottage filled with 40 years of stuff; we had no idea where he was going to live and no idea how we were going to pay for him to live there; we hadn’t even begun to get probate on Mum’s estate; a firm of high-powered lawyers were chasing us for a five-figure cash sum; my own finances were chaotic; and my paperwork a mess.
By spring 2011, the old place was cleaned, cleared and passed to those who’ll flourish in it; Dad is moved and at ease; his accommodation finances are secure; probate is granted; the lawyers placated; and the debt liquidated. The family logistic issues remaining – those decades of poison I took on in 2007 – are now ring-fenced, and will be resolved in a logical and unemotional manner, if I’ve got anything to do with it. My finances are rational. My filing a symphony of order.
It’s just a path. I couldn’t have given expression to my sense of wonder without the pilgrimage. I couldn’t have spun it into literature without the isolation of the shed. The punishing process of polish and review had the hoped-for effect. Preparing myself to deal with the business end required three years interaction with the no-nonsense realities of Lloyds Banking Group and KPMG. In the end, it was the right path.
Meanwhile, recently, I’ve paid a couple of visits to my dear friends, Mike and Katie Roberts. Back in the glory years (when we were all bohemian nutcases) we used to throw hedonistic three-day parties, replete with DJs, outdoor marquees, cinema rooms and collective euphoria. During those salad days, there were times when it felt like the last 10,000 years of technological innovation, scientific enlightenment and social progress were worth it, if only to give rise to those bumptious, bass-soaked, internationally-connected, shared experiences.
Well, we shared them. Now time’s moved on.
When I returned to London in 2008, Mike and Katie had just moved into their new Stoke Newington flat. It’s been a long three years. Now the flat is a haven of tranquillity and breastfeeding. They’re onto their second child and preparing to leave the city for somewhere less intense. A poster of Michael Caine in their bathroom, from the legendary David Bailey exhibition of 1999, is a reminder of the era left behind.
I really don’t remember much about Cleopatra. There were a lot of other things going on. – Elizabeth Taylor