Sunday, 3 June 2012


It is an awful thing to say but the car crash, resulting in Eddy being bedridden for months, proved to be a glorious release from cheerless drudgery.
 I returned to England alone, leaving him in Pau encased in plaster but well looked after by Elise, his mother’s housekeeper, my mother having cleverly convinced everybody that it would be more sensible for her to stay in Pangbourne to arrange for his eventual homecoming.
On my arrival she embraced me like never before not only thankful that I had survived the accident but grateful that, for a while she would be released from the tedium of wifely duties...
 'We must make the most of our freedom while it lasts,' she said, 'for when Eddy returns our lives will become a nightmare.'
 Pierre immediately moved into her bedroom and Weir Pool was declared an open house to all and sundry. When mother and lover did not go out together, they threw dinner parties for Pierre’s film studio friends, talented artistic people who opened my eyes to how rewardingly exciting a creative life could be. I now could have as many people for sleep-overs as I wanted, so invited musician friends to come and play the piano, saxophone, clarinet, double bass, or whatever instrument that came to hand while I beat the drums as everyone else danced the night away. We turned the place into a night club.
 I became infatuated with Irina, a young ballet dancer from The Red Shoes, who renamed Weir Pool ‘The Enchanted Madhouse’ and taught me the pas-de-deux, then with Holly, a stills photographer from Pinewood Studios for whom I trod water ( sort of solo synchronized swimming ) across the Thames wearing a bowler hat and carrying a tray of drinks unaware that she would sell the picture to the Daily Mirror who devoted a page to the idiotic feat. Within days the photo was syndicated worldwide and a BBC TV unit filmed me doing the act again for a children’s programme.
 Thankfully these antics never reached the eyes or ears of the patient in Pau, and despite all the excitement, I was quite sensible and dutifully went to work at the factory every day, proving myself indispensable to the directors who were in charge as they did not speak enough French to communicate with most of our suppliers. Eddy had given me a notebook with instructions on how to deal with the multitude of business matters (from checking that the storeman did his stock taking regularly on Fridays to negotiating the best prices for fresh truffles) so I commandeered his office and his secretary, a dear old soul who never for a moment doubted my ability to make the right decisions, and  found, to my surprise that most of the correspondence and mountain of paper work that he constantly laboured over was quite unnecessary. A telegram or brief phone call would more often than not suffice to deal with any problem and, instead of spending hours behind his desk, I did everything that was necessary before lunchtime enabling me to go to theatre matinees in the afternoon or peacefully read in the park.
  I read a great deal during this period and saw every important play I could, all of which stimulated me to write, but I had little idea where to start, so I took a correspondence course on the science of fiction writing and learned one very simple rule for composing a story - face a character with a conflict, on overcoming the conflict the character causes another, on trying to overcome both he causes a third....and so on until the problems can be resolved.
 I borrowed an Underwood typewriter from the accounts department and, from then on, did not go out in the afternoons, but wrote short stories, stage plays, radio plays and television plays, sent them off to their appropriate destinations, collected rejections by return until one day I got something accepted...

No comments:

Post a Comment