Thursday, 11 April 2013


In January 1973, an English producer asked me to come to London to work on the film adaptation of The Navy Lark, a successful radio comedy series at the time. He guaranteed me monthly expenses on top of the writing fee. I did not want to leave Maribel, the boys, nor stop work on the new novel, but my finances were dire so I could not refuse. 
 The week before I set off, Eve paid me a very perturbing visit at the flat. Easy Rider had unexpectedly gone back to America for good and she was going to join him in two days time. She had asked her father for money, had booked her flight to New York and had no plans about returning - if at all !         
 'What about Nicolas and Matthew? ' I asked, astonished. 
 'You can move into the house and look after them with your devoted little puppy.' she said. 
The devoted little puppy referred to Maribel, an unnecessary slight which I ignored. I told her I was leaving for London shortly and couldn’t take the boys with me. 
 'I don’t care,' she said,  'I’m going whatever happens. You’ll just have to sort something out.' 
 It was late afternoon, she had obviously had too many drinks at lunch time, so I took her lunatic plan with a pinch of salt. The following day, however, when I went to the house to check what she was up to, I  found her sober and packing. 
 'I rang Mummy,' she said, 'told her you might be going to London with the children and she said she’d be happy to look after them at weekends.' 
 'What, and abandon them alone in a hotel room during the week ?'
 She didn’t listen, she didn’t care. It was irresponsible madness and the day after she left for America.   
 Somewhat shattered, I struggled with the dilemma I now faced and concluded that there was only one solution. I would take the boys with me to london and ask Maribel to come with us as well to take care of them.  
 The moment I suggested this to the three, they went quite berserk with joy. They would sight-see all the monuments, go to the cinema, visit museums, go to the cinema, eat Macdonald hamburgers and go to the cinema. There was no going back on the idea whatever the cost and, fortunately, my agent put me in contact with a travel writer client who wanted to let her apartment in central London for a few months as she was going to Russia, which solved the accommodation problem.. 
Maribel had never been abroad before so had to apply for a passport. 
So try to deny our She was not one to shy away from the tedium of Spanish bureaucracy but acted very nervously when asked to get photocopies of her birth certificate.  
 'What is the problem ?' I asked her, puzzled. 
  'The problem, ' she answered, 'is that I’ve been lying to you. I’m older than I said and I’m not Mexican. I was born in Granada, my father never went to Mexico and my mother is my real mother. I just don’t happen to get on with her, so try to deny our relationship.' 
 'Why on earth didn’t you tell me the truth ?' I asked. 
 'I’d heard that you were only interested in young girls and wanted to impress you with a more exciting background.' 
 She then handed me a photograph of herself, aged eight in her communion dress asking if I thought it would do for the passport. 
 'Hardly,' I said.     
 The four of us arrived in London on a cold, rainy, winter’s day, not knowing much about where we were going to stay except the address off St James’s Street.
 The taxi from the airport delivered us to an old luxury block a stone’s throw from the Ritz Hotel. We collected the keys from a disdainful porter, took the lift up to the third floor and let ourselves into an Edwardian lady’s bijoux one bedroom flat furnished with little else but precious antiques and valuable paintings.
 The little place was centrally heated, thickly carpeted throughout,  large brass taps over an enormous bath gushed steaming hot water from an impressive geyser. I thought it all cosy and wonderful. 
 'There’s no television !' Matthew cried out, alarmed. 
 'We’ll hire one,' I said. 
 'There’s no place for us to sleep' Nicolas pointed out. 
  'I’ll get a couple of camp beds.'
  'And where’s the kitchen ?' Maribel asked.
 I opened a cupboard door revealing a small kitchenette. 
 It’s got to be our home for an unknown amount of time, 'I told them,' So lets try to make the best of it. 
  'OK ....' the three piped up. 'Now can we, go to the cinema ?' 

Maribel in her holy communion dress age 7
Eve before leaving to the USA

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