Saturday, 8 June 2013


On a Monday morning in March 1973 I dutifully turned up at the Mayfair offices of the American advertising agency which was thankfully giving me full time employment as a copywriter. 
 I had not worn a shirt with cuffs or a tie for over twelve years and the only suit I possessed looked rather tired so, having re-equipped my wardrobe, I set forth, scrubbed and hair-trimmed like a new boy on his first day at school.  
 I was welcomed by a senior director who hailed from Philadelphia - a dyed in the wool ad-man unbearably seeped in the glories of the company’s successes. He showed me to what would be my own office with the use of a secretary from the typing pool. Because I was French I was to work on the “Isola 2000 “ account, a new ski resort in the Alpes Maritime, and the Blue Band Margarine account because I had written a book on luxury foods. 
 After my first day of swatting up on skiing terms and attending a creative meeting to discuss carbohydrates, saturated fats, calories and cholesterol,  I was overwhelmed by a deep depression realizing how much I was going to dislike the job, but then overcame it  by thinking of the money which soon enabled Maribel and I to move from our inadequate Earl’s Court bed sitter to a larger, brighter flat in Gloucester Road, Kensington.
 Maribel, unable to get a work permit, but not wanting to be dependent on me, cleverly got herself a position selling tickets at the box office of the Collegiate Theatre in Bloomsbury through a Madrid theatrical  friend who was directing the mime artist Lindsay Kemp in a new show based on Jean Genet’s “Lady of the Flowers". 
  When I had finished work I joined her at the theatre which took me back to the days of “The Aimless” reminding me that I had lost possible opportunities in that world by moving to Spain. Fired again by the 'smell of the greasepaint and roar of the crowd' I started on a three act play during office hours, finding this more rewarding than praising the joys of slalom-discipline and the benefits of hydrogenated soya oil.  
  Meanwhile, Maribel's stint in the “Flowers” box office led her to meeting another Spanish stage director who was rehearsing a flamenco dance production at the Victoria Palace Theatre. As his English was negligible, he could not make himself understood by the electricians, so asked her to help him translate the lighting plots - the colour changes during a performance that have to be cued exactly to the music.    
 Maribel was quite confident that she could sort things out and, without hesitation, took over and, on the afternoon of the dress rehearsal, I slipped away from my agency desk to sit in the back of the stalls, intrigued to see how she had got on. 
 Overture, curtain up, Louisa Aranda, the star appeared resplendent in a pink spot when it should have been pale blue,  José Antonio, her partner,  made his entrance bathed in sickly green when it should have been amber, the twenty flamenco dancers had to compete with a thunder and lightning storm and, for several minutes the orchestra found themselves playing in total obscurity. She remained surprisingly calm while everyone else went into a blind panic but, in time, everything was put right for the opening night.  

    At the end of April  `The Innocence Has Gone, Daddy´ was published in hardback by Cassells and was well received by the press as :
     ‘a controversial novel that explores the taboos of incest
      and deals frankly and sensitively with a harrowing experience
      rarely touched upon even in today’s free thinking society.’

  It was instantly banned in South Africa, which was considered a plus, then published in the States and in paperback in both the UK and US.  
 The book’s appearance enhanced my status at the agency and, in July, I was sent to Isola 2000 to dream up an advertising campaign for the following year. With all expenses paid it was a good opportunity to take Maribel with me to meet my parents on the coast. 
 After spending a few days in the deserted sun-dried winter resort  trying to imagine the chalets and slopes covered with snow, we went down to Cagnes to stay in the big white house.    
 My mother thought Maribel very young and warned me that I was risking her infidelity when I was in my dotage, but she was pleased that I would have a nurse to look after me when I was gaga. Eddy also thought her very young but much preferred her to Eve whom he had always found too reserved.  Maman, aged 96, still obsessed with sex, immediately leaned forward in her wheel chair to feel Maribel’s breasts and congratulated me on having found someone better endowed than ‘your last wife.’ 
  On our return to England I finished my play and sent it off to a number of managements. One surprising impresario decided to produce it, but before that a change of residence and marriage were to dominate our lives...

“Lady of the Flowers" dancer : Luisa Aranda

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