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Sunday, 29 July 2007

“Procrastination and delay are the parents of failure” - Canning

That seemed a good opening to the story I promised about the stabbing, the suede coat and the stripper, but never delivered because I forgot to save it on my computer.

(I might add that silly mistakes made on computers by absent-minded techno-nitwits like me are the parents of gibbering fury, frustration and lots of laughs from their colleagues).

Anyhow …

You may recall that I was living with A, the retired cash-for-favours lady. She was forcibly retired by the diligent boys in blue, actually. When I met her she was on probation for alleged possession of heroin.

She said she’d been “fitted up”, with a friend, the former drummer of Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, by having the drugs planted on them. As she pointed out, meth – speed – was their thing, not heroin, which is the very opposite in its effects.

The drummer went to goal – she thought because he was black – and hanged himself. She spent a fair bit of time trying to find justice, without success. She told me the only really helpful person was the late Ludovic Kennedy.

Another thing she told me was that in her short career in the entertainment business she has made £50,000 – and spent the lot on drugs.

When I met her, she had been employed as my secretary in the mail order business I had started working in. One look at her legs in their patterned tights, carefully displayed to attract my attention, and my small reserves of moral rectitude vanished.

When this was followed a week or two later by an evening at the tiny bed-sit of one of her friends, all was lost. I think it was the mirror at the end of the bed that did it.

My wife eventually threw me out – I think with every reason. We’re still friends, and she now says she made a mistake. Whatever the truth, I have always felt bitter regret because as a result I never spend as much time with my children as I should have.

Hardly anything is what you expect in life, and who could have dreamt that somebody who had spent five years selling her most obvious assets would turn out to be insanely jealous?

One day when I came back to our little flat next to Whiteleys on Queensway (bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom, £8 a week, if you’re interested in inflation) I had had a good lunch with a girl I worked with at the Grapes in Shepherds Market.

I was cross-questioned sharply. What follows is abbreviated, as it lasted a good half hour and was highly repetitive with a very little variation in theme or language.

“Did you kiss her?”

“Only on the cheek.”

“You fucked her, didn’t you?”

“No. Just kissed her goodbye when she left.”

“You don’t have to fucking lie to me, you c**t. You fucked her, admit it.”

“I didn’t, honestly.”

“Just tell the truth. I won’t be angry. Admit that you fucked her.”

And so on, until, from sheer exhaustion, some irritation and extraordinarily bad judgement (which I am very strong on, by the way) I caved in – and lied.

“Alright, if it makes you happy, I fucked her.”

At this admission - entirely untrue, as I say -she exploded and launched herself at me like a nuclear missile.

Freeing myself from her I rushed out of the flat and scrambled down the stairs.

She was a relatively small person, but uncommonly violent, and chased me up Queensway punching, pulling, kicking, shouting comments about my character, until eventually a random blow caught me on my nose.

Blood streamed out, all over my newest acquisition, a knee-length suede coat from Take 6. I never could get it cleaned properly. Tragic.

She gave up the chase, and I wandered round to a hotel in Inverness Terrace and asked for a room.

“Certainly, Sir,” was the reply, delivered as though bloody apparitions like me appeared every ten minutes.

I said I’d be back and went to get my things.

When I reached the front door, it was closed, but I got a response when I knocked and said I’d come to collect my things.

Have you ever notice that abuse always comes in volleys, just as sheep come in flocks?

Well, that’s what I received. Not a flock, a volley. A fusillade. Maybe, to mix a metaphor, a tsunami of abuse.

I kept on hammering on the door to get in.

Suddenly it opened.

A rushed out, stark naked except for a carving knife, aimed at my gut. Thank God for my suede coat. It saved my life.

I grabbed her, swung her round, shot inside the door and closed it, leaving her outside in her glory.

Despite all the row nobody in any of the flats came out to see what was going on. British reserve? Or maybe just the kind of people who live around Queensway.

“Let me in, you c**t” with variations on the theme continued for a while.

Eventually I agreed to do so if she pushed the knife through the letterbox first.

She did, and I decided that since I was paying the rent, I was damned if I was going to leave my own flat because I shared it with a homicidal maniac. So, believe it or not I got into bed – and so did she.

Did we kiss and make up? Did we hell. Every few minutes she would start shouting and thumping me, and I would restrain her until I gave up and went to lie down on our settee next door.

She only attacked me a couple of times, thank God and eventually I slept.

You might think this little drama would have had me out of there for good, but no. I waited till I had an alternative. Among my many weaknesses, one at that time –and for many years after – was an inability to live on my own.

At this point you may ask – if you’ve been following this twisted tale – “What about the stripper you promised, Drayton?”

All in good time, but let me start that story with a phone call I had from a friend one morning. He had been a colleague in advertising, and introduced me to the mail order business.

“I have a new receptionist,” he said. “She wears the shortest skirts you’ve ever seen, and no knickers.”

God, what trivial beasts we men are. I was round like a shot.

And, God, how often life lets us down. She was indeed wearing an exceedingly short skirt (remember, this was the ‘60’s). But a series of fleeting glances revealed that the second statement my friend made was not true.

More important, though, the wearer of the skirt and knickers had the most beautiful eyes and smile – and agreed to come for a drink.

And that is the start of the story about the stripper.

But did you feel disappointed with the stabbing? I wasn’t really stabbed was I? But don’t worry, you have yet to read the story of how I nearly bled to death after another little exchange, and was indeed stabbed eventually by someone else.

But that was much later.

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