NOT an intellectual

Having grown up the way I did, I assumed that ‘being an intellectual’ was the way forward. For 25 years I had been ‘good’ and serious: I had gone to Oxford, worked at the LRB and for City Limits. But it had come unstuck. In 1989 at City Limits – a bastion of ‘good practice’, or so I had been led to believe – people were sacked on a show of hands. It was Czechoslovakia, 1948: zeal turns to repression…
In resisting this, I ‘became a man’. I promptly resigned (with my girlfriend, who henceforth will be known as ‘Cat Woman’) and booked a ticket to America. America might have been seen as the anti-intellectual choice: all the American art I worshipped was not intellectual (movies, Monument Valley, George Clinton, the Isley Brothers…), but…
I had a great 2 months in the US, and came back in December to the prospect of a possible job in April with The Good Times, samizdat heir to City Limits – and FREE to boot. So I had 3 months… And along came a job (via my sister’s friend Mark aka Jack) at the NFT…
Once again, this should have been an anti-intellectual training ground: the people I got on with (L, Rita Foreman – mother of one of Madness) didn’t give a damn about Jean-Marie Straub, and neither did I; the ‘intellectuals’ were just painful (and painfully repressed).
And of course I had a laugh with L, in the little room under the arches. And fancied her too, but that was less important: I had Cat Woman and – though that wasn’t going at all well – I thought that (since she would be at The Good Times too) I’d better go on going out with her. (In July 1990, 3 months into The Good Times, she chucked me anyway…)
So, at the NFT, it was a clear choice between being, on the one hand, intellectual, and, on the other, not so much… But I was still the ‘Oxford graduate’. I (thought I) wanted to be MORE so (Cat Woman had a degree in Spanish from Cambridge, and read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the original…), but really NEEDED to be LESS so.
L was younger than me, and that was unusual, owing to my having been moved up TWICE at school (my sister, two years older, was in the SAME YEAR at the SAME SCHOOL as me, and did much less well…). Because she was younger, and fancied me, she didn’t think automatically that I was weird. It was like my last term at junior school, when – because senior  school wouldn’t take me so young – I had to stay on for a term, and the ‘younger’ (ie the same age as me) boys came up to join me. And I was suddenly the ‘cool’ one, and I remember inventing a game involving screws and marbles, and everybody played it…
It was easy to see how L – a 19-year-old – was impressed with a 26-year-old who had had a ‘flash’ job and was just back from 2 months in the US. But I was also impressed with/by HER…

Why? Because she just knew. Women at City Limits had been to state schools, but not the ones I knew (Cat Woman, Saskia, Amanda and Lizzie, all of whom were intellectual…). And L knew not from films or books but from Talking To People!
(And she was SO hot. But I pretended not to notice…)


Published by


I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s