The day before I started going out with Catwoman, she had (I later found out) chucked A. Obviously, I hated A – until I too was chucked by Catwoman. Then I tried to like him. We played poker together; he always won, so I soon stopped. He got a job at FHM and hired me as the film reviewer (I’m not going to say ‘FHM’s film critic’, am I?). Then he got a job at The Observer. So he ‘won’… until an incident in Rome in 2008.
I was there for the premiere of a film I’d written. I just popped into the Pantheon in the morning after a sleepless night – and there was A, with his journalist wife and his daughter.
‘What are you doing in Rome?’ said the journalist wife (A definitely being too cool to ask it himself).
Now was my opportunity! ‘I’m just going to have lunch with Viggo Mortensen,’ I said.
Game, set, match. She was impressed; he read the inscriptions…
That was the last time I saw him. I ‘won’… (Except then I had a stroke.)
But Catwoman… (Why did you call her Catwoman? It was apt, though.) The strange thing writing about Catwoman now is that she was virtually identical to Sara. In looks, that is: hair that’s short, dark and curly. (A look that should’ve screamed: DANGER…)
She worked with me at City Limits – in fact, I interviewed her and (with due diligence) gave her the job. One Monday we ended up in the pub and (eventually) I seized my chance. Not realising that only 24 hours before had she become available. She was a serial f***er, in that way.
She was unhappy – naturally; after Sara, the thought of happy girlfriends just meant trouble. I once made the mistake of calling Catwoman ‘exotic’: she spoke Spanish, had been to Nicaragua as a Sandinista or something (and pronounced it correctly, in Spanish), had Colombians among her friends… Exotic enough, compared to me, surely? But she came from North Shields and, as a result, thought that she was underprivileged – and I was being ironic. (I was ironic most of the time, I admit. After the stroke, when I lost the ability to talk, I had to relearn speaking. That deprived me of the subtle gradations of ironic, not so ironic and not ironic at all. My elder two sons could tell – but not my wife. ‘Are you being funny?’ became her watchword.)
Catwoman was also direct. ‘Stop that,’ she used to say in sex. ‘Do that… Hmmm… Yes… yes…’ That was the sort of nightlife I got used to. (And it was all very good training…)
We left City Limits together and travelled to the USA. We spent 2 months touring the sitting rooms of our friends and acquaintances, from New York to Philadelphia to Savannah to New Orleans to Kansas City to Santa Fe to LA to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City to Chicago and back down the Hudson Valley to New York. During that time, we stopped having sex.
It was only a matter of time before she chucked me and started going out with her flatmate (who – once, earlier – had described you as a ‘dolly bird’…).