Once upon a time, I was an English nobleman, bumbling, haughty and lazy, though not so nobel. Were they ever? I had a mansion, with stables and a floral garden and a hedge maze, but the lot was ruined in a flood. To make matters worse, the flood brought with it a gypsy family and their boat. I escaped from the ensuing chaos with a dose of Dickens and a double dose of single malt.
In the rural south of France, I used to teach English, I was rather good at it too, but I did tend to get a bit carried away by the pretty young lasses in my class. As if the summer wasn’t already hot enough, with a knot in my tie and a lump in my throat.
During my sojourn in France, I struggled to master the language and adapt to the norms of a different society. It took its toll upon the couple, until at last the foreign influence pierced the façade, rupturing our sweet bubble. I gave in, and to my surprise, discovered a foreigner within myself. Rather dashing too.
French started to invade my mind, and I took on the alter-ego of Gaspard de Gromard, a politician embroiled in a scandal with Queen Victoria.
Many years ago I began to draw my dreams. I’d sleep with charcoal and paper at my side. The images that lept forth guided me on a voyage across the high seas from Africa to Europe in search of a place and a person.
I have a dark past, best left forgotten, though one fateful day I decided to rip open the scab and roar back into my old hometown at the wheel of a muscle car. White-knucled and red-eyed, spurting fumes and hellfire, I left a trail of destruction in my wake as I searched in vain for an old flame.
Like many a vagabond artist before me, my life follows a template of recurring elements, just fill in the blanks. It would be preferable to focus on the works and less on the artist, for though they are the freest people alive, their lives are fraught with conflict.
Paris left me awe-struck, the sheer size of the city, the regal formality of it all, the unending sameness of the Haussmann architecture, the dreadful shortage of public toilets. It was in Montmartre I believe, with legs crossed in desperation, that I rang a door bell and found myself in a most unexpected fraternity.
One afternoon, sitting out on the café terrace, our eyes met and for a moment I looked into another’s soul.
Have you ever heard of fractional jet ownership? With a remote control in my hand I can press a button at any time and a car will pick me up, drive me to the nearest airport and there a private jet is waiting to fly me anywhere in the world. Yes, this is a thing that exists. It is also very expensive. One of these devices happened to fall in the wrong hands, my hands, and I decided to go wild, treating the world like one big themepark.
Once, as a teenager, as I lay awake in bed with my friend, she shared some of her most intimate secrets with me, and guided me in turn to an intimacy of my own.
For something completely different, allow me to take you aboard a airship wafting over a world of water, where a mystical priestess makes a final bid to find dry land.
Alice once sent me a poem, written in French, to be honest I didn’t understand the half of it, so I sat down and translated it into English. It still doesn’t make much sense, but I think it’s quite pretty. That’s poetry for you.
One morning I woke up from a dream. I was surprized to realize that I had been dreaming in French. Fragments of my past, experiences with different women connected and fused into an experience of love, opening hearts and minds, gradually accepting a new person into an existing relationship.