Sunday 12 May 2024

Life has been little more than a succession of meals ever since I returned from Lisbon on April 5. Maribel came for dinner and two days later I cooked bacalao for Jill. Before that we saw the Angela Kauffman show but we were not impressed. Next day I had lunch with my old friend Hazel at the Academy Club. Sadly, she lives out of town, so I hardly ever see her. Here’s Maribel, preparing to leave Blighty.

Luzius Martin flew into town from Basel for his bi-monthly visit and we finalised the book we have been working on for a while. Back in 1973 I published A Catalogue of the William S. Burroughs Archive, listing everything that was in Burroughs’ flat in London and everything we could find in storage in New York and Paris. Even before it was published, more material came to light in New York and Athens and I catalogued it using the same system that the original inventory had used, as suggested by Ken Lohf at the Butler Library of Columbia University who had originally expected to buy it. 

The folders were numbered and I continued the numbering system from where it left off. Well, the sale was stymied, and the collection disappeared into private ownership for decades before finally being sold to the Berg Collection at New York Public Library. In the meantime, all the new material that came to light was sold off with no copies being made and no record kept of where it went, leaving behind various lists, inventories, and archive descriptions. Luzius Martin and I have collected as many of these as possible and have assembled them to create A Catalogue of the William S. Burroughs Archive, Volume Two.  This is intended as a guide for future bibliographers, biographers, and researchers into Burroughs’ work, as it is hoped that one day, in the future, all these texts will be collected and digitised. But to collect them, you must know what you are looking for which is the purpose of this book. Most of the work has been done by Luzius, who is a Burroughs collector, but I have written introductory texts to the different sections. It has been fun, and it keeps me off the streets.

Luzius, Terry Wilson and I had lunch with Tom Neurath at Maramia, a Palestinian restaurant close to Tom’s office in Golborne Road, Notting Hill. (highly recommended!) Tom is one of the few people I know who actually lived at the Beat Hotel in the fifties. I didn’t meet him until the sixties through our mutual friend Ian Sommerville. In a blog entry from years past I described a visit we made to ZKM in Karlsruhe to give a talk on ‘Swinging London’ of all things. The next day I cooked for Luzius and Terry.

Helen Mitsios and her partner, the painter Tony Winter came to dinner. I’ve known Helen since the early eighties when she was living with Steve Mass, the manager/co-owner of the Mudd Club when Rosemary and I were living in New York. We had not seen each other for about a decade so it was a great reunion. I had to cook veggie, something I’m not used to as my main cuisine is French where they regard vegetables as ‘garnish’. But it worked out.

Marsha Rowe came up from Norwich and we saw ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula’: the ‘Last Caravaggio’ at the National. I can’t say it is his greatest work, but as it normally lives in a convent outside Naples, it might have been the only chance I’d ever have to see it. When Camila and I were in Naples in February we saw ‘The Seven Works of Mercy’ [1607] in the Pio Monte della Misericordia; to me, a much more significant work, in fact, a picture that you could spend hours examining as the eye moves through the painting’s ever-changing dynamic. (See the blog for February). We had a nice lunch at Zédel followed by a few drinks at the French House.

On May Day I had lunch with my old friend Andrew Sclanders, the rare book dealer. This is always a pleasant affair and I wish we did it more often. Friday the third was a cultural day. I met Suzy Treister and Richard Grayson at Raven Row on Artillery Lane in E1, where Alex Sainsbury was putting on a show of Brazilian art from the 1950s-70s. I was unfamiliar with most of the work but loved the four small formal abstracts by Lygia Clark from 1958. John Dunbar showed her work at the Indica Gallery back in the sixties and I very much enjoyed it then. The other outstanding work was by Hélio Oiticica whom I came to late in life, introduced by Hannah Watson at her T. J. Boulting Gallery though I seem to remember Guy Brett extolling his work some decades ago. We went for a drink with Alex Sainsbury who always has good stories. Here are two of Lygia’s pictures:

And here is Suzy disrupting the gallery calm, and one of Richard, Alex and Suzy after seeing the Brazil show.

At Suzy and Richard’s place, overlooking Parliament Hill Fields, Patricia Bickers and Simon Patterson joined us for dinner and Richard excelled himself in the kitchen. I stayed overnight and the next morning was able to get a wild rabbit at the Farmer’s Market. This I cooked with a farmed rabbit and a pig’s trotter or two for Valerie Orpen and Maribel Torrente, two of my best friends. They had not previously met and it was wonderful to see them together. I knew that Valerie liked the rabbit’s head, as I have cooked it for her before, and Maribel is Spanish where rabbit is a proper part of the cuisine. Sadly Maribel is now back in Spain after about a decade here in London. In the end the terrible food and lack of sun sent her back to her beloved Andalucía where she has bought a house. I stayed with her there in December and envy her the enormous beaches with a distant view of Morocco over the Strait as the sun sets over the Mediterranean. I shall have to visit. Valerie is also away, but just on holiday in South Korea – as you do. Spring does seem to have arrived. Here’s the view from the breakfast table at Richard and Suzy’s. Could almost be Continental.

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23 March 2024

On Saturday Chuck Smith came over to film interviews for his new documentary film on Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs. Confusingly there is another film being made on The Fugs, with Thurston Moore narrating, which inevitably will overlap with Chuck’s film even though Tuli’s story also encompasses his peace activism, his poetry, the Birth Press and the various magazines he published and edited. I’ll be very pleased to see both, but can understand the frustration the filmmakers must feel. Chuck had Antonio Pagano with him as his cameraman, who had done the video improvisations with Youth at the Horse Hospital. Antonio is super-professional and soon had his lighting rig and camera up and running. The interview went well, though he will only use a minute or two at most. Camila was staying with me, so he also interviewed her as she had interviewed Ed Sanders about ten years ago and could discuss Ed’s memories of the Fugs and Tuli. Here’s a nice picture Antonio took of me and Chuck.

The next day Camila and I went to Cambridge to see the William Blake’s Universe show at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. Blake being the subject of Camila’s PhD and much of her writing, including the influence of Blake on post-war Popular Music. She was particularly moved by Catherine Blake’s, probably posthumous, drawing of the young Blake, and by the Frontispiece to Jerusalem etching that he rejected, scraped back and changed for the final version. She hit the merch table hard with its posters, fridge magnets, mugs and catalogues. Here’s the t-shirt with Blake’s illustration ‘I want! I want!’ ladder to the moon from 1793, 72 years before Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

It was a lovely day and Cambridge could not have been more archetypal with its blossoms, bicycles, tourists, and medieval buildings. The museum contains many treasures but rather than dilute the Blake experience we only visited the Egyptian rooms where there’s a rather nice little Sekhmet, though she’s lost her ankh and her lotus-flower papyrus-sceptre.

On the 20th March it was fifth anniversary of the death of Rosemary Bailey. I was privileged to have lived with her for 41 years, the majority of my adult life, and most of hers. I cooked her favourite meal for Theo, our son, and his girlfriend Minako: a filet de boeuf au Roquefort, something done only on special occasions with Rosemary. It was the first meal she had after giving birth to Theo. 

Regarding food, I have to record a delightful meal made by my old friend Simon Caulkin a few days later. Present were Ginette, Theo and Minako, Valerie and myself. Simon had spent two days making a superb cassoulet, a traditional dish from the Languedoc. There are three warring factions regarding the correct recipe for cassoulet which involves haricot beans and various types of meat. It was supposedly invented in Castelnaudry where the meat used is pork, pork knuckle, pork rind and ham, whereas in Toulouse they add confit de canard or confit d’oie and a Toulouse sausage. In Carcassonne they add large chunks of mutton and even any gamebirds they have shot. Then there is how many times to break the crust, Simon used the traditional twice, but some people believe it has to be broken seven times. Simon’s had a thick crunchy crust and it was probably the best cassoulet I’ve ever tasted. Paula Wolfert devotes five pages of discussion about it in her classic The Cooking of South West France

On the 25th Marsha Rowe and I went to see the Women in Revolt show at Tate Britain. I’d heard mixed views of it but waited until Marsha came to town before going as she was the co-founder of Spare Rib, the early seventies feminist magazine, and co-founder of Virago Books which grew out of Spare Rib Books. The subject – the women’s movement in Britain – is really too big for a single exhibition. Presented at an art gallery one naturally expected to see some art, but there was hardly any. That would have made a separate show in itself. And rather than cover just the early days there were rooms dealing with the AIDS crisis, the struggle of Black woman and of course, an enormous amount of documentation about LGBTQ+ actions and events. It was all too much and sometimes became little more than a series of overcrowded vitrines and wall panels. It would take many hours to read the labels and examine the hundreds and hundreds of items that have been so carefully displayed. As it was mostly documentation it should possibly have been presented elsewhere but we have no equivalent of the Smithsonian, so Tate had to do the job. Spare Rib appears in many of the display cases as it was central to the movement. Marsha was pleased to see that someone had kept a Spare Rib dish towel and I photographed her with it. 

Two days later I was in Paris, staying at Simon and Ginette’s place in the 13th. I saw friends and Camila joined me from Arras where she had been at a conference. I borrowed Catherine’s keys and shopped at her local market next to the Square d’Anvers in SOPI while she was teaching at the Sorbonne. I love this market. Just one of the meat stalls is four times as well stocked as Harrods or Selfridges and puts Waitrose’s stock to shame: here you can buy rabbit, hare and game, pig’s trotters and calf’s feet, foie gras, half a sucking pig, and the ingredients for even the most complicated French recipe. Prices are considerably cheaper than nearby rue de Martyrs. I bought the makings for quails wrapped in prosciutto with red grapes. The butcher carefully burned off the few bits of feather fuzz they had on them with a blow torch. I cooked at Catherine’s place for the three of us and drank too much wine. I forgot to take photographs but here’s one of Catherine I made earlier (I made the stuffed squid in the picture).

Camila and I went out to the Fondation Louis Vuitton to see the Rothko show. I had been before in December with Catherine but was very pleased to see it again as it’s huge and there were some rooms I hadn’t given proper attention to. This is one of my favourite pictures by him.

I was only back in London for three days before flying off to Lisbon on April 3rd to do an ‘on-stage’ conversation with Camila for the English Department of the university. Even quick trips like this are wonderfully stimulating. After I checked into my hotel we had a late lunch: one of the most traditional of all Portuguese foods, a Prego sandwich: flattened steak with ham in a bun, often made with a garlic and wine marinade and absolutely delicious.

Though spring is just arriving in London, in Lisbon it was already 23 degrees, and we were able to catch a few rays in the Parque Eduardo VII before dinner. I was struck by the earthquake warning notice posted by all the elevators. I had known, of course, about the famous 1755 earthquake that destroyed 85 percent of Lisbon and killed up to 20,000 people but hadn’t realised that earthquakes are recurring fact of life with nine major quakes since the 12th century, the last big one being in 1969. Worryingly, most of the older buildings in the city are still non-earthquake-proof. 

After lunch with Prof Bernardo Palmeirim at the university we sat in on his class on sixties America. It was a time trip back to Sixties America in the days of LBJ. He had kindly invited me to make interventions, but I restricted this to chanting, along with him, ‘Hey, Hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?’ which, of course, has a direct resonance to the murder of thousands of innocent women and children in Gaze today by the Israelis using American weapons and jets. I also added that the reason the Nixon Law-and-Order campaign worked so well against student anti-Vietnam war demonstrators was because so many of the sons of middle-class voters were exempt through higher education or phoney medical reports (like Trump). Proportionally the highest number of solders were from Puerto Rico where they could be drafted but didn’t have the vote. Most Americans knew nothing about them. 

We had a good turnout for my conversation – the room was full and, more importantly, no-one left. I ran through the Albert Hall poetry reading, Allen Ginsberg, Indica Books and Gallery, John and Yoko meeting there, Zapple and spoken word recordings, and how writing each biography is a very different experience. There was quite a lively Q&A session afterwards. The academic staff were all nice people, very friendly. As I never went to university – only art school – the university environment is a constant surprise to me though I have done talks – or ‘conversations’ at quite a few by now, dozens in fact. But no matter which country I’m in, the sense of academic rivalry and the hierarchic divisions between staff is always the same. Margarida Gato was particularly interesting to talk with as she had translated some of the Beats, including Ginsberg, into Portuguese. Here’s the line-up: Angelica Varandas, M+C, Margarida Gato, Bernardo Palmeirim. 

That evening Camila, who is Brazilian, cooked a traditional Moqueca Baiana, a white fish stew made from coconut milk, a red pepper, tomatoes, onion and garlic, limes, palm oil, paprika and coriander. The best fish stew I’ve ever had with a real depth of flavours. My guests will be eating it soon. I’m getting to know Camila’s flatmates and friends in Lisbon, who are so friendly and kind. And tolerant – I am twice as old as them, after all. Here they are L to R: Marina, M, Camila [front], Lilia and Joao:

The last day of what was only a two-night trip for me, Camila and I went out to Cascais, on the Costa de Lisboa. It’s a small touristy seaside town, about 40 minutes from Lisbon by train, but very beautiful and, once you get away from the touristy areas, a place where you can get superb food. Here we are at A Nova Estrela on rua do Poco Novo in Cascais, and here’s my food: a perfectly cooked octopus with garlic potatoes, not chewy or tough just wonderfully tasty. Then back to London arriving at 11pm – a long day but worth it. 

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21 March 2024

The day after I returned from Naples, I went with Jill to the Frank Auerbach show at the Courtauld. I wish I liked his work more and I do get some pleasure from his paintings but how he can spend so much time scratching away in charcoal, erasing and redrawing and yet achieve so little is beyond me. The paper surface gets so damaged that he sometimes pastes on patches and in the end, it is the paper surface that is of most interest, not the drawing. He appears so aggressive, lunging forward and attacking the paper that I feel he would have been better off as an action painter. There’s no subtlety in the work, no gradual improvement and development of the image in this continuous scratching just a reiteration of something very crude and basic. This was the best one:

The next week I selected and installed my collection of Allen Ginsberg artifacts in the vitrines at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury for a short ‘Allen Ginsberg In London’ festival. These began with Allen’s 39th birthday party in London, where he stripped naked, continued through the press conference for the Albert Hall reading of 1965, the concert itself, production photographs from 1969 when I produced an album in New York of him singing his musical tuning of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, to the time I spent living on his poetry farm in Upstate New York, and various visits he made to London when he usually stayed with me. There were signed illustrated books and other bits and pieces. 

The events were organised by Stephen Coates of the Bureau of Lost Culture and Roger Burton at the Horse Hospital and began with the launch of a picture book of Allen’s archives by Pat Thomas. Stephen and I had previously done a ‘William Burroughs in London’ event with Stephen at the London Art Library, and this festival or celebration was an enlarged version of it – talk+exhibition. The archive book launch was on 7 March and was a bit problematic because book launches, at least in Britain, are usually stand-up talking affairs where you meet your friends, drink lots of wine and maybe, but not always, hear a few words from the publisher. Maybe even buy a copy of the book. Consequently, we did not provide much seating. However, after an all too short panel discussion between Pat, Peter Hale from the Allen Ginsberg Estate, and archivist Rozemin Keshvani, and Pat had given his spiel, we had a long set from folk singer Wizz Jones who’d not even read Allen’s work, followed by poet Aiden Dun who limbered up back-stage by doing yoga and oiling himself. He had previously written a major poem influenced by Blake – according to Iain Sinclair – but he went on and on and was eventually booed off, but by then most of the audience had gone home. It would have been far more interesting to hear about Allen’s huge archive from Peter and Rozemin who hardly got to say anything. 

On Saturday March 9th, I did an onstage conversation with Iain Sinclair. We’ve done these before at the U of Manchester and the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, so that was fun. I have always greatly admired his work. It was followed by Peter Whitehead’s film Wholly Communion about the 1965 Albert Hall reading, Colin Still’s wonderful film of Paul McCartney acting as Allen’s accompanist, and Iain’s superb documentary about Allen’s 1967 London visit Ah! Sunflower. Iain seems to be cultivating the William Blake look and I was struck by the resemblance between him and the Blake life mask at the entrance to the Blake show on at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. 

Thursday March 14th was ‘Sunflowers and Sutras’ day, when Iain and Camila, billed by her full title Dr. Camila Oliveira Querino, had an onstage conversation, moderated by Jason Whittaker from the William Blake Society. Camila did indeed read ‘Ah, Sunflower’, and Iain read Allen’s much longer ‘Sunflower Sutra.’ After the break, Vanessa Vie, Tim Arnold and Libro Levi Bridgeman gave a vigorous reading of ‘Howl’. I thought the evening was a great success.

The next day, the 15th, I did another onstage conversation, this time with Youth and Pat Thomas. I’d not previously met Youth (Martin Glover) so I had him over to dinner along with Stephen Coates and some others a few days before the event. Stephen, the organiser of the Ginsberg festival, has his own glittering career as composer, performer and author and it was a pleasure working with him on this project. Youth and I got on well and I liked him very much. There’s plenty on the internet about his extraordinary career as a record producer and performer. After our talk, during which I described working with Allen on his musical renditions of Blake back in 1969, and a few videos, Youth did his set while Antonio Pagano did a free-form image mix on the screen behind him. It was like a revival of the eighties revival of the sixties psychedelic ‘freak-outs’. Antonio said afterwards that Youth appeared to time his trance set by how long the stick of incense in front of him took from lighting it to it burning out. Quite some time in fact. 

The mini-festival also launched the second volume of recordings released by the Allen Ginsberg Estate under the title of Fall of America. These are co-produced by Peter Hale, who runs the estate and maintains the wonderful Ginsberg website, and Jesse Goodman who also co-produced the first volume. Many of the tracks, in which present-day musicians and composers provide a musical setting to a poem recorded by Allen back in the day, had videos to accompany them and Peter showed a selection from them, beginning with Philip Glass and Anne Waldman. Jesse and his husband Maxi were around throughout the period and provided high energy to the proceedings. L to R: Peter Hale, Maxi and Jesse. 

That morning Camila and I went to the Yoko Ono show at Tate Modern. It was my fourth time there but I keep finding new things. It was a beautiful spring day, so we were able to sit outside. I hope this year will be better than the last. 

Lest we forget. Since October 7, the Israeli military has killed more than 31,726 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children, in addition to 382 Palestinians in the West Bank and another 73,792 injured. [UN-OCHA figures 20 March 2024] It is one of the last national liberation struggles left – virtually all the others have succeeded, as the Palestinians will, – but the cost can be high. The Vietnamese lost over two million people before they succeeded in throwing out first the French, then the Americans. And the Algerian war of independence, which the Palestinian conflict resembles in some ways, was ugly and brutal. The million French had sometimes been living there for three generations. But the fact is, if you occupy someone else’s country, they will eventually succeed in getting it back, no-matter how many decades it takes.

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18 March 2024

I think it would be best to visit Herculaneum before going to Pompeii, otherwise it is a bit of a let-down. Only a tiny part of the city has been excavated because the modern town sits right on top of it and they are resisting the idea that their town hall should be demolished in order to find more carbonised scrolls, even if they are classical works that have been lost for two millennium. 

What is left, however, is wonderful to see because the nature of its destruction is different from that of Pompeii and instead of being buried in falling pumice and suffocated by hot gas, Herculaneum was hit by a pyroclastic blast that carbonised all the wood in the city, much of which has, miraculously, been preserved. Wooden beams that once held up roofs, wooden staircases, a wooden balustrade, boxes, chairs, trunks, all turned to charcoal. And of course, several thousand scrolls which only now, with advanced computer technology, can be read without the necessity to unwind them. 

There are some other rather beautiful wall paintings in the city which was buried rather deeper than Pompeii and so has more second story rooms remaining. There are some very interesting mosaic pavements including one that explores virtually every variant possible of a particular geometric pattern, and, in a nice domestic touch, paw prints on a tile in one of the corridors.

Back in Naples we visited San Giuseppe to see the extraordinary garden of majolica tiles. We are no longer allowed to sit on the ceramic seats, but the garden is still a delight to see, and the surrounding cloister has wall paintings which, if not particularly well painted, are certainly colourful and sometimes amusing. As usual, Camila was fully colour-co-ordinated to match her surroundings. 

Naples is a very good city to visit if you need to gain weight. The food is superb and, compared to London, inexpensive. I was even persuaded to try a fried pizza, which I have to admit is delicious. It is also an art city, ‘The Seven Works of Mercy’ [1607] one of Caravaggio’s last paintings is there in the Pio Monte della Misericordia. 

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March 10, 2024

We naturally wanted to see the erotic images taken from Pompeii that had been locked away in the Secret Cabinet until 2000 and finally moved to their present location in a suite of rooms in the National Archaeological Museum in 2005. Even now there is a guardian on duty to prevent minors from seeing them unless accompanied by a guardian. These paintings and objects were on display in people’s houses and were meant to be seen by guests. Until Constantine introduced Christianity and ushered in the Dark Ages that set civilisation back a thousand years the Romans had no concept of sin and enjoyed sex openly and pleasurably – it was a gift of the Gods. There were rules, of course, one being that you should not have adulterous sex with those of your own class, which might threaten inheritance and property rights, but you could have guilt-free sex with anyone else, male or female, including the poor slaves in your household. 

The bronze images are almost entirely of men, in fact almost all are of oversized phalluses. Many of them were used to bring good luck, as fertility symbols, to encourage plants to grow or simply used to boast about their wealth, they showed what a good life you could afford. 

In Pompeii and in the museum there are brothel scenes which show sex in all its forms: threesomes, same sex, cunnilingus, fellatio, sodomy, all designed to encourage the clients to enjoy themselves and use their imagination. Though Rome was a patriarchy and women didn’t have the vote, they could own property and did have some power and sexual freedom, for instance there are many images of lesbianism. It wasn’t just an early form of the Playboy mansion. 

In the main museum there is a mosaic of Venus, which shows that the Roman ideal woman was more realistic than today’s skinny supermodel look. 

There is a Modern Art museum as well, of course, but we only peeked in as it was time for the 2pm pizza. Fried this time. Delicious.

We had hotel rooms on the same square as the Central Station where the suburban train to Pompeii leaves from. Though rain was promised, the weather was fine. I think a visit to Pompeii in the rain would be a very unsatisfying experience. Upon entrance your first significant building is the Stabian baths. They have a few erotic paintings, just to get you into the spirit of the place, but the building is not properly marked, and most people miss it on their way to The Forum, which comes next. It is actually not difficult to imagine the colonnade complete and roofed over, with garlands of flowers hanging between the columns, swags and endless statues of local dignitaries parading around the edge.

The streets are paved with large flagstones with a raised pavement on either side, something that places like London or Paris did not get for another 1,800 years. The reason for this was that there was no sewer system or rubbish collection: everything was just thrown in the street which was essentially an open sewer churned up by great carts ploughing through it, cutting grooves in the stone with their iron wheels. Water was periodically directed down them. Every few houses there was a steppingstone to allow pedestrians to cross the street. Looking down the empty streets I was reminded of the West End during lockdown. People are missing. The tourist groups arrived soon enough, but we were lucky in that it was not crowded.

Many of the houses are remarkably well preserved with wall paintings filling their walls. I particularly liked the snake that appears in several of the pictures.

I was keen to see The House of the Vettii that has only recently been reopened. Owned by the wine merchants Restitutas and Coviva AulusVettius, it is famous for the painting of Priapus who guards the entrance to the atrium. His enormous cock symbolises the wealth of the owners. For many years this was covered with a door and was only shown to respectable men (for a small payment). 

There are wall paintings of erotic classical themes – Dionysius discovering the sleeping Ariadne, and the like – and erotic paintings in a room where the slave girl Eutychis was ‘offered’ for two asses, according to the painted inscription outside her room. Life for the slaves and non-elite in Roman times was short and painful.

The Villa of the Mysteries is out in the suburbs, past the cemetery, and has separate admission. I was prepared to leave it out as there were so many things to see but Camila, wisely, determined that it looked really interesting. She was correct; it contains the most important Roman wall paintings yet found. A Roman villa combined domestic and agricultural use so there are rooms for storing produce and equipment as well as beautifully decorated rooms for family use. The entrance has not been excavated so you enter through the side. The large room that gave the villa its name was decorated c 40BC in ‘second style’ (of the four) Pompeiian fresco painting. It contains an exquisite frieze that runs right around the room and could easily have been painted by one of the Pre-Raphaelites. It depicts the rituals involved in the Bacchus-Dionysus cult the details of which were always revealed only to initiates. We spent some time there.  

To be honest, it would take two full days to see everything in Pompeii, partly because the houses all close at 4:00pm and the site at 5:00pm so even if you arrive early it would be difficult to do justice to the place, even with a carefully planned itinerary. But it is more fun to just wander around and make sure that you see at least a half-dozen of the amazing houses.

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9 March 2024

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to see Pompeii. I grew up in Cirencester, the Roman city of Corinium, which back then had a population of between 10-20,000 people, the same estimated population as Pompeii. In Cirencester the Roman level is just below the surface; there used to be, and possibly still is, a local regulation prohibiting anyone living within the Roman walls to dig more than ten inches deep in their garden. At my primary school, each child had a small square of garden to grow plants and we regularly turned up shards of pottery and fragments of mosaic. I once found a coin and was given half-a-crown for it by the Corinium Museum. There were several column bases in my grammar school playing fields and the groundsman knew where several large Roman pavements were, but he wouldn’t tell, not wanting his carefully tended turf dug up. There is very little left above ground, of course, as the floor level is so close to grade, though the remains of the amphitheatre and quite long sections of the Roman walls survive. At school, from the age of ten, we listened enthralled to the story of a similar town destroyed by a volcano. Here’s a mosaic floor from Cirencester found next to my junior school.

Camila and I flew to Naples from different cities and met at the airport which is only a short cab ride from the city centre. I had booked hotel rooms close to the Central Station so that we could get an early start for Pompeii. But at the hotel’s address there was just a business card giving the name of the hotels on one of the bells and no-way to open the huge double doors leading through to an inner courtyard. Thinking this maybe was how things are in Naples we waited until someone else arrived who knew the door code and followed them in. The next surprise was an elevator that you had to pay to use. Fortunately Camila had some centimes, but again, at the hotel’s floor we were met with a closed locked door, a key pad, and a small card with the hotel’s name. Then we noticed that the address on the card was different from the one we were at. We were in some sort of annex, and Expedia had sent me the wrong address. I had begun to wonder what I had got us into and was already mentally preparing to look for a new hotel. But sure enough, a few doors down the street was the perfectly nice B&B Hotel, with a friendly desk staff, tv in the lobby and clean, cheap rooms. We headed out for lunch.

I ate more pizza in one week in Naples than in the previous ten years: the dough is thin with a thick, puffed up, airy rim. The tomatoes are the famous thick-skin San Marzano variety that only grow in the rich volcanic soil of the area, and the mozzarella is from local buffalo milk. And they are half the price than they would be in London, except you can’t get anything anywhere near this good in London. Next, we stumbled upon the Galleria Umberto 1, perhaps not quite up the standard of the one in Milano, but impressive none the less. It’s across from the San Carlo Opera House.

In Naples they have a habit of wrapping buildings in netting. At first I thought it must be to protect people from loose masonry falling off and injuring people, but after seeing several examples on perfectly sound buildings, I realised it was just to keep pigeons off. The result is that the buildings all look like they’ve been wrapped by Christo and you can’t see them as they should be seen. We do it in Britain too, but with finer, smaller mesh netting that you can’t really see.

I had taken the precaution of looking up a few restaurants near our hotel and we enjoyed the food at Antica Trattoria e Pizzeria da Donato, to give it its full name, so much that we went back. We only ate pizza at lunch time, the evening is for proper food. There are two services in Naples: 7:30 and 9:00, which means you can’t linger over coffee or liquors if you book the early slot. Every restaurant we ate in had this system though if you arrive at 8:30 and your table is free they will let you start early. 

Crossing the road requires an act of faith. You have to launch yourself into the traffic, and they will stop for you, but if you wait at the curb on a crossing they never will. It’s best to follow a local and join them as they cross. It reminded me of Cairo where Rosemary and I once needed to cross six lanes of honking overloaded trucks, mouldy camels, motorcycles and buses. In the end we hailed a cab, went to the end of the street, round the roundabout and back down the other side. 

Naples is a seaport and you never seem to be far from the sea, and consequently from a view of Mount Vesuvius, looming over the city. People live all around its base despite the fact that it erupted eight times in the 19th century and three in the twentieth, the last being during the war, in 1944, when it destroyed about 80 American B-25 bombers and buried three villages. It will erupt again, and soon. 

On the 23rd, Burroughs’ magic number, we went to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It is hard to concentrate just on the treasures rescued from Pompeii as this is one of the world’s great museums, so we saw the Farnese Bull, the largest sculpture recovered from antiquity and a load of other statures before restricting ourselves to the collection of art from Pompeii. Camila, as it happened, was perfectly colour-coordinated to fit in with the Roman wall paintings, of which there are many. 

I particularly liked the wild-life mosaics and the cat. Given how static the media is, the images are lively and full of life and fun. I particularly liked the cat. I was interested to see how much the Roman idea of beauty differs from now. Venus, for instance, is a mature woman, see below.

The museum building dates back to 1585 and is worth exploring in its own right. After Camila took a series of floor pictures of us, we looked back to find several tourists copying her idea. 

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3 March 2024

February opened with another Pro-Palestinian march. They start at Portland Place, outside BBC Broadcasting House, just a couple of streets from my flat. It’s always interesting to see the marchers arriving and to judge how big the march will be by the number of police vans parked in the side streets. I liked the quote from Nelson Mandala: ‘But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’ Margaret Thatcher called him a terrorist, too, of course. 

It was good to read that there were demonstrations at MOMA in New York, long the bastion of art-cleaning. Leaflets called-out museum trustees Leon Black, Larry Fink, Paula Crown, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Ronald S. Lauder for their involvement in Israeli military weaponry, surveillance technology, real estate and support and began a sit-in in the atrium. Over the years MoMA has become more and more like a corporate HQ and less a celebration of the human spirit. At least they no longer house Guernica

The Yoko Ono show opened at Tate Modern with an uncomfortable scrum to get in. It is a retrospective and showed how overlooked she is, and what an accomplished body of work she has produced over 60 years. It is fair to say that her best work was all produced before she got together with John Lennon, from 1961 till 1966 in New York when she was collaborating with John Cage (she is a trained classical pianist) and the Fluxus Group, in which she was a central figure. The New York art scene is tough and she was one of the very few women able to hold their own in it, particularly as she had the added disadvantage of anti-Japanese racism. Her work consists mostly of instructions, owing a lot to Japanese zen koans and Chinese haiku. Other works are whimsical, often impossible to execute, but always intriguing. ‘Cut-Piece’, first performed in Tokyo, consisted of Yoko kneeling in the traditional Japanese female submissive position, dressed in her best clothes, while members of the audience cut pieces of her clothing off. This raised an enormous number of issues addressed by the women’s movement almost a decade later: misogyny, the subservient role of women in society, aggression, equality, long anticipating the work of Marina Abramovic. 

John Dunbar was there, director of the Indica Gallery that presented her first European show back in 1966. One of the items from the show was at the Tate: a white chess set. It is almost impossible to memorise the position of all the pieces. At the Indica Gallery – which I was a co-owner of together with John and Peter Asher – there were two occasions when Roman Polansky and Sharon Tate came to play a game, but they didn’t buy one. Here is John with Gabriella Daris, who is writing a book on Yoko.

BBC Radio 4 called up and asked me to be on ‘The World This Weekend’ their weekly news and current affairs programme broadcast at 1:00pm on Sundays. I was to walk around Yoko’s show with Edward Stourton, the veteran broadcaster. He was a total professional and we had a pleasant, relaxed conversation while looking at the first few rooms of the show. After it was broadcast, I was contacted by more than a dozen of my friends to say that they had heard the broadcast, which seems to be one of the most listened to programme on the radio with more than 3m listeners. My friend Jill Nicholls was astonished at how much time Stourton gave me – normally it’s all over in a couple of minutes for that sort of programme. Fame at last!

Maribel returned to London after working on her new house in Algeciras – see November blog – and we spent the day in the British Museum, just wandering. The thing that brought tears to her eyes, that she found most unexpectedly moving, was the fragment of the library of King Ashurbanipal, from 7th century Niniveh, Mesopotamia, described by the British Museum as ‘The first library to contain all knowledge’. The BM has most of the 30,000 tablets excavated there but only a select few are displayed as if on modern shelves. I can see why she found it so moving. It’s good to have her back in London, if only for a short time.

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January 1, 2024

I was sad to see that John Pilger died on December 30. I only met him a few times, but I admired him greatly. I remember being at the bar in Dingwalls Dance Hall in Camden Lock sometime in the late seventies when he came in and joined me. He was fresh off the plane, jetlagged, and had not yet even been home. His green, short-sleeved shirt was soaked in sweat though it did not seem like he’d been drinking. He said he just wanted to check in on the ambience; to get a London fix; to ground himself back in Britain. Well, nothing like Dingwalls with its assortment of seedy Camden and Notting Hill characters to do that. I think he had just come from Cambodia. He was courageous in the extreme and spent his whole life fighting the powers that be, from the Murdoch press to the Israeli government, to reveal uncomfortable truths and present them to the general public, largely through his brilliant television programmes. RIP. 

I took a short cut through the British Museum, as I often do and remembered that there was a time, 50 or 60 years ago, when I was one of the few males in the halls of the British Museum not wearing a tie. The staff of the library – then in the Museum – gave me dirty looks and I was often made to sit in the front row of the North Library if the film magazines like Continental Film Review I had ordered up had even the slightest suggestion of a nipple. I clearly looked undesirable in my open-necked, un-ironed work shirt. Now I am virtually the only man there wearing a shirt. Sometimes we shirted-few are bolstered in number by groups of Japanese businessmen in their black suits and their white open-neck shirts. What next I wonder? Sometimes you long to see a pair of crushed-velvet purple loon pants or a frilly shirt among the drab hordes of North Face hoodies. But you wouldn’t want too much of a good thing.

Christmas was a quiet affair, just Theo and Minako and me to tackle foie gras and a roast goose. 

A new year, and at the end of the week I had a pleasant Soho evening with the art historian Geraldine Norman. She lives close to me in Fitzrovia and is the widow of Frank Norman, author of ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be’, ‘Bang To Rights’, ‘Banana Boy’ and so on. I recently wrote an introduction to Frank’s ‘Soho Night and Day’, (1966) more a personal reminiscence than a guide book, that he wrote with Jeffrey Bernard taking the photographs. Geraldine is hoping to get it republished. Now almost 60 years old it is an important record of the times. Jeffrey had not yet started his career as a journalist but his photographs have a wonderful period quality. We had dinner at the Academy Club then went on to the pop-up version of the Colony Room started by Darren Coffield who misses his old drinking hole so much that he decided to revive it. (His Tales from the Colony Room is highly recommended by the way.) The New Colony Room, in the basement of Ziggy Green at 4 Heddon Street, off Regent Street, did have something of the atmosphere of the old place, partly caused by loads of photographs of the old members, but it is bigger and cleaner, and the clientele is much younger. We didn’t know anyone there but soon met some older folks who had been brought along by their children! 

On the 12th Stephen Coates came over to discuss the Allen Ginsberg in London project to be held at the Horse Hospital in March. I hadn’t realised quite how much memorabilia I still had of Allen: certainly enough to fill a few vitrines for an exhibition that will probably run through the whole month. Here’s a picture of Allen, taken in 1992, the last time he was in London, helping Rosemary cook lunch. And here is his family portrait of Theo, Rosemary and I. I miss him still.

My friends Udo Breger and Luzius Martin came to town for a performance by Ramuntcho Matta at Reference Point to celebrate the birthday of Brion Gysin. I was advertised as interviewing him but with someone like Ramuntcho that is impossible. He likes things to be so unstructured that he even called the venue ahead and had them dismantle the low stage they had planned. Everything had to be spontaneous. And it was! I did get a few words in edgeways but mostly Ramuntcho told thew same stories that he had told us the previous night when he came over for dinner. It was if the dinner was a rehearsal. He composed a lot of music for Brion’s songs and poems and recorded and produced them over the years. Like many of the poets of the sixties, Brion had always wanted to be a rock star. In the middle of our conversation/interview he produced a red electric guitar and gave a version of ‘I want somebody’, one of Brion’s songs. It was great. At the end he distributed tarot cards of his own design to members of the audience but instead of discussing them, that appeared to be the end, so we all went home. 

Jill Nicholls and I attended a talk on Pauline Boty held at the Gazelli Art House on Dover Street in conjunction with their show of Boty’s work. I have always thought that Boty was one of the most important of the British Pop Artists, up there with Hockney, Gerald Laing and Allen Jones in that there was a depth of meaning to her use of pop-art imagery. The girlie pin-ups were of strong, sexual women whereas her fellow artists like Peter Blake just used them as pin-ups: women as objects. Both she and Blake owed a lot to Jasper Johns’ 1955 ‘Four Faces’ with its row of boxes at the top, dividing the canvas neatly into a square containing a target and the four low reliefs. Blake used this as the framework for a lot of works such as ‘Got a Girl’ (1961), whereas for Boty it was a new way of dealing with the composition and the picture plane. A good example is ‘With Love to Jean-Paul Belmondo’ (1962) with its lovely rose, her symbol for female sexuality, sitting on his hat. The picture was in the show and is still vibrant and filled with youthful energy. 

Though there was a microphone it was only being used to record the conversation and consequently I was unable to hear much of what was said, though as Jill pointed out, the phrase ‘male gaze’ seemed to occur fairly often; coming mostly from Louisa Buck. Nell Dunn read from her interview with Pauline Boty that is published in her wonderful Talking to Women (1965) which also contains a fascinating conversation with Edna O’Brien. It was lovely to see that Nell Dunn is still out and about; I always liked her work. Here is a picture of the meeting from the Gazelli Art House’s website. It’s good to see this revival of interest in her work. 

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21 December 2023

I was able to fit in one more trip before Christmas and went to see how my friend Maribel was getting on with her new house in Algeciras, in Andalucía where she comes from. It needs quite a bit of work but it’s solid and has parking. Unfortunately none of the furniture, fridge, stove, coffee machine, etc. that she bought on Black Friday had been delivered so it was pretty basic but I went there to see her not to admire Spanish interior design. I had a bed, bedding and hot water. That’s a good start. 

It was 22 degrees when I landed in Malaga on December 5. Like a British summer’s day. The light on this stretch of coast is extraordinary and makes the waves sparkle like jewels. The huge beaches were deserted except for a few hippies in the beach-side shacks at the entrance to the beach at Tarifa. An eagle flew over the car on our way there, but it didn’t impress Maribel at all. A few days later I saw why when she took me to an artist’s settlement, Castellar de la Frontera, high in the mountains where a convocation of more than 100 eagles was circling over the ruined castle and village. (I counted them on my photographs) I had always assumed they were solitary birds, but these were real eagles, as confirmed by the locals, and may have been gathering to migrate. I later found that in Tarifa you can sometimes see as many as 20 raptor species in a single day, it is a paradise for bird watchers. I’m told that the Spanish Imperial Eagle, which is very rare, can be seen there thanks to a conservation programme. 

The beach at Tarifa is enormous and continues for more than 10 kilometres. It is hard to imagine that it could ever be full, and in fact in the section we were in there were few facilities for tourists beyond a couple of small beach bars. Most of the beach is in the National Park and is protected from development. It really is magnificent, the ultimate beach with soft golden sand with a very special light coming off the sea. Of course sunset over the beach is quite spectacular and everyone sits down to watch it. Not that there were that many people there to do so.

Once the sun has gone down and it has grown dark, the closeness of Africa becomes apparent. Glittering across the Strait you can see streetlights and car headlamps in Morocco which is only 14k away at the Strait’s narrowest point, separated by one of the most treacherous meetings of seas in the world as the Atlantic meets the Med. Even in the day, the outline of the hills of Cap Spartel are visible outlined above the sea mist. 

I had not realised how separate Gibraltar was, sitting out on its peninsular, directly across the bay from Algeciras. To enter requires all the business of passports and security checks that you get at border crossing all over the world, but once you are there, it is like crossing through Alice’s looking glass. Suddenly, in the Mediterranean sun, you have red phone boxes, British style number plates but with GBZ or the post-Brexit GIB prefix, loads of Range Rovers filled with middle-class couples who look like they belong in Chalfont Saint Peters. There are pubs, filled with badly behaved British children, their mothers quaffing white wine rather than afternoon tea, and a High Street that belongs in somewhere like Cheltenham circa 1975. And towering 470 meters over it, sits the rock itself, a spectacular cliff face, honeycombed with tunnels and doubtless containing multiple gun emplacements, aimed at the Strait, which is why the British captured it from Spain back in August 1704. It doesn’t take long to see as its only 2.6 square miles – 6.7 km2 – but the views are wonderful. We wandered in a small graveyard where tombstones recorded officers from Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, shaded beneath giant olives and eucalyptus. It is the other, secret, end of British military might: there are battlements, gun emplacements and defence towers of all ages everywhere. It evoked poignant feelings, a weird set of childhood images from the world of British colonial power that I was taught in school in the forties and fifties that is virtually, fortunately, all gone. I remember at primary school being told at morning assembly that we should no longer refer to the ‘British Empire’ and instead say ‘the British Commonwealth’ though what event prompted this I can’t say as I was only about nine years old and the Commonwealth has existed since 1926.

As Tangier was just across the water it seemed silly not to go. In fact, I had booked hotel rooms at the El Muniria for February and wanted to see the hotel again as they seemed just a bit too cheap at 25 euros for a room with en suite bathroom. And they were. The El Muniria, where Burroughs had lived, and where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky also stayed, is next door to a building site. They were drilling the last remaining fragments of the adjacent building when we arrived and we could only speak to the receptionist in between bursts of drilling. Presumably by the time we arrived in February, construction on a new building would have been well under way. No way could we have stayed there. We retreated to the El Minzah for a bland, international hotel-style glass of wine. 

In the Medina we peeked down the alley where Burroughs used to live in Tony Dutch’s male brothel, but we were regarded with such suspicion that we rapidly retreated back around the corner to the Petit Socco where Burroughs used to pass the time of day with Kiki. Here they are in 1954, and how it is now, 70 years later.

There are frequent mutterings in Spain about the sovereignty of Gibraltar, but it is very convenient for the local rich people – of which there are a great many – for it to remain British. Also, the port of Algeciras is the largest in Spain, and the second largest in the Med. Over three million containers pass through it each year and many of them are filled with drugs, smuggled goods and sometimes even human cargoes. The local mafia is very powerful and they, too, like the proximity of all those British banks down Gibraltar’s Main Street. 

Of course the food in Algeciras was fabulous and incredibly cheap. This is a working town filled with working people who appreciate good food and wine: Pulpo con mayonesa – 2 euros; Pollo salsa, 1.5 euros; Calamares 2.2 euros; Boqueróns – 2 euros. Oh, and very large glasses of wine at 2 euros. About a quarter the price of the same in London restaurants and ‘tapas’ bars and of course much fresher. They are not paying London rents, nor London wages, and the fish was landed that morning. We went to a number of bars. Maribel seemed to know people in all of them. Most people stand – being old I usually got a stool or, if I was lucky and they had one, a chair – and watched the show. They shout in Andalucía, even when their faces are inches apart, and there is a great deal of play acting. They start a sentence, or make a statement, then repeat it in order to get going, getting louder as they reach the main content of their argument at the top of their voice but they are polite, they will be quiet while their protagonist speaks, again using the same formula. This speeds up, to and fro, with a lot of laughing and dancing about. It is a largely blokey thing; I didn’t see many women in the bars but there were some.

And so to Paris where I stayed with my old friends Catherine and Steve in Sud Pigalle, or ‘soupy’ as it’s known (Sud Pi). Catherine and I saw the Mark Rothko show at the Fondation Louis Vuitton and, though I normally hate blockbusters, this one was great. The exhibition contains 115 works so we hurried through, then returned to see the most interesting ones. The first two rooms are all figurative – and of figures – and show the early use of his colour palette. He was clearly influenced by Arshile Gorky in his pre-abstraction work. Then we reach his wonderful mature style, vibrating blocks of orange, red, magenta on colour saturated grounds, mostly made between 1947 and 1958. Some of my all-time favourites were there. LVF have brought over the 1959 Seagram series from the Tate. These nine paintings were commissioned by the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York but after disagreements (they wanted brighter happier work) he kept them for himself and in 1969 bequeathed the nine paintings to the Tate so that they could be near his beloved Turner’s works. He made 30 pictures in the series all together and offered them all to the Tate but director Norman Reid declined, citing ‘storage problems’. Another typical Tate blunder; in 1921 the Tate turned down a gift of Cezanne’s ‘Mountains in Provence’ as ‘too modern’. 

As the work continues it gets darker, more depressive until we reach his 1969-70 ‘Black and Gray’ series which are just that, canvases divided equally into black and grey. Then he committed suicide. It was uncannily like the Nicolas de Staël show held at the Musée d’art moderne this summer in which the paintings became more and more depressing and lifeless, as they led to his suicide. But here one can go back to the glorious ‘light’ paintings, the reds and yellows whose colours move and change the longer you view them. It was not too crowded so we were able to study them properly. It’s on until 2 April 2024.

Finally, it’s that time of year again. Here’s my son Theo dressing the tree. Happy Crimble.

And let’s not forget: from the river to the sea.

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December 1, 2023

28th October was my son Theo’s birthday and I made him a dinner of all the things he loves: a tricolori salad, foie gras (duck have no gag reflex as their necks are designed to swallow large spiky fish so gavage doesn’t hurt them), fresh anchovies, confit de canard and cherries. Minako poured the wine. 

It was followed on the 4th November by Simon Caulkin’s birthday. I have known him about 45 years. It was held at Lemonia, a Greek restaurant in Primrose Hill. My friend Valerie, who I stayed with in Rome in the spring, was there as she is another old friend of Simon’s. Here she shows that she is half-French in conversation with Minako.

The third picture here is completely gratuitous. I found it on the web. It is the last known picture, supposedly, of Paul McCartney and John Lennon together. Taken on March 29, 1974 in Los Angeles it shows May Pang, front, John Lennon far left, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney and Harry Nilsson. I think it was taken by Mal Evans, whose autobiography of his time with the Beatles has just been published.

Then, on the 9th, I made my first visit to Lisbon where I stayed with my friend Camila who had only just returned from a long weekend in London. I was impressed and scribbled down my first impressions: 

The cobblestones. The contrast between the shining iron tram tracks cutting through the square white marble cobblestones that immediately reminded me of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy?’ [1921] with its 152 white marble cubes, like sugar lumps, in a white painted metal birdcage.

The hills. A rollercoaster of white cobbles, catching the sun like the crests of sea ripples glinting at day’s end. Like a child’s square building blocks.

The tiles. Entire house fronts of textured colour, sometimes a figure entombed in a cartouche but mostly vibrating symmetrical patterns of intricate interlocking shapes. I love tiles and in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum they have superb collection of. 16th c Iznik tiles from Western Anatolia that I spent some time examining. Also worth seeing is Gulbenkian’s collection of Lalique.

San Francisco could have been like this but instead they imposed that wretched, mindless, American street grid on even the steepest hills, ignoring the topography, and ruined forever the chance to make it a world class city.

Each morning we would go to a museum, followed by lunch, usually in the museum. Then we would wander around the old town, seeing the sites. As an ex-editor of Time Out I felt I should see the Time Out Market, one of their most successful franchises. 

The most amazing picture I saw in Lisbon was the Triptych of the Temptation of Saint Anthony (c1501) by Hieronymus Bosch at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. I love way he so accurately depicts the weirdness of the medieval mind, and this one has dozens of vignettes each of which deserves careful study. I was delighted by it. I particularly liked the little fellow in red.

Lisbon, like San Francisco, is built on hills which have been amply provided with viewpoints and panoramas of the city and the river. There is usually a convenient bar located there too and one of the most pleasant things in the world is to stroll from one viewpoint to another, tasting the local wine as you go. It is also essential to try a glass of ginjinha, a liqueur made from Morello cherries in Estremadura. Very tasty. I first heard of it from watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations programme on Lisbon where he does appear to genuinely get drunk from it.

I had not known that the world’s oldest bookshop was in Lisbon until Camila took me there. As an ex-bookseller myself it was encouraging to see a shop that had managed to remain in business so long. Livraria Bertrand was founded in 1732 and though there are now 58 other branches nationwide, the original shop still has the right smell and a pleasant atmosphere. It moved to this location in 1773 after the earthquake. The picture shows the famous white pavement cobbles and the tiled building facade. 

Lisbon is a beautiful city, with countless unexpected vistas that sometimes end with the light of the river or are animated by a moving tram. The riverside allows huge vistas and many of the industrial buildings have been repurposed as galleries, shops or markets – like the Time Out one. It seems to be a very young city, filled with youthful energy. The downside of this being that young people from all over the world have moved there, able to work remotely on their computers they have realised that living in beautiful Lisbon, with its architecture, wonderful food and wine, and cheap prices for everything except rent, is preferably to the freezing winters of Chicago or New York, Berlin or Amsterdam. Unfortunately their presence, plus the plague of AirB&B, has virtually doubled rental prices.

Camila followed me back to London a few days later to see a concert and record producer and manager Joe Boyd came to dinner. As the producer of the Pink Floyd’s first single, all of Nick Drake’s records, early Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention albums he is an integral part of sixties British rock ‘n’ roll history. He has just finished a seven-year survey of World Music which, inexplicably, has now to be called Global Music. I have known him since the early sixties. Here are the usual suspects disporting themselves: Camila, me, Minako, Theo and Joe. That is an ISB album on the coffee table.

And finally, an attempt of a much more sober portrait of dinner, this time with Hannah from the T. J. Boulting Gallery, and her partner Biscuit. Her show of Lee Miller photographs had just opened. 

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