Girl drummer and dodgy pissed up guitarists. Bass player invite to rock in Rhodes
Welsh pub food!
As we continued to fill our evenings at the Cannes Film Festival with the excitement of sneaking in to parties and getting drunk for free, my buddy Neville and I each encountered an adventure of the female kind whilst nibbling bread sticks and drinking copious amounts of Schnapps with the Croatian Film Board. The Schapps was served, by the way, in what can best be described as small vases, and the representative of Croatia serving them with such gusto from plastic bottles marked as ‘still water’ told me it was homemade in Croatia and sneaked into the country to avoid heavy import duty or possible confiscation at the border. But even before the liquor flowed too heavily Neville, the old rogue, being single at the moment and always on the prowl made a bee-line for a very attractive young woman who was drinking alone at the bar. I guess he turned on some kind of hitherto-very-well-hidden charm because astonishingly within moments she was virtually simpering with coy flirtatiousness. With Neville otherwise engaged it spurred me on to check the room out for other possible conversational targets, but as I stepped back to survey the crowd of potentials arrayed before me I heard a yelp of surprise and turning, was rather stunned by what I saw. Standing close behind me, – suspiciously close I might add, – was a kind of odd but not unatttractive flouncy blonde girl with an incredible hourglass figure and wavy blonde Marilyn Monroe hair. She would have been absolutely delicious if it were not for her peculiar shaped mouth and rather large teeth and gums. However, irrespective of her appearance or my misogynistic but efficient appraisal of her I could only apologise for standing on her foot, even though as I said, she was unnecessarily close to me so much so that I might have suspected her of hoping I would knock into her and provoke some sort of instant conversational gambit, otherwise known as attention-seeking, a trait not unheard of in an attractive woman. So it transpired that Marilyn was in fact Olga, she was Spanish and just visiting Cannes ‘with lots of friends’ to see what contacts she could make. Rather appealingly she was an actress, and after some initial flirting during which I explained to her that I was a largely unsuccessful writer trying to chance my arm with a willing or sympathetic production company and was therefore not likely to be of much networking use to her, she leaned forward and placed a slightly wet kiss on my lips. So stunned was I by this that I was only able to respond feebly, something that she evidently took as encouragement as the kiss lingered for a several seconds until I became aware that others in the room were glancing at us with slightly disapproving looks as this was after all, a corporate event and still quite early on in the evening, being only about 7 o’clock. Having kissed me and illicited from me what she evidently interpreted as enthusiasm and consent she drew back and presented me with a fascinating but over-sized smile and thrust her empty schnapps vase at me with a clear implication that I should get her a refill. I staggered to the packed bar in a slight daze, and managed to make eye contact with Neville who was so immersed in his own particular pursuit that he had not noticed Olga and I having a crafty snog. I pulled a face in his direction which was intended to convey bewildered enthusiasm at my situation tinged with encouragement towards him in his, but as he hadn’t witnessed anything remarkable I am pretty sure he must have just assumed I was already pissed. As I waited for my drinks I sent Neville a text which seemed the best way of contacting him without disturbing whatever he had going on with his lady friend. “Olga just snogged me!” I told him, “Great! Who is Olga?” came his encouraging and yet not unsurprisingly ignorant response. There was nothing that could be explained without a full face to face conversation and neither of us seemed available at that precise moment, so I took some more schnapps along with a deep breath of anticipation and returned to Olga, half expecting her to be leaning forward and kissing some other hapless writer, editor or cameraman to whom she had also managed to stand a little too close. But it was not to be, she was waiting for me, smiling her peculiar smile, but at the same time pouting her fabulous figure in true Marilyn Monroe style. I asked her if she would like to be cast in a Marilyn Monroe biopic and when she virtually melted into my arms I made a mental note of the effectiveness of this particular chat-up line for future use.
I have to confess that as I left the party with Olga and steered her towards the nearby taxi rank I was rather too inebriated to dwell for too long in my mind on the matter of my relationship with Myrtle who was by now, quite definitely my official girlfriend. However Myrtle was not with me in Cannes, and I had been completely chatted up by a (fairly) sexy blonde actress at the biggest Film Festival in the world, so really, what was I to do, half-cut as I was? To my shame I whisked Olga away in a taxi to her hotel, where at her insistence we didn’t even bother with the formality of having a sociable drink in the bar but simply went straight to her room. It was only when I emerged in the small hours of the next morning that I checked my phone messages and saw firstly that Neville’s evening had reached a similar point of success (if that is the right word), but also that I had missed two calls and received several texts from Myrtle all conveying the same basic theme of how much she was missing me and how excited and proud she was that I was over in Cannes doing movie stuff. I don’t think she would have been too thrilled to learn just what particular kind of movie stuff I had just been doing, but this was a cross I hoped I was going to be able to bear as I trudged down the deserted moonlit avenue and debated the loss of my moral compass.
Having rocked up to Cannes in the South of France during the world famous film festival, my best buddy and some-time co-writer Neville and I decided to try our luck at hobnobbing it into parties and generally taking advantage of the myriad of available hospitality events provided by the world’s glittering movie industry sectors. In almost every case though it must be understood that admittance to these events is by invitation only, and neither of us have, as of yet, made it onto any noteworthy guest lists being the merest of minnows in an enormous ocean of green lights, industry tax-breaks and sickeningly sycophantic Hollywood glitz. So in a nutshell we were going to have to sneak, blag, crash or just boldface lie our way into any parties we could find, a seemingly daunting task for the fainthearted or the inexperienced, of which we were neither, having done exactly this at past Cannes Festivals with astonishing success. There are two kinds of people at the Cannes Film Festival, firstly the tourists who are there hoping, queuing and clamouring amid the throngs of punters to catch a glimpse of one of the genuine Hollywood stars who visit for a movie premiere or promotional appearance, second there are the industry professionals who are there to work. Clearly tourists are not going to get into industry parties, so the first rule of getting ahead at Cannes is to make yourself look like an industry insider and fortunately achieving this is easy with the use of a badge. To be exact one needs an official pass, which generally speaking can only be obtained by those in the know who have a good reason to be there, however if you know where to go you can purchase a temporary pass to wear around your neck and are instantaneously transformed into a movie professional, free to waft in and out of all sorts of restricted places and draw jealous looks from the sight-seeing hoards being held back from the serious areas by baton-weilding security apes. Of course, the pass does not get you into parties, it just gets you to the front door with a plausible reason for wanting access. There is always security and there is always a guest-list. But there is always a way in, especially as there are always parties with slacker-than-necessary security. Last year we crashed one of the biggest parties at the Festival and managed to take full advantage of a free bar and their amazing buffet, not to mention an incredible firework display, dancing, music and a guest appearance from a Hollywood legend. We drank and ate ourselves silly, and rather than being busted and evicted we elected to leave at around midnight as we literally couldn’t drink any more champagne. This year we started more modestly by sneaking in to a private beach party quite early in the evening. Beach parties are easy to get into as there are usually several temporary entrances some of which only have the most cursory of security, so with a confident swagger, a shrewd sense of timing and a wave of a not-really-valid-for-this pass we made it to the bar at the heart of the party. Unfortunately it was a cashless bar that needed tokens for drinks, tokens that were issued to invitees as they arrived at the main entrance. Well having come this far we weren’t about to be thwarted by a little detail like that, so with a combination of acting and bravado we illicited a couple of tokens each from the front desk and were good to go. I can confirm that drinking Martini cocktails on a beach is a great feeling, especially if that beach is at Cannes, the Martinis are paid for by someone else and you are at a party you shouldn’t really be at. With only two tokens each though we were not to be there long, so there followed a similar excursion to a private event in the grounds of one of the glitzy hotels. Security politely turned us away when we tried to walk in at the front gate, but a quick trip around the grounds revealed a ridiculously easy access point, so woefully under-manned that we felt a responsibility to take advantage and teach them a lesson. Brilliant news at this one as the bar was free, no tokens required, and there was a pretty good buffet to boot. On the down side though, they shut the bar at six pm and we discovered it was just a ‘pre-evening party’, not to worry though, we had done ourselves justice in the hour or so we had been there and were now decidedly pissed. And so our first evening in Cannes continued, popping from beach party to corporate function as we wound our way with increasing good humour but decreasing steadiness around the hotels and marquees of the festival site. We developed a warm and gracious opinion of the Eastern European Film Association who had some superb wines on offer to guests (and us), and felt similarly well-disposed towards the Canadian Film Fund who kindly provided some delicious nibbles to go along with the beer.
By ten oclock we were suitably sozzled and tottering along the harbour front admiring the incredible yachts. Blagging into – or rather onto - a yacht party is the holy grail of the Cannes party-crasher and we were in no fit state to plan any kind of strategy by this point in the evening, such a thing would have to wait. Instead we staggered into a restaurant and ordered pizza and something to drink, and although the standard was as good as one might expect in a place like Cannes, our enjoyment was dimmed slightly by the knowledge that we were actually going to have to pay for this. Ah well, our first evening had been a resounding success, and in the taxi back to the hotel I congratulated Neville on his cunning, confidence and capacity for alcohol. Nothing could touch us, we were the Cannes party crashers, we slipped through security as if cloaked in shadow, and brazened it out among the film industry’s finest. However, pride had come before the inevitable fall, and as Neville bade me good night and stumbled up the hotel stairs to his room he checked his pockets twice, thrice and again, only to inform me that he had lost both his passport and his wallet at some point during the evening’s jolities. Oh bugger.
Being a middle-aged man I never get ill or sick. Well, obviously I occasionally contract some hideously debilitating and extremely painful medical condition that defies the knowledge of even the most patient and tolerant of GPs, but that is no way to be confused with having a bit of a cold or a random ache somewhere, over which I should really just follow the advice I would give someone else in that position and ‘man up’. No, illness is for wimps, unless it applies to me in which case it is extremely serious. Thus it was a few days ago that I was stuck in bed all day, suffering with an extremely advanced bout of flu, virtually paralysed with pain and slowly draining bodily fluids into a bowl from every orifice. It was from this vulnerable and incapacitated position that I heard the rattle of keys in the front door downstairs which raised me from my self-pitying reverie. It was the middle of the day, nobody was expected in my house at this time on a weekday, but as I chased the heavily medicated fog of blurred confusion from my befuddled mind I realised the sounds of movement from downstairs belonged in all probability to the cleaners who came once a week to flit round with a duster, empty the dishwasher and drink my tea. As I am almost always out when they come I had only a vague recollection of meeting one of them once, several months ago, as I left the house dressed in my Fathers for Justice batman costume, something that one normally attempts to do as surreptitiously as possible but became rather exposed as the arriving domestics screamed in shock then shrieked with laughter. At the time I made my excuses and left, cape swishing in my wake as I jumped into the batmobile which was rather fortuitously disguised as a normal car on that day. Anyway, the voices emanating from the kitchen confirmed that there were indeed now two ladies downstairs in my house whom I did not know, and here I was upstairs in bed, albeit in a semi-comatose state of medical regression. Just as I was debating dragging myself out of bed and into some clothes there came the sound of footfall on the stairs, and into my bedroom, Mr Sheen in hand, walked Mildred. Now despite the fact that my car had been parked outside and there must surely have been other telltale signs that I had not in fact left the house that day Mildred was not expecting me to be there and was extremely scared to see me, so scared that she actually screamed – not a yelp of surprise, but a full-on ear splitting scream of fear which brought her co-worker whose name I never learned to my shame, running upstairs to aid/investigate/take photos. It soon became apparent that nothing was amiss as when my hearing returned to somewhere close to normal I was able to explain my situation to them which mercifully appeased them. The co-worker returned to the kitchen, but I soon realised that Mildred was lingering in my bedroom, making small-talk as she straightened the curtains and picked up a few floor-strewn items of clothing. Now, the thing about Mildred is this: she is the proud owner of absolutely the most enormous pair of breasts I have ever seen in my life. The word ‘vast’ would not even come close, even if it were written in upper case in a size 250 ‘impact bold’ font. Mildred is no spring chicken, being, I suspect, of a certain age, but so mesmerising was her chest I honestly couldn’t recall too closely exactly what she looked like facially. Not only that, but she was dressed for work, which meant she had a very small black vest-top on which didn’t even begin to cover the ill-fitting lacy black bra she wore underneath. As she continued to busy herself around me taking ever-so-slightly too long to complete some fairly unnecessary jobs, it became obvious to us both that even though she was chatting and I was answering there was no getting away from the fact that I was basically just staring at her cleavage. She then did something that I think I shall remember until the day I die. She stopped what she was doing, approached me in my trance-like state, knelt by the side of my bed, and leaned over to fluff up the cushions, her heaving bosom just inches from my face. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” she genuinely asked me. I swear this actually happened, it was like the clichéd opening to a thousand porn films that I may or may not have watched at some point in my life, it could only have been out-clichéd if her colleague had walked in wearing a skimpy bath-towel and enquired if I minded if she just had a quick shower. So Mildred seemed intent on helping me live out some unspoken fantasy and as words of encouragement formed on my lips I remembered two things, firstly that I was extremely ill, practically at death’s door in fact, and as such would be very unlikely to be able to do much more than smile weakly and compliment her, which would quite rightly seem to her churlish and pathetic if she was prepared to go to the lengths she seemed prepared to go to at that precise moment. Secondly I remembered Myrtle, who had been giving me the cold shoulder since our little ‘other-woman’ misunderstanding on the mountain weekend, but was at least still speaking to me and would, I felt sure, thaw out in the fullness of time and respond to my general and earnest continued wooing of her. But by definition this meant that Myrtle and I were not actually a couple, and although I wished that we were and thought that we would be soon, we weren’t at the moment that Mildred offered to take her top off in my bedroom.
I was at a loss, caught between a narcoticly hazy lust and a surprisingly powerful moral guilt complex, but then a path of reason jumped into my head – What would Fonzie do? Fonzie was of course the ultimate womaniser, the original rock and roll love machine that could make women faint with the click of his fingers and the flick of his quiff, but he was also the moral guardian for a generation, a respecter of feelings and always did the right thing and set the right example. In that moment I felt positive that he would have complimented Mildred on her amazing female charms but politely declined her offer on the basis that he was unwell and could not do them, her or himself justice in his current condition. Face would be saved all round, and The Fonz alone would know if the real reason for his refusal was really one of loyalty to Myrtle. But then i thought: what does he know?
It seems my camping trip to the Lake District last weekend with the lovely Myrtle was ill-fated on many levels. Firstly, she put the cat among the pigeons by telling me that she was falling in love with me which was lovely to hear but a bit worrying as I have only known her for about five weeks and up until, well, now, have not really considered us to be a proper “boyfriend/girlfriend” couple. Also, when you have been married as many times as I have you tend to develop a kind of emotional Teflon shield to absorb and deflect anything meaningful, the trick is then to try and disguise the shield so as not to appear callous and uncaring, although if you wear the shield all the time it can become so second nature that the line between self-preservation and emotional irresponsibility can become very muddied indeed. Anyway, once Myrtle had made this knock-out revelation I then managed to destroy the moment more or less straight away by mis-managing my mobile phone use and allowing her to see a text message from another woman telling me she was looking forward to our forthcoming date – this did not go down well with Myrtle although in my defence the date had been arranged several weeks earlier and although I had not actually cancelled it I had no intention of actually going to meet the woman, well, I very much doubt if I would have gone to meet her anyway, yes, I probably wouldn’t have gone… But with Myrtle disappearing in a cloud of wrath, misunderstanding and general discontent I took the brave step of cancelling the date even though I may have needed it as a back-up if Myrtle had meant what she said about the futility of our relationship, and having given her a few days to calm down I explained to her fairly honestly what had happened and pledged my attentions to her, for the time being at least. But the weekend up a mountain had more hammer blows to fall. The short slide I had taken on one particularly slippery part of our descent hadn’t hurt much at the time, but the jolt on the leg it gave me developed over the ensuing days to become an agonising strain on the ligaments down one side of my knee resulting in an inability to sit still, stand up or lie down without feeling enormous pain and discomfort. The doctor pushed and pulled a bit at my knee joint until he triggered the requisite howl of pain from me, then diagnosed a strain caused by a combination of overdoing things and the onset of age, fo which the only cure was prolonged rest and an education not to try galavanting about so much as I am, in his words, “not 18 any more”. Finally, as I drove back down the M6 from our weekend away, alone of course, as Myrtle had flounced off and returned home on the train, there developed a distinct rattling sound in my car and a small but noticeable judder from the steering wheel. I made all the usual checks and found that the new tyres and repairs I had recently had done didn’t seem to have done the trick, as there was still definitely something wrong. I has no option but to call a roadside patrol to come and attend my vehicle, and consequently made the second half of the journey home in the comfort of the his brightly painted cab, with my poorly car winched up on the flatbed behind my head.
So a fun and energetic weekend climbing mountains with a lovely woman turned into a washed-out and exhausting couple of days where I ended up on my own with a seriously injured leg and a broken car. Surely good times are around the corner? I have arranged to see Myrtle again this weekend, hopefully she has bought my explanation and is happy to pick things up where we left off, and although that would arguably be tantamount to her admitting she was wrong to react so hastily and vociferously, I bet I don’t get an apology from her. Women eh? Tch! Cah!