Saturday, August 07, 2010

Codeine Nights

A WOMAN, looking like a black Brixton prostitute (her words) with turquoise leggings, big gold earrings, etc, takes off her high heeled shoe and throws it at a man, white, thirty (tirty! – almost), wearing a pin-striped suit and cheap black brogues. The man turns and catches it in his hand, just before it hits him in the head. He turns. They face each other, ready to do battle. Just like in a film. In fact, it is a film. Or at least it was going to be (the final scene was to be a chase on horseback through Brixton High Street).

Casey and I planned to write our kick-boxing film (this was around the time of The Matrix and when we both did kick boxing), working title Grey Belt or South London Kick Boxer, as well as act parts of it with a camcorder. As it turned out, Casey, two days before we left, got a toe infection and could barely walk let alone produce side kicks.

We flew to Marseilles. My uncle and aunt picked us up, and we drove to their villa near Nice, a beautiful place with a vineyard, swimming pool and Wendy house the size of a large shed, for their young daughter.

Amazingly (for me), I woke at 6:30am to take photos of the day beginning, a dip in the pool, coffee, breakfast, etc, long before Casey was even up. When she finally did rise she was in a mood at me for waking her. Later we are driven to the supermarket, then to Mougins, where we stayed together for the week.

Mougins is the village near Cannes where Picasso spent the last thirteen years of his life. Why, we’re not sure. It’s a village made for people rather than cars, which is nice. The roads are narrow and more like alleys. But once you leave the village, there are no people, no pavements, only cars. Just like L.A. Me and Casey, sans voiture, are stuck here. The village is atop a hill; it’s circular. There are expensive restaurants and tacky art galleries but not a sign of Picasso.

We get taxis to Cannes; there was no other way. On the beach, we are all the same, like sheep or pigs. Devoid of suits and skirts, almost naked, exposed to the sun and each other, it is not sexy. We all look foolish and don’t mind.

Even breasts don’t look sexy on the beach. I see Casey’s for the first time. They just look like lumps of flesh. Which they are. I guess it’s about context. I’m sure they’d be sexy, say, in bed. The naked four-year old girl looks exactly the same as the topless twenty-six-year old woman. Just a person, devoid of dignity and clothes. We’re all the same underneath, give or take.

Cannes near sunset, along the promenade, just like Manila bay. The boats in the distance, the hazy blue mountains, the promenade, the light, the palm trees; even the people and their stances.

Back in Mougins, we watched a lot of videos, bad ones, children’s ones, French TV. I read a bit of Samarkand by Amin Maalouf and Ratner’s Star by Don DeLitto; Casey is reading Ballard's Cocaine Nights. I did basically what I do at home, read books and watch films. At least I was doing it in another location, with a nice coffee in the morning and Casey. We were going to live together. Make films. Write. Paint. Casey bursts into tears at some point. I'm naked except for a bed sheet wrapped around me like a toga. She gets another toe infection which reminds me of one I had in Morocco.

On our last night we went to a restaurant in Mougins for the first time. We deserved it. We showered and both looked nice and clean. Casey said we had that just made love look. The restaurant was lovely and the bill was over £100. The wine alone came to £25. Something came over me and I told Casey I’d pay the bill. Fuck it. Casey ended up paying for the wine.

(Mougins, France, 1999)

Previously with Casey: The Cherry Tree and The Stowaway

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