For my birthday, David belatedly took me to John Lewis, where he purchased a wireless speaker so I can listen to all the music on my iPad. We got it home to the flat in Primrose Hill (yes, he has already complained about ‘walking up that bloody hill’ after dinner at Lemonia; there is no pleasing some people), but were unable to get it to connect to the wi-fi. I said to David that somehow blowing on a stylus to remove dust, then placing it gingerly to a piece of black vinyl before hearing crackles from a scratch or warp somehow seemed infinitely more pleasurable and far less time-consuming.
When I moved out of my (rented) house in North Yorkshire and arrived with all my boxes at my one-bedroom flat with a balcony at the centre of the Western world, the two Romanian removal men said, ‘Why would you leave that lovely house in the countryside, for…this.’ They simply don’t understand. This is where it’s at. This is where my heart lies.
As part of my downsizing, and given my new addiction to Apple Music, I decided to get rid of my thousands and thousands of CDs. Nic has a young male friend, so I said he could come round and take his pick. I could tell, as he was fingering through my music spanning 30 years, eyes bulging in amazement at such an exhaustive collection, that he was thinking, ‘Why does an old white bird have so much gangsta rap?’
Why indeed. My record collection was entirely – apart from music by David Cassidy and Prince, who I fancied the pants off rather than for any musical reason – moulded and formed by the man I happened to be dating at the time. My introduction to hip-hop was fuelled by Trevor, he of the high-waisted trousers and TCP for aftershave. With him, I bought my first-ever CD: 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul. I graduated to Public Enemy, NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie. Snoop Doggy Dog, the glorious Lauryn Hill, The Pharcyde.After we broke up, when he ran off with a fashion stylist called Jenny, I moved on with Kevin, who introduced me to jazz. I always thought jazz was just a noise but, so keen was I to impress him, I never voiced such reservations and would sit, entranced and swaying, as he popped yet another obscure CD into my hi-fi, secretly yearning for Sex and the City. He was known to sit on the floor, serenading me with one of his own compositions. I never quite knew where to look. How did Pattie Boyd ever cope with the squirming embarrassment?
My ex-husband Nirpal was the reason I fell in love with Indian music: Ravi Shankar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Talvin Singh. He loved house music, too, which never really appealed. Trying to edit down my thousands of books for my move, all the really intelligent tomes – John Keats’ Selected Poems, books on globalisation and the enlightenment, novels by Kiran Desai, Michel Houellebecq and VS Naipaul – were entirely due to his having left them behind in his rush to run off with other women. He was far cleverer than me, though lazy and unsupportive. I remember once, when I was asked by my paper to write a piece on skinny models at London Fashion Week, I had to rush off to a Jasper Conran show and interview Catherine, the wife of David Bailey. With only seconds to spare before
I had to file my copy, he said, ‘Well, I don’t know why you don’t just tell them to f*** off?’ Which has never been my attitude at all. Success isn’t all about being a clever clogs, it’s about knuckling down, too.
As the young man, thrilled, took away boxes and boxes of CDs, I felt I was exorcising the ghosts of men past, and maybe opening a new door to something different. David has never introduced me to a new track or a new book or even a new move in bed, but he is kind. No matter how many DIY jobs I’ve given him in my new home – ‘David, can you put the smart TV on the bracket?’ ‘David, can you find somewhere to put the ironing board?’ I doubt anyone says the name David in a plaintive voice more than me; on second thoughts, maybe Victoria Beckham – he has just trundled off to the hardware store, without a murmur. He will never cheat on me and I don’t think the reason is infirmity or laziness or being unable to run up that hill. Ah, Kate Bush…the man who introduced me to her is another column entirely.