Last week, I told you I spotted the first man I (chastely) spent the night with, circa 1978. I didn’t find Russell in the flesh. He had been interviewed by the BBC coming out of a cinema in 1974, wearing a car coat, having seen The Exorcist. He was the most handsome man in London.
Since then, I’ve been googling him, without much luck. I then went on the actors’ database, had to subscribe to ‘professional’, and found out he was in Cry Freedom, alongside Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington and a very young Josette Simon, whom I once saw emerging from my flatmate’s bedroom.
So I rented the film from iTunes, and watched it feverishly, overusing the rewind ten seconds option. Wanting to know if he ever married and divorced (hopefully), I then went on the MyHeritage website. Useless. I had to upgrade and subscribe again. Completely useless! Someone with his name got married in Brentwood, Essex, in 1988 but I can’t be certain it was him.
This was all proving expensive, so I emailed him; I found his contact details on his work website. Ha! I wrote that I’m sure he doesn’t remember me, but that I had just seen him on TV.
And he replied! ‘Hi Liz! Of course I remember you.’ He said he gave up acting, and hopes I’m well.
I persisted. ‘Every movie star I’ve ever interviewed is paranoid and miserable, so you made the right choice. How nice to get an email from someone whom we all agreed was the most
handsome man in London. X’
I sent it from my laptop, so he’d be sure to see the ‘Columnist of the Year’ signature at the end. He replied, remarking that if I thought he was the most handsome man in London, I can’t have got out much (tbh, that’s true, as I had agoraphobia on top of everything else*), and he included a photo of himself, in 1977, in my flat! A cigarette is dangling from that generous mouth. I notice an awful poster, just stuck on a wall. In those days, I didn’t care about décor, or cleaning. I only cared about Russell.
I replied, saying, ‘You once took me to a wedding (not ours, sadly).’ And enclosed a photo of me now, which, The Devil Wears Prada Miranda Priestly fashion, I made Nic re-size, so it’s smaller and doesn’t show wrinkles. ‘That is me now,’ I told him. ‘I had just done a 42-mile walk for charity.’ I wanted him to think I’m nice, not self-obsessed. Sending that photo and that email is the closest I have ever come to flirting with a man. If only I’d not been too shy to have sex with him when I had him in my narrow single bed, I’d have more of a claim on him now.
And since then? He has gone a bit cold. After a forensic examination of his emails, I can’t ignore the fact there are no ‘X’s. Which makes me think he’s married. Nevertheless, I am still a bit overexcited, and order a milky tank top from the Nearly New Cashmere Co. I consider booking the dental hygienist. Last night, I slept in a face mask. He promised to scan and send more photos of parties in my flat, but it’s now four days later, so he’s hardly feverish. Dear God. Perhaps he googled me.
Feeling despondent, I have to go to London for work. I keep checking my emails to see if he has replied. Come Monday morning, and it’s nothing, nothing, nothing. It’s like my birthday all over again.
But then two bits of good news. I go to see the doctor in Harley Street, and after an expensive battery of tests (a contraption is strapped to my head and I have to follow dots on a screen with my eyes), I am told I haven’t had a stroke. I don’t have a tumour. I have an imbalance in my left ear, and am prescribed water tablets, which should do the trick. Next, my hotel room is upgraded from a Tiny to a Large. I sit in it in the middle of Soho, with my new lease of life, and I think, I’m being wasted.
So I do it. I send a text. ‘Do you want to come to my hotel tomorrow night?’
Problem is, I’m about to have sex with the wrong man.
*Please see last week’s missive