12 JANUARY 1991, Page 34

Low life

Lost deposit

Jeffrey Bernard

But, if I was right that most people got what was coming to them, I would like to know why I have been kicked twice where it hurts in the last two weeks for the sum total of £1,630. We were, most of us, all terrible bums in the 1950s as are most young men up until the age of 30, but did I scrounge that many ten-bob notes? Prob- ably. Anyway, I have now shrugged my seething brain, never mind shoulders, and I will never mention the business again.

So what else is new? Not a lot. Norman has just shown me a rough proof of his ghosted autobiography, You're Barred, You Bastards, and it looks as though his ghost, Spencer Bright, has done a good job. What is nasty is that one virago of a hack is already clamouring to review it because she hates Norman. A little immor- al in a way to want to review a book about someone because you hate them. She has obviously reviewed it in her mind already. The reviewer should declare his or her interest and if I get asked to review the book I shall have to say that yesterday Norman brought me a chicken pie and cashed a cheque. It goes without saying that had he not cashed the cheque then I could not have paid him for the pie but his heart is in the right place and he keeps the food coming like the Atlantic convoys of yesteryear.

And now I have to finish a book within a few days, for which purpose I am fleeing to Norfolk for a spell of drudgery. I shall never cease to be amazed that some people actually enjoy writing books. They must be awfully good at it. Never again. It is quite ridiculous to accept any sort of commission just because of being flattered by the asking.

But Norfolk will bring back memories. Where I am going is the scene of a strange holiday I had 15 years ago with a very lovely young woman. I was in the middle of my awful two-and-a-half-year stint on the wagon which made me prone to sulking quite a lot. We rented a house by the beach and we squabbled on the shingle. It was made doubly worse by the fact that I can't swim. So I sat on the wretched shingle chain-smoking and watching her smoothly crawl out into the deep and thinking what the hell am I doing here not being able to drink or swim. The landscape may have been lovely to painters like Cotman but all I could see was the water being chopped by the wind coming across the North Sea.

After another squabble about who had paid for the shopping and how much, we returned to London where I was ditched in favour of a property developer. The moral of all that is never ever go on the wagon. It puts you in touch with reality.