3 AUGUST 1991, Page 42

Low life

Down by

the riverside

Jeffrey Bernard

am writing to you from the eighth floor of a block of flats halfway between the House of Commons and the Tate Gallery. I can even see the river, although most of it is obscured by a tower block.

It is a pity because this area has nothing much else to offer. Apart from the Tate this is ditchwater country. There are no shops or pubs worth a visit but it is better than being homeless even if it does cost an arm and a leg. When I first came up here to sign the agreement and give the agent some money he said that I would be living with some distinguished people. I asked him who and he told me that several MPs lived here. Distinguished? John Stone- house and Jeremy Thorpe sprang to mind and I asked him, 'What's so f—ing distin- guished about being a member of this bloody Government?'

The only distinguished person here is the Irish caretaker and he does take care. He even arranges to have your washing done for you and he is not a sycophantic creep as most of such people are. But at the end of the day — I should say at the beginning of the day — the thing is to get the hell out of Westminster and go to the Bar Italia to kibbitz with Tony the guvnor and Alfie the bookmaker.

The Bar Italia has become my new wait- ing-room. I swear that all clocks and watch- es get jammed and fouled up for the 20 minutes before opening time, And that is a pleasantly hushed time of the day now that Norman has thankfully gone to the South of France on holiday. You know who pays for his holidays, of course. Still, we think it is worth it. I suggested to him that he have an 'unhappy hour' and charge twice the normal price for drinks. I think he is seri- ously considering the matter. And speaking of twice the price I have had a fiscal haemorrhage these past two weeks with no flat. Monica had a heart attack so I had to buy a new typewriter which I can't work. I had to buy new clothes because mine are locked up, and the Hotel Limbo has sent me a bill for £1,200 and that's before drinks and food. Ever since Geraldine Norman asked me to leave Great Portland Street four years ago life has been a squalid mess and on top of that three consecutive landlords have conned me out of £3,000. As I have said before, only the play has stopped me from jumping into this very adjacent river.

Yesterday I bumped into Helen Mon- tagu, who is off to Australia this week to cast the remaining actors who will perform with Dennis Waterman. I was going to go to Perth for Christmas but I shall wait for the Sydney opening and the lobsters in Doyles restaurant. Lovely Roxy of the Soho Brasserie has started selling excellent oys- ters. Pacific ones. How the hell they get here is a mystery to me. Another mystery to me is how on earth oysters reproduce themselves. Perhaps it is better not to ask.