21 MARCH 1987, Page 42

Low life

Flat out

Jeffrey Bernard

The business of waiting for a flat and meanwhile having nowhere to live is get- ting up my nose and on my tits. Two or three more weeks of it and it will doubtless be affecting other parts of my anatomy. In the old days, before London Transport banned smoking on the underground, I could have lived on the Inner Circle. Monica wouldn't have liked it though. My only dependant, she lives on 220 volts. The 3,000 volts dished out by London Trans- port would have her writing novels in a sort of frenzy and that wouldn't be fitting for a hack's mistress. Our affair should come to a close but where do you take a typewriter to lunch to tell her it's all over? When I first met her she was just plain Monica Electric de Luxe née Olympia, such a ridiculously grandiose maiden name. I spilled a drink into her once and she promptly short-circuited, but so did my four wives in the same circumstances. I was never any good at bomb disposal work.

So I now need a home for my shirts, pants and socks, razor, Monica and the fevered brow. Looking over Monica at this moment to the half-eaten M & S cottage pie on the windowsill it occurs to me that we haven't travelled very far. There has been a piece of broccoli in the ashtray since Monday and the Perrier water is flat. There's that word again — flat. Ideally I'd like to take Monica with me to the French Riviera and sit with her under a citrus tree with her lead draped over an enormous drinks trolley and plugged into a kitchen where a bikini-clad beauty prepares bouil- labaisse and drowns wild strawberries and peeled peaches in cream. Nightingales are optional. But the truth of the matter is that I've been offered a temporary sofa to sleep on in Kentish Town.

If it wasn't for my liking for clean linen and hot baths I'd drop out. In Barbados. You can sleep quite comfortably on the beach there for 365 days a year. And here's an odd thing. The Barclaycard people have just written to me to ask would I like to borrow up to £7,500 for a variety of Purposes including a holiday or home improvements. The only way I can see it Improving the home situation would be to spend it on cosmetic surgery in the hope of seducing a woman with a home of her own. Well, I don't know. It would take a civil engineer to pull my socks up. The only consolation is that I've been through it before so I suppose I can do it again. In 1951, the year of the so-called Festival of Britain, I was on the bum with nowhere to live and spent endless nights in Lyons Corner Houses eating the contents of benzedrine inhalers. It was awful at dawn coming out of the Strand Corner House cold and grey and skint only to be shat on by thousands of starlings and those verminous London pigeons quite rightly described by my brother as flying rats. The friend I knocked about with in those days and I eventually found a couple of beds by joining a travelling fair. We shared a caravan with a host of scabies and a retarded man who had never cut his toenails in his life. Howard Hughes with- out the loot. That was so long ago I can remember thinking that beer was exciting.

Pulling down and putting up dodgem-car tracks in village after village was hard work but we were happy. I wonder why. I suppose we only had a vague inkling of what we were missing and anyone can be happy at 19. Since then we've been spoiled. That old mate of mine has now got all of a house apart from the ground floor which is a betting shop. Next door to that there is a genito-urinary hospital and oppo- site a launderette, a pub and a fish-and- chip shop. It's better than Blenheim Palace which has few amenities on those lines.

But I exaggerate a little. These straits are by no means dire. It is just that moaning has become a bad habit and I Wonder who I caught it from. Possibly John Hurt who has been complaining about the Slowness of the builders who are building his new house in Kenya and taking an age with the swimming pool. I once saw a racehorse trainer in tears when his Rolls Royce got a puncture. I have no such problems, come to think of it. And flat racing starts next week, thank God.