Dirty Cash, I Want You
Lezard, Nicholas, New Statesman (1996)
It is time, I have decided, to become more corrupt. Print journalism may be in a terrible state, but I still know quite a few print journalists who are getting some excellent freebies. Even the small ones sound good; I hear it takes only a moderate amount of chutzpah to claim them. And if there is anyone who needs a freebie, it is I. Another name for this column could be "I Am Broke", but one doesn't want to harp on about it every week. The condition is tedious. But I must say I am mystified as to how come I have less money than I did when I had a drug habit.
Not even alimony can account for this. Majestic may no longer do its very passable Australian Shiraz at [pounds sterling]4.99 a bottle, but I don't drink that much, do I? And I hardly ever go to the pub these days. When I went to the Duke for the first time in ages with the Woman I Love, the Guvnor made as much fuss of us as if we'd been reprieved from death row.
My youngest son, when only five, asked of a visibly wealthy gay (and childless) couple we were staying with: "Where do you keep all your rich money?" I do not like hacks who quote cute things their kids say, but "rich money" is a phrase that has entered not only the family lexicon, but that of everyone I've used it on. Where, I ask, is my rich money?
I know this is hardly Dickensian squalor, and there are many far worse off than I, but it's got to the point where I can't even go to exhibitions I want to see. A few weeks ago, my friend the Moose suggested meeting at the show of sculpture by Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill at the Royal Academy, and I whined that the expense was beyond me. He told me it was simple: all I had to do was ring up the press office and ask for free entry. This, though, is beyond me, as I can't with a straight face pass myself off as an art critic.
Meanwhile, the expenses mount up. My boots need resoling after only a couple of months, which shows how much walking I've been doing. The WIL craves a new Alfa Romeo Spider, but this is an unrealisable dream. Between us we would struggle to come up with the funds for one of its wing mirrors. …