If I'm on Hammersmith and I throw a three, she thinks, I have an abundance of moves. Up the Metropolitan to
Latimer Road, or District to Earls Court; or Piccadilly Line to Gloucester Road, or back to Turnham Green. She
runs a long apricot nail along the pale blue Piccadilly vein that diagonally bisects the underground energy channels
and gingerly moves the pieces of torn cards a few centimetres outwards from the map. The tip of her nail vibrates
along the marble table top as she pokes slowly at the pieces. Six fragments and one complete seven of deniers.
One fragment could be a six. Another looks like the three of staves. There's also the bottom of an unidentified
horseman. And a valet, probably. The other bits she can't identify.
She arranges them around the edge of the map on the wet marble surface. Her glass of mint tea is to the right.
Her sunglasses lie to the left. The table is tight against the green iron railings at the front of the cafe. The sun
shines on the blue formica table tops across the square at the Cafe Central. Above her head the green and white
striped awning of the Cafe Tingis keeps the worst of the heat and the glare from her.
The blue, red and gold ink on the card fragments is faded. She wonders if she should ever have picked them up
when they fell, confetti-like, onto her shoulders. She was walking, idling through the narrower streets and
alleyways, thinking she knew where she was and then finding herself in some square where she had not expected
to be. She'd been walking toward the port compound, hoping there was a way up to the Rue de la Marine. She'd
stopped when she saw only the dock gates ahead. At that very moment the fragments of card had descended on
her, together with a sweep of assorted dust and dirt from the street above. A sprinkle of minor arcana. Nothing
unusual in this enigmatic space in time.
And now she studies them on the cafe table. Do they contain a message of some importance for her? Her finger
rests on the seven of deniers. Seven small golden coins. She slowly splays out her fingers until her fingertips rest
gently on the golden circles on the card. She slides the card gently towards her. Are they meant to be coins?
Money? Is this a sign of money coming to her? She winces at the fortune-tale thinking. Aren't deniers meant to be
evil, negative? Pentacles. She prefers that name. This is the seven of pentacles. A nice down-to-earth suit. Must
indicate an end to the muddle and confusion that has grown up around her in the past week.
He's an extremist. Always playing around with the camera, continually re-assembling the past or positing the
future. Street theatre carried to extremes.
Room nine at the El Muniria was a case in point. Why the somewhat shabby little room, she didn't query. She is
used to shabby little hotel rooms, particularly with Antony. Though he's just as likely to book them a suite at The
Ritz. So they lay around in room nine and munched majoun fudge and played some weird music on the cassette
player. Best kif in the Rif, Antony said. It was the kind of flippant remark that really irritated her,an indication of
some parallel and less likeable personality at work. But later,in the bar of the El Muniria, Abdul told her that
Room Nine was a popular request. Of course it was Naked Lunch that Burroughs had been writing there.
Antony also said (borrowing from Paul Bowles, as she found out later) that the town had been designed by
Dr.Caligarri, with the classical dream equipment of tunnels, ramparts, ruins, dungeons and cliffs.
But the dreamlike quality of life here is enjoyable, particularly after the hectic times in London. Still, she knows
she's giving in a little too much. She really needs some kind of sense out of Antony now. If not a script then at
least some kind of a timetable.
She drops a few dhirams onto the table, slides them out from among the fragments of cards towards the waiter's
lethargic fingers where they tap at the edge of the marble, thin and brown and wrinkled like prune skins. She
watches as the waiter's fingers walk slowly across the moist surface, the pink pads of his fingertips exerting just
enough pressure to drag the coins silently across the marble to drop off the edge and into his tray with a tiny
metallic sound.
She looks again at the bits of Tarot cards before she gets up from the table. A horseman that must be the knight
of staves, an unpredictable person, impetuous enough to make a hasty departure on his own. Does his presence
mean they are going to strike camp and leave Morocco?
Out into of the Petit Socco she turns uphill toward the Boulevard Pasteur, mildly wondering where Antony is and
why she is walking instead of having called for a taxi. She'll stop in at the Frog for a coffee.
All very well Miriam-Ann. Out there in the dark, unseeable jungle, in the primordial darkness the elephants and
zebras are stirring, golden apples are being stolen by wicked young girls, and great panting horses are sinking to
rest in their chariot shafts. As Daniel Defoe ducks up one back alley Ian Fleming slips into the El Minzah as
though he has never left and Guy Burgess pisses in his pants as his head slumps on to the wet surface of the
counter in Dean's Bar. And, deep below the waters lapping the edge of the city, seraphic messengers float fake
dead spies to Spain and carry live generals to beachhouse assignations. In the Fuentes Hotel St. Saens hums what
he thinks is a North African melody. In a soundless fury the F111s are heading for the Garden of Eden.
As Miriam-Ann goes to enter the Grenouille she finds it closed and she realises it must be Monday Things aren't
quite right, she feels. She can't quite put her finger on it. Just something in the air I guess. She'll go over to the
Flandria and phone for a taxi from there.
"It's the truth. That's what we're looking for - right here through the viewfinder," Antony said in Room Nine at
the El Muniria. "You want to know what we are filming? Well that's it Mim. The truth. We are filming the truth.
And there's only one way to do it. Be there when it happens. And of course it's happening all the time. Basically
we just point the camera at it."
"Not quite that easy of course Mim."
She loathed being called Mim. She noted the way his shoulders had squared back and his chin thrust out. Why
must he put on an act? Why couldn't he just tell her what he was doing without sounding so dogmatic? He tries to
beat down any possible disagreement in advance, she thought. Why are men so afraid?
"My job is that of facilitator," he told the window. "How can one be so presumptious as to think one can `direct'
the truth? All I can do is facilitate. I simply allow the truth to happen before the lens."
"I'm fed up with all this." She heard her voice coming from somewhere in the room and wondered where her body
was. Must be the majoun, she thought. "We're just farting about. When do we admit it and pack up and go home?"
"Home?"
"Somewhere like that," she said.
Antony sat down beside her. "I've decided to cut out the hashish for a while," he said. "It's fine if it is lifting me
up into a different consciousness - if it allows me to film in the equivalent of a higher consciousness. I mean if it
gives me a filmic consciousness, something like an extension to Pudovkin's filmic time and space. You know?"
"I know what you're saying Antony. And yes I think it's a good idea to give the kif a rest. I'm not sure it gives me
a new opening onto acting at all. I'm wondering if it isn't more like masking what I'm trying to do. Do you feel
that? Can you understand what I'm trying to say?"
He looked into her eyes and said, "I'm trying for two kinds of reality. I am deadly serious about this. You know
that don't you?"
I wonder if he ever listens to what I say, she thought.
"You see the kif gives me one more kind of reality. When I say two kinds of reality I'm talking of the two kinds of
reality we are actually shooting in. An aware kind and a drugged kind. That means that I'm at liberty to create
aspects of reality within either of those basic two modes."
"Antony. You don't have to go through all that for me you know. I know what you're trying to do. I'm with you. I'm
intrigued to see what we get out of it. What we get on the screen. It's just that I feel when I'm affected by a drug,
any drug - alcohol if you like - well then I'm aware of something like a mask between me and the camera."
"Thank Christ the camera doesn't smoke," said Antony. He was looking out into the Rue Magellan now and she
felt she had lost him again.
"Who, in their right mind," he suddenly asked, "could come to a place like this and see nothing more in it than a
setting for a James Bond tits-and-treasure hunt? I don't make movies. I don't shoot films. I am not an auteur, a
director, a movie-maker. I am just here. It just happens. I am here simply to facilitate."
"Yes darling."
Well what else could she say? She loves him. She believes he is doing work that has not been done before. Well
that's what she tells herself.
But had Miriam-Ann left the little marketplace and turned up the sloping alleyways into the rue Ben Raisouli
instead of making for the Frog, she could have walked into the time and space of Balthazar St.Michel, sitting in
his little room, dressed in arab clothes. The Lord of Success Unfulfilled - personified. Treasurer of Tangier indeed,
staring at the fateful card that told of unprofitable speculation, of the failure of a promising subject.
A journey for Miriam-Ann that could have taken her a quarter of a mile in space but three hundred years in time.
To Balthazar St.Michel the minor arcanum suggested a circular organization, something that had a fixed centre, a
centre from whence it started, or concluded, or both.
Poor Balthazar. He was trying to find three hundred thousand pounds of the king's money that had already been
spent on the rocky finger that beckoned out to sea in a vain effort to bring Gibraltar closer.
If Miriam-Ann thought she had problems with Antony she should have been privy to King Charlie's feelings about
Balthazar. But a quarter of a mile is a lifetime in Tingis Town (actually about six or seven lifetimes in this
instance).
The appointment to Tangier had not been what the portly civil servant was seeking. He had immediately gone to
see his brother-in-law and told him in no uncertain terms what he thought of being posted to such a truly barbarous
outstation. Not for a king's ransom would he consent to transfer from the fleshpots of Westminster to the arid
wastes of the Barbary Coast. Until his brother-in-law pointed out, in even stronger terms, that a king's ransom
was already at stake and he, Balthazar St.Michel, had the task of finding out where all the money was going and
why no proper accounting for it was being sent back to Westminster. Balthazar had to be carried onto the ship in a
state of drunken collapse. And kept that way until he disembarked in Tangier Bay.
The place smelled to high heaven. Balthazar had caught his first whiff as he stepped into the little boat to be rowed
ashore. As they drew alongside the rocky outcrop of the mole the stench became so strong that, even with his lace
handkerchief pressed tightly to his nostrils, he could feel the mucuous membranes inside contract and wrinkle in
an attempt to avoid the searing odours.
"God's name what is that foul stench?" he had cried.
John Erlisman, the Controller of the City, had come out to the ship to welcome the new Treasurer and he muttered
"Corruption. The stench of corruption. Popish plots and rotting whores. You'll get used to it."
Balthazar wasn't any too happy about this. Back in England his brother-in-law Samuel had been forced to resign
his office with the Commissioners of the Admiralty and had actually spent seven weeks in the Tower of London
over rumours of his involvement in a Popish plot. Balthazar had thought one blessing at least of being in Tangier
would be that he was well away from the machinations of the Duke of York and the Papists.
"Riddled with spies," added Controller Erlisman. "But of course you'd know all about that wouldn't you?"
"I'm afraid I have no idea what you are implying," said Balthazar, and puffed himself out into even grosser
proportions. He knew quite well that Controller Erlisman had heard of the supposed sale of naval secrets to the
French. There were times when, far from being a man who could dispense favours, his brother-in-law Samuel could
be a damned liability.
Ashore, the stench was so overpowering that the Westminster dandy could concentrate on nothing other than
keeping his face covered and trying to take the minimum of breath in through his lace nose covering. The streets
were wretched, open sewers flowing down their centre and rotting matter lying around everywhere. Dead animals
decayed where they lay and rats and birds unkown to Balthazar tore away at the remains. There were Moors
everywhere; mostly standing in groups, muttering to each other and staring at the new arrival as though calmly
valuing what they would get for the sale of his clothes and jewellery after they had despatched him. They wore
long loose robes that he imagined were crawling with vermin. The staggering soldiers of His Majesty's glorious
army had lice visible in their hair and beards and the weeping sores on their limbs showed through the holes in
what had once been uniforms.
Balthazar was speechless. He knew his only course was to report to the Governor and then turn right round and
re-embark for England. There was no possible way he could stay in this awful place. It looked like the aftermath
of a plague of terrible proportions. The soldiery swigged from wine jars openly in the street. Many of them had
young girls and women clinging to them, breasts exposed, skirts hiked, and as drunken and blasphemous in their
speech as the soldiers they accompanied. As Balthazar's party entered York Castle he caught a quick glimpse of a
gang of ruffians engaged in some kind of mass fornication right there beside the gate. Wait until brother-in-law
high-and-mighty Samuel heard about this!
Eugene Delacroix of course painted a very different picture. Miriam-Ann stands in front of the little canvases in
the converted Dar el Makhzen and says how romantic it all must have been. She tries in her imagination to
reconstruct the ceramic fragments from Fes and Meknes into the fantasy palaces of the Occidental Dream of the
East. Antony has already wandered out through the shrub garden to find the Cafe Detroit next door.
"Can't you just see it now?" he asks her.
"Over in that corner there's Brian Jones pretending he's really Mick Jagger. In the centre there are the Trance
Musicians of Jajouka. Listen. You can hear it. Feel the vibration of the drums? The thin sound of the pipes.
There's Brion Gysin, waiting for Burroughs!"
The reality is a Thomson seven-day group being served Moroccan pastries and a group of somnolent Moroccan
musicians sawing away at nylon strings and clinking cymbals at irregular intervals
Well it had been York Castle once-upon-a-time. Balthazar sits beside Miriam-Ann and the raucous Governor
Piercy Kirke sits behind the tourist orchestra. In front of the tour group sits a small black girl in red and white
striped dress and covered in gold bangles. Her skirt is up round her waist, her legs stretched out wide before her
as she rubs oil on her no longer private parts. The Governor stares with fixed attention on the girl's hand
movements. Controller Erlisman coughs and says,"Your Excellency - my honour to introduce Balthazar St.
Michel, our new Treasurer."
"For God's sake!" roars Kirke "I'm damned if I won't fork the little harlot this very minute!"
"Just arrived with good news from His Majesty himself," adds Erlisman.
Kirke's face is a purple colour. His uniform is one that Balthazar St.Michel has not seen before. Then he realises
that it includes Moorish touches, a piece of gold here, a sash of bright colours there - and curly-
toed slippers. The governor is breathing very heavily as though it costs him some effort. His eyes are red where
they should be white. There is stubble and spittle on his chin. He grasps at his groin with both hands, as though
clutching an intense pain.
"His Majesty has an unhappy knack of always interfering with my more urgent pursuits."
The words are directed at Balthazar and spoken in a low and melodious voice that contrasts with the grating shout
that had greeted them as they entered the room.
"The little blackamoor will keep. Come Balthazar. Have some wine. Make yourself comfortable and tell me what
Charles is up to. Has he rid himself of that pox-faced Portuguese whore yet?
And thus begins the first of many such charming little chats between the Governor, the Controller and his new
Treasurer.
When John Erlisman shows Balthazar to his bedchamber he warns him of the spirits that reputedly haunt the
castle. And as the tired and bewildered Balthazar sinks among the cushions and blankets to sleep he senses the
unseen presence of Miriam-Ann and hears the silent call - "Antony? Antony - where are you?"
Behind Miriam-Ann troups the Thomson tour, following anyone who looks as if they know where they are going.
They step over Balthazar's feet and out into the open space that Governor Kirke could only see as an anteroom
and a place to fork his little black concubine. He wouldn't have minded if they'd stopped to stare. He was quite
happy to be part of the tourist attractions.
Balthazar St.Michel decided to postpone his immediate departure. By the middle of the next day he was in a
drunken stupor. The Controller dragged him along to the Governor's and he pulled himself together enough to
announce to Kirke, "Balthazar St. Michel at your service!"
"The very man we need!" cried Governor Kirke, "This mighty pretty creature here is sister to my good wife and
can outfuck any jade in Tangier! Go to it St. Michel!"
And being Balthazar St.Michel he went to it with a will.
"A fine rogue," the governor's sister-in-law told him later. She was walking with Kirke after farewelling the ship
that had brought Balthazar to Tangier. The captain had been keen to set sail in a fair wind - on `good voyage'
business that would net a handsome profit for himself and Governor Kirke.
"A fine rogue indeed!" said Kirke, "but not so fine as I!" And he was on her and into her right where they were,
up against the sacks of food on the jetty and applauded by the handful of drunken soldiers supposedly guarding
the supplies.
Balthazar had wandered the stews of London but he had never encountered such drinking and whoring as this. In
his first few days he had time only for the wenches and the wine. Wenches of all shapes and sizes, of all colours
and creeds; little black hard-nippled Moors, overblown Jewesses with greasy black tresses, ladies who had once
attended court in England but who now cursed and fucked with the best.
To be on the safe side he made the early acquaintance of Dr. Lawrence the pox doctor.
"I'll tell you one thing my good friend Balthazar," said the doctor, as he sat drinking with the treasurer in a
makeshift office in the castle, "if you want to keep a wench to yourself you would be well advised not to let Piercy
know of it."
Balthazar had heard by then of the black wench that the good doctor kept to himself. It was said he had a baby by
her and treated them in a parody of English family life. But it was a long time before Balthazar was allowed to
meet the doctor's lady. Piercy Kirke had tried many a trick to catch the doctor's black jade but had so far been
outwitted. Some said they even feared for the doctor's life for so thwarting the governor. But Dr. Lawrence knew
that the governor, and his wife Lady Mary, would be lost without his administrations.
In the night comes the storm.
Of course it was the end of the world. In the darkness and the roaring wind and the pounding rain and the great
heaving and violence of the boiling ocean the sailors knew that place beyond fear where certainty takes over. This
was the end. It had always loomed there in the darkness ahead, rumbling just over the horizon, waiting to burst on
them with the ultimate horror. There was no longer any point in manning stations. The helmsman still stood there
at his place, but the wood was wrenched from his grasp and broken timber wedged his legs. There had been some
wild shouts and strangely high-pitched screams from some of the men up forward. But the noise of the tempest
had sucked all other sound into a final howl of anguish.
They had been following the Carthaginian ship for thirty days, keeping close to the shore and taking a headland at
a time. It had become obvious after a few days that the ship ahead knew it was being followed. But it took no
evading action. Sent no signal. Under the great cliffs of Numida they had been forced to venture further out into
the ocean to avoid the rocks. Not that they weren't happpy to be further from that violent shore. Somewhere in
there was the city of Hecatompylus and its monument to the dead Amazons. They never ventured into that flooded
land. Tales of monsters with lances growing from their mouths and a giant serpent protruding from their heads; a
team of giant horses that spread wings and thundered into the sky. The three-legged thing. No, they didn't mind
braving the high seas to put some distance between their ship and such a land.
But that fear had dwindled behind them as the seas grew mightier and mightier and the Carthaginian ship plunged
on through the crashing white walls ahead of them. Surely this could not be the secret route of the Carthaginians?
Death was everywhere in the air now. Nobody on board the ship had any doubt that they were sailing to their
death. And that there was no alternative. Just that lingering wonder at the onward plunging of the ship ahead of
them. Was this what happened to the Alexandrian fleet? Had the great general's ships also followed such a ship to
their doom? Not one of his sailors had returned to tell what befell that great fleet. And now they knew that not one
of them would return to tell of their pursuit of the Carthaginians.
A giant mountain on the righthand side. It loomed up suddenly and frighteningly where no land at all should be.
The helmsman knew this must be the end of the world where the sides of the ocean suddenly rear up and close in
from both shores. Any minute now the mountains would crash down onto them and that would be the end.
On the Carthaginian ship the captain gave the order the crew had been waiting for. It was a mad and suicidal
scramble to get into the little boat and push off from the ship that was already breaking up. They hated doing it.
Hated deliberately destroying their ship. But they didn't hesitate. Now they might make land and they might not.
No such luck the ship that followed them. As the waves crashed down to smash the Carthaginian ship its pursuer
reared and plunged for the last time. It was indeed the end of the world for them.
The sun rises clean and clear and the tiles and cement on the terrace of the Continental Hotel steam that strange
Mediterranean smell that is compounded of cheese, garlic and red wine. Not that Miriam-Ann is taking more than
a coffee and a croissant. She sits under a sunshade on the terrace and looks out to the glass-smooth surface of the
Straits of Gibraltar. The air is cool and fresh. Everything looks bright and happy. Like the first morning in the
world. It's always like this after a good storm, she thinks.
Her head feels clear too. Clearer than it has been for several days. She's glad she came. She has to admit to
herself that three weeks in Morocco look like being the perfect cure to the cold and rain of London, the waiting
for phone calls, the drinks and chats that were leading to nothing. She had been letting it get her down. Her agent
Len Silberman must have seen it even more than she did. When he expressed approval of the Moroccan jaunt
with Antony she had been most surprised. It was Leonard who always told her only appear in crap if you get paid a
fortune for it. But she feels she is being unfair to Antony now. Antony doesn't shoot crap. She stares at the
horizon, sipping her glass of coffee.
It was a cup of coffee that she had raised to Antony in the Soho Brasserie when he had proposed the Tangier
escape. Everything had begun to take on a bitter taste in London. She had been sitting in Old Compton Street
wondering whether it might not be better to get out of town instead of being seen hanging around. The final straw
that had urged her onto the camel's back had been that great fat slob William Michaelson plumping down beside
her and saying "Well if it isn't the last of the Sherman Fisher Lovlies!" Ugh. Ugh. And ugh again. She knew then
that she shouldn't have stopped in at the brasserie. Wrong time and place for this stage of her carreer.
And who but William Michaelson would remember those distant days when she hoofed it round the Moss circuit?
Those were the days of cold cups of coffee held for long hours in Legrains. Waiting. So much of her life had been
spent waiting for work. Resting, they used to call it. In rehearsal. Don't ask for what. On the terrace of the
Continental she involuntarily puts a hand down and smooths her leg, from the thigh slowly down behind the knee
to the ankle. She has always had good legs. Always will, she thinks. The years of Archer Street and the parallel
bars and the wild, wild enthusiams (she was going to say the wild enthusiasms of youth but she catches herself just
in time).
And now the Moroccan epic. It could do her career good. Just to be talked about in the cine papers. Quality.
Experimental. Did they still use the term avant garde? It didn't matter whether Antony really got a film out of it. It
was the act of doing it that was giving a brief dash of offbeat flavour to her career. God knew it needed a dash of
something right now. She catches herself again. Not the way to be thinking. The reality is that she is still very
bankable and still rates star billing. So long as Silberman keeps getting first bite at the decent scripts. A dirty
word with Antony - "script".
She sits in the sunshine thinking of it pissing down in London. Antony is late but she realises she is beginning to
treasure these moments alone. Content to move from hotel to hotel at Antony's whim she is
nevertheless relieved to be alone in her own space for a while. Antony is a Black Hole. His energy can become so
intense it frightens her. Antony, just sitting, can create a feeling like a nuclear reactor. A silent humming that
pervades her blood. He knows it. He'd just sit there and wait for mirrors to crack, she thinks. She feels angry and
throws the dregs from her cup over the balaustrade.
Antony is at least ten years younger than her. And he looks five years younger than that. She feels alarm bells
ringing because she is proud of his youth. Is she on the edge of being ridiculous? Why is it okay for an older man
to have a younger lover but not quite so okay for an older woman?
She likes to think that he needs the yang strength she possesses in abundance. She encourages him to develop his
yin side, his femininity, his softness and intuitiveness. But he still comes on with the tired old macho stuff. Bad
thinking again Miriam-Ann.
The sun is warming her arms deliciously. She wonders what Antony has planned for today. She knows he plans,
despite his apparent haphazard way of operating. He has very definite ideas about his role as a director - well
facilitator then. Sometimes she even wonders if there is some unseen camera that is recording everything Antony
does and says. Perhaps that's what this film is all about. All about him making his movie. Perhaps he is the "star",
acting the role of avant garde director. Miriam-Ann likes to sit and fantasize like this. Be idle. Be unconcerned
with consequences for a change.
She looks out over the town, like a jumbled heap of discarded cardboard cartons. Her eyes zoom in on a part of
the jetty down in the nearest corner of the chaotic harbour. What a boat! Accustomed as she is to the world's
luxuries this is something else.
"Spectral Marine. Two-twenty series. It's a one off design."
This is another of Antony's tricks. To appear beside her, tune in to her thoughts and come up with some know-all
remark. Let's face it, she thinks, he really can be an awful pain in the arse.
"Twin hull - you wouldn't think it from up here would you?"
Antony suffers from excess knowledge, she thinks.
"It's the one they used off Gibraltar. When he parachuted down on top of it."
"Who?"
"James Bond. Don't you remember the aerial shot of it slipping along through the water? Before they cut to him
landing on the roof?"
He was staring out to sea now.
"We need a boat. An interior really. A luxurious interior. A bit of intense action. Then cut to the exterior - except
it is a desert. Nothing but desert."
Of course there had been nothing but desert right up to where they were now. Well almost to where the
Continental Hotel stands. When Balthazar St.Michel stood on the ramparts of York Castle there had been a
treeless waste right up to the city wall.
"This is too much," says Antony, and he makes a sweeping gesture that takes in the distant misty coast of Spain,
the off-balance roofs below, the crumbling balaustrade and the brilliant flowers of the weeds that
push up through the cracks in the terrace paving. He turns his back on the view and looks up at the decaying
facade of the Continental. Miriam-Ann's towel hangs over an iron window railing.
"We'll go back into our room," he says, nodding to himself with that splendid male confidence that always raises a
sly, interior chuckle in Miriam-Ann.
"I need the anonymity of those uneven plaster walls," he says.
She humours him. It amuses her to see how, far from gaining more and more mastery over the camera as he
thinks, it is in fact the camera that is slowly getting control over his life. But she goes along with him. She says to
herself I will continue to encourage him; it is best for him to get this out of his system once and for all. And it may
bring some new dimension to my career.
Am I really that cold-blooded? she asks herself.
The room has Spanish tiles on the floor and she kicks off her shoes and feels the old coolness on the soles of her
bare feet. Antony is still talking but she does not listen. He is stripping off his shirt and then his trousers. He
never wears underpants. He walks naked across the room to look out the window and down to the terrace where
they had been moments before. He is unaware of his nakedness. She feels a familiar warmth somewhere inside
her at the movement of his back and his buttocks. So much in his head, she thinks. Unaware of his body. He is still
talking and he turns and drops face down onto the bed, mumbling into the bright Berber blanket. His continual
talking seems his way of winding himself up. Like an athlete doing press-ups.
She sees the smooth undulations of his spine like a ridge of low sandhills and wants to run her hand gently along
the surface. His buttocks are tight and the small, tightly curled hair grows out onto their surface like a sparse
desert grass. When she cups her hands over his buttocks she marvels at the coarse surface texture through which
her fingertips stir to find the smoothness of the flesh beneath.
But she refrains from touching him at this moment, knowing he will interpret her action as a preliminary for
making love. There are no "preliminaries" to making love, she thinks. It is all making love. Just standing here
looking down at him is making love.
He rolls over onto his back, aware that she is looking at him. He holds her eyes with his own for a moment.
"Who are you?" he says.
"Miriam-Ann".
"No. That's your label."
He sits up and stares into her eyes. Strains to penetrate into and beyond the barriers of her eyes. He wants to
possess her, to annihilate her. As part of his creative process
He must learn to accept me, she thinks. She is looking deeply into his eyes and they are as cold and probing as
the camera lens he now raises before his face.
"That's good," he says, "very good. Keep thinking whatever you're thinking. Speak it out to me through your
eyes."
She smiles.
"It's okay," he says, "I got it."
What does he think he is he finding in her through his camera lens? Is he really capturing some essence? Will she
see something on the screen that will shock her into recognition of a self she doesn't normally acknowledge?
I'm old, she suddenly tells herself. Will he capture that? Can he photograph my doubts?
Loveable,hateable,intimate, distant, charming, ruthless, young, old, different on every encounter, so ran the
reviews. A method actress. A traditional player. What is Antony seeing through his lens?
"You're acting!"
He whispers the words fiercely at her.
"Take off your dress. Take off your masks."
She obeys.
But now there is a calm blankness in her eyes. He is still staring intently. Raising the camera. Then lowering it
again.
She feels her innocence looking out from her eyes. Feels a genuine bewliderness seeping into that innoncence.
She cannot stop it. It is not a feeling, not an expression, that she has ordered. She feels her anger rising.
"The real you Miriam-An! I want the real you!"
"Oh for fuck's sake Antony!"
She feels her shoulders go back and her breasts rising firmly as some kind of barrier between her and Antony.
He lowers the camera and lies back on the bed and she notices that his penis was stiff, but now is beginning to
droop. He clasps his hands behind his head and moves into speculative mode. She pads across the smooth
coldness of the tiles to pour a glass of water from the iced jug on the table. She knows he is not watching her, not
following her body with his eyes, not using the moment to pick on any less than perfect portion of her body.
A momentary shock as she catches sight of herself in the cheval mirror. Naked. Caught in mid stride, glass
halfway to her lips. Not a pose she would have chosen. Not the way a woman chooses to see herself. No time to
pose. No time to be nude. Just some naked woman, off balance, holding a glass of water that looks as though it
may spill any minute. Just some woman. Have you caught this Antony? Of course you haven't, you prick. You're
busy staring at the ceiling!
"I'm just some woman, Antony," she says.
He looks terribly young, lying naked on the rumpled bed. He is so unself-conscious of his nakedness. So
vunerable.
"Just some actress," he says.
And she wants to hit him. Hit him and hurt him.
She drains the glass of water and puts the glass back beside the water jug on the marble-top table. The movement
brings her in line with the mirror again and she looks at herself. She stares into her own eyes to see what the
image is thinking. Then she speaks slowly, to Antony's image in the mirror.
"I am your depth of field," she says, slowly, "I provide the experience, the solid ground, the stability." She
pauses, and then says, "My body, my movements, my very existence is your script."
In the mirror she sees him on the bed behind her and watches as the camera rises up in his hands and the
viewfinder finds its way to his eye and his finger presses the button and she turns slowy and is aware that in her
head she is counting the turn and timing her first step towards him and wondering what expression her face is
assuming.
The light is wonderful, slanting in through the recessed window and bringing odd shadows from the wrought iron
bars to make a pattern on the bare tiled floor so that she can walk through the pattern and he can pan down and
close in on her bare feet and then up to her face as she pauses with a fleur-de-lys kind of pattern fitted neatly
within the parameters of her face.
"Great! Great!" Antony is saying, "Now turn your head slowly, that's it, pause when you're full face to the
window, I want the full light now on your face, that's it, squint, squint, don't be afriad to squinch your eyes up.
Great."
She wonders if he knows he talks like this whenever he is excited about what he sees through the camera. It's a
soft, almost whispered, monologue that flows smoothly and is meant to reassure the actress as well as direct her.
She moves as he asks, slipping easily into whatever it is he wants from her. Anticpating a little. This feels right,
she tells herself.
Fishpaste felt pretty good too. He was on the other side of the old city. And he was still fighting World War II.
Next to what was to become the Cafe Detroit was one of those alleyways so narrow that you felt you might have
to walk sideways to get through. The floor of the alley was tilted and had been cemented over at different times
and at different levels. Well, what passed for cement in Tangier in the nineteen forties. The walls were anything
but perpendicular and they bulged unhealthily in several places. The plaster was of no colour that ever graced a
painter's palette. Closer inspection would have revealed sky blue that had been done over in places with
sweetmeat pink and little streaks of pale green; then a wash of light shit brown, and finally an all purpose off-white
that had been scrubbed thoroughly across everything in an effort to get back to some imagined pristine state of
innocence. It hadn't worked.
So nobody noticed the colour of the plaster. Or the shreds of paint that still clung in places to the wooden frames
of the tilted doorways and unsquare window shutters. It was one of a thousand such alleyways that fissured
Tangier's native quarter and which led to nowhere in particular. The ideal place for Fishpaste to set up a
clandestine radio station.
Fishpaste noticed things that other people never saw. After all that was his job.
He had successfully completed a six cup mint tea negotiation with the owner and left him convinced that this
nondescript Englishman was both mad and extremely rich. The equipment would be brought over on a Spanish
fishing vessel the next day and Fishpaste would personally supervise its installation. With the assistance of The
Monk.
Fishpaste should not have been in Tangier at all. His place was over the Straits on the Rock. Jebel al Tarik's
rock. More Fishpate's rock than the old Moor's now. Almost a family affair because Fishpaste's grandfather had
once been The Governor of The Rock. And now Section V could be said to be in charge. Well that's how Fishpaste
saw it.
The Monk spent his time wandering the subterranean cathedral corridors of the mountain and pondered on the
work that God had given him. He didn't give a shit who thought they owned the rock. It had been British for the
past two hundred and fifty years as fas he was concerned and he was there to do God's business in the best way
appropriate to the times. If it meant cutting throats with piano wire then he was sure God knew best.
Fishpaste met up with The Monk at the Cafe Tingis in the Petit Socco. He was drinking Ricard and water. The
head of station sat down neatly on a little iron chair next to The Monk.
"It's all fixed," he said.
"I could stay here permanently, said The Monk.
"You could - but you're not going to," his superior told him, pleasantly.
"We'll be back here in three days and you'll have another three days to get everything set up. Then we hand over
to the local men and forget it ever happened. Think you can manage that?"
The Monk was good at forgetting things had ever happened. He could forget the piano wire, within half an hour.
Setting up a secret radio station was easily forgotten. There were days when he even forgot how real his nickname
had once been. He still retained the habit of obedience and Fishpaste found that invaluable in those unpeaceful
times. Also The Monk's Spanish was faultless and that had helped no end in organising and actually beaching
Major Martin's body at Huelva earlier in the year.
Colonel Codrington's memory always became a little confused at that point. Some unkown MI-6 whizz had decided
to code-name the "Major Martin" man-who-never-was bluff as Operation Mincemeat. The colonel's codename of
Fishpaste meant his own involvement in the operation should be kept to a minimum, if only for the sake of verbal
decorum. The officers of HMS Seraph had their little jokes nevertheless.
"There's something odd about the whores in this square," said The Monk, and he motioned at the crowd in the
Petit Socco.
"Well most of them are transvestites," said the colonel. He looked sideways at The Monk. Surely he knew that.
Didn't monks? I mean. Well surely he could see they were mostly boys, rolling their eyes at the customers at the
cafe tables, hissing softly to catch attention.
"It's more than that," said The Monk, "I don't know what it is but it makes me uneasy."
"I thought you wanted to stay here."
"Not in this part of town. An apartment on the Boulevard Pasteur. A good live-in cook"
"You sound like Philby," said the colonel.
It was The Monk's turn to look sideways at his companion. Section V on The Rock was concerned with Spanish
and Portuguese matters and Philby had not been welcomed by all when he arrived from SOE the previous
September. The Monk and the colonel were SIS and concentrated on counter intelligence. Their current trip to
Tangier was outside normal operations Something of a favour for friends.
His colonel's reference to Philby confused The Monk.
"You also think too much," said Fishpaste. "Not meant to think in this game. Consider the full meaning of the
phrase `counter intelligence'."
Fishpaste liked his little joke.
Tangier was neutral. The ideal spot for those whose identities were in doubt. Where they sat in the hot afternoon
sun they could not see the ocean. The Petit Socco was almost a well. Although the buildings were only three
stories high they gave the impression of towering over the square. It was indeed petit and the drinkers at the
tables outside the cafes could easily toss a glass of absinthe, or a hand grenade, from one side of the square to the
other.
The balconies of the Fuentes and the Central hung over the square. There were always people standing talking
and waving their arms about. Streams of people poured in from the numerous side alleys and those standing were
slowly turned around, still talking and gesticulating. Eddies of humanity. Old arabs rubbed against whores and
spies of all nations practised Groucho Marx walks between the cafes. Live chickens were slung over shoulders.
Tiny beggars scuttled between legs. Police swaggered. The mad grimaced. The smells were intense. And so were
the sounds - shouts, motorized bicycles, a scream, the crash of something overturning.
Fishpaste nodded to The Monk and they rose and made their way leisurely to the Boulevard Pasteur.
That night they sailed quietly back to Gibraltar.
Miriam-Ann is wearing green silk trousers tight at the ankles, and she has tied her white shirt blouse in a knot
just above her navel. Antony says she should be wearing a jewel in her navel. We have forgotten the significance
of jewels, he tells her.
"Antony. I notice a creeping increase in the use of the royal we," says Miriam-Ann. "You may have forgotten the
significance of jewels - I have not."
She shakes her head as though to rid herself of an irritating fly. Her hair swirls around her shoulders.
Antony has gone quiet. Either he has been stopped in his tracks by Miriam-Ann's remark or he has just wandered
off onto some technical camera problem. She looks at him and is pleased to be sitting next to
him in the corner seats. He wears a white tuxedo and an open-necked pale blue silk shirt.
It is her idea. Enough of these tatty old hotels, she told him. I want to get dolled up and be taken somewhere
decent. So here they sit in Caid's Bar in the plush El Minzah. Drinking Pernod. Grenadine in hers.
"I think she's Russian," she motions with her head towards the piano.
"Lebanese," says Antony.
"How the hell can you know!"
Her voice is harder then she expected. Antony sinks into quietness again.
"If you seek the anonymity of plastered walls in back street hotels then why do we have to keep checking in and
out of different ones? Aren't they all the same?" she asks him.
The pianist is playing Midnight Sun. The demurely lit bar smells of elegance. And before Antony can bring himself
back into the present and answer Miriam-Ann Len Silberman comes in.
The London theatrical agent pauses theatrically in the arch beside the piano and does a slow pan round the room,
finally focussing on the couple in the corner seats. His lips begin to part and a thousand dollars worth of dental art
exposes itself.
Miriam-Ann starts to count and right on cue Silberman says to the room "I don't believe it!"
He starts the slow measured strides between the tables, repeating "I don't believe it! I don't believe it!" He opens
his smile even wider to clasp the entire clientele of the bar with his warmth, his happiness, his sheer
honest-to-goodness joy at being reunited with the dearest friends of his life.
"You should be his agent," says Antony, as the floral-patterned tuxedo blooms towards them.
"Only Silberman could be Silberman's agent," says Miriam-Ann.
"Don't get up! Don't Get up!" he calls from halfway across the room, not that either of them have any idea of
getting up. He turns to a group of wealthy Moroccans at a table by his side and stage-whispers "Aren't they just
great?"
"Oh no," groans Miriam-Ann.
"So he's made you a fortune already," whispers Antony.
The Moroccans manage a look that comes within a whisker of being a sneer and yet leaves their aristocratic
dignity intact. Film people I suppose. God why do they all come here? Not another Bond movie? Probably
remaking The Sheik. Ignore them Fatima, they hate that and then they leave.
"Miriam you look superb! Absolutely superb! Hi Antony. I've really missed you Miriam! Missed you. Do you
know that? There'd be that afternoon phone call, or the unexpected face around my door and I'd say it's got to be
Miriam. But no! How are you darling? What do you think of the script? No don't tell me now! Once we start we'll
never stop. We can talk about it on the Paris flight."
"Paris flight?" queries Antony.
Miram-Ann can feel the hair bristling up the back of his neck.
"Len," she says, "Len. Just a minute. You're a week early. Okay? When I got your cable I thought your
secretary had made a mistake."
"Mistake? Lilith make a mistake? I don't understand you Miriam. No thanks Antony I don't really have time to
start a session. What? A Perrier then. Miriam don't play games with me darling. Today is today. No?"
"I'll go along with you that far," says Miriam-Ann, "Likewise next week is next week. You're just so..." She is
lost for words and Antony interposes "...heavy!"
"No!" says Miriam-Ann, "Just so - obvious!"
Silberman is looking at Antony with the eyes of a baleful beagle.
"Antony," he says "I respect your artistic intergrity. But don't fuck with me. Okay?"
"I hate re-runs" says Antony, rising from his seat and bending to place a small kiss on the top of Miriam-Ann's
head. "See you in bed darling," he says. And leaves.
Antony knows Silberman hates the idea of him being Miriam-Ann's lover. He knows Silberman regards the
actress as his personal property. Except when it comes to bed. Antony surprises a sneer on his face and suddenly
hates himself for what he thinks of as sinking to Silberman's level.
Miriam-Ann is not really too worried about Antony's departure. Best thing for him to be doing in the
circumstances, she thinks. But Silberman's assumptions annoy her. Who works for who?
"I work for you darling," says Silberman, almost as though he can hear her thoughts. "I work my little arse off for
you Miriam-Ann"
She can't resist a raised-eyebrows glance in the direction of his ample behind and hears herself say "Been
slacking a bit lately Len?"
Silberman goes cold.
"Let me tell you darling that if I wasn't continually hustling on your behalf you would be in grave danger of
becoming cast as a weirdo, an egg-head. Very admirable to be engaged in experiments at the forefront of the
motion picture industry. Also very hungry-making and guaranteeing relegation to second league."
It's Miriam-Ann's turn to go cold. She's had all this before from her agent, but she feels it is becoming too
frequent. She knows her relationship with Antony is at the bottom of it.
Silberman is sitting with his knees touching hers. The large cushion-style seat he is on is too low and his knees are
up higher than he finds comfortable. There is no room around the brass-topped table for him to sit any other way.
He is leaning forward so that his face now comes very close to hers.
"I have to talk rough to you darling otherwise you don't pay any attention. Please listen to what I have to say."
"You're a week early."
"I know I'm a week early darling. Don't look surprised. You don't think I'm growing old and stupid do
you? Don't answer that! Look I'm not really here my dear. On my way back from Johannesburg. Thought I'd take
advantage of the stopover to break my journey and see how you were. I worry about you Miriam-Ann, I really do.
You know that?"
His hands are on her knees now. An earnest pressure. A look of pleading in his eyes. Doesn't anyone believe me
in this wicked world? Oh the anguish of being disbelieved.
Miriam-Ann is disarmed. He really has broken his journey to see how she is. And he tells her to stay on and enjoy
herself and that he secretly admires the work she and Antony do together and it is great for him to be
representing some talent with brains. But he does want her quick okay on the new script. Perhaps she can cable
him a simple `yes' in the next couple of days? She is a honey. He knows he can rely on her - and give his love to
Antony because he really is flying out tonight and he can't hang around to enjoy himself like he would like to. And
he is gone.
Len Silberman's visit does the trick. Miriam-Ann knows that his is the turning point in her relationship with
Antony. Oh no great heart-break affair. She just acknowledges to herself that it has run its time. Work together
some time in the future? Possibly. Make love? Not once this trip is over.
Better it should be Silberman who in his own roundabout fashion is bringing her to her senses about Antony rather
than a stand up shouting match with the studio. Better to catch it now than learn it from the box-office. God that
sounds cold-blooded. This is Antony she is talking about. Not some character in a script. Yet that is one of the
troublesome things about Antony. He isn't, somehow, real. He doesn't fit into any likely scenario of her life. He
really is the man without a script.
She is walking slowly across the bar now. She gave Silberman time for a dignified exit, drained her Pernod, and
now she glides between the chairs. The Moroccan party believe they are watching the end of a mini-drama, from
the corners of their dark eyes. As she passes their table Miriam-Ann raises fingers to her eyes and lets out a loud
sob and whispers "It's so unfair! So unfair!" And covers her laugh with her hand. The lady at the piano observes
all and exchanges a wry smile with her as she passes.
When she gets back to the Continental she is mildly surprised that Antony is not there. It doesn't look as though
he has been back to the room. She starts to pack for the next day's trip to Ceuta. Antony insists they film in
Ceuta. Because it is the last remaining Spanish possession in Morocco? Antony doesn't know why. Just feels he
must expose some footage there. Last time, she tells herself. Last time I follow this young man's whim. Next call
is mine.
Balthazar had to admit that the wench was attractive. And exceeding black, a touch of blue even in her dark flesh.
He didn't much care for the child and felt most uneasy when the doctor fussed it and cooed at it as though it were -
Balthazar found himself about to say `as though it were human'. Not that he was saying any of this, just thinking it
quietly to himself. He was concerned to maintain and increase his friendship with Doctor Lawrence. Apart from his
pox cures the doctor could prove a good ally for Balthazar when the need inevitably arose. The doctor was one of
the few peoople the dreadful Governor Kire took notice of.
Balthazar had been duly impressed when the doctor actually introduced him to Selene. Says she's a Berber, said
the doctor. In truth her mother came from Numidia and her father was a pirate with the Sallee Rovers. But the
doctor was fond of the wench and tried to set up a cosy family nest, hidden away from his official quarters.
Balthazar was aware of the trust that was being placed in him. This caricature of family life was the very thing
guaranteed to raise Kirke's evil humnour, if he found out. Balthazar wondered what the doctor wanted in return
for this show of trust.
But it needed more than the doctor's friendship to overcome Balthazar's deep disgust with his new posting.
"What a New Year's gift this is for your humble servant," he groaned to Dr. Lawrence. "Torn from the bowels of
my sweet little family, from my five small babes who cried piteously for their own father. To have no other
recompense than to be sent out to rot amongst these devils!"
When he saw the doctor frowning he made it quite clear that he was not referring to the doctor's "good woman" as
one of these devils.
At Balthazar's request the doctor had taken to calling him by his familiar name of Balty.
"Find yourself a wench Balty," he counselled, "It may be many a month before you see your Ester and the sweet
little babes again."
So Balty took the doctor's advice and found himself a wench. Well not all at once. He felt it wise to explore a little
first. This was made somewhat difficult by the governor's sister-in-law. It had been one thing to have sucumbed to
the buxom lady in a maudlin moment of revelry with Kirke himself. But he was not looking for a long term
engagement with the lady. She had other ideas and he was much put out to avoid her. In fact Balty went to
extraordinary lengths to evade her, even so far as to adopt Moorish clothes, including a turban, which he
explained to the doctor was to ensure that none of Kirke's men followed him to the doctor's love nest.
It was thus that the bulky figure of Balty might be seen, swathed in barbarous robes and turban, plumped up in a
great pile of cushions and rugs, eating sweetmeats and drinking wine in the company of the ebony Selene and -
after a few bold hints from Balty - young Moorish ladies whose main form of communication seemed to consist of
giggles, hiccups and small screams.
Balty wrote to his brother-in-law Samuel: "Recall me from this hell of brimstone and fire and Egypt's plague!"
Although puzzled by "Egypt's plague", the Navy Board in London had no intention of recalling Balthazar
St.Michel. Instead they sent strongly worded signals that he should urgently send details of the catastrophic
expenses incurred in the building of The Mole.
At first Balty had not believed that some two million British pounds had been spent on building the long curving
finger of rock out into the Mediterranean. It was a figure larger than any he had before heard mentioned in the
affairs of his sovereign. But before he left Whitehall his brother-in-law had shown him certain secret papers that
made it quite clear that the building of a jetty for this remote and rubbish-strewn outpost had been the greatest
expense that King Charles had so far incurred in his admittedly free-spending reign.
"A pox on that Portuguese cow!" said Balthazar, when Samuel told him how much Tangier had drained so far from
the English treasury. Charles had called it the richest jewel in his crown when the Portuguese
gave it to him. The African city, together with a quarter of a million pounds, was the dowry that came to the king
along with Catherine de Braganza. But over the past fifteen years it had become an embarassment to the king and
he had called on good Mr. Pepys to sort it out. Mr. Pepys immediately sent for his brother-in-law good Mr.
Balthazar St.Michel.
An unlikely choice? Not if you are locked up in the Tower of London under suspicion as a Popish spy and relying
very strongly on your percentage that you took from the non-stop flood of money to North Africa. Somebody must
investigate at once. And it had to be somebody that Samual Pepys could trust.
None of this is to say that Balty was trustworthy. In fact he had that aura around him that is associated with
bounced cheques in saloon bars in southern English country pubs. He was an irresponsible, cadgeing, wheedling,
whining whale of a man. His first real appointment, by his brother-in-law, had been as a muster-master for the
Navy Board, responsible for checking the corrupt practices of the captains and pursers of His Majesty's Fleet? If
anyone knew the tricks and lurks it had to be bombastic Balty. And if he lined his pocket, and possibly that of his
brother-in-law, in the course of bringing miscreants to justice then he was sure he was entitled.
One hot afternoon Balty had divested himself of his flowing robes and lay in his underpants being attended by two
young Moorish girls at the doctor's love nest. Selene had a seemingly endless supply of these little black
creatures and the truth was that Balty could not tell one from the other. He addressed them as `jade' and `harlot'
or whatever came to his fancy. They giggled and performed.
It is true that he was having trouble with lice and fierce mosquitoes and the food had opened his bowels to a
degree that even the good doctor found hard to control, but he was allowed to perform virtually no official duties
and the wine and harlotry seemed to stretch ahead for ever.
A girl scurried into the house. There was a brief moment of whispering and then the eruption of a sound that sent
Balty's cock back into his drawers and straightened the curls on the nape of his neck. The swiftly rising ululating
wail was taken up by all the women in the house, and in the neighbouring houses, and in the alleyways and streets
throughout the town. It was inhuman. Banshees had broken loose in the women's bodies. They were tearing their
hair and their clothes. Balty was ignored. The wailing and the screaming rose and fell and took over all other
sound.
Balty was struggling back into his robes and shouting incoherently, caught up in the women's panic. The doctor
appeared and grabbed Balty.
"God man! Here, put on some of my clothes! Not those Moorish things!"
"What?" spluttered Balty. He stuffed his fat legs into a pair of the doctor's breeches.
"Oh miserable and calamitous spectacle!"
But the doctor was not looking at Balty. He rushed out of the room and Balty stumbled after him, clutching an
assortment of clothing around him as he ran.
They stopped at the crest of a small hill from where they could see the outer garrison walls.
"Dear God!" Balty exclaimed, "Oh monstrous! Hideous!"
For there, around the outer wall, stuck on staves to protrude over the wall, were the severed heads of one hundred
and nineteen officers and men who had left the heavily armed fort to teach the Moors a lesson.
This was the third time the garrison had ventured out along the Old Mountain Road and the third time that
Moulay Ismail's well-organised troops had ambushed them and cut them to ribbons.
Governor Kirke's immediate response was a wholesale slaughter of anyone in the streets or outside the walls who
wasn't a soldier or somebody obviously in the employ of the British. That included women and children and the
carnage was terrible. Balty hid in his room with a heap of bottles and stuffed his fat fingers in his ears so that he
could not hear the oaths and screams that rang through the afternoon and most of the night.
Broken and ravaged bodies littered the town next morning. Every soldier was drunk and most of them incapable
of any action other than to vomit, void their bowels, or stagger in search of more alcohol. The women's ululations
rose from time to time. Somewhere a group of drunken soldiers was trying to sing. Dr. Lawrence told Balty that
some of the troops were deserting and even foreswearing Christianity in favour of the Moors' heathenish forms of
worship. Two had been caught stealing away with Muslim friends and had been dragged back into the square in
front of the castle, chained in the stocks and white hot pokers drilled through their tongues.
Two days later the governor was informed by a nervous secretary that Treasurer Balthazar St.Michel had sailed
that morning on a ship bound for England. He is determined to get the back pay for the garrison and bring it back
on the next ship out, the clerk told the governor, and by turning and running doubled up out of the fort he managed
to escape the fusillade of objects hurled at him, though the governor's oaths rang in his ears for hours afterwards.
Antony sips his coffee in the Cafe de Paris. For him history is always now. Thomson Tours can come and go, spies
inhabit the shadows, armies cross continents and continents themselves can rise and sink - Antony lives in the
now. Actually he is outside the Cafe de Paris slumped in a cane chair behind one of the pavement tables. He
knows he is bogged down. He is having trouble getting a viewpoint, getting himself into perspective as far as the
film is concerned. Film? I don't even accept that term, he says. Experiment? Yes. But how to be the experimenter
without being part of the experiment? He is as essentially a component part of the film as is Miriam-Ann. Even if
he does not appear on screen he is nevertheless there. In the same way that she is affecting the form of the film
quite apart from her appearance in it.
He knows he is losing her. Not just Silberman and the new script that she is supposed to be reading. He senses
her departure. From him. Is this going to be part of the `whole' he is filming? Does it end with her departure? Or
does he pursue her? Does the camera pursue her?
Around him the conversation hums gently. The cafe is stage lit. A crazy man paces backwards and forwards in the
gutter in front of the pavement tables, waving his arms and muttering to himself. An elegant lady wears a tailored
suit and dark glasses at the next table. She looks at the young blonde German girl who is tapping her cigarette for
ever in the ashtray. Everyone is acting. Except me, he says. And he gets up and drops money onto the table and
walks off round toward the Continental Hotel. Where he hopes
Miriam-Ann will be waiting for him in bed. Tomorrow they leave Tangier for Ceuta.
FIRST CHAPTER OF THE TANGIER SCRIPT
Tangier and Tarot, Paul Bowles and kif, Samuel Pepys and the El Minzah - all in the novel
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