Part of getting sober is facing up to your past behaviour, your misdemeanors. And then finding the people you have hurt and doing your best to make some kind of restitution.
Six months sober, and thirty years after I had worked for her, I tracked down Alison to an address in New York. I sent an email apologizing for walking out of my job and her and Thor’s life. Would she even remember me, I wondered. God knows. But at least I’d written.
Two hours later an email came winging its way back.
A joy to hear from you Dom. All is forgiven.
She’d been sober those thirty years, had a full life and was author of many books, including the global best seller, Anne Frank Remembered. Thor was in his twenties, living in Hollywood, working in film. She still had a house on Hydra, went there several times a year.
A few months later, I was in New York on business.
Alison and I met for dinner and we talked and talked; laughed and cried. About her writing career and its ups and downs, Her love affairs, and their ups and downs. And about Hydra and those we knew there. Quite a few were dead. Decent people with fragile minds, casualties of drink, drugs, life.
“We’re survivors Dom, survivors,” she said.
Indeed we are. Survivors and dear friends.
Who would have thought that nearly fifty years on from our first meeting, Alison would be writing kind and generous words about a book of mine?
Funny how the world turns.
Passed for the grammar school but wasn’t willing to put the study in. I was academically lazy. Just wasn’t interested. I was interested in art and metal work. Made kung fu stars to throw at Old Trafford. At 12, I was caned twice for “abusing public artwork”.
I had a problem with school and authority. Too many rules, I was always in trouble. As far as I was concerned, school was fucking war.
I was always a grafter though. Had a paper round. Worked at the grocers’ shop. I liked being with adults.
As Paul Newman says in Cool Hand Luke; "what we've got here is failure to communicate." I had that with anyone who thought they were better than me.