Mad legs and a big alsatian: William Donaldson's Week

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I'M CURRENTLY living with an alsatian the size of a horse - this circumstance being the upshot of a philosophical mistake (originally due, I think, to A J Ayer) and also of my having failed to bin the little Katharine Hamnett skirt I once bought my baby for my birthday.

Let me explain. When my baby dumped me, I didn't whinge or indulge in mawkish reminiscence here. I squared the shoulders and walked with my toes turned out, quickly jettisoned all traces of her from my life - photographs, sweetly misspelt notes, small mementoes (sand from the Seychelles, a

Los Angeles Raiders helmet) from her trips around the world. Everything, that is, except the little Katharine Hamnett skirt, which I left hanging in the wardrobe - there to remind me of the times she had rung and said: 'I'll be over at six and I'll bring my legs, I promise.' This meant that she would be wearing the Katharine Hamnett skirt, arriving a little late but running

the last 10 yards, which always broke my heart, I don't know why.

That's enough of that; now for the philosophical mistake. When I was the Mail on Sunday's gossip columnist, I rang up A J Ayer and asked him whether, in the light of his views on the unverifiable ('Christianity is morally outrageous and intellectually contemptible'), he was against a proposed visit to this country by the Pope.

'I don't read the Mail on Sunday,' he said, 'so you can quote me as saying anything you like. I'll never know about it, will I?'

That, I thought, was a mistake I'd never make myself - least of all this Thursday, when, attending Max Clifford's annual party for his clients, I found myself sitting next to Lady Buck.

'You'd never think, would you, Lady Buck,' I said, 'that of all the old slappers sitting round this table, only you and I were ever officially on the game? Though you, if we're to credit your excellent memoirs in the Sun, earned rather more than me.'

'How much did you charge?' asked Lady Buck.

' pounds 25,' I said.

'I'm surprised you got as much,' she said.

She needn't have been. My competitors - new men, for the most part, victims of the 'crisis in masculinity' - didn't have the racontage. ('There I was, on the bridge, shipping it green in a force 9 gale, later, and to correct a fault, being towed aft on a seismic pod . . . that will be pounds 25, madam, plus commission due to Dawn Upstairs.')

'You needn't be,' I said. I prevailed, and frequently, even against Andy From The Sixties, an ex-Mr Fulham Broadway with a washboard stomach and twinkling toes, who even now can squat-lift a grand piano. He didn't have the racontage. Plus, I had a class advantage, having the foresight, as a rule, to be booked out as my friend, the Duke of Marlborough.

'Do you have any nail varnish remover?' asked Lady Buck.

'I don't believe I have,' I said.

Be that as it may, and since he doesn't read the Independent, Andy From The Sixties won't mind my revealing this; nor will he mind my saying that, ever since I gave her a burst of racontage ('There we were, Ronnie Lot and I, in this downtown bar in San Francisco . . .'), his girlfriend, Michelle, has set her hat at me - redoubling her efforts in the past few days while he's been diving for treasure off the coast of Venezuela.

Happily, she's not my type. Tumbling hair, mad legs, a deceitful pout, there's nothing there for me, which is why I was able to resist her easily when, after I'd returned from Max Clifford's do, she rang me at 1.30 in the morning.

'Do you have any nail varnish remover?' asked Michelle.

'I don't believe I have.'

'Can I come over?'

'Certainly not,'I said.

'I'll bring my legs,' she said. 'I wear the little Katharine Hamnett skirt you bought your baby for your birthday. I found it on Monday when I was looking for the nail varnish remover.'

I ask you] What sort of man did she take me for?

'In half an hour,' she said. 'And I'll have Reena with me.'

Better and better. Reena would be Australian, no doubt, the fat girl from Neighbours, perhaps, the one with a big arse and lips like a rubber plunger. There'd be lovely sapphic variations, always a bonus for the sophisticated older man.

She arrived a trifle late, but - with her mad little legs everywhere at once - she ran the last 10 yards, which broke my heart, of course. It was over in seconds, I'm sorry to say, and in the hall - rather to the surprise of Reena, I think, who turned out to be a sodding great alsatian, trained, on the appropriate word of command, not to kill.

'You'd better not write about this in your column,' said Michelle. 'Andy will be back on Saturday from Venezuela.'

'It's OK,' I said. 'He doesn't read the Independent.'

'That,' said Michelle, 'is a philosophical mistake, due, I think, to A J Ayer. Someone might tell him about it - me, for instance.'

'He'll clump me,' I said.

'More than likely,' she said. 'You'd better keep the dog.'

That made sense, and explains why I'm filing this from the bathroom, where Reena, for the moment, has me cornered.