William Donaldson's Week: Bailed out by Frank - again

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WHEN Simon Carr and I were in Ibiza in 1983 - supposedly writing our painfully honest novels but, in fact, collaborating on The Complete Naff Guide - our lives were made a misery by a Rottweiler that lived in a villa between Carr's and mine.

After working at my place in the evenings, Carr was too frightened to walk home alone past the Rottweiler, so I accompanied him, carrying a tyre-iron in case the brute was loose. Then I was too frightened to walk home alone, so Carr had to escort me back.

How we ever ended up apart and at the right addresses I can't remember, but one day the Rottweiler did get loose and as it galloped in our direction we noticed that it was just a sweet little puppy who wanted to play. We floored it with the tyre-iron anyway - this incident eventually yielding the best entry in The Complete Naff Guide: Naff Ways Of Killing Your Neighbour's Rottweiler. Mince.

I never thought I'd have reason to be grateful to a Rottweiler, but last week, and keen no doubt to be at the leading edge of lesbian chic, Reena the Mad Alsatian fell hook, line and sinker for Karin the Rottweiler bitch belonging to the vicar of St Andrew's, Park Walk - thereafter moving into the vicarage, where, for all I know, she may even now be helping with the Sunday sermon.

That's the good news. The even better news is that having, through no fault of my own, blown the legal fighting fund (in re myself and the little trollop who took me to the cleaners), I can now report that, thanks to your generosity, this has now been topped up to the tune of pounds 22,975 - pounds 2,000 of which has been contributed by my friend Frankie Fraser.

Frank's been splendid, swallowing the loss of the pounds 1,000 he originally donated ('Easy come, easy go William.'), but he did ring me on Wednesday in his slightly more persuasive mode.

'Be sensible,' he said, 'instead of plugging your own remaindered stock (The Complete Naff Guide, Arrow 1983), I suggest you mention my book again. Mad Frank (Little, Brown, pounds 15.99).

'I can't do that,' I said. 'However, we could raid the legal fighting fund, thereafter having a night out at the York, Islington. A fish dinner and a bottle of Chardonnay '93, after which the lovely Marilyn would sing 'Crazy' and 'Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey'.'

'That would be quite improper,' said Frank. 'You're a steward of monies remitted by the public.'

'Alternatively,' I said, 'we could hop down to Bognor Regis and give McWhirter & Bumscratcher, the little trollop's solicitors, a slapping.'

'Leave it out,' said Frank. 'I'm a writer.'

Frank's no fun these days, and then he asked me who, anyway, was guarding the fighting fund. 'Reena?' he said.

'No,' I said. 'Reena's having a lesbian affair with the vicar's Rottweiler. The fund's being looked after by Sue From The Earl's Court Road. She's an accountant.'

'I'll come over and check it out,' said Frank.

I've not mentioned Sue From The Earl's Court Road before, I think. Andy From The Sixties brought her over to my place last week, which was silly of him, since girls always prefer me to him. An ex-Mr Fulham Broadway, he may have a washboard stomach and twinkling toes, but he doesn't have the racontage, and Sue From The Earl's Court Road, who wore grunge boots, ate crisps and fell asleep a lot, was no exception to the rule.

'And what do you do, my dear?' I said.

'I'm an accountant, yeah,' she said. 'What do you do and all?'

'I'm a naval officer,' I said. 'There we were, shipping it green . . .'

'I'll be moving on now,' said Andy From The Sixties.

'I'll doss-down here,' said Sue From The Earl's Court Road.

She finds me very attractive, I was thinking to myself, but then she came out of the bathroom (for an accountant, she seemed to go to the bathroom a lot) and asked me for her taxi fare.

'I'm a little short,' I said.

'What's all that money lying on the table?'

'That's my fighting fund.'

'I'll take that, yeah, and get us something in the Earl's Court Road. Be back in half an hour.'

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking she took the lot and didn't come back. Well, you couldn't be more wrong. She rang me two days later and said she'd be back in half an hour with my taxi money. Four hours later she rang again. 'Can I bring my friend with me? She isn't much trouble,' she said.

'Where are you?' I said.

'Just around the corner,' she said.

She pitched up at midnight, without her friend but with a bag of crisps. 'Can I have the taxi fare?' she said. 'I've spent all my money on crisps.'

'Where's the stuff?' I said.

'What stuff?' she said.

For the next two days I left her sleeping on my sofa, in charge of the fighting fund while I ran around up West. Then, on Wednesday, Frank came over.

'This is Sue From The Earl's Court Road,' I said. 'Hullo - she seems to have gone. And so has the legal fighting fund.'

Frank was splendid. 'Easy come, easy go,' he said.

I'd be obliged if you'd carry on remitting.

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