William Donaldson's Week: Stuff Ibiza, I'm off to the Algarve

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The Independent Online
I'M IN THE Algarve (a four-ball later with the Patersons from Sandwich, a rubber of bridge thereafter) and this may surprise you, since you thought I was in Ibiza for Radio 4.

Well, so I was, and my only worry now is whether or not Radio 4's constituency was ready for anything so moving. Nor will my producer, Andrew Johnston, mind my saying that I was excellent against the odds - which included his idea of how the show should be, together with his habit of interrupting me to talk about himself.

'This breaks my heart,' I said, as, wired for sound, we strolled through Ibiza Town. 'This is where my baby and I . . .'

'It reminds me of a time,' he said, 'when Julie and I . . .'

I had to put a stop to this. A lot of little old ladies hadn't paid their licence fees to hear him maunder on about his love life. They wanted to know whether, without my baby, I'd be welcome in the music bars; whether I could repeat the experience of 1968, when, after we'd got on one - an E, if memory serves - it had seemed to me that Dummett's argument for God was irrefutable. I asked young Andrew from Radio 4 if he was familiar with it.

'Of course,' he said.

'I'll rehearse it anyway,' I said. 'We know there is value (cruelty is wrong, my baby is, obviously, lovelier than yours, etc) as surely as we know that this is a stone and that is a lizard. However, value, unlike stones and lizards, isn't part of the world. Someone must have put it there, and this could only be God. My baby, incidentally, being cold-blooded, with hard, unblinking eyes, had a natural affinity with reptiles - with snakes and lizards and so forth.'

'Really?' young Andrew said. 'Julie, on the other hand . . .'

'Stuff that,' I said.

An even greater problem was his idea of how the show should be. I had imagined the prevailing tone ranging from the merely tender to the frankly tragic, with, as a subtext, a few remarks against stroppy documentary-makers who call themselves Magenta, wear bovver boots and menacing shades and blether on about the Balearic beat, quite ignoring the fact that there are parts of the island which are still delightfully British: where all the girls look like Sally Gunnell and pool comedians do humorous dives and wear a shark fin. Young Andrew from Radio 4, however, thought the programme should be funny.

'Wearing your trousers from Peter Jones,' he said, 'and without your baby, you should attend a full-moon rave at Ku. 'Word up] I'm on one here.' You'd be thrown out; forced, later, to reflect that without her you're nothing.'

He was forgetting my friend Tanit the Island God - the heavy centre of the in-

set, a stone nude black man who pads around Ibiza Town, with his personal drumsticks accompanying the music in his head.

'Once I've palled up with Tanit the Island God, they'll be paying me to visit Ku,' I said.

'Let's talk to him,' said young Andrew from Radio 4. I was staggered. 'You don't talk to him]' I said. 'You don't breeze up to him and start a conversation, any more than you would with the Queen - though once my friend Craig Brown did exactly that. He approached her at a garden party, showed her a hole in his trousers and told her a joke involving familiarity with Ezra Pound.'

'Where do we find him, this Tanit the Island God?'

'He has the divine attribute,' I said, 'of being everywhere at once. He'll show himself when he wants to.'

'He sounds like a right bozo,' said young Andrew from Radio 4. 'I expect he's having a short break in the Dordogne - drowning himself in St Emilion '88 and the continuous, semi-educated burble of Spectator readers en vacances. 'Argue you me this, Gaston. Since we must die, why do we live first?' '

Never mind. He'd be looking very silly in a moment; more accurately, in six hours - the time it would take him, he said, to do his hair and apply his make-up before we attended the full-moon rave at Ku.

This allowed me, while he lay in a shuttered room with a salad on his face, to ghost around Ibiza Town, recording with a hand-held mike the regretful soliloquies I judged appropriate to the show. 'The experience of nothingness is always with us. Sartre, was it? L'etre et le Neant? When I enter a cafe expecting to see Pierre and Pierre isn't there, the cafe reflects the absence of Pierre.

'So, this cafe reflects my baby's absence - here, where, for a brief moment, her arms danced in triumph in the air and she was unconquerable. Now she shops and cooks and lives with a provincial . . .'

I couldn't go on; I'd taken too much out of myself. Squinting with grief, I fielded young Andrew from Radio 4 and took him to the airport, where we saw Tanit the Island God, carrying his golf clubs.

'I'm off to the Algarve,' he said, 'to stay with my friends the Patersons. I'd considered the Dordogne, but I prefer to holiday where all the girls look like Sally Gunnell. Nice trousers, those. Care to join me?'

'I certainly would.'

'Who's your friend?'

'Young Andrew from Radio 4.'

'His trousers appear to have been bought at Diesel, if not in Italy. He'll not be welcome in the Algarve.'

We left young Andrew at the airport, indulging in mawkish reminiscence about his Julie.

Duff Hart-Davis returns next week.