It felt like a stiletto jab in my liver, a pain so sharp it will take half a century to forget. Jessica Raine—AKA Nurse Jenny in Call the Midwife—has shacked up with a married man, an actor and a redhead to boot. It is as if I heard my mother had run off with an Albanian gigolo or Russell Brand. Nurse Jenny is the kind of girl one takes home to mother, just like Natalia Vodianova is the type one takes to Marcel Proust’s salon. (That’s the Frog writer, not a hairdresser.) My fiancée Lindsay Lohan is the kind of girl one takes to a motel.
Sure, love to most people is a frail little fantasy to be smashed by pride and jealousy, but I’m way above that. No one suffers like I do when that roly-poly Cupid takes target practice on my already wounded heart. The first time I saw Call the Midwife I was a goner. My jets were somewhat cooled when Ms. Raine was given the Spectator diary in which she wrote about me with such caution, I suspect she had an ambulance-chaser standing over her shoulder. One year later, gossip columnists are still making fun of me pining away in my chalet while she’s romping around with some dumb redhead. Oy vey!
Sex and attraction defy Cartesian analysis and are a pain in the you-know-what. I used to think that once old age set in, the demons that drove me to chase women nonstop would go the way of my backhand. To the contrary. As the backhand got better—I stopped hitting topspin and began to slice, saving energy and making it safer—so did my appetite for the fairer sex. This past winter in Gstaad I stayed home every Sunday night and watched Nurse Jenny looking angelic and innocent while delivering babies that looked anything but. Then I read the bad news just before the series came to an end and decided to throw in the towel. This is it, finita la commedia! Even Taki has a breaking point, and seeing a photograph of her walking with a redhead who was not Simon Heffer made my blood boil. Perhaps we’ll get together in the next life.
And things got worse. For years I’ve been banging into glass doors until an eye exam discovered cataracts and glaucoma, the result of getting hit around the eyes and of old age. I went to a specialist in the Bagel and walked out immediately. Two Russian secretaries straight out of the gulag shoved paperwork at me and made me sit between two Hasidic men who smelled like hell. What is it with Hasidic males and their eyes? They don’t do that much boxing. A Chinese woman kept coughing without covering her mouth. I walked off twice. The second time the waiting room was even worse. Anyway, in Lausanne, in Clinique Montchoisi I found the best eye doctor in the world and the best eye clinic, with nurses straight out of Call the Midwife. I had both eyes operated on and now I can’t see a thing but am told my sight will return better than ever if I stand still for a week or so. (My friends Clive and Ann Gibson recommended it and I am eternally grateful.)
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