Twenty Years Ago Today Page 3

Later when the Christmas festivities were over and the New Yorkers returned to their cold climate I moved into the Paladian pile next door and stayed on and on for weeks playing guitar everyday. No meat was ever taken, so I became by default a rather healthy fishatarian. The villa was rented by an endlessly philanthropic gentleman called "Baron" who seemed to do nothing much except take sporadic meetings with strange gentlemen from South America. He would then cycle round the island for hours at great speed. Occasionally, swarthy mustachioed cowboy "chopper pilots" would be introduced at dinner, as if ex-Vietnam vets passing through Barbados on mysterious missions were the most natural dining companions in the world. Rikki and I studiously avoided inquiring too deeply into the nature of these business deals being content to swallow endless rum-punches provided by an ancient Butler improbably called "Mr. Brown" who'd once served drinks to Winston Churchill. Mr. Brown's thoughts on the nature of serving another round of rum punches to two long haired guitar playing hippies were mercifully hidden from us and we would sit and play in the exquisite gardens of this fine reproduction Paladian villa (built by Ronnie Tree in 1946) and wonder where exactly our host came up with the half million dollars cash he reportedly had plunked down to buy it. Odd too to think that only a year later this same Mr. Brown would be serving run punches to John Cleese and Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Keith Moon and Terry Gilliam, since we rented the Villa for two weeks to rewrite The Life of Brian.

"It's all set," Lorne Michaels said on the phone, "we need to talk," and my six week West Indian idyll was at an end. 'All good things must come to an end,' I thought as I waved farewell to my friends at Heron Bay and climbed into the taxi that would take me to meet my future wife in New York that very same day. I had stopped eating meat and I had stopped serial dating. I was as healthy and clear-sighted and relaxed as I have ever been.

Barbados - 86 degrees. New York - 6 degrees. Lorne had thoughtfully provided a limo and a heavy overcoat to meet me at the airport. I went directly to Saturday Night Live where I watched Fran Tarkington host the show, then on to a party full of long legged models whom I studiously avoided (I was through that stage I told myself) and finally downtown in a big white limo to Danny Ackroyd's loft where a rowdy post show gathering was in full swing. After an hour or so Lorne and Paul and the others left for uptown but for some reason I stayed on. The party was still jumping. I had been away from bright lights and big cities for months. I was tanned, fit, blond, long haired and healthy. As I leaned quietly against the kitchen sink a tall dark haired girl came over to me, smiled and asked me to dance and I instantly fell head over heels in love. We went outside and necked on the stairs and it took me a while to persuade her how convinced I was that we were supposed to be together. I have never been so convinced of anything in my life. Fortunately she believed me because that's twenty years ago last week and we've been together every moment since.

A few days later when I managed to resurface, with a smile on my face and a lovely lady on my arm, Lorne commissioned me to write a 15 page treatment of The Rutles story. I bought every picture book I could find of the Beatles, cut them all to bits and pasted them into a rough shape. I then bashed out the treatment in a white hot fury and sent it in liberally illustrated. To our delight NBC immediately okayed it. I was commissioned by them to write a full screen play. I moved into the loft on Bond St. in the Bowery which Tania shared with Danny Ackroyd and Mike Pahios (a graphic artist for NBC) and an enormous German Shepherd. It was freezing outside but the Sauna was on day and night and since it had no door the heat escaping from it stoked the apartment as warm as Barbados. When I queried the expense someone told me the apartment's electricity was "accidentally" hooked up to the Budget Rent-A Car down stairs, so they never had any electricity bills. Lucky really.

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