There were many times, high up in the hills on Shitsville Ranch, that the light under Francis’ door stayed on all night and the same record went round and round and round, til it seemed like Frankie had fallen asleep and it had got stuck in the groove. I thought he was methodically soaking, as indeed he was, getting more and more maudlin with the increase of gin and darkness, but it turns out he was also writing a tell-all biography about my father. It began as a eulogy, a poetic expression of love for a man he deeply admired from afar and had modelled himself on since his days as a teenage hoodlum in the 90s, when the definition of cool was to have a ponytail and one earring. But then the exercise turned into an extended article and then a book (read cynical money maker of questionable literary merit full of candid photos lifted with grimy fingers from my album that is full of beautiful famous people with their eyes closed) and Francis has just had it accepted for publication by the same folks who do that misspelled Underbelly series.
The problem I have with this is not the obvious one, that Francis is behaving as though Archie were stone dead when I know quite well that he’s alive, and happily ensconced in Shitsville Ranch. After I explained it to him carefully, Archie agreed with me that it was probably best that the world and Nancy Sinatra believed him to be dead. It would stop the Mafia coming after him and a lot of paternity suites. He rather fancied taking a new name, something dull and serviceable after the Liberace-sparkle of ‘Archibald Shitsville’. “David Jones,” he suggested.
“You can’t have David Jones, that’s Bowie’s real name,” I said.
“Tom then,” he said. “Tom Jones.” He liked the sound of it; this time I didn’t try to correct him.
‘Tom Jones’ is almost a new man. He has taken to lemon-and-cayenne pepper slimming drinks and I have bought him a Robomaid to follow him around in an attempt to combat the tides of filth; I only hope he doesn’t try to roger it the way he would a human maid, as the suction on those things is amazing and could end badly for him.
No: the reason I deeply resent Frankie’s book is that it’s so utterly false, and bathed in a sycophantic light unseen since the royal baby.
Mark. Where I would say ‘elephantine’ or Brando-sized, Frankie writes discursively of a man ‘struggling with time and tide’ who can at worst be accused of being overly fond of tarts. Where I would say ‘overly fond of tarts’, Frankie says, ‘a real ladies man.’ Where I would say ‘an immature narcissist drowning in the tides of his own filth’, Frankie writes of Archie’s youthful zest, ‘pride in his appearance’ and manful disregard of civilised conventions.
What is worse is that Frankie has been appearing on a lot of talk shows to promote the book, but as you know I was blacklisted by Frank Sinatra at the age of two, and though the man, Frank Snr, has been dead and buried a long time, take it from me that his ‘TV and Variety entertainers’ blacklist holds til this day, as the Industry’s mark of respect for the great crooning cunt; nobody has been so emphatically airbrushed from history since the Stalinist purges as I have.
Now cousin Francis rings to tell me that he has sold the rights for a Telemovie they will show on the Hallmark Channel. I couldn’t be more pleased.