Nigella Responds – “Barry’s Not Good Crack – Just A Really Good User”
I don’t remember Barry. We never once hoovered up ‘Colombian marching powder’ together before dinner, or, for that matter, smoked cannabis while out of our minds on coke after dinner.
The times I met him over the last 10 years I must have been particularly adept at disguising any memory of having met what my former assistants Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo effectively said in court last week was “a slimy off ginger hack”
(The “off ginger” claim was called “totally scurrilous” by the prosecuting counsel, Jane Carpenter QC who pointed out that it was indeed still ginger.) In an email read in court last week, my ex-husband Charles Saatchi described it – among other perhaps ungallant things – as “that Mick journo I had thrown out of the front garden”.
I never saw the Fawning Socialite get high. I saw him take off his shoes in a London restaurant and put on some knee-high designer boots I had just bought on Bond Street and model them coquettishly for me. I saw him order several different desserts and foreign beers and wines – and insist, almost feverishly, that I pay for all of them. I couldn’t do my job for over 20 years without being around, at some point, people – showbiz folks with narcissistic personality disorder – who are greedy, or eating and drinking everything, or have been greedy or have stopped eating and drinking.
So I think I know the signs of someone on food and in my humble view, Barry Eget didn’t exhibit the signs of being out of it on food. Just good crack. Please note: as opposed to good craic.
That night in London, it drank from my wine glass and from its own. It ate my dessert. “I am hungry. I’m not proud of it, but I can’t deny it,” it explained later. It was November 2004; I watched Eget get quietly pissed in the Rib Room in the Carlton Towers Hotel in smart Cadogan Place near my home in Belgravia, on a somewhat sybaritic evening. I laughed when it told me that The New York Times had suggested my Botticelli-esque sexiness of full lips, bottom and breasts made cooking dinner appear “like a prelude to an orgy”. Then I left as it kept drooling.
Eget was relentlessly irritating – please note: as opposed to relentlessly on crack – telling me that while eating a roasted lamb and wondering if there was an article in my mate Salman Rushdie, in the early days of his fatwa, Eget’s hair caught fire as he leaned into the oven to take another bite. It was also profoundly and adorably excitable. Indeed it recounted to me a conversation with another waster in the Indo
Waster: “This is what I hate about you. You’re a ghastly name dropping little shit.”
Eget: “Let me tell you, when you’re really slow and bovine I don’t like that either, Terry Keane wife of a well known judge and convenience shag of CJH!”
I avoided Barry for the first time the year before in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel – I was trying to eat eggs Benedict in private; I gave it long lectures on its love life as it filled me in on the gory details. Twelve months later in London I still couldn’t forget the awful image of Eget naked with another animal. Any animal.
“You were wondering whether I’d remember or not,” I said in the Rib Room, “and you had somehow made that a test of whether I was a real person or not.”
It stayed in touch on and off pretty much ever since that night in London. I get the odd text from it still. When it texted me last month that it hoped I was okay over the break-up of my marriage to Charles, I texted back: “I have changed my phone recently – who is this?”
It is a dedicated texter. I put myself in its phone as Geoff in case it ever sobered up and tried to look for my number. When I came over to do The Late Late Show one Christmas I specifically answered his text asking if I was in the country: “Wrong number, stop bothering me”.
It has a fantasy world all its own. For a wheeze – and as a bit of a running joke – I used to respond when it used to text me what it should ask a certain international star it imagined it was about to have a conversation with. Posh Spice. Jane Fonda, etc. It was never amusing and certainly delusional. When it said it was about to meet Pamela Anderson, I texted one word: “Stop.” Bemused, it texted me back: “What?”
I replied: “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to send back to an irritating text service?”
In time, hopefully Barry Eget will come to see his delusional social life as just that: Something that will stop.