Your Man in Havana 5. Yo Papa
It starts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 15 years ago. I am still talking to my sister who lives there. I am the only one on the boat not sea sick or asleep. I have marlin on the line. I pull. I pull harder. Mano a pesce. Half an hour later I am still pulling. I am finished. The boys take over and pull in the beast. In the cockpit there he is grinning, Hemingway,Papa ,that all you got boy, I write stories about losers like you.
The next year it was Kenya. Here the animals we were photographing he had killed with his bare hands and I knew it. This time he didn’t laugh just shook his head and put up his finger and thumb.
In the last two years I have spent many weeks in Paris. There is ‘nt a bar that Ernie hasn’t been to. Made famous, made literate, made where its at. A few years ago I spent a day in Venice. Guess who had been there first.
One of my special subjects is the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. A month rarely goes by without me paying homage to “their eyes were open and they could see no other way” memorial in nearby Bishops Park. But who has been there first, ringing that bell. who was there. Oh yes he was. Big time.
Bullfighting , who does not love this perfectly politically incorrect sport? And who has made the subject his own. Any man who loves life knows that at some point if they live long enough,too long, they must commit suicide. It takes courage. Hemingway had talent, he had courage. So women loved him but he found them difficult, who doesn’t?
Which brings us on to Hanava. Outside the band of brothers-most of whom Fidel has got rid of- who toppled Bastita, Cuba is short of heroes and saints. So Hemingway is celebrated. Every bar he drank in, every hotel room he slept in, every condom he used as far as I know is kept, just as if he is coming back, his house is a museum. Maybe even the pissoirs where he let it flow have blue plaques.
Of course many do not know that he once came to Putney. He waltzed into the Winchester House Club as happy and flushed as a London estate agent. Yo Earnest, stop there I cried. You are shit , you were mean to Martha, your books dated and stop stalking me. We started to arm wrestle. We rolled in the nude in front the Winchester’s almost authentic gas fired log fire. We rolled out onto the lawn. Homoerotic? Grow up, whats the choice? Over the wall and into the furious Thames we plunged.
He cried You havent lost it amigo,as I playfully scooped a goose turd into his face I replied, neither have you.
He looked at his watch. Got to fly. He was never one for long term relationships. WE staggered out of the Thames like two cross channel swimmers. The Boat Race crowds cheering. Adios amigo, goodbye my old friend. And he was gone. No doubt we will meet again. He and Fidel shaking hands in 1959 is now on my wall.
Your Man in Havana is now home ,