PART I Berlin, late September
Last night’s epiphany is making me face facts.
Trying to patch things up with Ilka these last three months has been desolate. The truth is, my Berlin adventure has gone pear-shaped.
So has my body.
That’s why I can’t write – even with Überagent Victoria Herz of Brown and Herz Literary Agency champing at the bit for my second novel. Just thinking about my unfinished manuscript makes me shrivel up and open another bloody bottle of champagne.
And Acquiescent Ilka lets me.
As for the life-modelling that earns my crust, I’ve had it up to here. Berlin’s artists are as up themselves as British ones.
Why do people want to draw me – a fellow creature – naked, subdued, uncomfortable in an arduously lengthy pose? Is it after all, as the Po-faced Feminists would have it, exploitation? Abuse?
The problem isn’t about being naked. I’m talking about the lack of heed for the model’s wellbeing.
Whereas last night’s session was something else. A different kind of artist; a different kind of art. A careful, controlled way of relating. Yes – care-ful. Full of care.
Though the Po-faced Fs would have kittens.
It was so out-of-the-blue. At six pm I took an international call – my ex-flingette, Tamara, in Leeds.
‘Get yourself to Szredski Strasse a.s.a.p, Cafe Dezember. Go straight down to the basement. I’ve booked you a session with a Shibari bondage master.’
You have to submit to Tamara. Everyone does.
Turns out Tamara was paying the photographer (her pal Ron from Hong Kong) to send her the pictures.
Thank god Ilka is in Leipzig with her work. Bondage would appal her. Because Ilka’s a hard-liner: men subdue women. The patriarchy spoils her day. Her position has remained immutable these twenty years. She’s stuck in the ‘eighties Women’s Movement past. Whereas I became male-curious. They are interesting. For instance, the most common cause of death for men under fifty is suicide. We women think we’ve got problems? Men have certainly got problems.
Already so many impossible things before breakfast. Then – ping! A text.
Wow – it’s from Bel. How long has it been?
And what a proposal!
An epiphanic night, and now this! Are the gods intervening, on this September morning in Ilka’s sparse, frugal apartment off Prenzlauer Allee?
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