‘When women hold off from marrying men, we call it independence. When men hold off from marrying women, we call it fear of commitment.’
Parador de Cáceres – 19th December 1999
‘Not quite so much sightseeing today. We had a very long, leisurely lunch, followed by a stroll around the town. I’m back in our sumptuous bedroom now. Another fine hostelry at Rory’s expense, double bed though.
Rory has gone to get us a nightcap. So tonight could well be the night. A few days on the road is making me feel very uninhibited… in many ways. I don’t feel tired, and I don’t feel like playing hard to get. YOLO!
I can’t believe I first met him fourteen years ago; it doesn’t feel quite that long ago. Finty had organised seats for the opening of Les Miserables at the Barbican Arts Centre as a surprise for my birthday and Rory was there. I had seen all the incredible musicals running in the West End at the time apart from Les Mis, and I was desperate to go and see it. Colm Wilkinson played the part of Valjean, and Alun Armstrong was the scurrilous Thénardier; the combined cast producing a flawless performance.
I cried through much of the performance, leaving the theatre with mascara trails running down my chin. But that emotional outpouring for me meant Les Mis had made its mark as my favourite musical of all time. I’ve seen it umpteen times since then. After the show, I made the mistake of taking Rory back to my flat. Finty had warned me about his reputation for racking up trophy notches on his bedpost or anybody else’s, including Finty’s, as it turned out.
Everything about him was so different compared to Jack, who was so steady, so adorably straight and loving. Rory was wild, reckless and rampant. After snorting a few rails… Adele would have been horrified, so I’ve never told her; he racked up several notches on my bedpost. It’s not a memory, hazy, as it is, that I’m particularly proud of. It was just great, mind-blowing sex, with no ties.
I set my alarm for 06.00a.m. having had about two hours sleep and woke up with numbness and a foul taste at the back of my mouth. After taking a quick shower, I kicked Rory out and was sitting at my desk by 7.30a.m. Exhausted, but functioning, hangover be damned, I churned out my review of Les Mis.
We were together, on but mostly off, for about six years. By that time, Rory was reasonably house-trained and was keeping more than just a toothbrush at my flat, but he only came home to roost around 50% of the time. Then he drifted off that morning and never came back. I’m not sure why I was so upset about it. I was the one who never wanted any ties and then, of course, neither did he.’
The door swung open, and Lisa snapped her diary shut. Rory propped himself up with one hand against the doorframe, with a red carnation between his teeth and a bottle of champagne and two glasses in the other. At that moment, despite her amusement, Rory morphed from an itinerant, and sometimes irritating photographer to a hot Don Juan and the thought of abandoning herself to wild sex was suddenly overwhelming. After all, great bed-rattling sex was the one thing she knew he could be relied on to provide.
‘Champagne for the senorita!’ he announced, slamming the door behind him with his foot. ‘Well, its Cava, actually, but when in Spain and all that. What are you writing? Another book?’
‘No… I started writing a diary in Salamanca.’
‘I hope I’m being recorded in a favourable light? Knight in shining armour, Sir Rory Gallagher rescues a damsel in distress in Portsmouth.’ He filled both glasses and offered one to Lisa.
‘We’re having a great time, aren’t we? We seem to be getting on just as well as we used to. Here’s to us.’ Lisa got to her feet, and they chinked their glasses together.
‘Here’s to us.’
They both took a sip before Rory bent his head and kissed her firmly on the mouth before putting his glass down and pulling her closer to him.
‘You know what, Lisa Grant? Things between us could get a little hotter if we…’
‘If we… added a little Spanish paprika?’ she interrupted. ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking…’