Sunday, June 27, 1999

`The publisher needs all copy by August, so I am having to write about the end of my life now'

It's the bloody book that's done it. The moment I croak, these columns will be on sale for £16.99 a pop to a lot of people who've already read them. But in order to catch the Christmas rush, the publisher needs all copy by the end of August. So I am having to write the end of my life now - committing myself to what I'll be doing, how I will feel about it, and my exact method of blapping my lulu. It's driving me nuts.

Of course, I could make it up, but then I might as well lie about my suicide, too, and stay alive. What the hell would be the point of that? The whole idea of Time to Go is that I kill myself. Otherwise, all this writing will be quite valueless.

I've also rejected the idea of giving scripts to friends to make them say what I'd said they said. So I've been trying to predict what my life will actually be like then. My first thought was that I'll be utterly suicidal. I imagined the dreadful day when I can no longer derive the faintest pleasure from my Paul Smith polished berunia condom applicator.

But, then again, I might be rapturously anticipating my life as a sunbeam, singing tra-las to the season of mists and kissing the pates of the ludicrous. Or what if I've been run over, pierced by a spear of frozen piss from a passing airliner, or stabbed by one of The Observer weirdos who've set up a daily Geefe vigil in the pub on the corner?

In turmoil, I faxed the editor a selection of starts for my column for 22 August. He hated them all. `… what the fuck's this: "I've been wondering this week whether sharble should be the word for a grain of instant coffee that hasn't dissolved by the time you drink it"?' I told him that would be what I'd write if I'd come to terms with my death to the extent that I no longer bothered to mention it at all.

He told me to write about my new TV show. `You know exactly how that will go - you're making it now, aren't you?'

Not quite. Channel Five, who've clearly heard of me but never read my work, have approached me with an idea called It's All Right - He's Got Cancer, in which the presenter pulls unforgivably cruel stunts on innocent people but gets away with it because he has cancer and is therefore understandably twisted. I pointed out that I have the big S not the big C. They've yet to come back to me on It's OK - He's Vowed to Top Himself.

`Richard, if you're desperate, why can't you just do something about your suicide method?' I told him I'd seen a very touching art movie in which a man jumps off a first-floor balcony repeatedly until he perishes - just in case at any point he wants to change his mind.

`Very moving.' `It took him 42 jumps.' `Will you do it?' `Well, the publishers like the idea - it's photogenic and there's time for camera crews to arrive... but I think I'll use this gun I've bought.' `Oh God, no Richard, please,' he said. `What?' `You know about Will Hutton's history of firearms convictions - he might be offended.' `Oh, right, but it would be OK for me to die in agony by hurling myself into an amphora of puff adders?' I said. `Yes, I don't think that will tread on any toes.'

In the end, I decided that to make those last weeks entirely predictable I should spend them in bed injecting heroin - taking each dose from a separate timed safe so that I could not OD. The publishers seemed delighted. Very noir, truth in smack, safe smack, too, mmm controversial, maybe some coffee table book-style photos of the paraphernalia.

But guess what? The editor blew his top and said no way - taking heroin is a sackable offence at The Observer. Actually, it's perfectly acceptable to take heroin at The Observer if you write about it here. It's only sackable if another paper mentions it first.

We rowed, of course - like cock ferrets. He said I'd better not botch it now because, apart from anything else, he has a 50 per cent interest in the book deal. What?!! Well, he said, my suicide pact was his idea after all. Well, fuck me. This man, who I've known since we were 19, who saw me through my very worst years with Tears for Fears (keyboards in the `Seeds of Love' phase) casually turns round and tells me that the one brilliant thing I've ever done was his idea. I told him he could shove his nuts in a mangle and I'd take my last 12 weeks elsewhere.

I phoned the Sunday Times: sorry old chap - love the column but we've got a reporter who's just taken out a contract on his own life and is writing some terrific stuff about living in fear. The Mail on Sunday have an accidental injury man who gets something dropped on him or falls out of a window every week. And there's a female writer at the Sindie who's agreed to have her child kidnapped. I'm so fucking marvellous, they're all ripping me off. So I'm stuck here.

Perhaps you'd like to know that I have at least now written my ending. And what the editor doesn't know yet is that on 16 November we play Russian roulette with two fully-loaded revolvers and he fires first. I, of course, follow with pangs of remorse about the futility of it all… oh, yes, I do sir, most definitely.

14 Comments:

Anonymous The Editor said...

Last month, Richard Geefe guaranteed to end his life this November and report for The Observer on his heroic struggle with the consequences of that decision. This week, however, he sent only the following short submission:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION:
"You have made me too depressed to write. Unlike the great melancholics - Baudelaire, Beethoven - I have no genius from which to draw consolation. I am at best a Brian Wilson, but a Brian Wilson who went to bed before making Pet Sounds.
Fuck you all."

I have faced much criticism already for my decision to print this - because of a possible reading of Richard's note that infers he did not in fact want it published. It is my sincere belief that his mind was not in any sort of professional balance when he wrote it. But in fact its publication is exactly what he would have wanted. We also hope that the following accounts from those who dined with Richard on his last night will illuminate for others the inherent dangers of planning one's own suicide in advance and being generally depressed.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Hosanna Bell, lifestyle TV producer said...

I was flabbergasted by how attractive Richard was in the flesh. Yes, we all thought his photo was adorable, but actually to look into his eyes was to melt in the devastating chaos of his tortured soul. And despite everything, that soul was a handsome man weeping in a marble shower soaping a perfect member.

I believe he put us in touch with our inner sob. At table, the only voice of dissent came from Richard's commissioning editor, Jonathan Swude, who seemed to be tactically deprecating our praise so that we doubled it in protest.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Myles Gedge, novelist said...

From the moment Geefe arrived, his mouth crammed with lit cigarettes, one could tell that his syzygous mind was a condign prisoner of raging turmoil - a turmoil that carved his neurons and dendrites into afunctionate butter. He was pissed. Bleating. Zekkulous. But somehow, the charisma of his demons chop-charmed the women like bolassed rheas.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Hosanna Bell said...

Richard sat with me for over an hour while we talked about beauty and the warm arts. I told him how I'd been suicidal myself for six months after giving birth until I'd decided to sue my baby for what it had done to my figure. I showed him my wrist scars and he spoke to me like a poet-philosopher.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Bridget Chandler said...

Hosanna was sitting on Richard's knee when he said "Only the very ugly is truly beautiful" and looked her straight in the eye. Then he smiled slyly at me over her shoulder. I knew he was tearing himself up on his own sharpness but people were hanging on his every word and he revelled in the attention. "If the printed word has any meaning," he said in guru tones, "then it must come from the very edge of fucky bum boo boo." Jaws dropped. Johnny Swude was furious. He said Time to Go was the finest copy he had ever commissioned and he wasn't going to have it ruined by his star writer going all fluzie didums on him.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Sebastian Wront, documentary maker and director of Time to Go - a Chronicle of Courage, for BBC2 said...

Richard may have been particularly wound up that evening because of the great scene we'd shot that afternoon. We had contacted his estranged wife Helen [mother of their 12-year-old son Jake] and tipped her off about Richard's healthy finances on the condition that she turn up at his flat and go nuts. This was justified because he had been withholding alimony payments and there is no excuse for that because it's a form of financial genocide. Anyway, when Richard realised he'd been set up he lost it completely and we shot some great footage of him daubing his face with black floorpaint and muttering "I'm not here - this isn't happening" while Helen kicked 50 shades of shit out of him. When she left, he went ballistic and hurled me off a balcony, but such footage is well worth the pain of a chipped pelvis.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Bridget Chandler said...

Richard's conduct that evening proved to me that the man I had known and loved was effectively already dead even as he talked and drank. He told us that the best way to kill yourself was to buy 200 feet of nylon rope, tie one end round your neck, the other round a lamppost, get in your car and floor the accelerator. That's how his uncle had done it. Richard was just nine years old. And he'd been forced to ride in the car to stop it crashing when his uncle's head came off. The blood had made the pedals slippery.

At the end of the story the table fell silent. Even Jonathan Swude's lip trembled. He bowed his head and said: "Oh God, Richard, I'm so sorry."

I asked Richard why he hadn't told us before. "Because it's not true, you fucking morons!" he brayed, and went on to explain that we were all idiots; he could say anything and we'd lap it up - just because we thought his pain meant something. He said that we wouldn't be giving him a second thought if he wasn't going to kill himself - except that actually he wasn't anyway because the whole thing was a hoax and he was going to say so in his column next week.

There was a stunned silence, after which Swude koshed him in the teeth with an oyster bowl. And through his blood Richard was still sneering with the defiant joyless grin of a stranded dictator.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Hosanna Bell said...

I tended to Richard as he lay recovering among the pouffes. In that broken state, he radiated the sex appeal of a warrior fresh from battle.

I could see he had just treated us to his most savage and moving cry for help yet. I was choked up at the time but I know if I could read about it in Richard's column, I'd be crying for the rest of the year.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Myles Gedge said...

Richard re- entered the room, heamic strands of buccal mucilage dancing from his lip. But his mollusc-spiculed physiognomy ecdysed into a grim sconce of triumph as he levitated a handful of car keys and said: "I don't care whose it is, I'm going to drive round pissed until I crash."

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Hosanna Bell said...

When we heard the front door slam, we all felt awful.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous The Editor said...

At three o'clock that morning, Richard Geefe's remains were found dripping through the steering wheel of a Land-Rover Discovery. Our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Some of his guts got cooked on the exhaust pipe.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Sebastian Wront said...

Looking back on the tragic events of Thursday night, I reflect on our excellent month filming with Richard and I think the public do have something to answer for here. I hope from now on the viewers of television programmes will realise just how much pressure they place on programme makers and their subjects. I should also point out with regret that we are taking legal action over Geefe's breach of the new BBC honesty contract. He was being filmed on the understanding that he would kill himself in November. His death this week seriously contravenes that agreement.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous The Editor said...

We are currently negotiating terms with Richard's son Jake to take over Richard's column. Depression is all too often an inheritable trait and there is a tragic likelihood that Jake will feel suicidal himself at some point. We sincerely hope this will not be the case. In the meantime, I will be writing here about the guilt-like feelings I may encounter if I conclude that I did have a role in Richard's death after all, albeit in a way that I simply could not have foreseen when I first persuaded him to kill himself.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Para 9 should end; 'I don't think that will tread on any toes but let me check with Kate Flett first.'
Kathryn Flett's Observer columns were a significant influence on the Katz/Morris Geefe pieces, the most pertinent being a piece for the travel section she wrote about a weekend break in Bruges that turned into a harrowing, nightmare account of the break-up of her marriage (she insanely took her husband along thinking that two days freezing their arses off in Europe's most uninviting city might somehow reconcile them). She continued the theme in her own weekly columns, eventually publishing the whole account in a garishly wrapped paperback called The Heart-Shaped Bullet. The thing is though that Flett's writing is always fluent, honest, funny and above all humane - she is always her own severest critic and her columns were never self-serving and were all the more admirable for that. I guess this is why Katz and Morris make a small dig here, retaining their ire for Suzanne Moore, Burchill and India Knight.

9:01 PM  

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