|Moll. Picture by Anthony Lycett|
I came up with the title, partly inspired by the idea of a high bohemian Mollywood theme park based on her extraordinary life - turban-shaped bumper cars, haunted houses of very peculiar happenings (who else but Molly would could lose her dentures to kleptomaniac mice?); The Colony Soho drinking den reconstructed and peopled with boozing android versions of Francis Bacon, Jeffrey Bernard, Dan Farson, Muriel Belcher, Moll herself and other monstres sacrés of lowlife high life; fashion catwalks a-swirl with 90-year-old models (hello Lady Astor) and 20 year-old boys with semis; basement clubs for the recitation of bawdy poetry and filthy jokes followed by wild dancing; ashrams for meditation and incense sniffing; nightclub art galleries staffed by ambitious fellationists (hello Croatia)....
And a psychic pagoda for a working cyborg of ... Madame Arcati herself, as played by Moll's unlikely early fashion muse Margaret Rutherford in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit. Your future to be told.
At the entrance to this imaginarium of din and raffish incongruity would be a message, the same words to be found on p171 of Mollywood, of the people she might have encountered in her alternative fantasy careers as corporate boss or parliamentary Speaker: 'I didn't want to move amongst such a boring set of conventional cunts.'
Among writers, poets, painters, actors, fashion queens and (oddly) barristers she has found refuge from the conventional cunts all her adult life: and even among the last, she will detect the pulse of a hidden fellow sensitive across a long room, or distant on the internet. Wisely, her publisher Beautiful Books has not attempted to restore order where whim, caprice, impulse, inspiration, addiction even, reign. Anecdotes of famous lovers and friends, stories of bankruptcy, alcoholism and victory, are interrupted by long sideshows and nattery hitchhikers in a funny, readable stream-of-consciousness. There's no question Moll can be daffy as a duck. Then she'll shock you with a sudden laser of insight, just when you thought she had a screw loose.
Which reminds me, Molly on Radio 4's Loose Ends with Clive Anderson the other day. The one-time (yes!) barrister host plainly found some of her stories hard to believe, such as spanking barrister John Mortimer's arse or nearly losing her cherry to Louis Armstrong or fucking a 23-year-old surfer boy at the age of 73. 'I don't do pinches of salt,' responded Moll before taking her plastic denture out to studio gasps. All I can say is that her version of our friendship and relationship is intuitively true as well as subtly told. Between the raucous broad brush strokes of her life narration is some very fine miniature work.
Gossers hoping for nuggets about the Sunday Times or Nova, or about the soapy detail of her marriages, will have nothing to repeat at the garden fence. Huge life events are pole-vaulted in a sentence while matters of eccentric interest to her hog the book in pages of comedy and character. Mollywood is a distillation of a life nowhere near its end, but there's enough killer detail to fill a wanker's imagination. What exactly did she do with those entire rugby teams away from their mammies?
Oh yes, one for Christmas, dearies (and the late George Melly sends his love).
Welcome to Mollywood, buy here