Being abroad was no problem for Martin, who had decided to finish his second novel in Spain later that year – it was just getting there.
Even a 40-minute flight from Paris required a numbing amount of brandy and Valium cocktails.
One of my earliest feature ideas was a profile of "London's newest novelist", whose first book The Rachel Papers was due to be published in America in the spring.Thanks to my half-sister Pat Kavanagh, who was the literary agent of both Amis father and son, I'd been sent an uncorrected proof the previous autumn, which I devoured in a single session, finding its derisive tone, street-smart images and obnoxious humour so stunningly original that it eclipsed any other contemporary fiction I'd read.The see-sawing plot of "Success", however, would prove to be chillingly prescient.The next decade saw Rob almost derelict, stinking of Special Brew and serving time in Wormwood Scrubs – falling, as Martin says, "too fast, too far". That spring Martin learnt that he had won the Somerset Maugham Award for The Rachel Papers, a tremendous accolade given to "the best writer under 35", with Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney among past winners.He worked full-time for the Times Literary Supplement, and as a freelance critic for the Observer, the Listener and the New Statesman, where only his colleagues knew that he was the columnist Bruno Holbrook, whose investigation of strip clubs and girly mags with their "husky, nudging captions" proclaimed him as a writer with a formidably imaginative voice.
A number of dinners at San Lorenzo and Drones in Knightsbridge were followed by half nights in the Pont Street maisonette he shared with his friend Rob Henderson.The three-year relationship had run its course, my deceit was souring things, and, by now, Martin and I were irrevocably in love.Spending more and more time at my place, he soon showed himself to have his father's gift for being extremely good at not helping with any housework, the source of my name for him, "Lazy S---" (he signed his notes "LS").I can still see him tipsily overbalancing as he held onto our suitcase handle on the carousel, and being carried round on the little paunch he had then, legs bicycling in the air.By the beginning of June I had left my boyfriend, and moved into a flat in Hugon Road, Wandsworth.But if it was hard at first to share their amusement of favourite catchphrases delivered in silly voices (the plebby emphasis on the final "t" in "Get the ports outs", for example), I must have passed a kind of audition as Martin wrote afterwards, "I didn't feel a second's anxiety, and that's never happened before." His intellectual circle was the next hurdle.