Saturday, July 12, 2014

Alexis, Judge Alex and Feral Cats

A girl can have too many Alexes in her life. 

The Managing Editor of the Daily Mail, where I am a columnist (sorry, George Clooney) is called Alex; Judge Alex Ferrer is my friend on Twitter and someone who I finally met when I interviewed him last year; Alexis is a brilliant young writer who I met on Twitter, largely through our communications with and about Judge Alex.
Then there’s Alix, my best friend in Paris; Alex, who runs a Paris rental agency, Alex my Oscar winning costume designer friend, Alex the son of a close UK businessman, Alex the TV producer . . . there are heaps of them, and I won’t even start on the number of people whose names come up when I type in just “Al” (Gore is not among them, should you wonder). So, my apologies in advance, if I write asking you for a pay rise, Judge Alex; apologies to my Managing Editor if I Tweet about how hot you are; apologies to Alexis, if I write to congratulate you on the exquisite piece of French lace you found for your latest award-winning movie.
It’s the last Alex – Alexis – I want to write about here, though. I have never met her, but we communicate publicly on Twitter and privately in e-mails. She is a brilliant writer and, clearly a great scholar who is off to medical school in the Fall.
This week, she has been very ill and has been relying on her father’s secretarial skills to write her blog (The Banes of my Existence ). It is, as always, very funny, but also seeing her father’s leaping to his own defence in relation to criticisms Alexis has made about her family in the past, has added a dialogue element that has intensified the narrative.
Alexis has been asleep most of the week and, I have to be honest, I found Dad’s input a little strange. Don’t get me wrong. I was very grateful for the update of Alexis’s condition, and it is clear she is much loved; but I’m not sure about the ethics of raiding your unconscious daughter’s blog in order to put forward your case as a defence witness for what has previously been written. Anyway, I am sure they will have many discussions about that, but on the positive side, what was incredibly touching was the manner in which her father thanked her “friends” on Twitter for their support.
With few exceptions, those of us who connect most regularly have never met, but there is an undoubted community and friendship we have created in the social networking marketplace. It may have begun with our collective obsession with/adoration for Judge Alex, but our once jealous little group has bonded like a Witches of Macbeth coven intent not only on protecting our precious judge, but each other.
That support to me has been invaluable. For the past few weeks, I’ve been in a bit of a meltdown, trying to sell two places in Europe, trying to decide where I want to live in the US, selling one pile of stuff, buying another etc. It’s not as drastic as facing a major health issue, I know that, but trying to do it all without any help can be stressful.
Alexis reached out to me on Twitter to check how I was and, after reading one of my blogs, left an e-mail of incredible support. It wasn’t just supportive, though. It was intelligent, witty, poignant, and incredibly wise. It moved me to tears. It was all the more remarkable for knowing that Alexis is just 19 years old. So, yes, Alexis’s dad, she may, as you wrote, become “immature” when she is ill (so does every male of any age, by the way – have you ever been around a “man cold”?) - but I can tell you that she has a maturity that is way beyond her years and one to which I could only ever humbly aspire.
Alexis’s father thanked her Twitter friends (including Judge Alex and myself) for understanding her “feral cat” mentality, even though he acknowledged that she is no longer in that phase of life. To me, “feral” is better than boring. It’s better than “normal”. It’s better than being chained by the constraints of religion, the unjustness of a society obsessed with outward appearances, money and class. It’s better than living a life of no real feeling, hemmed in the mores of a culture inflicted upon one from outside forces. Feral is good. Feral is great.
And so, as I wish you a very hasty recovery, Alexis, I want to thank your dad for keeping you in touch with us. 

But I also beg you to hold on to that feral part of your soul. 

It’s what makes you an individual; a brilliant human being.

It’s what makes us love you. More than you know.
Keep walking on the wild side.

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