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Fiona Lewis will never forget Lord Lichfield kicking her out of bed

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BOOK OF THE WEEK

MISTAKES WERE MADE (SOME IN FRENCH)

by Fiona Lewis (Regan Arts 19.99)

The saying, if you can remember the Sixties, you werent there is disproved in this highly readable romp of a memoir by the ex-model and actress Fiona Lewis.

She was there, flaunting her gorgeous looks on the Kings Road in 1964, and she does remember it - all too well.

She has total recall of the heady excitement of those days and of the darker side of the Swinging Sixties - the way girls like her, in their late teens, longing to make a bit of money and a name for themselves, were taken advantage of.

The real loss of innocence, she writes, was suddenly only caring about how men saw me.

Sharing a small flat with the model and actress Jacqueline Bisset, the leggy girls took diet pills to keep their weight down and occasionally stuck the end of a hairbrush down their throats to induce vomiting if the laxatives hadnt worked.

I was both insecure and full of myself, she writes - a dangerous combination.

The saying, if you can remember the Sixties, you werent there is disproved in this highly readable romp of a memoir by the ex-model and actress Fiona Lewis

She remembers the casual sexual encounters of those days, hers with a Lloyds broker who did it silently, teeth clenched, and how she got blind drunk to get through those one-night stands.

She recalls starting out as a young model and going to see an upper-class photographer in St Johns Wood who said: Well, I might be able to use you. Of course, you understand, Fiona, there will have to be a bit of pokery-poo, before throwing her down onto the bed.

As a young actress with a small part in Casino Royale, she accidentally walked in on Orson Welles having sex in front of the mirror with another actress. I was shocked by the sheer casualness of it.

If you havent heard of Fiona Lewis, dont worry. I hadnt; and when you read about the parts she played in films, youll see that she is justifiably self-deprecating about her acting career.

Thats what it was like for girls like her in those days, who had no acting training but stunning looks. They were virtually picked up off the Kings Road and given bit-parts in dire horror movies.

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Share One of her lowest points was being in a remake of Dracula with Jack Palance. When he repeatedly bit into my neck, the nurse had to be called. I was hauled off to first aid, bruised and bleeding.

She had affairs with some impressive catches and takes us through her love life - as it happens, both the first and the last scenes of sexual intercourse in the book take place in the front seats of cars, her feet sticking out of a door and her head rammed under the steering wheel.

The first is with a 20-year-old Frenchman called Michel in Grenoble in 1962, when she was 16. The last is with her current husband, film producer Art Linson, parked in a field when both were in their 60s.

She gives us this intriguing glimpse of her married sexual habits: We dont go for anything acrobatic. Occasionally hell ask me to parade across the room naked, wearing a pair of $800 shoes.

In between, there was a string of glamorous affairs. I wanted to be the kind of woman for whom men ruined themselves, she writes - she watched an unhealthy amount of steamy French cinema as a teenager.

If I made a move sexually, he would freeze, or lock himself in the bathroom - she writes of her marriage to Bill Hayward Fiona had an affair with Roman Polanski in the Sixties: Small and muscular, he was flagrantly open about sex and would jump up and down on the bed with glee.

(His coffee table was a sculpture of a naked woman on her hands and knees with a sheet of glass on top.)

Then came the French film director Roger Vadim, who had just broken up with Jane Fonda, but the affair was suffused with loneliness. Fionas parents, a respectable Fifties couple living in a Georgian hall in Essex, were shocked when they read in the Daily Mail of Fionas affair with Roger Vadim.

Then came the nice, gentle, Geordie scriptwriter for The Likely Lads, Ian La Frenais, who said Hello, pet to her in the mornings and brought her tea. (Please marry him! I thought.) But she was unfaithful, thriving on drama, and ran off. Next was Patrick Anson, Lord Lichfield, who, on their first encounter, took her across the road from his studio to Hyde Park, where he took shots of me swinging on a lamppost.

Fiona had an affair with Roman Polanski in the Sixties: Small and muscular, he was flagrantly open about sex and would jump up and down on the bed with glee' She loved his druggy, games-playing house parties at Shugborough Hall; but he used to set an alarm at dawn for her to go back to her own bedroom before the butler arrived with the breakfast tray.

He once casually mentioned, while he was taking pot-shots at rabbits on the front lawn, that they ought to get married; but he never mentioned the subject again and the invitations to Shugborough Hall dried up.

Then came sexy Philippe in a garret in Paris, the air heavy with hash smoke - but she was two-timing him with a cheery English actor in London.

In 1974, addicted to escape, she moved to Los Angeles and had a grim-sounding affair with an actor called John, during which she took an overdose of sleeping pills.

Suddenly, she got married. Talk about mistakes were made - this was a humdinger. She had known Bill Hayward (son of the Broadway producer Leland Hayward) for just three weeks. It was a disaster.

I wanted to be the kind of woman for whom men ruined themselves - Fiona Lewis If I made a move sexually, he would freeze, or lock himself in the bathroom, she writes.

She did manage to get pregnant in spite of this, but had a miscarriage at five-and-a-half months - and remains childless.

But, she writes: After my 50s, I stopped looking longingly at babies. What a relief! Self-interest had replaced the hormonal need. I was free to do anything I liked.

Which brings us to the other charming and equally gripping aspect of this memoir.

Interspersed with the chapters about her past are chapters about her buying, in 2004, and trying to do up a derelict chateau in the middle of f***ing nowhere, as her husband calls it - actually in rural France, near Perigord.

The heart-sinking experience of trying to get French builders to do anything - ever - is hilariously described.

Will her marriage survive this harebrained scheme? The book leaves this question hanging - but I hope it does.
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