Nick Kent writes about Serge Gainsbourg in today's Graun. Kent describes the songwriter as "the louche, turtle-eyed genius of la chanson Française", and the article focuses on his later years, when he was spiralling towards a booze-sodden death.
Kent describes an appearance at a film festival they were both judging. "He looked absolutely terrible - his face and body utterly polluted from alcohol abuse, his eyes ugly unfocussed slits, his voice a sneerful rasping whisper." He contrasts the devotion Gainsbourg inspired from his compatriates with his own (Kent's) clearsighted objectivity: "a beloved icon who'd lost all self-control and who was making an ignominious public spectacle of himself over and over again." When a French actress, the target of one of his misogynistic rants, calls him "a disgusting old parasite", Kent applauds her temerity.
But hang on... is this the Nick Kent, famous for stumbling through the 70s in a substance-induced haze, hanging out with such likeminded souls as Keith Richards, Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett and Shane McGowan, wafting into the NME office 20 minutes before deadline and knocking off 3,000-word reviews in longhand and, most notoriously, getting chain-whipped by Sid Vicious? From what elevated position (other than his own survival) is he qualified to put the boot in? And, while we're at it, who's 'turtle-eyed' now?