This Sunday's column was devoted to my visit to Sinatra's house in Palm Springs, which I've already covered here. On the way back from the desert I called into a bookshop, and with the token my daughter had given me for Christmas I bought a biography of Ava Gardner. She had been the most influential woman in Sinatra's life, and I really didn't know that much about her.
It is hard not imagine her swimming starkers (which she did a lot) in the pool Sinatra had built in the shape of a grand piano. Having read her life I can quite understand the perils of falling for a woman like her, and poor "old blue eyes" certainly paid the price. It's said he never quite overcame his addiction.
Sinatra loved the desert and there are still plenty of people in the area who remember him and some of his wild ways. He used to leave $20 bills under the table at one restaurant he liked to visit, for the cleaning staff to collect in the mornings. He would also buy rounds for the entire establishment if he was in the mood. But woe betide anyone approaching the great man when he wasn't in the mood; and particularly if you were a member of the press. He could be most unpleasant.