September 1966

Come outside, come outside,
There’s a luvverly moon out there.
Mike Sarne, ‘Come Outside’

In the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh some time in the second week of September 1966, when BB had carnal knowledge of Mike Sarne. Technically she was married to Gunther Sachs at the time. ‘Count’ Gunther Fritz Sachs von Opel: multimillionaire German playboy, scion of the motor-car dynasty and European bobsleigh champion of 1958, a crack shot with both gun and club. One of the gods. Up there with Sean Connery and Roger Vadim, the creator himself. But Sarne was virtually one of us, a low-born Londoner. Brigitte Bardot had miraculously fallen to earth.

Mike Sarne had first thrust himself upon our attention as far back as the summer of 1962 when he brought out a single which went to No. 1 and tragically echoed our own futile and fumbling efforts to score with girls. Most of the song consisted of Sarne trying to chet up (in caricature Cockney) a little doll with laughable lines about the moon and how lovely it was was and wouldn’t she like to see it. If you just want to go on dancing, he rhymes, there won’t be any time left for romancing. Obviously the poor sod doesn’t stand a chance. And the, right at the end of the record, she – won over or worn out by his verbals? – finally caves in. And now, it seemed, he had lured Bardot outside too. While Wendy Richard, his hit-parade paramour, was scripted to marry Arthur in EastEnders and breed children destined for single-paretnhood or HIV, Sarne would go on more gloriously to direct the catastrophic screen version of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge (starring Raquel Welch) in 1970. Whether he succeeded in notching up another sex-symbol is, so far as I know, unrecorded, and beside the point. For there is no doubt that Sarne’s apogee, his high noon, the climax of his career, was Bardot and September 1966.

Naturally, our reaction was complex and ambivalent. ‘That fuckin’ weedy rat pulling BB!?’ spluttered Griffo, ‘Not that poncey little git!’ But there was a degree of hot-headed subjectivity mixed up in this preliminary judgement. This coupling, this collision, seemed to us at first sight a bizarre freak of nature, an aberration in the order of things, a joke. In the light of a later, more measured assessment, it is possible to lay out the facts, such as we came to know them, coolly and calmly, and divine the subcutaneous structure of history in all its inevitability.
BB was in Scotland to shoot an Anglo-French production, Two Weeks in September (or A coeur joie as it is obscurely known in French): every scene had to be filmed twice over, once in French and once in English. She had married Sachs not two months before, in July, after a typical multi-millionaire playboy whirlwind wooing involving gross-loads of roses, private jets, Bastille Day, at least one Kennedy, Danny Kaye and a judge in Las Vegas. But two months was a long time in sixties sexualpolitics: two weeks was a long time. After a honeymoon in Tahiti, swimming in coral lagoons and drinking milk straight from the coconut, and then a spell in Acapulco to recover, how could BB not be bored?

When she flew in to Heathrow on 3 September in a green and yellow tartan mini-skirt, greeted by the ritual chant of Bri-gitte! Brigitte!, she flew in alone (not counting one PR man, her co-star, two or three personal photographers and one man whose job it was to carry her vanity bag). She was happy to be returning to work. ‘It is good to have a change,’ she told reporters. ‘Honeymoon, work, honeymoon, work.’ The implication was clear: once the film was over she would feel a compulsive for another wedding, another husband. Unless she was planning to change lovers between takes.