13th: Telephone Séamas; he reports he departs for Cannes this morning.
I decide to see the movie, Chacun son cinema, at the Reflet Medicis
in the rue Champollion at 11.40. On the bus ride there, I ponder calling
Paul Allman & Mary Bartlett and/or Bojana Marijan & Dusan Makavejev. But
do not do it. Damn. It is a bizarre movie commissioned by Gilles Jacob
to celebrate 60 years of Cannes. Thirty-five directors make three-minute
films about going to the cinema. It turns out to be truly a bizarre experience,
but one I enjoy. Walk in the bright morning sunshine to the Village Voice
Bookshop and purchase a New Yorker, another copy of Abha Dawesar's that
summer in Paris (because the first copy I purchased seems to be lost
somewhere in the atelier). Also pick up a copy of Touché by Agnés
Poirier. Talk with Odile Hellier and tell her that Abha Dawesar is expected
to arrive in Paris soon, maybe even this weekend. Metro home. Order a
ticket to Edinburgh for the 17th of June (via Easyjet) for the Edinburgh
Film Festival (and my talk at the National Library of Scotland on the
24th). John Flattau calls via Skype and we have our usual good gossip
session. In the evening, treat Paul and Mary and Amanda Morrow to a delicious
dinner at the Auberge des Trois Saveurs in the rue Hallé. It is one of
my favorite restaurants in the world.
14th:Another very silly day today. Talk with Colin Gravois and tell
him he missed a great "Booray" game. Open the computer and get an email
message from Abha Dawesar reporting her arrival in Paris yesterday. (Maybe
it happened while I was talking about her.) She says she is available
to meet on the weekend. I fire back a welcome to Paris message and tell
her I am off to Ljubljana tomorrow and that we should meet on Sunday.
Get a call from Evgenija Demnievska and tell her I am off to Ljubljana.
She tells me that Jon Ivanovski, the Macedonian Ambassador to France,
asked about me and wishes to attend a Sunday dinner soon. Maybe this coming
Sunday. (And they do come.) Get a call from Hanna Dalipi from Belgrade.
She just wishes to send greetings. In the afternoon, go to see my fabulous
dentist, Sylvie Daniel. Then go to Gap in Blvd St. Michel and purchase
two pairs of trousers. Bojana calls and I tell her I will call her back
shortly. Walk to rue de Buci, call Bojana and she and Dusan come downstairs
and we have hot chocolate and gossip. He is off to a festival of Subversive
Films in Zagreb at the end of the week. I remind them that I once visited
the small town near Ljubljana where he filmed the movie, Manifesto.
The town is called Skofja Loka. Leave them and take the bus #96 to St.
Paul and go to Caruso for an excellent Italian dinner with Antonia Hoogewerf.
Earlier today she drove from England and her van had technical problems
about 100 kilometers from Paris. She was forced to ride into Paris in
a taxi - fortunately paid by the insurance company. She reports that Paul
has called about a 900 square meter property that he wants us to see.
Taxi home; the driver is from Tehran. I talk about Elahé and Bijan Bassiri,
friends who live again in Tehran.
15th: Up at the crack of dawn. But slow start. Coffee with Amanda
and we discuss the dinner preparations. Antonia calls regarding the building
and we can see it at 11.15. It is near the Canal St. Martin. But I cannot
get motivated to get dressed quickly and cross the Seine. Ask her if she
needs me to go with her. Yes, it is with me or postpone the visit. I suggest
we go next week when I am back from Ljubljana. She reminds me that she
departs on Saturday for the south of France and her season of walking
tours with The Wayfarers team. I apologize, but I cannot get into action.
OK, we will see it later if it is still on the market. Anyway we do not
have money to purchase even if we do like the building.
rushes about and departs for her French-language class. I have a wonderful
shave, shower and shampoo. And put on my new khaki trousers. It's a lazy
day. Read Abha's novel and find that she writes extremely movingly. I
am immediately involved in her story. She and I have a number of friends
in common including the late great Giles Gordon. He died tragically falling
down the stairs in his Ann Street home in Edinburgh the 14th of November
in 2003. I had just spent time with him in August - some three months
earlier. Abha also knows Stanley Cohen. Stanley arrives in Paris on the
18th, in three days time.
Roome calls. She needs some contacts in Istanbul. So produce a few names
and telephone numbers for her. Amanda returns from her class and we have
a pasta lunch. She says that my new trousers are a success. And then she
is off to teach a chess class to young lads. The rest of my day is spent
getting ready to depart for Charles de Gaulle/Roissy and the flight to
Ljubljana. (But also manage to do some shopping for the Sunday dinner.)
picks me up and we ride one minute up the street and parks in front of
Paul & Carol Roussopoulos's home in the Villa Seurat. A fellow comes out
and gets into our small van. His name is Olivier and we drive him to a
suburb in the south east of Paris. When he leaves us, we speed to CdG
1. After clearing passport and security control, I continue to the Adria
Airways gate area. There I learn that the flight will be late departing.
Settle down to reading that summer in Paris. A woman named Anna
Mortley is supposed to be flying with me to our IETM conference. But there
are so many people waiting to board aircraft that it is impossible to
know who it might be.
flight is called. I sit behind a woman who is alone and ask her if she
might be Anna, but she is not. Nevertheless give her an invitation to
the Sunday night dinner. She thanks me and says that she would like to
attend. Read today's Le Monde and there is a special supplement
about the Cannes Film Festival. There is also a front page item about
the death of Robert Rauschenberg. He and I were once models together for
a fashion show in Paris. Dinner is served and it's delicious. The flight
attendants could all be supermodels. Very tall attractive women. And then
we are landing. It is after 23.00 hours.
Mortley when I exit the airport. We flew on the same flight, but we did
not cross paths in the plane. She is from Australia but has lived almost
her entire life in France. In Paris, she is with the Collectif 12, based
in a suburb west of Paris.
16th:Get up about 7, shave, shower, dress and go down for breakfast.
At 8.30 there is time to register. Spot Michel Quere who says he is walking
to the Etnographical Museum and he will be pleased to show me the way.
This is quickly completed. Everyone is given a print out of all those
participating listed by country, organization, family name, first name,
telephone number, mobile number, email address and website. Very useful
to head for the Address of Welcome. Return to the Park Hotel to wait for
Anna and Michael. Sit near an attractive woman named Sarah Tuck (rhymes
with muck). She is with an organization called "Create Ireland" and is
based, I think, in Dublin. Michael and Anna appear and we walk the short
distance to Slomskova 11, the Stara Elektrarna Museum, which still functions
as a generating plant as well as a rehearsal and performance area. An
impressive building. More morning coffee. Nevenka gives us huge smiles
of welcome. Anna and I find places to sit. Most of the talks are in English,
but the minister, Vasko Simoniti, is obligated to give his speech in Slovene.
Not a problem - thanks to the simultaneous interpreting in English and
is over, Anna and I wander slowly to the first panel discussion entitled
'Happy Together' with a subtitle "Communities, Scenes, Circles, Networks,
and other models of Cooperation and Friendship from the 1960s until Today"
with Rob van Kranenburg, from the Waag Society in Belgium, as moderator
and with panelists Bojana Kunst (a philosopher from Slovenia), Emina Visnic
(from Zagreb) and Michael Stolhofer (from I am not sure where.) I half
listen, half dream. The room is packed with bright ernest faces. I spot
Nevenka standing in the back by the door and we exchange air kisses. And
then it is over. Anna and I go up to meet Emina Visnic; she will be the
moderator at our session at 14.30 this afternoon. Also meet Yohann Floch,
who will be on the panel with us. Yohann is with an organization in Paris
entitled Hors Les Murs that seems to help street theatre performers. We
have a brief meeting and Emina suggests that I speak first. (Maybe it
is age before beauty.)
Get in the
queue in the café and find myself standing behind Eva Maarika Schmitz.
She orders a cabbage soup, so I order the same. She suggests that I join
her and some friends outside. But when I discover they are standing around
a very small table, I elect to return to a table inside where I can sit
and enjoy my soup. Lunch passes quickly. All over people are talking and
laughing. A very friendly conference. It looks like the IETM's goals are
being fulfilled. Our hosts are doing a great job.
meet my fellow panelists, so it is back to the Ministry of Culture building.
The two hours fly by. Our session is entitled 'Imagine Me and You: I do'
with a subtitle "Communities, Scenes, Friendships". I talk about the Paperback
Bookshop and Gallery (where free coffee and tea were provided to one and
all). I talk about the Traverse Theatre, the Arts Lab and the Arts Lab
movement (where old buildings can be converted into creative and joy-filled
spaces), and I talk about the Sunday dinners in Paris (where all guests
are introduced to each other and many friendships, love affairs, etc come
out of these dinners). I report that other people in other cities are
starting these "salons". Everyone is invited to come and dine. The dangerous
subject of "ART" is introduced by me and I go on to suggest that it does
not exist, that when we talk about art, we are really talking about media.
I cannot remember what else I said nor very much what anyone else said.
Anna mentions the fact that her organization has a large house with guest
rooms and they are able to invite companies to come and stay. There are
questions and even some compliments and many people seem to agree with
me. I suggest that the most important thing is to enjoy one's self and
to help others to do the same. Feedback comes from Rasmus Adrian (from
Copenhagen's Kaleidoskop), from an attractive woman from Stockholm whose
name I fail to get, and from a woman named Chrissie Poulter.
to the café and one of Nevenka's attractive associates, Kaja Cencelj,
tells me that the journalist from the newspaper, Delo, Patricija
Malicev, is here to interview me. We are introduced and she asks if I
will agree to be photographed. Of course, not a problem. Then I must go
out to the street and meet Roman Sipic. He says it will only take a few
minutes, but he wants me to walk about 100 meters down the street. And
when we get there, we discover there are two more photographers there
taking photographs of young attractive women. Lots of remarks float back
and forth among us. Both women are knock-outs. Roman snaps away and then
he says it is enough. I suggest one more and walk over to place myself
in front of the Marylyn Monroe look-alike. Roman clicks off a few more.
And we all laugh, including the blonde bombshell. Roman and I walk back
to the café and I give him an invitation to dine when he is next in Paris.
He says that he will email me a few photos. (And he does.)
Patricija and discover that she is a super smart lady and that she has
done her homework. Relevant and penetrating and provocative questions.
I do my best to answer as sensitively as possible. We discover we both
know Alaa Al Aswany, the Egyptian novelist who has had a world best-seller
with his book, The Yacobian Building. I report that I met him at
the Edinburgh Festival last August and that I arranged for the film of
the novel to be screened at the Calcutta Film Festival this past November.
I ask her if she has read his new novel, Chicago, and she has.
He sent her a copy from Cairo. We go for a walk so she can purchase a
packet of cigarettes. We meet Kaja Cencelj and we both say how much we
like her. Patricija tells me that Kaja plans a career in journalism. After
the walk to the super market, we decide to attend a performance of Heiner
Müller's Quartet, directed and adapted by Sebastijan Horvat. We
walk slowly to a pizza restaurant very near the theatre. An attempt to
eat a pizza fails because we do not have enough time. In the end, the
order is cancelled and we enter the theatre only minutes before the production
actors, Natasa Matjasec and Radko Polic, are both excellent. But what
they must go through to perform their roles is too rough for me. At one
point we almost have a major accident when Radko's shirt catches on fire.
But Natasa is able to put it out and the actors continue without missing
a beat. The piece is based on Dangerous Liaisons, the novel by
Laclos. There have been at least two film versions. This production is
Spartan to say the least and concentrates on the acting of these two strong
we walk a short distance to an Italian restaurant called Allegria. Patricija
has a Caesar salad and I have a lasagna. More talk. Afterwards we walk
to an outdoor café near the National Theatre where I am introduced to
three friends, Teja Lavrencic, Miljenic Kadic, and a woman named Natasa.
More talk. I am getting tired. Patricija calls a taxi on her mobile phone.
We drop her near the restaurant, so she can collect her bicycle and I
continue to the Park Hotel. Consider going to see if Nevenka and Michael
Green are at the Salon Bar, but it is late and I am tired, so upstairs
to Room 807 and fall into bed.
Saturday, 17th: A superb night's
sleep. Poor Anna Mortley had to get up at the crack of dawn to get her
flight to Paris. A lazier start today. Up about 8 and after washing, dressing
and packing, make my way downstairs for breakfast. A fellow asks if he
may join me. He looks familiar. And yes, it is Wolfgang Hoffman. He and
I met in Edinburgh in August 2001 when we were both awarded Herald Devils.
He started and directed Aurora Nova in St. Stephen's church. Recently
he has been directing the Dublin Fringe Festival. We have a great talk.
Lots of catching up. I learn that he has an Irish wife, Finula, and that
they have a son, Noah. They are living in Potsdam, just outside Berlin.
Wolfgang is commuting between Dublin and Potsdam. This year will be his
last with the Dublin Fringe Festival. And now he is not sure what he will
do next. Talk covers the Edinburgh Festival, the Calcutta Film Festival,
and our trips to India. We talk about Ricky Demarco, my life in Paris
and the Sunday dinners, my son, Jesper and his son, Noah aged 3. Give
Wolfgang a copy of White Washing Fences. We decide to walk over
to the café for another cup of coffee. (The Park Hotel is a delightful
place, but the breakfast coffee is terrible.)
I ask the
lovely Maria Lapic at the Park Hotel reception desk if I may check-out
at 11.30 (instead of 11) and she says "no problem".
and I have more coffee and more talk. Then I leave him, return to my room,
collect my bag, go downstairs and officially check-out. Collect my passport,
air ticket and wallet from the hotel safe. Leave my small bag in the luggage
room. Tease Maria. Call Michael Green in his room. Tell him that it was
great to have shared Ljubljana with him. Tell him that I am leaving a
book with Maria at the reception desk for him. Thank Maria and head back
to the Registration Offices. Marco Brumen stops me and introduces himself
to me. He and I have exchanged a number of email messages. We have a good
Chrissie Poulter from the Dublin Arts Lab. We also talk about the Birmingham
Arts Lab. She thanks me for all my activities in the mid-60s, which she
says inspired her and many others. I tell her she owes me a 10% royalty.
More giggles. I report that I once debated Mary Whitehouse on live television
in Birmingham. And my team won! Give her a newsletter about the Sunday
to the offices and talk with the information team. Get a telephone number
for a taxi service. Learn that Nevenka will lead a group discussion at
the front café and sit alone. Order another cappuccino from Sabine. She
tells me she studies English literature. Scribble a few notes that I will
need when I get home. Yohann Floch passes my table and stops to chat.
He says that he had fun last night following my instructions: having fun
drinking beer. I congratulate him! Chrissie Poulter asks if she may sit
and eat her salad. Of course. Nevenka joins us with her lunch. Sabine
delivers a large orange juice plus two bureks. They are delicious. I feel
like taking a hundred back to Paris. Nevenka introduces me to Leila Badis
and I learn that she is going to the airport this afternoon in a taxi
to catch her flight to Paris and that I am welcome to travel with her
and two others. She suggests I meet her here at 16.30 with my bag and
we will ride out. Nevenka says that we are leaving early. But it is not
a problem for me. I ask Nevenka to call Patricija Malicev. Learn that
Patricija will come to the café about 13.30.
asks if I would like to ride around Ljubljana. She has her car with her.
But I prefer to stay here at the café and enjoy the positive energy flowing
all around us. We have coffee, juice, and bureks. Particija has written
three pages in today's Delo about the IETM Conference and many people
congratulate her. Nevenka's afternoon session starts soon, but we sit
at an outside table and eat and drink. How lazy of us. But how delightful
to be lazy.
signals that the taxi will arrive in ten minutes to take us to the airport.
Give Patricija kisses on her cheeks and thank her for her positive energy.
It has been a great pleasure to share time and space with her. Walk out
front and get in the front seat of the taxi. Leila and two women from
Paris get in the back seat. And then we are off. The driver does not speak
English, but I recognize we are passing Nevenka's family home. Ask the
driver if it is Titova ulica and yes, he says it was, but it has a new
name now. I remember staying there in the late 1980s and I remember the
road to the airport. The three in the back seat chat and I hear words
in French drift in my direction. And then we are at the airport.
I check in at the same counter. We check our bags, and clear passport
and security controls. Meet a woman from Barcelona named Isabel Castellet,
who does something with dancers. She says she attended my afternoon session.
I give her a newsletter and invite her to dine when she is next in Paris.
She gives me her card. Time to board the plane. Leila and I sit together
and begin a conversation that does not end until we leave each other in
Paris. What a bright, attractive and nice person she is. Once again it
is a tiny plane with extremely attractive flight attendants.
It's a smooth
flight. And seemingly a quick one. After we collect our bags, I suggest
we take a taxi and I will drop her at her home. But when we exit, the
bus to the Opera is outside and just about to pull out. I suggest we jump
aboard. And we make it with seconds to spare. We talk non-stop about the
conference and all the delightful individuals we met in Ljubljana. We
talk about her boyfriend, who is from Sicily, and I tell her about how
I became a "Sicilian godfather". We talk about her youth spent in the
14th arrondissement. What an attractive young woman she is! I hope her
boyfriend realizes what a treasure he has. When we arrive, I decide to
take a taxi home. Leila walks with me a short distance. A taxi pulls up.
We embrace and say our farewells. She heads for the metro and the 20th.
Soon the taxi pulls up to my home for the past 35 years. I am home from
another trip. Inside the empty atelier, there is a note from Amanda Morrow,
welcoming me back. I spy a small pile of post including a box of Ragusa
(chocolate bars) from Selma Surbeck in Switzerland. Dangerous stuff. Ragusa
is my drug. That and women of course. And travel. And festivals - film,
theatre, literary. And life. I love it. Thank you, Nevenka, and all at
Bunker in Ljubljana for hosting such a delightful and fun event. I enjoyed
is another Sunday dinner. The weather report suggests it might rain. The
advanced booking indicates we will be about 60. (It turns out not to rain
and we are 66.) Lots of ex-Yugoslavia people attend including Jon Ivanovski,
the Macedonian Ambassador to France, my friend, Evgenija Demnievska, a
painter and long time resident of Paris, the playwright, Dejan Dukovski,
and a photographer, Sladjana Stankovic. And Ruzica Dragicevic and a Bojana.
Plus Galina Prokhorova (who has cooked our feast) and her two guests,
Olga and Tatiana, from Russia. A very Slavic evening. Two American-Serbs,
Ryan Mitrovich and his sister, Jessica - both from California. And old
friend, Stanley Cohen, who arrived from New York today and still had strength
to attend another Sunday dinner. Old friend, Colin Gravois, also comes
with Marshall Leaffer. Colin has a travel agency that specializes in taking
people to Louisiana. He has been living in Paris since 1969, is married
to the wonderful, Hamida. They have two lovely daughters. And Marshall
is a professor of law at the University of Indiana and a world authority
on copyright law.
the 25th of May, Jodi Poretto will cook red beans and rice. A New Orleans
specialty. She arrives in Paris on the 21st. My cousin, Laurie Haynes
Coberly, is visiting from Hanalei, Hawaii and she will prepare spinach
I will fly
to Prague the 31st of May to participate in another Prague Writers' Festival,
thanks to Michael March and Vlasta Brtnikova. I will once again stay in
the Josef Hotel and once again produce a daily blog.
June the 17th, I will fly to Edinburgh for the Film Festival and a talk
at the National Gallery of Scotland (on the 24) and fly back to Paris
the 26th. While I am away, Mary Bartlett and Paul Allman will handle the
Sunday dinners with lots of help from Amanda Morrow.
another trip to Edinburgh for the theatre and literary festival. Maybe
I will attend another Frankfurt Book Messe in October. But for sure another
trip to India in November to participate in the Kolkata Film Festival
(10 to 17 November). And to see friends in Mumbai and in Delhi. Stanley
Cohen is talking about attending the film festival again.
full of delightful madness. I love it. Maybe I will travel to Istanbul
soon and take a boat across the Black Sea to Odessa. John Flattau says
he will come with me. There is even a possibility that Alan Furst with
come with us. Alan has a new book published entitled The Spies of Warsaw.
I love his books and highly recommend them. If you have not read his novels,
do so immediately. There is just not enough time to do all one would like
But as I
must keep reminding myself: to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans.
draft, completed the 19th of May 2008, just might be the last and only
one. Six pages is enough to use. Newsletter No. 679 completed.