|Newsletter No. 712
|A Quick Trip to London
21/22 October 2010
Wednesday, 20th October: Contact Nicolas Clifford at Blue Marble
and he books me a ticket on the Eurostar train for 11 tomorrow morning
and a return to Paris on Friday at 14.04. He always comes through. Hooray
for Nicolas and Blue Marble. Talk to Sheila Colvin in Edinburgh and she
gives me the name of the Deputy Mayor of Montreuil, Gilles Robel, who
I met at Nick Phillipson's reception during the Festival. Sheila says
that she is traveling to London tomorrow. I tell her I am as well. We
discuss meeting for a meal in London. Also talk with Roza Petherick who
correctly spells two names for me which means the festival newsletter
is now more or less completed. Talk with Antonia Hoogewerf and we agree
to meet tonight in Odeon to see the new Woody Allen film, You Will
Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, and to dine afterward.
I am a Woody Allen fan. I love all his films, the early ones, the middle
period and the current ones. I like this one, but it is darker and more
pessimistic than usual.
Thursday, 21st: Up very early, before the alarm
goes off. Make a fresh pot of coffee. Shave, shower, shampoo. Quickly
pack - basically just pajamas and bath robe. And two books for Lindsey
Bareham. Lindsey was my secretary at the Arts Lab back in the mid-60s.
Katy makes toast for me and a banana smoothie. She departs. Take the 38
bus, but it is only going to Chatelet. Get off at Palais de Justice. Am
forced to take a taxi to the Gare du Nord.
Quickly check into the Eurostar and clear both British and French Customs
and move to a Change facility and change 300 euros into pounds sterling.
The departure is announced and I am soon rolling towards London. Just
over two hours later, we arrive. Manage to get a taxi and am soon at Ernie
Eban's flat in Gloucester Terrace. He suggests we have lunch straight
away in Le Café de Anglais which is just down the street.
Sue Miles, 1973
photo ©Pearce Marchbank
Lindsey Bareham is lunching there and I might be able to ride to the
funeral ceremonies with her.We make the short walk. Ride up the elevator
to the restaurant and soon spot Lindsey. She is with two men and we are
all introduced. They are Nick Smallwood and Rowley Leigh. It is Rowley
who has created the Café de Anglais. Nick has been involved with
a number of hip restaurants in London. They both knew Sue Miles and are
going to the funeral. But they are in a small car and alas no room for
Jim. Ernie has decided not to attend. He knew Sue, but feels that he did
not know her well enough to attend the funeral. He says he might go to
the party at 6.30 in the Camden Arts Centre.
Ernie and I find a table. We are sitting just down from Deborah Rogers,
who is with someone. And across from Elsie Donald who is sitting with
a friend. Elsie and I are old friends from Edinburgh University days.
Introductions are made. Then Ernie and I order. He has oysters and sardines.
I have crab pasta. We are both very happy with our meal.
Purchase some flowers and Ernie hails a taxi. Soon I am on my way. More
or less on time. Arrive at 3 pm. Begin to meet a few old friends immediately.
All are surprised to see me. Many have not seen me in 25 years or more.
I left London in 1969 to live in Paris. We move into the chapel. Discover
I am sitting behind Tony Elliott and his lovely wife, Janey. They turn
around and are surprised to see me. The chapel fills to over-flowing.
The ceremony is well put together. Mark Williams is one of the first to
speak about Sue and his friendship with her. Several people follow who
I do not know. A recording of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" is
next. A recorded poem by Felix Dennis. (Felix is in Edinburgh and could
not be here this afternoon.) Then Jonathan Green produces a moving tribute.
Neither Miles, her first husband, nor Pearce Marchbank, her second, say
anything. Nor do her two children, Celine Marchbank and Otis Marchbank.
In the end we all walk pass the closed coffin and deposit our flowers
on top of the casket. I think Sue would have liked the simple presentation.
Outside encounter more people I know: Richard Adams, John Hopkins, Miles,
Mark Williams, Pearce Marchbank, Michael Horovitz and Dick Pountain. Mark
Willams asks Lindsey and me if we would like to go to Deborah Moggach
's home for some warmth and tea. And a place to rest a bit before the
party. Yes, great suggestion. We accept with pleasure. We pile into a
lovely BMW and Richard Adams joins us. We are soon delivered to an amazing
home that is covered and surrounded with vegetation. It is as if we are
not in London, but away somewhere in the English countryside. And another
car arrives with guests that include Jonathan Green and his wife, Susie
Ford. And Alan Marcuson. Tea is divine. The fruit cake is not bad either.
And the hostess is extremely lovely. She and Mark are in the early days
of their new romance. Deborah has sold the rights to one of her novels
and it is currently being filmed in India. Twentieth Century Fox have
invited them to fly out for a week to visit the set and to see some of
the filming. They are leaving next week and are very excited.
It's now time to pile back into cars and drive the short distance to the
Camden Arts Centre in Arkwright Road. Not sure who organized all this
but I think Felix Dennis has paid for a lot of the expenses. Here I see
more people I know from London in the 60s. And I am introduced to many
more including Sue's two children, Otis and Celine. Talk with Rosemary
Bailey, Barry Miles' wife. She is a sweetheart. Hoppy tells me that he
thought the After Eight TV commercial was superb. Talk with Katy Hepburn.
Talk with Carol, who used to be a waitress in the Arts Lab restaurant
and who was a great beauty. I think she used to go out with Guy Brett,
who was an Art Critic for The Times. (Now Lindsey writes a food
column for The Times.) Talk with Jack Hanson's mother, Annie, who
thanks me for giving her son and his girlfriend, Holly Roughan, a bed
Lindsey asks if I am ready to leave and I say why not. We collect our
coats and slip out and look for a taxi. Call Ernie Eban and tell him that
we are in a taxi and on our way to Gloucester Terrace.
We arrive and food is mentioned. Quick as a flash, Ernie calls Khans and
places a take-away order. Ernie and Daniel slip out, refuse any financial
contribution and are back minutes later with an Indian feast. We four
sit around the kitchen table and stuff ourselves. And giggle and gossip.
It is beginning to get late. Daniel is soon to fly to New Zealand to cover
a boat race for the BBC. Lindsey and I go out and find a taxi easily and
are soon zooming to Chiswick.
Lindsey shows me the guest room. I give her two books of mine. We talk
a bit about Ben John and his children. Lindsey had two sons with Ben,
Zach and Henry. We also speak about Jessica John who Lindsey introduced
to me and who now is living in the South of France. Tomorrow is a Friday.
Every Friday, Lindsey goes to Zach's to babysit his son, Caspar. This
means we have to get up early. Soon I am in good old Sleepy Land.
Friday, 22nd: Wake up and wonder where I am.
Then realize that I am in Lindsey's guest bedroom. Hear her moving about.
Shout a "Good morning!" and get one back from her. Begin to
wash and dress. She brings me a big smile and a cup of tea. And asks what
I would like for breakfast. I tell her whatever she is having. She says
fresh fruit. Join her in the kitchen. We talk about the full day we had
yesterday and we both conclude that it was delightful in every way. We
both just wish Sue Miles could have been with us to enjoy it all. Give
Lindsey two copies of One Magazine and a copy of Paris Magazine.
Two articles by yours truly and a profile of me. She gives me her book,
The Fish Store. Linsdsey has to depart soon to baby-sit this morning.
I call Dorota Chhrisp and she reports she will be home all morning. I
say that I will see her in about thirty minutes. Collect my small bag
and we are out the door. Lindsey drops me in Silver Crescent - only about
fifteen minutes away.
Hugs, kisses and promises of eternal love and then she is away. Ring Dorota's
bell and she opens the door and asks if I would like a second breakfast.
I ask for a cup of coffee. Dorota's husband, Tim, appears and joins us.
We talk about Lindsey's step-daughter, Jesseca John. Dorota has just returned
from the South of France where she has been visiting Jessica. Actually
it was Lindsey who introduced Jessica to me and I introduced her to Dorota.
Tim departs to run a few errands. Dorota and I ponder going out for lunch.
I call John Calder & Sheila Colvin. No answer. Call Ernie Eban and
get his answering machine. Call Benny Puigrefagut and he and I chat a
bit. Then decide to depart for St. Pancras and the Eurostar to Paris.
Dorota and I embrace and I ask that my best wishes be passed to her son
and daughter, Joe and Lila.
Out the door and am on my way. Just under an hour later, I am checking
in for my train to Paris. It's completely painless. Some two hours later,
we are pulling into the Gare du Nord. Find a taxi outside and the driver,
who is from Lisboa, gets me home fairly soon. My neighbor, Thomas Dufresne,
says there was a fellow looking for me this morning. He thinks it was
someone from India. It must have been Yuyu from Kathmandu. Damn I thought
he was coming tonight. Katy is home and quickly makes me a glass of fresh
carrot juice. She has done all the shopping for Mary Bartlett (who will
be cooking tomorrow the preparations for the Sunday dinner). Katy asks
if I would like a garlic pasta dinner. Yes, please. And quick as a flash,
she whips one out for both of us. And, of course, it is delicious.
Yuyu appears and says he heard that I was in London for a funeral. He
will go and collect his luggage and return within a short while. And then
Naras & Gintaute arrive from Vilnius. They open their luggage and
produce seemingly an endless supply of black bread. Plus a very large
bottle of Polish vodka. And then Yuyu reappears. More introductions. And
we start to eat one of the loafs of black bread. It is like cake. Delicious.
Tell Naras that he and Gintaute are in the upstairs bedroom. And Yuyu
is on the downstairs couch. Naras and Gintaute head out for a meal in
the Latin Quarter. Yuyu checks his email. Katy goes to her room. And I
go upstairs to get some well-deserved rest.
This 24-hour jaunt to London was meant to celebrate
my friendship and love for Sue Miles and she is not mentioned very much
in the above outpouring. I first met her in the very early 60s. I think
in Edinburgh when she and her newly married husband, Barry Miles, were
visiting Edinburgh. I think I found them a place to stay in Dean Village.
They immediately volunteered to help out in my bookshop, The Paperback.
Then when I transferred the centre of my activities to London in 1965,
I saw more and more of Sue and Miles. When Miles, Hoppy, Jack Moore, Michael
Henshaw and yours truly decided to start the newspaper, International
Times, Sue was always about, making tea for everyone, cooking, contributing
positive energy and ideas. Soon after that I decided to start the Arts
lab in Drury Lane in Covent Garden and Sue was my first choice to run
the restaurant in the Lab. Maybe I launched her culinary career. We became
pals. But then when the Lab closed in 1969 and I was offered a Visiting
Professorship at the newly created University of Paris 8 in the Bois de
Vincennes, I left London. It was only going to be a year. But it has now
been some 41 years. Over this time, I saw less and less of Sue. Sometimes
she traveled to Paris. Our friendship suffered. And now she is gone. I
usually do not go to funerals, but when Lindsey wrote me that Sue had
died and that her life was being celebrated, I knew that I had to be there.
Dear dear Sue, I feel so sad that you are no longer with us. And I feel
terrible that our friendship which was once so strong I had allowed to
wither. Dear Sue, please forgive me. RIP
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris France