Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 715
Celebrating Jay Landesman
March 2011
 

The death of a friend is always a bit of a shock. When I learned that long-time friend, Jay Landesman, had left life, I knew that I had to travel to London to join others in celebrating his long and successsful adventure on Earth. It was only a matter of when. Then his son, Cosmo, emailed me that the festivities would take place the 24th of March in the Groucho Club in Soho from 3 to 5. I replied that I would be there. Jay and I were never ones to miss a party.

 

Wednesday, March 23rd: Up early and quickly pack. Call a taxi and am soon at the Gare du Nord. Check-in and soon speeding smoothly towards London. We arrive on time at 12.30. It was arranged that I would be met by two people from The British Library: Jamie Andrews, a friend, and Duncan Heyes, an associate of Jamie's. And they are there. We stroll a short distance to a place called Au Vin, find a corner table and settle in for a talk and a light lunch. Jamie treats. I have a bowl of soup. Hand over a few of my books to them to go on the shelves of the British Library. After a delightful half hour or so, they must rush to a meeting.

  Jay Landesman, photo by Mary-Rose Storey
Jay Landesman
photo Mary-Rose Storey

I go out, find a taxi and asked to be delivered to Gloucester Terrace, Ernie Eban's home. After he and I have embraced, we start the serious discusion of our Indian take-away dinner later this evening. We start calling people. Ernie has just received the distressing news that our friend, the film-maker, Ricky Leacock, has just died. We know that when friends reach a certain age, they are entering the danger zone, but it is still always a shock. We are never prepared. But now who is coming tonight? In the end we are 13. As always, Khans has provided delicious food.
There is a lot of coming and going at Ernie's all afternoon. I text a message to Emma Hope and she calls from Florence to say she cannot attend the dinner tonight. Joan Bakewell is in the House of Lords and will try to come, but she suspects she will not be able to make it. Lindsey Bareham says she will try to attend after a concert. The telephone rings and I answer it. It is Kyle Roderick Goldstone calling from Malabu. She is very excited about her fothcoming trip to London and Paris. Ernie calls Michael Seifert to ask if he and Caroline are free to join us tonight. But they have plans. Beatrice Belfrage has a family dinner tonight and cannot make it. Talk with John Lloyd and he is going to the theatre to see his son, Jacob, perform. But he promises to come to Paris soon. Daniel Topolski is training for the Oxford-Cambridge boat race and will try to make it. (He does!) Natalia Shkola arrives early and gives me a much-needed haircut. We have a visit from Valerie Lalonde's son, Thomas Fox. He talks with Ernie about Ricky and Valerie. We also have a visit from Lola Peploe. She looks as lovely as ever. Alas neither of them can stay for dinner tonight.

In the end we are 7 women and 6 men. The women are: Mary Clemmey, Natalia Shkola, Samra Turajlic, Sylvia Libedinsky, Hanja Kochansky, Gina Markou, and Saskia Spender. The men are: Ernie Eban, Alex Kan, Jim Campbell, Dan Topolski, Mark Peploe and yours truly. We also discuss Elisabeth Taylor who has just died. Hanja played in the film Cleopatra and was one of Elisabeth Taylor's handmaidens. She only has kind words to say about Ms Taylor.

Fairly late we all start to head for our beds. Jim Campbell offers to drop me at Dorota and Tim's home in Chiswick. It is good to have some quiet moments with Jim. But we soon arrive in Silver Crescent and he is off. Dorota is up. She and Joe have just returned from a concert in which their lovely daughter, Lila, was one of the chorus. We sit up and talk a bit. I tell her about my stupid accident, running for a taxi in the Blvd Montparnasse. And she tells me about her jury duty. Not long afterwards, fall into a deep sleep.

 

Thursday, March 24th: Shower, shave and dress. Breakfast with Dorota, then she departs for her jury duty. Tim has left earlier for his office and Lila has left for her school. I am all alone. But an interview has been arranged this morning with Jill Drower, who wants to discuss the 60s, the Arts Lab and all that for a book she is writing about the dance company, the Exploding Galaxy. She is expected at 10 a.m. and she is on time. We have a delightful talk, which she records. Jill is very good at digging into the dephs of my memory. I enjoy the experience. Jill departs. And after a bit, I close the door and walk up the street. See a bus coming, so jump aboard. Sit next to a fellow who says the bus goes to Hammersmith. We talk all the way and I ask him if he has seen the After Eight commercial. He has and is impressed to be sitting next to me. We both get out at Hammersmith and I take the Central Line tube to Oxford Circus. Walk along Oxford Street and wander into a fast food Chinese place called Wok in a Box. Order a spicy chicken dish a la Vietnamese and walk over and boldly ask an attractive young blonde if I may share her table. Her name is "Sam" (Samantha) Hall and she is a BBC radio producer. Her current project is about groupies. We chat a bit about my Sunday dinners. I give her the Chicago Tribune article about the Sunday dinners. She finishes before me and dashes off.

I wander into Soho Square and sit on a bench and watch the world come and go. I am early but decide to head for the Groucho Club. My name is checked off the guest list and I go into the bar and order an orange juice from the new (only two weeks) barmaid. Oksana is from the Ukraine. We chat a bit. She never knew Jay, needless to say. I hear Ernie Eban and Hanja Kochansky enter so say goodbye and good luck to Miss Ukraine and make my way to the upstairs bar.
The booze is flowing and everyone seems to be on speed. See lots of people I recognize and it is time to put the names to the faces. Dear, dear Jay, you would be in your element here and now. Talk with a lot of people who seem to appreciate the fact that I have come over from Paris for this event. At some point, go out to pee and run into Barry Miles and James Birch. James reminds me that we met via Ulla Larson. This opens the door to our saying how much we love the fabulous Ulla. Back inside meet Knight Landesman, who runs Artforum magazine in Manhattan. Also meet Susanna Allan. She is now Susanna Lafond. We talk about all the fun we had in the 60s. She still looks damn good. We giggle about the 60s. Cosmo opens the proceedings by saying: "Usually memorials are held in churches, but the Groucho was Jay's church." Then both Knight and Craig Sands speak about Jay. Hanja reads a short story, Home Is Where They Take You In. It is about her friendship with Jay and Fran. A small jazz group produces sounds and someone sings seveal Fran Landesman lyrics. Cosmo asks if I would like to say a few words and I say yes. Wander up to the mike and think of hundreds of Jay stories. I think I say that Jay and I met via Tutte Lemkov in the early 60s, that Jay and I were brothers because we thought it important to have fun and to encourage others to do so. This was our life's major work. Go over and give Fran a big kiss, and tell her that I adore her still.

Ernie is a bit tired. Too many martinis. He heads home early. It is his second wake of the day. He excuses himself and heads for his apartment. I tell him I will call him later. I bump into James Birch and he invites me to join him and others on the terrace. Go out on a roof terrace and join James and Miles and others. Lots of stories exchanged. After a while, I excuse myself. And depart. Wander about a crowded Soho and then catch a bus that takes me to Chiswick. Dorota is up and watching television when I arrive. She and I talk about our day. She tells me that Lila will go to Marseille later in the summer for some intence French-language classes. I tell her I have dear friends in Marseille, Claudie & Albert Martin, who will be able to keep an eye on Lila. Soon time for bed.

 

Wednesday, March 25th: Lazy morning. Need to re-charge the batteries. Coffee and gossip with Dorota. Late morning head for St Pancras. Go to Au Vin and have a bowl of soup. Soon time to check-in and make the return trip to Paris... So good to be home again. It will be hard to visit London with Jay not there to welcome me. Still he would want the parties to continue.

 

 

Jim Haynes
March 2011

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris France

 

 

 

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