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Newsletter No. 723
A quick December trip to Barcelona
2 to 7 December 2013

Monday, 2nd December: Martin Walker arrived late last night from London and departs early this morning for Charles de Gaulle airport and Houston. He departs before Barbara, my lovely blonde nurse, arrives at 7.15. She checks my blood sugar levels and gives me an insulin injection. Blood sugar level is OK this morning.
We were 22 men and 26 women last night for a grand total of 48. Sheila Colvin calls and I report that I will take the night train to Barcelona tonight. Don Todd calls from Vancouver to check on me. Kristi is up and out. Flint Hignett makes a key to the front door. Galina arrives and the atelier is soon looking clean and lovely once again. The every Monday miracle.
Galina and I have lunch. Then I pack. About 9, I call a taxi and head for Austerlitz. Tell the driver that I am going to Barcelona and he is a big football fan. He says he has been a number of times. The wonderful Talgo night sleeper will run only to the 15th of December and then will cease. There will be a French TGV train that will take only 6 hours. Or maybe it is 8 hours.
Soon I am in my compartment. Then the superb meal in the restaurant car.
Deep sleep in my compartment.

  Jim in Barcelona França station
Jim in Barcelona França station

Tuesday, 3rd: Breakfast with Nadia. She is the sweet waitress. We arrive in Barcelona-França station at 9.43 am. I quickly find a taxi and we zoom across a warm and blue-skied city to the Calle Casanova 13 and the Hostal Centric. Check-in and up to my room 201.
Isabelle Stoffel calls and welcomes me to Barcelona. She will come and collect me in an hour. I check blood sugar level and it is a bit high. Quick shower. Shave and dress. Isabelle arrives and we have a long talk about Edinburgh, Buenos Aires and New York City. And about Toni Bentley of course. Isabelle loved Buenos Aires. Then we leave the hostal and bus down the Rambla. Walk the short distance to the Plaza Real.
We sit at a table outside in the warm sunshine. We order and start to eat. Sigfrid Monleón joins us. He just arrived by train from Madrid. Afterwards we go for a stroll about. We sit outside at another place and have drinks. I have a wonderful hot chocolate.
Later when I am back in my room and I check my blood sugar level, I realize that the dessert and the hot chocolate have pushed the level to a very high 332. My nurses in Paris are going to kill me.
I walk in the evening to meet Isabelle and Sigfrid in the restaurant Can Lluis. We have another superb meal. And more talk about The Surrender and my planned production of Casablanca next April in Paris. Then it is time for a bit of sleep. We find a taxi and I am dropped at the hostal.

 

Isabelle Stoffel, Sigfrid and Jim, picture by Sigfrid Monlen Pradas
Isabelle Stoffel, Sigfrid Monleón Pradas and Jim

Wednesday, 4th: A good night's sleep. Blood sugar level is a respectful 161. Hooray. Go out for a morning coffee con leche and two pastries. The price: 2 Euros. It would be three or four times more expensive in Paris.
Back in the hotel. Call on my mobile Jill Adams and Anthony Pilley and get their answering machines. Leave a message that I am in Barcelona and that I will call again. Call Peter Cyrus and he answers. He suggests that I come and see his new apartment. I say OK. I go down to the desk and the fellow behind the desk, Albert Guijarro, gives me directions to Peter's place via the No. 141 bus. Peter calls me while I am traveling and says he will collect me at the bus stop. And it is lucky he does because the driver forgets to tell me where to get off. But Peter is there and sees me. We walk the short distance to Calle Ramon Turro 204 and the café Imagine.
Peter introduces me to the pretty waitress, Judith, and tells her that I knew John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She is thrilled because the café is a homage to John Lennon. We both order salads and ham sandwiches. Plus drinks and coffee. Total bill is under 20 Euros. Thank Judith and cross the street to inspect Peter's new purchase. He sold his home in Seattle and now has a place in Paris and Barcelona. I like his new place. So does Peter's cat. Peter has to see a lawyer to get a paper that he needs for his Spanish visa.
So after horchata sitting outside in the warm sun, we head back into central Barcelona. Peter gets out before me and I ride another 5 stops and walk to the hostal. In the evening, Sigfrid collects me from the hostal. And at this moment, my mobile rings and it is Susi Wyss calling me from Paris. She is surprised to learn I am in Barcelona.

  Isabelle and Jim, Placa de John Lennon, picture by Sigfrid Monleón Pradas
Isabelle Stoffel and Jim, Placa de John Lennon
picture by Sigfrid Monleón Pradas

Flyer for The Surrender

 

We walk the short distance to the theatre. There we find Peter Cyrus and his friend, Patricia Mateo. We cross over to 7 Sins for drinks before the performance. The extremely lovely Selba serves us. Her Argentine father gave her this name. I also order nachos.
But we do not have much time, so we rush across the street and Isabelle's performance.
I saw her perform a dozen or more times in Edinburgh, so I am able to follow it in Spanish. It is called La Rendición in Spanish. At one point she leaves the stage and gives me a condom and a big smile. What a sweetheart. Lucky Sigfrid!

After the performance I am surprised to see Cecilia Walino. She helped with the press and publicity for Broadway Enchanté in Edinburgh. She has to get a taxi for a friend, then will join us for drinks.
I also see David Ricondo, who was one of the team that organized the production of The Surrender in Edinburgh, in Buenos Aires and elsewhere in Spain. He has a terrible cold, but will also join us for drinks.
Peter has booked five places in the nearby Bodega Sepúlveda, so we stroll there when Isabelle joins us. And somehow the restaurant manages to fit us all around a table. And as I was warned, it is terrific. Fall into bed. Another super day in a super Barcelona with super friends.

Thursday, 5th: Another good night's sleep. Alas my blood sugar level is still high at 185. Get back into bed for another hour's sleep.
Up at 9.30 and quickly dress. Go to the Bracafé nearby and have a cafe con leche and a pastry. Back to my room. And it is being cleaned by a young woman. I ask her name. She replies that it is "Marlene like the actress". I tell her I once talked with Marlene Dietrich in her dressing room after a concert for about 45 minutes. She smiles as I tell her this. Not sure she believes me or not.
Isabelle calls and suggests we meet in the Plaza de la Villa de Gracia at 1.30. Gracia used to be a village, but has been surrounded and incorporated into Barcelona.
Go downstairs and get directions from Albert Guijarro at the front desk. I have plenty of time but why not be early. Manage to get the No. 20 bus as suggested, but the driver lets me out at the wrong place. Get a taxi and the young driver lets me out at the wrong place. Finally manage to find the Plaza. And Sigfrid and Isabelle have arrived at the same time. We walk 20 meters to Café Godot.
Yesterday I had lunch in Imagine and I knew John Lennon. Today I have lunch in Godot and I knew Samuel Beckett. Delicious lunch. Sigfrid gives me a DVD of one of his movies, El Cónsul de Sodoma. I walk back to thank the cooks, Kaya Jacobs, from San Francisco, California. And Anna de Pablo. Give them the Chicago Tribune article and invite them to come and cook one day in my place in Paris. They promise to do so.
We also arrange for Anna to have tickets to Isabelle's performance. We go out and stroll about and end up in Plaza John Lennon. And have coffee in Café Lennon. Dear John, it is so tragic that you are not alive to join us. Sigfrid tells me a sweet story of a school teacher who used John's lyrics to teach English to his pupils. And how the teacher managed to meet John and get his lyrics from him. If I am correct, Sigfrid has a friend who made a movie about this story.

  dvd cover for El Cónsul de Sodoma, a movie by Sigfrid Monleón Pradas
dvd cover for El Cónsul de Sodoma
a movie by Sigfrid Monleón Pradas

Isabelle and I take a taxi to my hotel. And we go to find postcards. Then she heads for the theatre and I return to my room. In the evening, I arrange to meet Anthony Pilley in the 7 Sins bar in calle Muntaner. Alas Silba is not there. It is her night off. Damn. But Sigfrid joins us. We three have a superb talk about many things including Lindsay Kemp. Anthony once did the lights for Lindsay. And I produced his five or six shows in Edinburgh and London. Dear old Lindsay. What a character. What a charmer.
Sigfrid rushes across the street to catch the end of Isabelle's performance. Anthony departs. He is going to his country house in the morning. He wants to sell it. I cross the street and join Isabelle, Sigfrid and about 6 others. They include Rafael Garcia from Valencia and Isabelle and Sigfrid's host in Barcelona, Concha Milla, an actress and her fella, Sergio, and David Rincolo. We go looking for a restaurant and are constantly refused because we are so many. We end up back where we started in Café La Principal. Where we have tapas and beer. We have a great waiter, a fellow named Javier. Lots of talk. Finally head for bed.

Friday, 6th: Today is Constitution Day, a national holiday. I call Jill Adams and we make a date to meet in front of the principal post office. Isabelle calls me and we make a lunch date in a place called Asador de Burgos. It serves garlic soup.
Go down to the desk and Albert gives me once again excellent directions to the post office. Manage to get the bus and am soon there. And am greeted by the lovely Jill Adams. She tells me over coffee in a nearby café that Gary Smout is now living in Russia with a young Russian. She tells me about her life and I bring her up to date with mine. She is still editing with Garry The Barcelona Review, an on-line literary magazine. And still living in the same apartment.
We stroll to another café and pass a gallery on the way. She tells me about a Venezuelan painter that she has a kind of relationship with. I tell her that I once lived in Venezuela. Later after our second coffees, we return to the gallery. But Rafael Gallardo is not there. I am introduced to César Estrada, from Mexico, who runs the gallery. He says he would love to open a gallery in Paris. We exchange contact information.
I ask Jill about N2 gallery. She says it is a good one. Sasha in Milano wanted me to pass and give the director, José Antonio, her best wishes. I have not managed to do so. I also wanted to find Xavier Corberó in Esplugas, but again no time. Life goes too fast.
Jill walks me to a taxi and I speed across Barcelona to meet Sigfrid and Isabelle in the Asador de Burgos. I arrive first, then Isabelle and Sigfrid. David Ricondo is next. Then Pia and Pere Ponce. The place is a bit up market for garlic soup. This is for poor people. But we have a superb meal.
Pere asks me about my theatre background. And I end up showing them my experimental production which has had a long and colorful past with a number of names and variations. We play one round and it is fun. Time is rapidly approaching for me to collect my bag from the hostal and head for the train station. Goodbyes and out the door. Isabelle gives me a set of book marks.

  Jim haynes and Sigfrid Monleón Pradas in  Barcelona França station
Jim and Sigfrid Monleón Pradas
Barcelona França station

We find a taxi and are soon at the hotel. Collect my bag. Albert is not at the desk, but Mathias Cameto is. Thank him and ask him to thank Albert and Marlene the young cleaning woman. Isabelle and I embrace. She thanks me for coming to Barcelona. I thank her for being so wonderful. She heads for the theatre. Sigfrid says he will come to the Barcelona-Franca station with me to see me off.
We are early so cross the street for coffee (me) and hot chocolate (Sigfrid). Then back to the station. It is a wonderful building. But the place has an empty feeling about it. An attractive young woman is taking lots of photographs of the building. Sigfrid asks her to take a photograph of the two of us. She does so, then departs with her attractive female friend.
When the train is announced on track 3, Sigfrid walks me to my compartment. I suggest he get on the train and come with me to Paris. He says he will come in April for Casablanca. And we are off. My last seconds in Barcelona this trip.
Sit in my compartment and read The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature, edited by my friend Almantas Samalavicius. Read his introduction. Then read the short story, When the Weapons are Silent by Herkus Kuncius. Almantas introduced me to Herkus and his wife in Vilnius and later they lived in Paris. He wrote a novel about his Paris days and I am a named character in the book.
Dinner in the restaurant car. Then sleep.

Saturday, 7th: We are about to arrive. Quick breakfast. The train pulls into Austerlitz at 6.55. Quickly find a taxi and am home in about 20 minutes. Learn that Flint Hignett is rushing to Amsterdam for a possible TV movie role. And Judith Weston is moving back into the home of the family whose kids she watches. And Kristi has her Pilates exams today and tomorrow. And tonight Thomas Geraci comes to stay two nights. And I am having dinner tonight with Varda Ducovny in our favorite, Fajitas. Go upstairs to the computer and discover that Sigfrid has send me a few photographs. There are about 50 email messages to deal with.

Decide to write a newsletter about my trip to Barcelona. And this is it. Written in one draft. Just have to correct a few misspellings. It is good to re-live this sweet trip.

Thanks everyone!

  the Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature edited by Almantas Samalavicius
the Dedalus Book
of Lithuanian Literature
edited by Almantas Samalavicius

 

 

 

Jim Haynes
Saturday, 7th December 2013

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

 

 

 

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