Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 727  
A quick trip to Amsterdam
30th July to 1st August 2014

Wednesday, July 30th: Up early. Quick shower, coffee and cereals. Then pack and dress. Call a taxi and we head for the rue St. Paul. Call Antonia Hoogewerf and tell her I will soon arrive and to come downstairs. She is waiting and jumps into the taxi and we continue to the Gare du Nord. It is a beautiful warm sunny day in Paris. Our Thalys train departs at 08H25 and we will arrive at 11H42. I hope my old friend, Raymond van Heezik, will be on the train. He is a Thalys train manager. No luck. The Thalys staff member I ask says that he knows Raymond but that he is not on our train this morning. I ask that my best wishes be passed to him. The beautiful countryside flashes pass our window as we roll northward to Brussels and some three hours later, we pull into Amsterdam Central Station. A smooth very fast trip. Who would ever wish to fly to Amsterdam when one can go quickly and smoothly via Thalys TGV? Antonia and I exit and walk out into the front of the Central Station. Glorious Amsterdam is beautiful in the morning bright sunshine. We soon find a taxi and are rolling towards the Marriott Hotel. We check into the hotel and go up to our room.
It feels good to be in Amsterdam again. Not sure when was the last time, but it has been far too long. Antonia and I go out for a morning coffee and walkabout. We walk a short distance and sit outside in a café called the 4 Pilaren and order hot chocolates.
I manage to reach Bill Levy and we agree that I will pass his place in the early afternoon. I also talk with Eddie Woods and we agree that I will visit his place after I have seen Bill and Susan. Antonia will explore Amsterdam and we will meet back at the hotel and then find a place to dine.

  Jim Haynes and Antonia Hoogewerf in Amsterdam
Jim Haynes and Antonia Hoogewerf in Amsterdam

We walk towards the Leidseplein and the American Hotel looms into view. So many memories connected to this hotel and its famous Café Americain. I suggest we go inside and make an inspection. Antonia is enchanted and we decide to stay for lunch. It is a place that I love.

In the 1970s, when I was in Amsterdam a lot, it was one of my meeting places, especially when we were busy with the Wet Dream Film Festival. It does not fail us. The food is delicious and the atmosphere divine. Maybe Antonia and I should have stayed here. But the Mariott has been OK too. I gossip with our waiter about Harry Mulisch, Cees Nooteboom, Ramses Shaffy, Leisbeth List. And he points out the table that Harry Mulisch sat at daily.
After lunch I walk the short distance to Bill & Susan's apartment in Fokke Simonsz Straat . But I have forgotten the house number, so call and Susan answers. Soon I am upstairs in their cozy kitchen/living room. And it seems that nothing has changed. We are back in 1970 and planning a new issue of SUCK. We certainly had fun. Neither Bill nor Susan have changed. The same ironic and intelligent charm. Such good friends. I ask them about their daughter, Swaantje, and learn they are grand parents. I tell them about Jesper and that I am still waiting for baby-sitting duties. After a while, I excuse myself and take a tram to meet Eddie Woods.
Eddie has given me good directions and we meet on the street at the tram stop without a problem. Then we stroll slowly to his apartment which he shares with Jane Harvey, his ex-wife and still best friend. They co-edited the literary magazine, Ins & Outs. We soon arrive and I manage to meet Jane just before she departs for a UK visit. I congratulate Eddie on his book about his days and nights in Bangkok with Tennessee Williams, entitled Tennessee Williams in Bangkok. I read it with many smiles constantly on my face. And can highly recommend it. (One can order it from the publisher, orders@aftermathbooks.com). There will also be a Dutch-language edition coming on the 4th of December. After a while it is time for me to head back to the hotel. Eddie walks with me back to the tram.

  Tennessee Williams in Bangkok
Tennessee Williams in Bangkok
by Eddie Woods, aftermathbooks

In my hotel room, I manage to contact Alexandra Buijsman and she will come to the hotel and join us. And she is soon with us. An extremely attractive young woman, she is a constant joy. Introduce her to Antonia and the three of us go out to find an Indonesian restaurant. Earlier in the afternoon, Antonia and I spotted one when we were strolling about, so we decide to check it out. It is a short walk from the hotel. And yes, it looks like it is what we need. We walk up a few steps and are greeted warmly. Yes, they have a table for us. And yes, it is superb. It is called Srikandi (Stadhouderskade 31) and it is a delightful restaurant in every way. Extremely full and contented we three walk to the Marriott. Say good night to Alexandra and arrange to meet her tomorrow night in the Concertgebouw just before the concert in the café.


  Alexandra Buijsman and Jim, photo Antonia Hoogewerf
Alexandra Buijsman and Jim,
photo Antonia Hoogewerf

Thursday, 31st: A great night's sleep. Quickly wash and dress and head downstairs for a hearty breakfast. Antonia will join me. The breakfast is a feast. Great coffee and pastry. Superb cheeses. One does eat well for breakfast. Antonia is soon with me and she agrees. It is in every way superb. And we are lucky again with the weather. Again warm and sunny.

I suggest we wander to the Concertgebouw and collect our tickets for tonight's concert. We do and we do. Then we take a tram to the Spui where there is a wonderful bookshop, the Anthenaeium, and a number of excellent cafés. Antonia agrees with me that the Anthenaeium is a wonderful bookshop. We purchase a few items. I buy a package of postcards made by Joost Swarte all describe how reading is bad for you. He has a bizarre sense of humour. Cross over to the Café Luxembourg and we have a light lunch. I tell Antonia about my good friends, Jaco & Elisabeth Groot, and how Jaco is a constant source of inspiration. That one Sunday morning many years ago, we three were having coffee together in a Spui café (and it was in Hoppe Café) and Jaco said out of the blue that he had the title for my autobiography. I told him it was not yet written, but to give it to me all the same. He said "Thanks for Coming!", I said thanks, I will use it and years later I did. Jaco and Elisabeth are not in Amsterdam. They are on a Greek island where they spend a great deal of time. Jaco is the founder and Chief Editor of a successful publishing house, De Harmonie. He publishes Bernhard Holtrop (Willem) and Peter van Straaten, two wonderful cartoonists. He was the first person to buy foreign rights for J.K. Rowling's books. Bernhard lives in Paris and has contributed drawings to many of my book covers. Peter lives in Amsterdam. It would be fun if he passed in the street while we are having lunch. (Alas he doesn't.)
We take a tram to the Marriott and start to prepare for tonight's concert . We are soon out the door and walking to the Concertgebouw. We are early, so sit in the café and have a few bites of salad and some coffee. Then the glorious Alexandra appears and we make our way inside to our seats.

  cover for the set of post cards Reading is highly addictive, Joost Swarte 2014
Pack of twelve postcards
by Joost Swarte

The concert, Broadway Melodies, is wonderful. Isabelle Georges and Frederik Steenbrink sing all my old favorites: Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, and all the others The Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liege, under the direction of Faycal Barikosky provides the musical support along with a small five-piece jazz group. Afterwards there is a party upstairs where many people go to socialize and to congratulate the two singers.
Very late we tram it back to the hotel where we sit in the bar and talk.
Friday, August 1st: The concert last night was wonderful. Alexandra, Antonia and I greatly enjoyed it. I think that Isabelle, Frederik and all the musicians will be pleased it went so well. I also had another great night's sleep. Again I am up before Antonia. Quickly wash and dress and head down for another breakfast feast. I pay our hotel bill.
Antonia and I cross the street in from of the hotel to have hot chocolate in the 4 Pilaren. It is an open-air café we like.
Then Antonia and I make our way to Café Luxembourg for a last drink. Then it is to the Central Station and the train to Paris. It has been a very quick trip, but super fun all the same.

  Isabelle Georges, Alexandra Buijsman, Jim Haynes and Antonia Hoogewerf, photo Ron Rutten
Isabelle Georges, Alexandra Buijsman,
Jim and Antonia Hoogewerf,
photo Ron Rutten
Jim Haynes
15th November 2014

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83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris France




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