Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 731
A Quick trip to London
27 & 28 February 2015

Friday, 27th: Barbara Engrand, my wonderful nurse, comes at 7, tests my blood sugar level, gives me an insulin injection and tells me to be good in London. And that she will see me on Sunday morning. Get up. Have my usual coffee and cereal. Shave, shower, shampoo. Quickly dress and lightly pack. Chat briefly with Masha Mombelli and tell her I will be back Saturday afternoon. Out the door and walk to Alesia. Catch the 38 bus and am soon at the Gare du Nord. Have a hot chocolate and am soon called for my 12.40 Eurostar train to London St. Pancras.
Smooth trip to London. Wonderful lunch is served. We arrive on time at 14h00. Quickly out and find Natalia Shkola waiting for me. We find a taxi and are soon speeding to Ernie Eban's flat in Gloucester Terrace. There we deposit my bag, collect Ernie and Natasha Morgan. and we continue to Kensal Green Crematorium. I have traveled to London to celebrate the Life of John 'Hoppy' Hopkins (15 August 1937 to 30 January 2015), a friend and co-founder of the newspaper I.T. Lindsey Bareham will join us later at The Tabernacle where we will continue to celebrate Hoppy's life. It is a packed room, but Ernie finds me a place to sit at the front.
It is a moving ceremony. James Ware welcomes us. This is followed by a Eulogy given by Joe Boyd. Then a sweet version of They Can't Take That Away from Me sung by Sing for Joy, a Bloomsbury Group of Parkinson's Patients. Michael Horovitz reads his poem, Notting Hill Carnival, and various people speak about their memories of Hoppy. More music. Then Sue Hall speaks and the afternoon continues with more speakers and more music. There is a too long (for me anyway) Buddhist chant and it ends with Louis Armstrong' song and an invitation to continue with a party in the Tabernacle in Powis Square in Notting Hill.
See lots of people I know and I recognize dozens of faces, but cannot attach a name to many of them. Many people come up to me and talk about the Arts Lab and the old days. Joe Boyd offers me a ride to the party. So does Tony Elliott. Ernie, Natalia and Natasha will go with Joe and I join Tony, his lovely wife, Janey, plus Suzie Mackenzie and Barry Miles.

In the ride to Powis Square, there is a lot of catch-up conversation. This continues in The Tabernacle. Janey Elliott talks to me about R.D. Laing and a film project she is involved with. Lindsey Bareham joins us. Lindsey was my 'secretary' at the Arts Lab and we have remained friends ever since. She is a dear person and one of my principal reasons for traveling to London for this event. I liked Hoppy and we were comrades. But I never bonded with him as closely as I did with Lindsey, Ernie, Miles, Tony Elliott, Ulla Larson, Norma Moriceau, Dan Topolski, Fran & Jay Landesman, Michael Zwerin, David Robins, Felix Dennis, Tutte Lemkov and a few others from that period. And tragically dear friend, Dan Topolski, also died in the past few days.

The party soon starts in full swing. Food and drink flows. I talk with dozens of old friends: Lee Harris, Sue Rose, Steve Lee, Peter Golding, Greg Sams, Richard Adams... I eat far too many sweets. Julie Felix sings (Dylan's Blowing in the Wind) and she still looks lovely. People begin to slip away. I suggest to Ernie that we have an Indian dinner somewhere. I excuse myself. But just before we depart I find myself in front of a video camera and am saying a few words about Hoppy. Also am stopped by Peter Wynne Willson, an old friend, and we talk briefly and exchange cards

Outside, Ernie, Natalia and Lindsey search for a taxi. Soon we are zooming to Westbourne Grove and Durbar, a tandoori restaurant in Hereford Road. None of us are really hungry, but we have a feast nevertheless. Very happy, very stuffed we head for Ernie's (and Lindsey for her home). I test my blood sugar level and it is three times higher than it should be. I report this to Ernie and Natalia. They are more alarmed than I am. Ernie calls an NHS info number and there we are told that I must go to the Emergency Ward of St. Mary's Hospital right away. A lovely doctor, Angharad Langdon, looks after me. Discover that we both spent three years of our early life studying in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. She orders more tests and then says that she wants me to stay the night. It is a night without sleep as the tests and injections continue. When I am wheeled to the ward by Manuel from Barcelona I am the only one in a room with six beds. During the night three more beds are filled.

Then I discover I am in a Beckett play. The bed next to me and the one across from me contain fellows from Ireland. As they talk endlessly, they discover they are both from Cork. And the fellow opposite me, from Iran. He decided to end his life earlier this morning by jumping from a fourth floor. He landed on a car and not a bone was broken. Now he is almost cheerful about this crazy trick of fate. He, too, joins the conversation. If I had a recorder, I would have now a hit one-act play. I manage to talk with Natalia and she will come in an hour to the hospital. I tell her I think I will be released late morning. The pretty blonde nurse is from Poland and she is surprised when I speak a few words with her in Polish. Another nurse is from Nepal. I tell I have a dear friend, a poet named Yuyutsu Sharma, who lives in Kathmandu in Nepal. The cleaning young woman is from Lithuania and she is surprised to hear my one word in Lithuanian. Another nurse, Ibraham, is from Senegal. It seems only the morning doctor, Doctor Grant, is a native Englishman. The other morning doctor, Anup Jethwa, is born in Britain of Indian parents. Dr. Jethwa tells me that I can be released at noon. Natalia arrives and is pleased to learn that I will be released at noon and that I am all right. She calls the Eurostar number and tells them that I will not be taking the 12.25 train to Paris. We call Ernie and report that I will be released at noon and we will go straight to his place. He reports that he has a lunch date with Joan Bakewell at 2 pm. Dress, say my thank-yous and goodbyes to everyone. We find a taxi outside and soon are at Ernie's. He talks with Joan Bakewell on the phone and they agree to meet at 2 at a restaurant on the first floor of the St. Pancras station. We three go outside, hail a taxi and soon arrive at St. Pancras. Go straight to the Eurostar ticket office and an extremely nice fellow arranges another ticket for the 16.30 train to Paris.

We head for Carluccio's, the restaurant on the first floor. A table for four please inside. And it is available in a few minutes. Perfect. Joan has not arrived yet. But she does when our table is ready. We have the perfect place in the far back corner. And the perfect waitress. Ernie suggests that Kate looks like a silent film star. She is certainly attractive. Our lunch is delicious. I invite Kate to dinner in Paris.

We head for the Eurostar departure. I ask for wheelchair assistance. The fellow in charge is from Brazil and is a delightful and very helpful person. He tells me his name and it is Paulo I think. I ask him if Michael Jones is still a part of his team and he says that he is, but today is his day off. I ask that my best wishes be passed to him. More hugs and goodbyes to Ernie, Joan and Natalia. I am wheeled into the First Class lounge where a young fellow named Tom and I talk. He has a part time job in the Lounge and he is an aspiring actor. His mother is English and his father is Dutch. We have a good talk about acting and theater and I invite him to dine when he is next in Paris. Soon it is time to depart and I am wheeled to carriage 11. There I am welcomed by a super sweet attendant. Later I ask his name. He writes it on a piece of paper, but when I am home I cannot find it. He is from the island of Mauritius. The woman attendant is also very wonderful. Her name was also on the scrap of paper. They walk with me to the taxi queue and we say goodbye. I tell them they are welcome to come to dinner any Sunday.

Jim and Natalia in St. Pancras, photo ©Ernie Eban
Jim and Natalia in St. Pancras,
photo by Ernie Eban

Taxi home. Michaela Daub welcomes me. She is my new room mate and has moved into the basement flat where Kristi used to live. She carries my small bag up to my room. I attempt to answer a few email messages, but I am so tired that am soon in Sleepy Land. On the 9th of March I will go to Milano and to a castle South of Rome for five days.

Maybe my next trip to London will be to celebrate Dan Topolski's life.

 

Jim Haynes
March 2015

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

 

 

 

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