Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 734
The Trip to Madrid
13 July to 20 July, 2015

Monday, 13th: Up before Estelle Pilrade, one of my two wonderful nurses, arrives. I have completed my medical chores when Estelle enters my room. Blood sugar level OK. Insulin jab produced. And warnings about being careful what I eat delivered. She departs. I shave, shower and shampoo. Finish packing. Have my usual bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. Nivvy, 'my Miss India', comes upstairs to say her goodbyes. She flies to New Delhi tomorrow and will be greatly missed. The gout or arthritis or whatever I have in my knees and feet is so painful this morning that I seriously consider not going on my planned trip. Take a pain-killer and continue. Ece Ger arrives at 8.30. She wants to see me off at the Gare de Lyon. Warm embraces for Nivvy and we head out for our taxi. My planned breakfast in the Train Bleu Restaurant does not happen because Ece will not let me walk up the stairs. Soon it is time for us to find the TGV train to Barcelona and, of course, it is miles and miles away. We make it with a few minutes to spare. And we are off in the glorious sunny July morning, headed South to another adventure. To hell with the pain.
We arrive in Barcelona at 16.35 and I am able to make it slowly to the Madrid platform with ease. Board the train and we are off at 17.00. A bunch of Dutchmen are sitting behind me and like all groups of young men are extremely loud. And they have not been drinking. But they leave at Zaragoza and the couch is quiet all the way to Madrid. Am able to read the novel John Flattau left me when he was recently in Paris, I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio De Giovanni. We arrive at 19.50. Make my way slowly to the exit and I walk and walk. Finally spot a train woman going in the opposite direction pushing an empty wheel chair and I signal her for assistance. To my pleasant surprise, she comes to my aid. And pushes me the rest of the way to the exit. I spot Milena Suárez and she smiles a welcome to Madrid smile. I continue being pushed to the head of the taxi queue, slip her some Euros and ask that she have a coffee on me. She accepts the small contribution. Milena and I pile into a taxi and head for Isabelle and Sigfrid's apartment. Isabelle is rehearsing a play entitled La Mujer del Monstruo in which she plays the role of Magda Goebbels. And Sigfrid is teaching a small group of people about cinema. We arrive at the apartment's address and we make our way inside and up one flight of stairs. I like the place immediately. I know that Isabelle wants to move. She thinks the place is too small. Milena departs. I rest , read and wait for Sigfrid and Isabelle to arrive. And they soon do. First, Sigfrid, then Isabelle.They ask if I wish to go out to a birthday party or if I am too tired, we can stay home. I suggest we party. And soon we are in a taxi on our way to Javier Lafuente's birthday party. We arrive and go up in an elevator to Vito Sanz's apartment, an actor in the film. We are warmly welcomed. Javier was the producer of the film, Los Exiliados Romanticos (the Romantic Exiles is the English title), that was partly shot in my atelier in Paris. Everyone at the party seems to have been involved with the film, including Miren Izta, a singer who produced the music for the film with her band, Tulsa. The director, Jonás Trueba, is present and gives me a warm embrace. I am given a shoulder bag that is an advertisement for the film. Meet and talk with lots of people: Lorena Tudela (production assistant), Francesco Carril (actor), Laura Renau (costumes) who were in the shoot in my atelier. Then it is time to head back to the apartment. Isabelle has to rehearse tomorrow and I am a bit tired. We thank our hosts and downstairs find a taxi and soon we are back at the apartment.

Tuesday, 14th: I have had a fairly good night's sleep in spite of the pain in my knees. Breakfast with Isabelle and Sigfrid. I have toast with Kiwi jam and coffee. We discuss last night and the possible plans for today. Isabelle has to rehearse all day because she opens tonight. Sigfrid and I will attend tomorrow night. He teaches his last class this evening and it will be followed by a dinner party to which I am invited. I spend a quiet day mostly in the apartment. Sigfrid produces a simple lunch. Late afternoon I go out for a short walk. It is still very hot and the pain in both legs makes it difficult to walk. I stroll up the hill, find an ice cream shop and have a small tub of vanilla and mango. Try to purchase some postcards from a fellow but he says he is closing and refuses the sale. Damn. I cannot believe that he refuses my money. Slowly make my way back to the apartment, but do not go upstairs. A friend of Sigfrid's, a fellow named Antonio Hens, will collect me and we will go to the dinner together. Antonio is a film director and a producer. He is involved with Sigfrid on a film about a Spanish poet from the movement 'Cantico', interviewing Pablo García Baena. They have raised most of the financing and will start production in September. Up we go to Stefan Metz's apartment. I am welcomed and introduced to everyone. Stefan is Swiss, but spends a great deal of time in Sweden and Spain. He was also a member of Complicité and has even performed in my old theatre, the Traverse in Edinburgh. I tell him how I met Simon McBurny by introducing myself at a fringe theatre production at an Edinburgh Festival many years ago. Delicious food begins to arrive. There are two attractive young women from Canada, one is named Patrice, but I do not remember the second's name. There is also a beautiful woman named Montse Bonet who seems to be Stefan's girlfriend. Montse is an Air Iberia flight attendant. In fact she is soon in her uniform because she is flying this evening to, I think, Bolivia. Meet also Antonio Gil and a fellow named José Tronloso. They are both actors. Patrice had an accident and injured her ankle, so we commiserate with each other. Fairly late Sigfrid suggests we go downstairs, find a taxi, and head for home. Antonio Hens will join us. He is traveling very early in the morning to Sevilla to meet with the Minister of Culture to discuss possible financing for the film that he and Sigfrid will make. We drop Antonio near his home and continue on to Sigfrid's place. Head for bed. Isabelle arrives late and reports the opening went well.

Wednesday, 15th: I am up fairly early, but the two continue to snooze. When Isabelle gets up, she gives us a complete report on the opening last night. It seems it was a big success. The production is a part of the Madrid Fringe Theatre Festival. Since I am considered one of the godfathers of the Edinburgh Fringe, then it must mean that I am partly responsible for the Madrid Fringe. Isabelle has arranged two tickets for tonight's sold out performances for Sigfrid and me. Another quiet day at home. It is too hot to go out and besides my legs are still in pain. Sigfrid produces a tortilla and gazpacho for our lunch. Isabelle departs in the early afternoon for the theatre. Late afternoon, Antonio Hens calls.

 
wives of monsters, the cast
Wives of monsters : Eva Rufo, Amparo Vega-Leon, Ana Wagener, Natalie Pinot, Isabelle Stoffel

He had a successful trip to Sevilla, met the Minister and has good news that the film will receive official support. Sigfrid is jubilant. We leave early in a taxi for the theatre in order to dine before the show. The place, Matadero - Teatro Español, is a former slaughterhouse that has been converted into several theatres, rehearsal spaces, two restaurants and generally a fun place. We dine in a place called the Cantina. Delicious and very inexpensive. As I have found all Madrid to be. Afterwards we still have an hour before the performance, so we go to the second restaurant for hot chocolate. Finally we make our way to the production.Five actresses perform monologues about their lives as the "wives of monsters"- Franco, Stalin, Mussolini. Ceaucescu, Goebbels.
It is an amazing production that will have only four performances and surely deserves many more. Directed by Salva Bolta. the actresses are Eva Rufo, Amparo Vega-Leon, Ana Wagener, Isabelle Stoffel, and Natalie Pinot. Afterwards Sigfrid and I congratulate Isabelle. I meet Jorge Usón, an actor currently working with Isabelle on an other play, The Hothouse by Harold Pinter. Sigfrid and I are tired, so we go to find a taxi. Isabelle will come later after she smoothes with the cast.

Thursday, 16th: After my usual breakfast of coffee and toast, we discuss last night's performances. I also ask Isabelle to call the train station to arrange a wheel chair for Madrid Atocha and Barcelona and maybe even Paris. She does it. Isabelle and Sigfrid have been invited outside Madrid for a barbecue this afternoon and they want to know if I wish to go. Why not? It will be at the home of Jorge Sanz. He is an actor who has been performing in films since he was very young. He has recently been in a television series entitled What has happened to Jorge Sanz?, directed by David Trueba, Jonás Trueba's uncle. We taxi to the train station, Atocha, and then catch the train to Torrelodones. It is a lovely afternoon, but very hot. Our journey lasts about an hour. But when we arrive, we still have a taxi ride of some twenty minutes. We are warmly welcomed by our host, Jorge Sanz, who is busy producing delicious meats on an open fire. Am introduced to everyone including David Trueba. We talk about his film about John Lennon and I report that John was a dear friend. Also meet Jessica Berman, who is from Florida, but has lived many years in Madrid. And am served a delicious gazpacho. I have it about three or four times.
Late afternoon, we three excuse ourselves and make it back to Madrid. It has been a delightful excursion. I suggest we go into the center of Madrid, attempt to purchase the DVD of David Trueba's film about John Lennon, find a good air conditioned restaurant and let me take the two of them to dinner. We pile into a taxi and head for David Trueba's brother's bookshop. La Buena Vida. Meet David's brother, but they do not have a DVD in the shop of David's film with English subtitles. I do purchase a collection of essays by David and give it to Isabelle. And a short book entitled Para salvar de una vez por todas la monarquia which I also purchase and give to Isabelle and Sigfrid. Then David's brother, Jesus Trueba, gives me a copy of the same book. My kind of bookshop when the owner gives away books. I also purchase a large poster of the film, Los Exiliados Romanticos. I ask that he recommend an excellent restaurant nearby. He suggests La Fresca, a new restaurant up the street. We three make our way slowly. And the place is fabulous. Our waitress, Eva, is wonderful. I cannot eat everything, so Eva has my dinner packed and I will finish it tomorrow on the train to Paris. We walk down past the Opera House and I remember the time I stayed with the poet, Menchu Gutierrez in July 1997. We find a taxi and I am soon in bed. My time in Madrid is almost at an end. What a wonderful city! What wonderful hosts! They have been super nice to me.

Friday, 17th: My last breakfast this trip in Madrid. Again coffee, toast with Kiwi jam. Both legs still painful. I am packed and dressed. A taxi is called and Isabelle will come with me to Atocha. Sigfrid comes downstairs and assists me into the taxi. When we arrive at the station, Isabelle goes to find assistance. Soon she is back and I am wheeled away. I thank Isabelle for her wonderful care and hospitality. At 9.30 we are rolling towards Barcelona. And in Barcelona a woman is waiting again with wheel chair assistance. She is assisted by an associate and together they put me in my place in the train to Paris. It is a long trip from Madrid to Paris by train, but exceedingly pleasant. Maybe not as nice as the old days with the Talgo when one left Paris at 8 pm, had a superb meal, then went to one's compartment to sleep, only to wake the next morning in Barcelona or Madrid. Sit near a fellow named Jonathan Crane who is a professor at the University of Florida. He and his wife, Amber, leave the train somewhere in the middle of France. We arrive an hour late in the Gare de Lyon. I manage to get a taxi to my home. There is a delightful party in full swing when I arrive. The hosts are Dina Iordanova, who has been staying in the atelier while I was in Spain. Masha Mombelli, also a hostess, stayed in the atelier while I was in Madrid. And Ece Ger, Flora Lichaa, Marta Hidalgo, Edith Szmuklerz, Cagan Duran, Mathieu Lericq and Nicholas Martre. We play my 'circle game' and it works its usual magic. Great food and a great welcome home.

The next few days are full of exciting events. I will be interviewed by BBC Radio International by Emily Webb on Monday. Steve Gove is coming from Prague to stay a week here. Stella Manukyan soon arrives to stay a year! Three more Sunday dinners before I depart for my annual visit to the Edinburgh Festival. And lots of Airbnb guests on the horizon.

 

 

Jim Haynes
July 2015

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

 

 

 

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