They say that the Big Apple never sleeps and sometimes I find neither does the City of Light, or Paris Adéle.
I am always in a bit of a quandary with my blog the first week that I arrive in Paris, with so many things to do, the excitement of being here, friends to catch up with and generally the first few days ‘on the road’ outside of Paris.
Writing about Paris instead of ‘being’ in Paris seems ridiculous but until I catch up, I have a large cloud hanging over my head and it feels like work, rather than pleasure.
Therefore I am skipping a couple of days for the time being in order to catch up and hopefully I will re-visit a couple of lost days to enable me to get out and discover Paris.
Yesterday I had decided, despite a beautiful sunny winters day, to stay behind closed doors and do some catching up but I had an invitation to attend my first Parisian salon in the evening at Montmartre not far from the Abbesses metro stop.
Fighting with the voices in my head that although I was settled in my apartment, I couldn’t let Jim down and not turn up for his and his friend Varda’s book salon.
It seemed the forces were against me, as the metro whizzed by Concorde metro station where I was to disembark and connect, the station was closed for renovations, which made me late but thankfully people were still milling about in the elegant spacious apartment.
My legs are still not coping with the amount of stairs I have to climb and although the apartment offered wonderful views of Rue des Abbesses, I paid the price, in the way of 5 flights of stairs.
Jim Haynes and Varda Ducovny were already seated, waiting their introduction and most guests had settled in with a glass of wine.
The night began with some Christmas songs, sung by a woman with a beautiful voice and then Varda’s introduction.
Her name may seem familiar to you.
Her husband of 33 years had 10 non-fiction titles under his belt and at the age of 73 published his first novel, Coney.
But it would be his son from a previous marriage, that you would be more familiar with, X-Files star, David Duchovny.
You may notice a difference in spelling here, David Duchovny uses the original spelling of his family name, but his father later dropped the ‘h’ because of mispronunciations.
Varda, a well dressed elegant woman is introduced as a woman of a particular age. It is at the point of her introduction that she corrects her publisher, preferring the French term ‘un age certain’ and the intimate crowd roar with laughter but it isn’t until the publisher reveals her true age of 87, that the people gathered around applaud.
Her book Paris with Consequence chronicles anecdotes of her long and interesting life and her love affair with Paris. She also talks about being friends with Allen Ginsberg and how as a young singer, she was the opening act for Bobbie, that is Bob Dylan to us.
Varda was surrounded by punters, her book sold out and I barely got an opportunity to talk to her, except for when she was signing her book for me.
It was decided that Jim Haynes needed no introduction, although I felt it would have been good manners to do so anyway.
Jim Haynes an American in Paris has been hosting his Sunday night dinners for the past 37 years, whereby he opens the doors of his ex-artelier apartment to people from all around the world but Jim has a few surprises and brushes with celebrities himself ranging from his favourite philosopher to Yoko Ono.
To call him a hoarder would be unfair, I would prefer an avid archivist and it seems all the documents, letters, cassette recordings, greeting cards from when he was a child that he has saved over the years have been sent in numerous crates to Edinburgh to be sorted through and archived. It seems right that the documents go to Edinburgh, where there are not one but two statues in his honour for his contribution to the arts. He has never missed an Edinburgh festival and is very well known there, not even a stroke stopped him from attending. This man is a rock, an ox.
Jim presented his own introduction by letting us know that earlier in the evening as he was making his way up the five flights of timber stairs, slippery with years of use, he slipped and fell landing on his back after a long tumble. This caused a lot of laughter but I could tell from the moment that I arrived that something wasn’t quite right with Jim, it turns out he was in immense pain.
Once the festivities were over Jim was swiftly taken home to rest and I ended up in a café over the road with Varda and her publisher.
I was planning on an early night but now I finally had the opportunity to talk to Varda and I was enjoying it. A dinner invitation followed and as it turned out, it ended up being just Varda and I having a very late dinner in her favourite local restaurant.
It was such a great night, having dinner with an intelligent and wonderfully charming woman.
She rests her fork on the plate and turns to me; “You know, Ami my husband and I when we first met”, Varda begins, “we were living together but not married, and one day he told me to get out of bed and get dressed, because the Rabbi was coming’.
She smiles at the warm memory, her heart, the love of her life for 33 years. “I jumped out of bed” she continues, “the Rabbi married us and then I went to pick my son up from school”.