Most of this entry is a “guest post” by my long-time colleague and friend, Danny, who is responding to When a man is tired of London. Our family became close to Danny, his wife, Pat, and his two beautiful daughters, Lisa and Claire. We visited them while we were in London and they stayed with us on a few occasions at our home in Weston, Connecticut.
While Danny was the head of finance at Eurospan, he brought a special gentle demeanor to the position, always so approachable, and with a wonderful droll sense of humor. The two other principals in the business, Peter and his son Michael, were about twenty five years apart in age and I was smack in the middle, along with Danny, so it was not surprising that our two families connected so closely.
Soon after my father died in 1984 I had to go to London on business. Ann and Jonathan accompanied me on that trip. I asked Danny whether we could plant a peace rose bush in my father’s memory in his backyard, something we could see kaleidoscopically grow over the years when we visited. I thought such a gesture particularly appropriate as my father was briefly stationed in the UK during WWII and the Pinner section of London so closely resembled the area of Queens where he lived all his life.
Ann and I flew to Paris for a celebration to mark Eurospan’s 35th anniversary in 2000 and to commemorate Danny’s association with the firm from the beginning (photo to the left is of Danny and Pat at the anniversary). I was asked to say a few words, which of course I was happy to do: “35 years is an eternity for many firms in the publishing business. Eurospan must be doing something right to not only survive in the competitive world of book distribution, but to prosper – even in this dot.com era. The genius of Peter, carried on by his son Michael has much to do with this success story but there is another person who bridges those two generations, someone who has done a lot of the heavy lifting. You might say he is the bulwark of Eurospan. Indeed much of Eurospan’s success is due to his hard work and dedication. So congratulations to you, Danny.”
Danny is now retired, as am I. Our children are now fully grown as the photo to the left attests, one of Ann with Lisa and Claire when we visited London after the anniversary. But we will always feel a profound connection, although an ocean away. If my blog does nothing else but to stir the memories of close friends and colleagues I will consider the effort worthwhile. Here was Danny’s email reaction to When a man is tired of London:
What a wonderful blog entry! It really did bring back memories of happy times, and we of course have copies of several of the photos that you have shown. Yes, what memories Number 3(Henrietta Street) carries. Overlooking a busy fruit and vegetable market when we moved in, where we often bought top grade fruit to take home. Certainly the filming of Frenzy before we moved in is fact, as a number of shots in and outside the building are totally recognisable. There was the author/photographer who planned to publish ''Alfred Hitchcock's London'', and took great delight in taking a photo of me 'strangling' one of our staff in the office that Barry Foster performed some of his evil deeds. Also, looking down from my window and seeing Jack Lemmon, who was appearing in a play here, looking up at the building, and me not thinking to simply invite him in before he wandered off. The apparent truth in the story that The Duke of Wellington's mother lived at No. 3, though I think we could not establish absolute confirmation of this when we had the building researched.
The parties at No. 3, and you playing the piano, I think with Howard on the squeeze box (if not on the same occasion then certainly on others). Finally the ghost, that I am as certain as I can be that I saw at the top of the stairs to the basement when closing up the building late one night. Memories, and particularly of you, Ann, Jonathan and Chris when you visited. As mentioned, we do have copies of several of the photos you have shown. I know I have those of the girls skipping along with Jonathan (at the time I think we threw an American football between us in the road outside the house), and the cabbage patch dolls, though I think I would need to dig around among so many others from The UK and The US that we have to find them. Those I do have are the pair you took of the girls in the garden when quite young, to include the one of Lisa that you captured with the sun shining onto her cheeks through the trees, that are both still on our fireplace.
Then there was the fabulous family visit with you, and the memories we all cherish. This to include the night we spent on your boat with the children, being woken because you found the anchor had slipped, and then the wonderful show that the balloons made as they rose into the sky as we made our way back. Also the bay we visited, when the wind whipped up to what I think you described as 'washing machine water', and gave us a bit of a rocky ride in what seemed such lovely weather. Our introduction to Japanese food, with I think a conjuror providing some entertainment as we ate.
Discussing the night on your boat with the girls, Lisa reminded me that there was also an incredible display of 'shooting stars' before we went to bed, followed by the balloons next morning. (Not sure if you use the phrase, but shooting stars is 'English' for meteorites). And when you were at our house, as well as throwing the football, you tried to teach me the finer points of pitching a baseball – by throwing our home-grown apples at a tree trunk. I remember you being a rather talented pitcher!
Claire just mentioned the restaurant you took us to that Paul Newman regularly ate in, and I recall the story of his having been with Robert Redford when they left a car in the Greenwood car park. Another photo we have is of the four Mahers on your boat, that you had mounted on card, and which still sits on our sideboard in the lounge.
We also recall your call when the armed police were crawling over the roofs opposite your hotel bedroom, how nervous you were about getting to your flight the next day, and how we had a taxi driver we knew collect you. Also I recall the story of you alighting from a boat and kissing the ground, though I can not remember what had happened. Many experiences, adventures, and good memories - of both London and Connecticut. (Not forgetting Frankfurt, and among other things standing in front of Colonel Gadaffi's picture at the Libyan stand and falling about laughing, perhaps as retaliation to your experience in the Cavendish Hotel).
Having looked back, let us hope President Obama and the initiatives being shown around the world will indeed lead us to a brighter future than we seem to be currently facing.
Thanks for the memories Bob!