MEMORIES - 4
Judith Braun (Germany), Michael Epstein and
Suzanne Holland (California), April Yergin (Maine)
Michael Wolkind (UK) is for the lookout for the
"Brunel University", Anne Jayne (Alberta) helping
Greg Wells (Delaware), Ray Webster (UK),
Tami Byler (Texas), Henning Franz (Germany),
Stephen Scobie (Br. Columbia), Dolores Nedbalek,
Caty Hageman (Seattle), Jack Lazariuk,
Fiona Harrington (UK), Tom Bohan (Maine),
Julie Couvrette (Montreal), Dolores Nedbalek (Germany),
and in front with the caps on Jim Rotonda and Janice Bozzay
(New Jersey) (let me know more names!/Jarkko)
Valerie Shertzman (California) heading
Jack's walking tour on Sunday
Ania Nowakowska (Australia)
and Dick Straub (New Jersey)
Representatives of Leonard:
Esther Cohen (New York), Kelley Lynch
and Leanne Ungar (California)
Barbara Mayer (Germany), James Chan (Taiwan)
Tim Vincent (UK), Heather Salisbury (New Hampshire),
Katina Haslam (Connecticut)
From Fiona Harrington, UK:
Here it is at last, what you've all been waiting for - my account of Montreal 2000! O.K., I know you haven't but I'm going to give it anyway. Just fleeting impressions as they come to me. And also thank-yous to:
Bill and the Committee for organising the whole thing so efficiantly from afar, I only saw the proceedings (for the most part) swimming smoothly along, didn't notice all the little legs furiously paddling beneath the surface ;-) The Event was organised remotely with nobody "on site" and by people who communicated only via e-mail and who had not previously met and yet everything was attended to with thought and extreme attention to detail. Can't have been easy, hope you're all enjoying a well deserved rest. Same goes for those not officially on the Committee but who played important roles and attended minutely to the details. eg The bookmarks and thin green candles, the long stemmed roses and boxes of chocolates that decorated the tables at Moishe's, contributed by Lizzie. If it had been just ordinary tables set out with the usual cutlery and glasses that would have been fine, but the addition of the other "items" really made a difference and everybody appreciated the thought behind them. Geoff and, again, Lizzie, who hosted the meal at Moishe's. Geoff's welcome speech and his toasts to absent friends, and the remembering of departed friends Sandy and Robert.
Thanks to Elizabeth and Anne for making available the munchies and drinks at McGill for the refreshment of the participants. The purchase and transport of them took time and logistical thinking. And all the others who in various ways made it a memorable occasion.
And Montreal - the star of the show. There was a connection, I understand, with some singer/songwriter/poet guy with pointy ears and unusually black, flat kind of hair, who apparantly lives solely on oranges and bananas and has completely transcended his emotions. He plays the guitar and wears a tight-fitting black and red body suit. Leonard, Leonard, somebody or other. He's familiar to me though, I often used to see him on T.V., in fact he's kind of the reason I was there. He lives on a faraway planet now though. He couldn't get to Montreal, the beam wasn't working, it was all cracked and broken down, but the light got in anyway.
Our Lady of the Harbour - i.e. Notre Dame De Bonsecours, with the model ships left by grateful sailors hanging in the nave, we visited that. Saw a high school marching band from Philadelphia, complete with majorettes, putting on a performance by the waterfront, a kind of surreal experience, or maybe it just felt that way because of the jetlag.
Wandering around the old town, eating in a nice outdoor restaurant, then back to McGill for registration and "mingling." Seeing familiar faces known from the Gallery - Jack, Lizzie, Bill, Jarkko, Dick and Linda. Greetings and hugs all around, getting our rings and pins. (Rings to go through our noses and safety pins to adorn whatever bodily part or parts took our fancy, that was a great idea, thanks to whoever thought it up.) Then meeting Judith and Tom D. and Bob "Parky" Parkins. Meeting people not known from the gallery, (so *that's* what they look like! All the men handsome, naturally, and all the women beautiful.) Michael Wolkind was wandering around completely lost, poor thing, thought he was still in London, he was asking for directions to Brunel University! Sad. But I talked gently to him and he came around.
Sitting around on the steps in desultory fashion for a while, like we used to do when we were young, then into the auditorium for the offical opening of the Event and welcome from Bill. A couple of women saying things on stage, the lights fading and the sound of a man singing in a deep, rumbley voice. Leonard, Leonard Cohen, now I remember. What a surprise, and there I was thinking I was at a Star Trek convention all along! I did think when I was meeting all those people that they seemed very odd types for Trekkies, not at all what I was expecting. And I had got very excited on the plane when I spotted what I thought was a life sized replica of "The Starship Enterprise." I was finally going to get to see it up close! But it turned out that the Leaning Tower of Montreal and the Biodome had nothing to do with the final frontier after all :-( Still there were consolations. And the messages on the Newsgroup are at last beginning to make sense to me now that that little misunderstanding has been cleared up, I used to get terribly confused. I think now maybe I'll stick around.
Then after the rumbly voiced man finished his songs there was a concert from Nancy White, very enjoyable, she's good. A play based on `Beautiful Losers' very well acted by the three actors (brief nudity, profane language, coarse humour, simulated sex, blasphemy and violence). Excellent. The cast now realise though that they're going to have to cut it down by about an hour for the theatre production. It lasted nearly three hours.
Following day. Long breakfast. Then back to Mcgill for panel discussion by three academics, Ira "Various Positions" Nadel, Prof. Brian Trehearne, and "our" Prof. Stephen Scobie. Interesting and informative. In the evening finding our way to Moishe's Steakhouse for a celebratory meal. That is for us omni-carnivores, the Veggies went to another place where dead animals weren't served up. Good meal, huge steaks, huge fish steaks, wine - everybody got disgracefully drunk at this stage, except Michael W. despite the fact that he appeared to be drinking tumblers of neat gin! How does he do it? Then staggering back to Mcgill for another concert by the Dead Pans. No, that's wrong, The Dead Personals, a college band who murdered Mr. Spock's songs in a very agreeable way. I mean Mr. *Cohen's* songs. Afer that it all gets a bit hazy. Participating in a discussion moderated by Anne and filmed by some T.V. company, so we'll be famous! There was the Poetry Jam, hosted by Judith, which I missed because I was too busy being famous. Then the official closure. Prizes for the people who got most of the questions right in the test set by Elizabeth Hoffman. The winners got oranges and tea, a banana and sunglasses and a monkey and plywood violin! The rest of us had to stay behind locked in a classroom and do revision. Esther Cohen invited people to visit Leonard Cohen's house, regretful goodbyes were said, people started wandering off and that was that! The Great Event was over. Some people did meet up again in the Holiday Inn that night for more drinks and chat, then set off to find places to eat.
The following day for people still around there was Jack's party to look forward to. That provided a wonderful rounding off to the proceedings. Thanks to Jack and to Christine for the invitations, the house and the hospitality. Loons on the lake. Loons in canoes on the lake. Humming Birds flitting among the trees. Good food, good conversation. Lovely poem in Jack's honour composed and recited by his niece. Big chocolatey birthday cake, and Happy Birthday in English and French! Leonard Cohen videos were put on at some stage. Then at around eleven pm someone came in from the garden to say the Northern Lights had put in an appearance! Leonard Cohen was abandoned with indecent haste as we rushed out to watch. Very subtle at first and then growing stronger and brighter, soon they were flaring all around the horizon, fantastic sight. They lasted an hour or so and then gradually faded away. After that we kind off lounged around, though a frighteningly competitive game of table football got going at one stage. Henning and his team won all the bouts I think despite all sorts of aggression on the part of Jack and his side. Then more lounging around, no one wanted to go to bed but eventually we had to. I meant to tell you Henning how nice you looked in your pyjamas, very sexy! I could describe Lizzie's glamorous night gown, but in deference to any men reading who might suffer from heart problems, advancing age or high blood pressure, I had better refrain.
The following morning dawned bright and sunny, John went canoeing (again) then breakfast appeared, provided by Christine. After that it was time to leave. More goodbyes, then we all went our separate ways. A few days more in Canada for myself and John, visiting Ottawa and environs. Then home sweet home. End of story.