by Lizzie Madder

From the right: Bea, Lizzie, Jim, Peter & daughters

It was good to meet with Jim Devlin at the airport, although we were flying on different planes. But then discovered I'd left my passport at home. No sweat - just called helpful husband, who managed to get to the airport in time for me to catch my plane with only seconds to spare.

Jim and I had enough time to grab a cup of coffee and he kindly signed my copy of In Every Style of Passion. He'd hoped to be able to bring along his new book Is This What You Wanted, but it was still at the printers. (A copy was waiting for me on my return from Tunisia - nice book and I think there's only 100 copies left so get ordering!)

Amsterdam airport is enormous, but there was no problem in finding my way to Hoofddorp (pronounced Hoyft-dorp) by train. Signs were clear, and in English!

I caught a shuttle taxi service to the hotel and after showering, phoned Bea, who immediately allayed any fears that I wouldn't feel welcomed - they were waiting for me, and Peter was going to come and pick me up at the hotel...

...then Peter arrived. I knew him immediately, the only person who "was looking for someone who had lines on her face ..."

Their house was just a short drive away. I knew I was at the right address, there was Tribute poster in the window - and a lot of faces peering out to see what this stranger from England was like ...

Jim (who had gone directly into Amsterdam to meet up with Jarkko, to sort out accommodation) had just arrived. Big hugs all round relieved that we'd both made it after the passport fiasco, which in turn had made Jim late for his plane!

Introductions all round. It was great to meet Bea and Yvonne. I finally see Jarkko - and recognise him from the photos. He seemed more serious than I'd expected, but this could be something to do with the Finnish climate!! (uh?/Jarkko)

Bea introduced me to her two daughters (15, 18yrs) - both Cohen fans! And then there was a steady procession of new people all afternoon. Martine Moreau from Ireland (originally France) has been going to the meetings since 1989! and Martin McAuley from Holland (originally Ireland!) has been playing guitar and singing in all the meetings except in 1996.

Adi and Vlad & Bea's and Yvonne's Cohen collection

It was like coming home! It took some time to realise that Cohen was playing on the TV! And the table was covered in Cohen books - it was amazing to see so many books from around the world. Now I want a copy of Christof Graf's book Partisan der Liebe - it looks excellent.

Jarkko had brought a folder or two of Internet material (for those poor souls not connected!) And I bought the Norwegian tribute CD, Cohen På Norsk, from him. He'd also brought a copy of the Nancy White song, which was very funny. Must look out for the album.

From the left: Alexis, Mennolt, Martin

Lots of story-swapping, lots of coffee and wine later, then we were privileged to have the band Alexis and The Avalanche playing for us. Martin and Mennolt joined!

By the end of the evening just about every Cohen song was sung. Three hours of live music! And of course we all joined in. There were some nice arrangements and Nicole had a lovely voice. I would have liked to have seen them in Utrecht on the 11th October.

Alexis and The Avalanche

The mood was relaxed. By now we were into the food as well as the wine. I was drinking too much wine again! Decided to slow down or everyone would see what a slush I really am ....

Lots of laughter, lots of chatter, lots of smoke - hey, only realise now that it was only cigarettes and cigars - and I thought this was Amsterdam!!

Around midnight, after lots of kisses and lots of hugs, people were leaving and it was time for Peter to take me back to the hotel. And a flight home in the morning.

It was well worth going. Lovely people (what else would you expect from Cohen fans), lovely grub, lovely wine, lovely music ....

There are plans to hold next year's meeting in Utrecht - in a Sports Centre, I think. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again. I miss them already.

So many thanks to Bea and Yvonne and all their friends for making it a wonderful weekend.

Your webmaster continues:

from the left: Jim, Yvonne and Jarkko

About 30 Cohenists participated in this meeting of the Intensity Club. Jim and Lizzie came from England, Martine from Ireland, Dolores, Hedwig, Adi, Vlad and Reinhard from Germany and yours truly from Finland.

The meeting was not actively advertised on the Net pages - there is no room for more people at a private home! However, Alexis and his band The Avalanche kindly offered to arrange the 1998 meeting in Utrecht. Maybe a whole weekend could be reserved!

I personally had again an impressive weekend. On Friday I met Adi (Heindl) and Lais, and after a whole day seeing around in Amsterdam we spent a pleasant evening at Bert Menting's home. Bert sang Leonard's songs - and also some songs of his own! On Saturday I met Jim (Devlin) for the first time (we have been corresponding for years!), and we went to the meeting by train with Adi and Bert.

Later in the evening, after the meeting, Vlad (Arghir) took Jim, Reinhard and me back to Amsterdam. We had a late dinner and lots of discussions!

On Sunday we were walking around Amsterdam, and after some shopping it was time to fly home... My warmest thanks and greetings to Bea and Peter and the family, Yvonne, and all you friends I met during this trip! And thanks to Lizzie for the story!(Jarkko)