PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1983 - SEPTEMBER
Thursday 1 September
The oppressive weather continues. A sullen sky holding in the city the heat of summer. Still air hindering clear thought. Perhaps I've lost my marbles because there's no oxygen. Lost my marbles, lost everything that's worth losing - my bicycle key, my diary, my wallet of cards that mustn't be lost. As a result, I suddenly feel the world on my back again. (There's a marvellous Kafka story I was trying to recall for Andrez's benefit the other day about a man on his way to work being troubled by a stranger jumping on his back and stealing a ride. I forget its name.)
Brussels, Ireland, Monte Carlo, Venice, Berlin all in the next two months. Well, I could do without Brussels. I hate day trips to Brussels, and I hate two-day trips to Brussels even more.
Begin resigned and Israeli troops in Lebanon falter. French and US soldiers in the United Nations peacekeeping force have been killed. The media talks about the possibility of civil war and reports on efforts made by Israeli politicians to get Begin to stay on. A civil war of words in Israel's parliament and a civil war of guns on Lebanon's troubled soils.
I see Annie again. Her dark brown eyes flatter me, her body sways against me, her laughter switches me up a gear. I do not take her hand or even kiss her lips. I am afraid.
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
To enjoy the Notting Hill Carnival you must drink enough to be slightly merry, and you must take a little something with you and not much else. Once there you must fight your way through black storms of thunderous beauty until you find a float that plays the sort of music you like. Then you dance behind, following it through the streets, taking extra sustenance in the form of drink or drugs whenever you begin to flag. What an extraordinary variety of humankind I saw. What peacocks! What wolves! What lizards and fawns! What goats, what crows! OK there were a few floats with carnival presentations but the majority were loaded with loudspeakers of one description or another. At one point, a small scuffle broke out near us and panic spread, adrenalin levels peaked. To get away we had to tread on people and kick babies. It wasn't clear at first whether whites were being fisted by blacks or whether it was just a drunken brawl. The ripple of fear, that had moved through the crowd as fast as sound, petered out when the crowd was no longer a crowd.
Two pictures: Black and white people dancing on windowsills. Copies of 'Caribbean Times' flying through the air high on editorial freedom.
Thursday 8 September
Seems like I am only writing in here only once a week. Twice a week I could accept - a session at the weekend and session in the office on a Wednesday or Thursday. But once a week is criminal.
Am I close to happiness at the moment? Perhaps closer than I've been for a long time - but it's a sort of consistent contentment more than happiness. I can see a maturing processes at work in me. Routines building up. The week is taken up with work - at the office, on the house - going to films and theatre, watching television, reading; and the weekends are times of indulgence, in food, lazing and love making. There are short term interests with the trips to Ireland, Venice, Berlin and Monte Carlo round the corner. And I enjoy my house. I enjoy the feeling of being there, seeing the bare wood in the spacious hall, entering the lounge and entering a comfortable safe aesthetic space. I enjoy walking into the garden, watering the soil, and pinning new shoots of growth to the wall.
A gift for me from me. £150 for a zoom lens. It will give me a wider angle if I want than my present lens and allow some telephoto capability. £150, that's almost the cost of the original camera; half the cost of the car I bought; but it's only a little more than the cost of a car and two passengers to cross the Irish Sea; and exactly the same cost as a return flight to Brussels; but also it's about half a year's worth of sandwich bar sandwiches. £150. I'm so preposterously lackadaisical about spending large sums of money. I'm anybody's bank roll.
Them damn Ruskies shot a civilian plane killing over 200 people and war ensued. The war of words - this pencil doesn't write right. A South Korean jumbo strayed into Russian air space perilously close to sensitive military bases. After about two hours the Ruskies shot it to pieces and within hours the US was telling the world. Since then the US has flogged the mistake to death in the world's media while the Russians, as though playing chess a queen pawn down, have retaliated defensively and cautiously. Their main rebuff has been that the US was using the plane for military purposes.
Scargill has stepped over the edge. From champion of the reds he has turned red with shame or should have done by now. The press, always sharpening their knives on Scargill's extremities, have now sunk their blades into his anarchic organs. In some rag-o-the-left he suggested that the Polish organisation Solidarity is not the best cup of tea since sliced bread. Now this may be so but the trade unions's public stance is 100% behind Solidarity.
OF LEVIN AND GLAZIERS
I have a terrible confession: I want to write like Bernard Levin. I am in love with his style of writing as well as his choice of topics. He ranges from being naive about the mundane to being wise about international politics. In yesterday's 'Times' he wrote a piece about two glaziers. He imbibed the simple story, about one company's incompetence and another's keenness, with life and added an interesting perspective. It so happens that I have a story about glaziers, or one in particular! Stafford Glass & Co. There is a small wiry middle-aged man with silver hair who manages the Kilburn High Road shop. He never smiles, looks at you, or moves his lips. He mopes and mutters. I am scared of saying the wrong thing or speaking out of turn because I feel his cold mean face results from his reactions over many years to customers speaking out of turn or pushing in line. I left an order for six pieces of glass to be cut for picture frames. This was on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon I went twice to collect them but they were not ready. On Wednesday morning they still weren't cut but I was told to return in half an hour. Lo! they were cut and ready for me. And I say lo again for woe is me - when I went to fix them to the picture frames most were the wrong size. Thursday morning I trekked back there again - the fifth time. The silver haired man sidled up the passage to me. I softly explained my dilemma. He moped as he cut new squares and as he finished the last one, I swear I heard him mutter 'I'm sorry about that.' It must have cost him dear, but I was mollified.
11 September 1982, Glengarriff, Ireland
We travel by day through the green isle, by night we drink the smooth brown ale. The pubs don't look like pubs; mostly they look like houses with an Irish name emboldened across the front, O'Connors or O'Malleys. Sometimes the word 'bar' or 'lounge' is there too; but the real giveaway is a sign protruding from the wall, shining, beckoning with a black jar and the word 'Guinness'. So many of these pubs are brown and black - the Guinness colours - dreary, rather dark and timeless places. Carpets with patterns of extreme tastelessness everywhere. All the telephone boxes are similar to those in England but coloured green and cream. Most of the country seems sleepy dreamy.
12 September, Waterville
The Atlantic weather lashes the coastline. Mist rolls in, rain arrives in squalls, landscapes are obscured, we are cheated of views. A time then to sit in cafes and squash our noses against the large glass windows with teardrops dribbling down.
The train journey from London to Holyhead was drowsy and uneventful. We sat opposite three cocky actors, in their mid-30s I suppose. They were on their way to Dublin to play in a cricket match - or so I gathered from the snippets of conversation I pieced together. The conversation was either about acting or cricket, although occasionally it strayed from socialist playwrites to socialism. The actors drank constantly from a wine box - blanc de blanc - and got steadily noisier. After a while they turned to card playing and gambling. The noise of coins being shuffled around the table became incessant and disturbed my drowsing.
Once in Ireland, we duly hired a car from an officious young woman waiting for us at the Dun Laoghaire tourist office. The formalities didn't take long and soon we were in the city of the Liffy taking tea and cakes for breakfast. But we left Dublin quickly, racing towards Cork. In Carlow there was an interesting cathedral with a lantern tower. The countryside was lush and green but unmemorable. We passed by Jerpoint Abbey, moving fast, through Waterford and Dungarvan, until our first real taste of holiday - at Youghal. A golden sand beach with wooden breakers stretching beyond sight. Bare feet to wet sand. Silence and sea air at last. But still on - Corkwards.
Brendan Lehane, who writes 'The Companion Guide to Ireland' in a romantic mood, quotes Thackeray on Corkonians: 'Could they do nothing but stare, swagger and be idle in the streets?' We arrived mid Saturday afternoon and became trapped in high street traffic jams. And then, when we got out to walk, we found the streets jammed with people who seemed to be doing nothing but strutting and staring. Lehane reports that Thackeray's vitriol was punished by a Cork potter who patented a chamber pot with an open-mouthed Thackeray decorating the bowl. We paid £7 a piece for B&B in a clean tidy but vulgar boarding house. The bed creaked. The poached eggs came out of a packet.
Tuesday, Muckross House
Early this morning when the Atlantic really beat its fury down on us - rain and mist and miserableness - and we were still cantering along the Ring of Kerry, we decided we might as well make for Killarney and see what it has to offer.
Last night we slept in the car. It was not easy to find anywhere suitable but we parked finally on a seemingly innocent lane not far from a kelp-sodden beach, not far from a bar at the end of the beach road, and not far from wet little Waterville. It was not a quiet night - a car passed by almost every half an hour until 4am. In Waterville's only cheap restaurant, scrambled egg on toast cost £3.50.
We tried hard to swim yesterday, but it was not till the weather broke through that we found a place - a beach - rock free, kelp free, mud free, with some water depth that invited us. By then, the good weather had already been and gone.
Much of this part of Ireland reminds me of the Yorkshire Dales. Young mountains, boulders still sharp and perched on the slopes, heather, ferns, lichens and grass competing for space. Brooks babbling in their search for an easy path to the main river system. Shallow pastures rolling down to village and sea. In other parts it becomes obvious that this is not Yorkshire for the roadside is hedged with fuchsia or rhododendrons or azaleas, and village houses field giant geraniums in their gardens.
Muckross House and gardens. The lawns are well trimmed and slope gently towards the larger of three lakes. The gardens are formal and uninspiring. The house stands beautiful thanks to a Virginia creeper now turning faintly ribena. Autumnal ribena. We use the tea rooms, the toilets, the garden benches.
Killarney is home to jaunting cars, horse and traps, hansom cabs or whatever else you like to call them. The smell of urine and horseshit suggests a better name might be Muckrest, with a Muckrest Friary, Muckrest House and garden and Muckrest town.
Still in Muckrest town we're escaping from the weather in a cafe, but there's a smell that's a cross between bleach and deep fried tomato ketchup. My head aches.
One of the guide books suggested a trip to the 'library'. At the far end of Ross Island - which is really a peninsula that protrudes into a lake - there are supposed to be rocks that look like books. Well the walk was fine through lush forest; moss and lichen and ivy crawling up oaks, birches and beeches; pine needles underfoot; views of the mist-covered lake creeping through the trees. I was glad of the excuse to take a walk though I think the tourist authorities have gone a bit far in their naming of places - the 'library' indeed.
The Americans must love the horses and traps, but they're in surplus once the season's over. Out of Killarney there is a celebrated trip up the mountain over the Gap of Dunlow and then by boat through the three lakes back to Killarney. Lehane says it is possible to drive a car through the Gap although the horse and trap drivers discourage it. We did drive up to Kate Kearney's cottage and found horses and carts straying all over the road. It appeared there was no way through road - but of course there was. The Gap itself transpired to be a particularly ordinary saddle without a direct view even to the other side
A yew tree I saw today displayed its roots as an African woman would her head-dress. A huge meander of root, a man's body wide, curled around an outcrop of rock and appeared to disappear into a crevice in the rock. The root was wood, smooth like furniture. At first, I couldn't understand why this massive trunk of a root and others should be visible but Bel suggested that rock could have been beneath the soil but was exposed when some earth fell away.
I can always tell if a city does not have much to offer - like Limerick - because its tourist office is so big and grand.
We stayed for too long in the city, chiefly because I was racing around trying to find the perfect photo to encapsulate Limerick's Irishness. Of course, I didn't find it. The sun came out crackling against the wet surfaces and travelling low along the east-west roads. One block was almost entirely taken up by a factory painted white with yellow sills and drainpipes - the sun highlighted the building happily if not dramatically. In one barred window, a bright yellow mac lay on a table in an otherwise empty room. But for the bars it was a lovely picture. I write it because I didn't take it. The painted house and shop fronts are a feature of Ireland, but, as yet, I have not managed to capture this at all, partly due to the weather and partly due to having had b&w film in my camera.
Towards the end of our clockwise tour of the Ring of Kerry we came across a town called Killorgin. There's a subject for a thesis: why do so many place names in Ireland begin with the letter K. Well, I say a town, it more like a village. In its few streets, there was a sheep market in progress. After so many coastal resorts it was a breath of fresh air (ugh) to find some real life in motion again. The sheep were bundled in cages attached to tractors or cars. They were all dyed with blues or purples or crimsons. The shepherds themselves were interesting with their dark weathered skins and thick skinned hands. They stood about in small groups, no doubt doing, or thinking of doing, or trying to do business. They were very photogenic, yet I could not bring myself to point my camera at them.
Two or three miles off the main road along a dirt track we found Staigue Fort. It is a circular construction of stones - the walls being anything from 5-15 ft thick, and 6-20 ft high. Inside was an even cared-for lawn. A peaceful place, but difficult to photograph. There was an old man there with a dialect was so strong I could barely understand him. He asked me if I knew KilbOURN. I was proud to announce that I did, and we touched on the price of Guinness in the old days - 8p a pint (now it's over a pound). Minutes after leaving the old fort ruins, we found some ruined houses that set perfectly against the sea - and were perfect for photographs.
Lisdoonvarna. This is the town of matchmakers - as in Thornton Wilder's play. Once a year, following the harvest, all the young farmers come here to find a wife. Matchmakers from all around also book into the hotels. The idea is fun, but the reality today has more to do with tourism than the needs of the young farmers.
It pours with rain. Bel is asleep in the car. I drink a tea in the spa centre. Here one can have sulphur baths, or mineral baths, massages or saunas. But the complex is nearly deserted. A tea server mops the floor; two visitors watch the wind lash rain against the big glass windows. In the distance, I can hear a folk singer as though he alone were braving the weather and walking through the hills singing at the top of his voice. In fact, the music is from the Hydro Hotel, just up the road, which has a loudspeaker on the hotel roof, amplifying a bar room singer.
Almost all the time now Bel and I are having fun and enjoying ourselves.
Friday 16 September
We are very definitely on our way home, having to return the car after seven days. We've slept two nights in the car in a row, and are beginning to feel well travelled. This has been our itinerary.
Youghal - beach, Cork;
Kinsale - harbour, Timoleague - ruins, Glenlore - lunch, Bantry - gardens, Glengarriff - gardens;
Kenmore, Dromore - lunch, Staigue Fort - ruins, Waterville;
Glenbeigh - beach, Killorgin, Gap of Dunloe - scenic, Muckross - gardens/ruins, Killarney;
Ross Island - walk, Newcastle West - pub, Limerick, Killaloe - lake/picnic;
Ennis, Ennistimon - church/waterfalls, Lehinch - beach, Lisconnor - lunch/ruins, Cliffs of Moher, Lisdoonvarna - folk dancing, Burren - walk, Galway, Loughrea;
Birr, Roscrea, Glendalough, Dublin.
Yesterday in fact was a magnificent day. There was a windswept stroll around Ennistimon graveyard with its Celtic crosses prolific on the hillside in and out of the ruined church. I took some colour photos here, hoping to strike off the landscape against the grim grey crosses. On our day out of Cork we stopped at Timoleague where in the central aisle of a ruined abbey, a crooked gravestone stood surreal. One of the guide books said the sea laps at the walls of Timoleague Abbey - but it didn't, the road ran arrogantly between the sea and the ruins. And on from Ennistimon to Lehinch where a vast beach, completely isolated, was being ill-mannerly seduced by a rough-tempered ocean. We ran across the sand between waves and boulders and gasped in volumes of sea air. I rolled in the shallow water, afraid of currents pulling me further out, then ran lightly and free, happy at this communion. Bel watched enviously unable to remove her clothes for modesty. And on around Lisconnor Bay to the town of the same name. Despite threats of weather we lunched beneath the tall ruined tower on the cliff's edge. A few miles further on we rejoined the tourist trail at the Cliffs of Moher. Most useful for its teashop and bookstore - but cliffs is cliffs is cliffs.
I bought a fascinating map of The Burren here. One's man personal cartography of the unusual area. At two inches to a mile it is large scale enough to pinpoint houses, ring forts, cairns etc. The area is steeped in history.
Before leaving Lisdoonvarna we visited a pub - The Savoy - which advertised music until 5pm. It was 4pm - a Thursday afternoon. The bar was alive with music and dancing. A four man band was playing popular numbers and an extraordinary mixture of men and women were dancing. The men dancing looked so happy, the women seemed full of forbearance. I have to say they were to a man - so to speak - ugly, apart from one or two youngsters who may have been locals with a sense of fun. I really could imagine matchmakers sitting at the back rubbing their hands with glee if a couple continued dancing for more than one tune.
Saturday 17 September
On driving through the Burren - for I am still recounting tales from the day before yesterday - it looks rocky and barren. A few habitations and ruined houses dot the landscape, some grass and ferns cover it in patches, but there seems little else. From a distance the rock looks to be a fairly gentle sloping terrain. Actually, though, it has risen recently from the sea and is pitted with cracks and pools and crevices. Bel is fascinated because there is an abundant and unusual flora. The cracks and pools and crevices provide individual gardens with shelter and differing soils and water conditions - Mediterranean and Arctic flowers mingle here. In the spring, botanists come from all over the world. I am enthused by Bel's enthusiasm. Although there are not so many flowers in autumn, we look for and study what we can find: an ivy with tiny leaves, and another turning red; ferns that grow out from dark deep pits in the rock, their long slender leaves resting upwards against the narrow rock sides; a possible rose, the only sizeable shrub, growing out of sheer rock and so on. But the area has also been studied archaeologically, and my map pinpoints neolithic graveyards for example.
Now, we are in Dublin; in Bewleys, to be more specific, a coffee shop that reminds me of the cafes in Vienna, partly because of the high ceilings and open floor spaces and the polished wood decor. The lower half of the walls once featured a textured wallpaper but are now painted brilliant lemon yellow, and the counter walls are mirrored, so there is a fund of photos in yellow and brown. Bewleys sells tea and cakes and sandwiches but also packets of tea and coffee - Bewleys tea, I'm told, is packed where it's picked in India and shipped directly to Bewleys. The breads look wholesome and fresh.
There's a shop in Dublin called Kilkenny's which is a cross between Habitat and the Irish Tourist Board (green shamrock for visuals or IFB for initials). On the way in we found a black table adorned with two blue mats and two green mats. Bel and I were both wearing black trousers and the identical blue (she) and green (me) tops. We posed a while but nobody appreciated our living art.
Dublin is busy. Trinity College is very near the centre and we have been wandering around the area. Students are everywhere. There is an energy, hopefulness, enthusiasm pulsating here.
We're staying in a hotel that's seen better times - just around the corner from the centre but in an area that is a touch seedy. We are the length of a corridor away from a toilet. The wallpaper is falling off the wall in our room, and the stair carpets are threadbare. Bel and I were the first to get to the dining room for breakfast where a young plain-looking girl served us adequately. She was doubling as receptionist and had to keep wandering through the building at the summons of a bell. As I was leaving the breakfast hall, I turned a corner and saw her turn away from a large mirror. She looked guilty, guilty I suppose of a vanity wasted on her spotty face.
Yesterday, we had the entire grounds of Birr Castle to ourselves all morning. It was like walking through the gardens of Eden - through hornbeam walks, past magnificent Chinese magnolias, beds of dark-skinned dahlias and the tallest box hedges in the world (according to Guinness). And, in the early evening, the ancient religious relics of Glendalough were ours alone. Dancing through St Kevin's monastery remains, by lakes and gravestones and bell towers. The rain only added to our sense of isolation and uniqueness.
Sunday 18 September
The all-Ireland Gaelic football final takes place at Croke Park today. Fans are invading the city - one of the finalists is a Dublin team. Last night we went to the all-Irish Eamonn Kelly show at the Peacock Theatre. For two hours, Kelly told stories of old Ireland. About the masters and the servants and poverty and lovers running away, and crafts of the humble home and the hireling fairs. Misers figured prominently as did whole families sleeping in one bed.
Near Roscrea, St Cronan built his first monastery, Lehane says. It was at the end of the peninsula (Ros-cre) in what was, till drained in the 18th century, a shallow lake amid the Moncha Incha bog. The remains (of the monastery) - an exquisite Romanesque church with fine west door, a cross, some gravestones - are mainly 12th century. As elsewhere in Ireland, the bogs helped preserve dead bodies more or less in tact. A smaller island nearby has been much hallowed on this count, even regarded as an earthly paradise. Lehane quotes Giraldus Cambrensis. It was impossible to die on the island, he thought. This was a mixed blessing since some people grew so old that they wanted to die, and had to be transported by boat to the larger island. As soon as they touched its ground, they gave up the ghost. He (Cambrensis) described another of Moncha Incha's features: no women or animal of the female sex could ever enter the island without dying immediately. This has been proved many times, he says: a remarkable thing about birds is that while the males settle on the bushes everywhere throughout the island, the females fly over and leave their mates and avoid the island like a plague.
Tuesday 20 September
During our return to Dublin we stopped briefly in an ugly town called Kildare. Lehane gives time to the town because St Bridget was born nearby about 450 AD, and died in the same area about 70 years later. I don't know anything about St Bridget but in Catholic Ireland she is second only to St Patrick. This, Lehane explains, is due partly to her pre-Christian prominence in pagan folklore: 'Brigid was threefold goddess, daughter of Dagda, chief of the Celtic gods, and with similarities to Brizo, the moon goddess of Delos. As such she was revered in Gaul (and still is in Brittany) and Britain (as Bride, Brigantia, Brit and other names). Her influence was far too great for fifth century Christians to deny her existence; and pagan threads were woven into the advancing Christian pattern. Her Christian image constantly harked back to her pagan past. At Kildare, unlike either foundations, there were both monks and nuns, and suspicions that, though segregated by a screen in church, they mixed freely in private. One folk tale has Brigid proposing to Patrick, and securing from him women's leap year rights . . . The Irish plainly transferred attributes of the Virgin Mary to Brigid, often known as 'The Virgin of the Gael', and Mary herself is plainly descended in some senses from pre-Christian deities. Irish devotion to Brigid appears to be due to the antiquity of her worship, and to the need (in a country where fathers notoriously influence their children less than mothers) for a feminine leavening in the stern patriarchy of the early Christian trinity.'
So that was Ireland - a beautiful and romantic holiday, casting off the cares of the city.
Three days back in the city now - brimming with arrogance I recognise well, charm pouring out of me. I'm almost embarrassed to tell friends that I'm going away again, to the South of France - baguettes and cheese, and sitting alone in cafes.
Thursday 22 September
Annie. Annie has been ringing while I'm away. I like to come home after a week abroad and find at least one person has been trying to get hold of me. Even happier that it is Annie. She is alive with ideas and wanton beliefs, she thinks and analyses. At the Royal Academy later she explained the importance of the artists revolution in Russia at the time of the people's revolution. A collection of paintings by Costakis from that time are on display, as are some by Machenko and Lissitzky. I know I want her because I am generous with her feminist bias, and I know she wants me because she is generous with my superficial anti-feminist bias.
The US and the Russians are both searching frantically in the Sea of Okhotsk for the black box of the South Korean aeroplane shot down by the Russians. Whoever's lying in this ridiculous affair is desperate to stop the other side from proving they are not telling the truth. The Americans insist the black box is in international waters despite the fact that the aeroplane was shot down some 200 miles inside Russian airspace.
25 September, Antibes
The arrogance had deserted me by mid-week. I deflated fast in the face of difficulties and boredom at work. But lifted by thoughts of coming here. Oh, how I love Antibes. It is not like Aldeburgh or Horcon in Chile for being magical, because I imagine there are many places on the coast which are like Antibes. It is the combination of excellent beaches, of old French mansions covered in ivy, the winding cobbled streets evident since before time, all leading ultimately to the castle; it is the markets where you can find all manner of fresh foods and people who enjoy selling them; it is the climate; it is the strong healthy vegetation, spiky and supple, creeping into every gap; it is the balconies and the bars. But Antibes is special simply because it is here I can come and be at home thanks to Sasha's flat.
Wednesday, Monte Carlo
Yawning in the Hotel de Paris in ma chambre overlooking Monaco port. Monte Carlo is so posh. Pretensions fulfilled. The nearest thing to a manicured country. The beaches claim they are hand-picked, hand-sieved. Oh luxury. I am not worthy for this place. Staring around this suite with its blond yellow walls and white trimmings, matching curtains, bed and chair covers, gold and white desk and chest of drawers, tv etc. etc. I remember days haggling to sleep on a roof in my sleeping bag determined to keep the cost of a night's protection to under £1. All the lower half of Monte Carlo is gilded. Moving skywards through the narrow stair passages one discovers more normal French riviera streets but the massive complexes below are always visible, if not cutting out the morning sun.
Really, the most difficult task for me at these morning conferences is to sit alone at the bar waiting to talk to someone. I do not have the confident to interrupt the traders, to sidle in, as Peter Savage does, did. Yet how much more difficult to do the salesman gig - yet I was was a salesman but my pushiness has shrunk. Why haven't I met anyone in Antibes - shyness. I justify my timidity and relative aloneness - for people at this conference generally go around in twos and threes - on this being only my second conference. OK, first the low point. one of the buyers I should be talking to regularly was standing nearby. I could hear his conversation- it was about how good ICIS and Humphrey Hinshelwood are; but seeing me (and my name tag presumably) he laughed and moved away with his partner out of earshot. OK, the high point: I was with Tor Linnae of Stolt Linnae who confided in me that two of my ex (and more senior) colleagues at ECN don't know what they're talking about.
Paul K Lyons
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