Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jim Haynes and After Eights

I was recently watching some rubbish or other on television and I happened to catch an advert for After Eight mints. How odd, I thought - that looks like Jim Haynes. So I turned on the volume (I always mute the ads) and yes, it was this well known name from my very early years. The point of the advert was that Jim always serves these mints at his Parisian parties and the guests just do not want to leave.

Who is Jim - I hear most of you ask. I first encountered him when I was a precocious young teenager bunking off school to go and see what city life was like in the West End. He'd just run a successful arty place in Covent Garden (before it was a trendy area) and after that he divided his time between various cool places in London and Amsterdam. His was quite a legendary name and my friend and I felt very grown up as 14 year olds pretending to be 17 and hanging around on the fringe of his circle. In fact he became a sort of protector to us, two silly schoolgirls who used to change out of their uniform in the footpath near Highgate station and carry it around in an old bag. We thought we were so flash and sophisticated and with hindsight we must have just looked like young girls wearing a lot of badly-applied make up.

I've tracked Jim's escapades over the years and for a long time now he has become very well known in Paris literati circles as the host of the afore-mentioned dinner party. Anyone can turn up here for a Sunday meal- you have to email him to be put on the list and nobody is ever refused. I recently mailed him and tried to jog his memory about these two young girls who he looked after so gallantly and I got a very warm and welcoming reply. Urging me to come along to one of the Sunday meals to talk about old times I thought about it for a moment or two and then decided that some things are just best left in the past.

26 comments:

Steve said...

I'm ashamed to say I have never heard of Jim Haynes and will have to google him for more info...! What an uncultured buffoon I am!

Bill Stankus said...

Agreed. Mirrors and revisiting the past always seem distorted by want we hope for but never actually find.

French Fancy said...

Steve - I'm about 12 years older than you but, even so, the majority of people my age would not have a clue who he was. I was astonished he was deemed worthy to be the basis of a big product tv advert. #

Bill - I agree totally and I think I am just developing a certain nostalgia for the past based on hitting 50 last year and wanting to turn back the clock

Elizabeth said...

After Eight Mints! the very apotheosis of suave, sophistication, superseding Callard and Bowsers mints.
The name Jim Haynes does ring a bell.
And as for nostalgia, I am the queen of it.
Q.Bell said I had a gift for it.... not certain that was a compliment....!!
Hope you are well and cheerful?

Lulu LaBonne said...

Jim sounds great and your stories of schoolgirl attempts at sophistication put me in mind of myself and also the film 'An Education'.

I love the idea of going to Jim's place for Sunday lunch. Secret restaurants are the groovy way to eat out these days.

Dedene said...

Isn't that fun that someone you know way back when is still doing amazing cultural things?
You should try to make it to one of his Sunday dinners.

LadyFi said...

I say go for it! Might be fun to visit one of those Sunday lunches. After all, who can resist an After Eight?

Ken Devine said...

Lunch in Paris...you'd be mad to let it pass.

mrwriteon said...

Indeed, some things are best left in the past, despite the temptation to reconnect. I get impulses like this quite regularly.

Veggie Carrie said...

I love After Eights - I'll look out for the the advert. Interesting by the way that you used to bunk off school and are now so keen studying!

Carol said...

Ooohhh I always knew you were a bit of a wild child....and, even though you turned 50 last year (you kept quiet about the fact it was a big birthday you bad woman!!), I bet you've not changed a bit :-)

You should go...bet you would have a ball!! Go on...how can you resist the urge to put on a posh frock and buy new shoes? (Ok, so you don't have to go but it would give you an excuse to buy new shoes!!)

C x

Angie Muresan said...

Go, go, go! You'll have tons of fun, I just know. And don't forget to write about it.

Owen said...

What, you'd turn down the opportunity for some free After Eights ?

Rob-bear said...

I'm with Owen!

Turning down a chance to meet a hero, re-live part of your life, and get free After Eight mints.

Are you crazy?

gaelikaa said...

still, it's nice to think you could go if you wanted.....think again. And thank you for your visit and comment on my blog.

cheshire wife said...

You are right. It is often better to leave the past as it was. You, more than likely, would have been disappointed. Offering free meals to people that you barely know sounds risky. Stay at home in the warm!

Clarity said...

He sounds fascinating. If I weren't choosy re. food I would sign up for the Sunday meal in a minute.

I just checked out the link and he seems like a thoroughly lovely man. Sweetie, I say "go for it". If you want to try it next Spring, I'll join you, planning a Paris trip, x.

P.S. something for you, chez moi, not After Eights, though.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Oh, FF, you had such an adventurous girlhood. I love your spunk ;)

Lane said...

I hadn't heard of him either but a quick follow of your link reveals an interesting chap.

I understand about leaving some things in the past though. Very wise.

French Fancy said...

Elizabeth - did you know Quentin Bell? How fascinating. You should blog about it

Lulu - are secret places in vogue atm? I bet you know some cracking ones

Dedene - the older I get the more unsociable I seem to be becoming. I'd probably sit in the corner and not say a word

Ladyfi - I'm having so much trouble imagining someone whose name was synonymous with the avant garde at making such a commercial

Ken - but I could have lunch any time I wanted - do I want to go and meet lots of strangers - well a bit of me does, yes :)

Ian - Since joining Facebook about a year ago I've got in touch with quite a lot of people from my past - it's been fun

Carrie - yes, I've often thought if only I'd had this current determination to do well academically back then.

Carol - I think everyone would dress down for one of Jim's shindigs. I know exactly what I would wear though - black trousers, black devore velvet top and little black rocket dogs with glittery stars on them

Angie - you know what, maybe I should go

Owen - I'm not mad on minty chocolate :p

Rob - but everyone would be quirky and unusual and I feel so normal these days

gaelikaa - I keep thinking I will go and then knowing that I never would

cheshire wife - I would never just open my home to a lot of strangers - maybe that is why Jim knows everyone and I know very few people

Clarity - He does seem nice and I do remember he did a great job of keeping all the lechy men away from us. We actually confessed to him once how old we really were and he took great pains to make sure we were not hassled

ContemTroub - I did 'get about a bit' - I think that phrase somes it up quite wel. I really have lost my adventurous spirit though

Lane - maybe that is what arty individual quirky people are like all over the world - not afraid to invite strangers round and never thinking bad stuff might happen

Ann said...

I don't know who he is either FF, was interesting reading about him, love the idea of strangers sitting at the dinner table.

Personally I would have taken up the offer, I know sometimes going back is not a good thing, but if we don't try things, then we miss out.

French Fancy said...

Ann - hello you - I think this is one of those things that - on the spur of the moment - I might say to Mr FF 'you know what, let's turn up at that Jim fellow's Paris party meal. He of course will say 'not on your life' and then I'll plan to go and chicken out at the last minute.

The Machinist's Wife said...

After Eight Mints... mmmm... Mam would allow us to take a couple out of her dark green, mysterious box - somewhat like a mini=chest. I suppose you could call it a chest, as it held that chocolate mint treasure... We would nibble them slowly, usually on a Sunday afternoon, as mam did the ironing, while watching an Agatha Christie movie on telly. Either that, or we'd be sitting at her feet, as she knitted (yet another) colourful jumper for one of my brothers.
Oh, the memories, just from the mention of them... xxx

...mmm... said...

I really loved reading this post. so very compelling. Yes,sometimes, as hard as it is, it is indeed best to leave things in the past.

After Eights always brings back memories or Christmas dinners in London after everyone was stuffed adn we'd have tea and coffee. It was rather a touch of refinement but weirdly, here, it is sold in Walgreens which is rather like a Walmart--cheap end goods!

French Fancy said...

TMW - oh I love hearing people reminisce about their childhood.I've never nibbled chocolate - guzzled, yes- nibbled, no.


mmm - After Eights are sold here in France and they are quite pricey. I also associate them with Christmas - those and also Elizabeth Shaw mints.

Phil Lowe said...

Paris, naughty schoolgirls,mint chocolates and fine dining at someone's chic abode? How tempting.See you there after eight FF. lol