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.