Many years ago I went to Paris to make a television documentary about Americans living in the city. The whole thing was organised by an American producer who had teamed up with an Englishman I knew – and she arranged for me to interview George Whitman of Shakespeare and Co.
When he died a couple of years ago aged 98 I was reminded of this visit. We met George a couple of times – and we got on so well he invited me to take one of the rooms he reserved above the shop on a no-rent basis for poverty stricken writers.
Last year I was in Paris again, this time with my son Harry Hesp – who is also a journalist – seen here looking lonely on the Paris Metro.
We were visiting our friends the Tassell-Ballatores. Marc is an Englishman living in the city and really he deserves a TV series all of his own.
Brilliant painter, musician, wit, inventor, designer and all-round good fellow that he is – he built this remarkable home in an old Parisian warehouse. It takes the form of a series of mediaeval houses all under one roof. The place is a sensation.
Anyway, people often ask me what it’s like being a journalist living deep in the countryside – they say my rural lifestyle – my posh editor-at-large title – doesn’t really fit with being a busy media type. And maybe they’re right.
But if I did live in a city, then it would probably have to be Paris – living in a house designed by Monsieur Tassell.
Or maybe the people who now run Shakespeare and Co would follow up on George’s now long-lost offer to give me a room where I could write my next novel. In my youthful dreams only… Getting to used to the silence that prevails today in my valley’s fog-bound hills.