Sunday, 20 May 2007
At the good cake shop on a somewhat soulless, very wet, pedestrian drag and I’m talking Izzard and getting confusing instructions from the cake ladies for la Maison de Jules Verne, the Around the World in Eighty Days man who lived here almost fifty years. An elderly French blonde woman tiny beneath a massive umbrella takes my arm, “I’ll drive you,” she says, “it’s too complicated to explain”.
We Izzard, and she asks where I’m from. “English? But my husband is American, I speak English.” We drive around the city in the rain, the traffic here is in “permanent crisis” Suzanne says. There are about six cars that I see, Straus plays on the hi-fi. Suzanne was a social worker before she retired, working with children in Amiens’ school system. “I liked it, but they have many problems these days.”
Suzanne Redmond’s family knew an American man during the Second World War. They kept in touch afterwards: their daughter eventually married the Redmond’s boy, Steve. She was born in Amiens; shows me the street, the hospital now a BestWestern hotel. The name Redmond is Irish, Suzanne says, but Steve is from Los Angeles. He was in the film business.
“No, no. Hollywood. He was a camera man.”
She asks where I am from.
“We’re so closed here, I have never been to London and it is so close; my daughter, sure: she travels everywhere with her work. But not me.”
“But you saw Hollywood?”
“Oh yes, we lived in the hills in LA for quite a time.”
“And any films I would know?”
“You’ve heard of Clint Eastwood? He was a friend of Steve’s. We all went to Switzerland, where was it? You know, the Eiger.”
“Ah, that would be “The Eiger Sanction”.”
“Yes, that’s it. The Eiger Sanction.Steve had a small part in it as well. He was the first character to die.”
Jules Verne is not Suzanne’s favourite writer, “but, oh, what must have been in his head. Where do you go, next?”
“Very beautiful, Venice. Especially for the Film Festival.” Where this years retrospective in on Spaghetti Westerns. “Of course,” says Suzanne.
If only I had Jules Verne’s imagination to make this up. “Enjoy your adventure,” Suzanne says, but I am enjoying it too much already.