Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Nobel Prize Winners

Jeremiah does, as always, come up with the best invitations in town. What follows may seem like both name and place dropping (if there is such a thing?) but I can happily steam ahead with my tale without undue misplaced modesty, because all of this is only because of him, and I am just a hanger on. Last night we started with drinks at the Reform Club where the French Ambassador Sylvie Berman was celebrating her new book ‘China in Deep Waters’.

 We were rather overdressed for this occasion– Jeremiah in black tie- because we were unable to stay for the dinner, having invitations for the Science Museum’s annual gala Dinner. This turned out to be much fun and I was seated next to Sir Paul Nurse, who I discovered, to my extreme delight, to be the Nobel prize winner of medicine in 2001! Now, being a Swede, this really did impress me (going to the Nobel ball has always been a dream of mine). We chatted about his time in Stockholm receiving the prize and we discussed Bob Dylan’s literature prize. Sir Paul thought Dylan had behaved badly by not going to the ceremony. I wanted a picture of us together and he agreed to this, but then he took off rather suddenly before the dessert! I was quite disappointed, and I told my next companion as much:

A very elegant man of Asian origin now sat down next to me in the place of Sir Paul and we started to chat. I lamented that I never got a picture with the  Nobel prize winner. “ Oh, dear, that is a great shame “ commiserated my new companion. Then I said: “But never mind, you will have to do. Can I have a picture with you instead?” And the charming man agreed. So here we are, above.
Then, after some time he took his leave. And someone said to me: “Do you speak exclusively to Nobel Prize winners or could I get a word in? “ And I found out that I had just been sitting next to Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, who received the Nobel prize for  chemistry in  2009....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Carrier Pigeons

So many things are happening, or just about to happen, and I am waiting.
“What are you going to do now, if you leave Mali?” is the question everyone is asking me. And I don’t know how to answer. I have had ideas and wishes and have sent out my requests for my future in letters and prayers like carrier pigeons in various directions with various meanings and intents. Now the mysterious and finely woven network of people, events and the ineffable which weaves our future is considering these requests and in  meetings on grey afternoons down corridors someone will say no, and someone else will say: but wait a minute, I disagree, let’s look at it again. And other requests have been sent out  in other directions with just a prayer or a hope which is less visible than the written word. But no replies are back yet, so I am waiting. And that is not all of course. At the same time there are requests and ides sent to me too; awaiting  my decisions, and they are perhaps the weft of the loom, while mine are the warp and together they will weave this nebulous and unknowable substance we call the future.
 And while all this invisible stuff is quietly developing and maturing I have some nice things to report; last night I was invited for dinner at David and Jeremiah’s place and there I met my cyber friend Susan who has commented so often in this journal. Here are the three Cyber friends united in the flesh!
Feeling quite well but decided that I deserved a weekend at Champneys, Bedfordshire, after my operation which seems to have taken more out of me than I first thought. So managed to pick up a very good last minute deal and spent three days of rest, steam, swim and jacuzzi once more, not really speaking to anyone but quietly enjoying the peace.

I am in touch with the hotel of course: 12 Koreans had lunch at the hotel on Sunday and one person stayed over the weekend for the second instalment of the crepissage. There are still some efforts by the hotel staff to try and keep the hotel without me at the end of June, perhaps with the help of Dra, who is both the manager of the Campement Hotel and  the new deputy Maire of Djenné. He was also Keita’s best friend.

And soon I will be back in Sweden again, and there I will meet up with Elisabet and the documentary film crew who were in Mali in March again for some more talking about myself... before Mali again in mid June, and that will undoubtedly be quite an intense time for a multitude of reasons.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


The old is coming to an end, for sure. The new is about to be formed around me. Or will I shape it myself? How does it work?   I am feeling as if I will appear in another form, soon. I am hanging on a branch, like a multicoloured question mark. It is not very worrying, although it should perhaps be. But it is not the first time I have hung on this branch...

I am in London now; and have just had my little heart operation, finally, in the Hammersmith hospital above. I am feeling well and it seems as though my broken heart, which started to beat strangely on the day of Keita’s funeral last year, has been mended, at least technically. I am staying with friends, first of all dear  David (the most frequent commentator in this journal) and Jeremiah,  who looked after me in the first few days while I was recuperating. Below a picture of me as 'The Wild Woman of Wonga' their nickname for me first thing in the morning...
After their expert tender loving care I moved on to Nicholas and Amanda's:  “you can stay as long as you like. The last time someone came to stay for a week they stayed for three years!” generous and reassuring words, but I am unlikely to repeat that, lovely though it is here. I do have my own flat around the corner in Ladbroke Grove and soon the contract with my tenant will let me give him notice so that I can move in. But before that I will be back in Sweden and in Mali- in Sweden I will catch up with the documentary film makers again and then, back in Djenné,  I will pack up and close up the hotel during the last two weeks of June.

Baba has just sold my old Yamaha DT he tells me; we have sold Keita’s beloved old Mercedes; the Mitsubishi is long gone; Petit Bandit has been collected by Haidara the marabout. Little by little the old is dismantled.
 But the past weekend was a major one for the hotel: we were full: Paul, the American ambassador with his wife (centre above) and embassy entourage; also accompanied by Winnie (in orange), the Danish ambassador (both nice people who I know through Eva) spent the weekend at Hotel Djenné Djenno for the first time. It was the crepissage again, the mud plastering of the Great Mosque. I was in constant touch with Baba at the hotel and it all seems to have gone well. The new Imam Yelpha presented Paul with a replica of the Djenné Mosque!