Another postcard, this time from Cannes in the South of France.
Cannes, of film festival fame. Red carpets and paparazzi, this is “spot the celebrity” land. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recognise Bruce Willis if he punched me in the face or Nicole Kidman if she embraced me in comfort, berating bad Bruce. So, sadly I won’t be recognising any celebs today.
The first time I came to Cannes was 30 years ago. (I typed that a little faster but, alas, you can still read it) I was here with two friends on a motorbike tour of the Côte d’Azur. When we got to Cannes we thought that the film festival would be worth a visit.
Due to an oversight we hadn’t been invited but that didn’t stop us. We noticed that the festival staff had badges so we got out our university ID cards and strolled past the big guy at the entrance, flashing our cards.
We just made it through the door before he started shouting.
Hey you, come back!
Ladies in evening dresses and gents in black tie turned their heads as three young men in shorts ignored the urgent calls and headed for an escalator.
By now security was frantically talking into lapel mikes and several heavies came after us. Perhaps we hadn’t planned this very well. The shorts were a give away.
Stop! Go back!
A security agent at the top of the escalator shouted with a mix of fear and anger in his eyes, as the three intruders came towards him. That’s what escalators do very well, once you’re on them. The bad news was that he stood with legs spread and arms stretched out with a gun pointed at us. Oh shit.
Don’t shoot! We’re on an escalator, we can’t go down! We’ll leave, don’t worry!
He didn’t lower his gun until we had made it down the stairs and were marched out by a couple of hulks. Surprisingly they didn’t throw us onto the pavement, like in the films they were showing.
Who cares, said Edward. It didn’t look that great anyway.
Yeah, boring. I wouldn’t go, even if they invited me.
The good old days.
The last time I was here was three years ago. A business partner and friend, Jean-Michel from Paris had invited me to his annual airline conference in Cannes. We stayed in the Carlton and my wife wore a lovely evening dress, fit for a film festival. Myself I sported a dinner jacket and a proper bow-tie, you know, the type you can to tie after watching a Youtube instructional video seven times.
Jean-Mich’ held this airline conference every year and the attendance was always very good. Chief executives from around the world always showed up for this. Not because the conference was good, which it was, but because Jean-Mich’ always turned this event into a gastronomic summit.
This time he managed to get six of France’s best chefs to do the cooking, including the chef of president Sarkozy and the chef of the senate.
I am pleased to confirm that the french president and his senators eat very well indeed and I doubt that the economic disaster that France has dug itself into, in a mere 35 hours a week, will have affected the culinary well being of its elected leaders. Much more digging is required before such a horrific apocalypse could strike so deeply.
Even so, thanks to the moonlighting chefs, we had a truly extraordinary evening and the event passed without incident. As far as I recall no kids breached security and no guns were raised.
Good thing too as I never told my wife about my earlier visit to the Cannes film festival and as she thought I looked rather dishy and grown up that evening with my youtubed bow tie and all, it just wasn’t the night for admission of sins of youth. I mean, she would never forgive me for not having spotted the celebs that day!
Today is different. This is family time and youthful sins are definitely off the agenda.
My adolescent kids are bored with the idea of going to the beach or the harbour in spite of their parent’s pleas and so we’ve gone shopping.
It looks like Cannes has a lot of shopping too. I spotted lots of brand names but frankly, it is not my thing. So with another dad, I’m sitting on a stool in Zara while my daughter is trying to convince my wife to buy her another dress. This will go on for a while but no deal will be reached and in the end she’ll be in a bad mood. My daughter I mean. Well, and my wife too I guess.
Whatever, this is how such an outing goes. We still have at least another twenty minutes of negotiation so it is a good time to write a postcard.
Looking across the street I can see the festival hall and smile at this glamorous town.
It’s nice to back in Cannes, Isn’t it, old girl?
We have come a long way, Cannes and me. We have come a long way.