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Audrey Hepburn’s May 4 Birthday and Some Women I Have Known

Lady Audrey   Johnny around 9_crop

Audrey 16 years old

John 9 years old

 

John skiing in Swiss Alps  Audrey in Tolochenaz Switzerland

John in Geneva and Audrey in Tolochenaz

My sweet memories of Audrey Hepburn are revealed in Chapter 1 of Some Women I Have Known, now published on amazon.com and soon available in paperback and hardcover. The short story I wrote some time ago is incorporated in this book.

My publisher, Willow Manor Publishing Inc., and I wanted it out by May 4, Audrey’s birthday. As many may remember,  Audrey died of intestinal cancer in 1993. Maybe the horrible malnourishment during the war-years in Holland that she went through sowed the seeds for that illness in her body. Her departure from her close family and millions of friends shocked everyone. It depressed me for a long time. After her brilliant career as a movie actress, with that lovable face and her unique eyes and smiles, she devoted herself completely to the malnourished children of UNICEF in Africa, South-Asia, and the Far-East, till just a few months before her passing away.

My memories are only on the fringe of her life. I only knew her and her mother when I grew up, and more recently e-mailed a few times with her son Sean. She came to visit my grandparents with her mother and grandfather during World War II when they lived near Arnhem because they were family and good friends, and my grandparents lived close by. I happened to be there on vacation. It was a brief afternoon, the memory of which stuck in my mind because she was such a bright-smiled and amiable girl, some 6 years older than I, and we both suffered so much from this war, she more than I because she was older and her stepbrothers were taken away. Even a little boy remembers such things. In Some Women I Have Known I tell this story, and her sudden apparition many years later in Geneva where I worked and she stayed in nearby Tolochenaz, and we could remember this precious encounter when she was still a little girl herself, not yet discovered, trying to find her way under the guidance of her strong-willed mother, who I called “Aunt Ella.”

I can’t be but very sentimental about Audrey. Her whole life she kept mesmerizing us at home. She lived at the firmament and we were so amazed that the girl, who came by on a visit, became such a wonderful star. When I studied in Paris, she filmed Charade with Cary Grant and had no time to see me. When I finally succeeded in Geneva, by pure luck, she remembered and told me that filming Charade had been very demanding on her, not in the least because of  the exacting Cary Grant.

I hope you enjoy Some Women I have Known. The novel is based on the nine short stories that I published under the same overarching title on Amazon before. I rewrote the stories into a self-standing novel to which is added the story Joy to the World (not previously published) which tells who the author (under the fictitious name of John van Dorn) finally marries. The content of some of the short stories has been slightly modified to mold them into a single story line.

The title of the novel is taken from the bundle of short stories originally written under the same title by Maarten Maartens, aka Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (1858-1915), my Grand- Uncle, which was published by William Heineman, London, and D. Appleton & Company, New York, in 1901. He wrote 14 novels and 4 bundles of short-stories, all still very readable and written in a luscious and illuminating style. His Some Women, in a reprint, is also available on Amazon.com, but their content is, of course, totally different from mine. The book explains why.

The back flap of Some Women I Have Known tells the interested reader that the novel is a coming-of-age tale in which John van Dorn searches for his true love and meets some playful, perilous, and wonderful women along the way. He rides a pony with soon-to-be film star Audrey Hepburn, senses his first fondness of female attention at elementary school, experiences tender moments with his cello-playing sweetheart while at boarding school, loses his virginity in a risky adventure, then savors several dangerous and unfortunate loves in Paris, Amsterdam, Geneva and the Swiss Alps, learning that life is full of losses and ephemeral relationships. After rescuing a woman in the middle of Africa and a narrow escape of life and death, he finally finds peace of mind with a warm and beautiful Caribbean goddess in the United States.

Each tale can be read in one sitting. So, relax and enjoy with a lush glass of wine, a smooth VSOP brandy or a cup of mellow cappuccino, and smile or drop a tear. The preliminary reviews are positive:

“Paying homage to his great uncle, an ex–World Bank professional makes his debut with a memoir featuring the series of women he encountered in his youth. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (or Maarten Maartens as he was called in publishing circles) scored the jackpot…

A wistful memory…” Kirkus Review.

Enjoy it, and give it a review and the stars you like.

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The Legacy Craze

Mars Man

 

Mother Earth’s Weekly Squirms is showing on Mars TV. All Martians are tuned it.

Mars Man: Good morning, dear viewers. Many of you have sent in questions about why politicians on Mother Earth, such as Presidents, feel the need to leave a legacy and do whatever they can to create one. So we take on this subject this morning, as our panel is puzzled about this as well. Elmer, why don’t you start.

Elmer: Pure egotism. Be better than the next one and all former Presidents combined. Bargaining for a monument after death or even earlier.  Striving to be more than a footnote in history at the cost of the citizens.

Mars Man: That’s a sobering definition. Huda, your point of view?

Huda: If I were Obama of the USA, for example, I would have been content with being the first black president having united the races and steering his country through difficult times, and still leaving it better than when he took over. Instead, he made it worse because all his stellar falsehoods have flopped and racial tension has doubled. It’s only Michelle who left a doubtful legacy by removing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the school lunch and replacing it with broccoli, making all kids raving mad.

Pasha: I also hear she now wants to get paid for being first lady because of all the shores she’s got to do, such as going on expensive vacations and flying on Air force One, telling her servants what to pack. Then all stay-home-spouses who do a lot more than she in much harsher circumstances, should be salaried. What about the military spouses? They make real sacrifices.

Talma: Take Putin. He destroyed the legacy of Gorbachev, who enabled democracy in Russia, and took it back to the Czars. He is still working hard on this legacy, and that is no less than murdering opposition, and grabbing more territory which was Russian before and that includes Alaska. He is already sending his bombers to look for a vacation property there with Sarah Palin’s grizzly bears as house pets.

Pasha: I love Hollande, that French president who makes children out of wedlock in what they call partnership in France. He said that every Frenchman should be equal, and that means brotherhood and liberty, and misery for all. All citizens with any monetary achievements are taxed to nothing to give to those who don’t work, and as a result many went elsewhere to survive, and the economy is in shatters.

Shamus: I agree it’s a lunacy. All these politicians want to shine in their craziness using other peoples money, that’s the tax payers’, and what they end up with is darkness, despair, and as Pasha correctly says, misery for all. I think our Martian army should go down there and put the Mullahs, Putin, Hollande and Obama all in the same room with only one toilet and a community shower, a fridge with American hotdogs, French brie, Middle-Eastern falafels and Russian Vodka, and no exit.

Huda: Yes, and that communist Raoul Castro may clean up at two cents salary a day which is the average paycheck in Cuba. Worse than Guantanamo. And nobody exits until each of them drops their legacy fallacies and signs declarations–and I mean verifiable declarations–that they leave their citizens and those of other nations alone, including Mars.

Mars Man: What about that lady Merkel of Germany? She seems to have a more realistic view on her goals. Shamus?

Shamus. I agree. But Germany has a parliamentary system and that makes the difference. In presidential systems, the President is elected nationally, and in a parliamentary system it is the party which wins the largest number of parliamentary seats that choses the prime minister. Often they have coalition governments constituted of several parties, so they must compromise. There the president has only a ceremonial role, like royalty in monarchies. But Presidents in a presidential system have substantial power and cannot be removed unless impeached.

Elmer: That still has limitations. President Clinton was but the Senate did not have enough votes to implement it. Prime Ministers are removed when parliament casts a vote of no confidence and new elections must be held. They say the parliamentary system is less stable but it also avoids having an unmovable president in power everybody loathes. So Prime Ministers focus on governance, while a president focuses on glory in the aftermath, with all the disastrous results heaping up, as is visible in the US and France on Mother Earth. Both presidents are socialists, by the way.

Pasha: But in the US governors can be recalled, like they tried with that Governor Scott Walker.

Elmer: State Constitutions are different from the Federal one. What is remarkable is that he succeeded twice to thwart his socialist opposition. But that does no make such a Governor, however desirable, elected on the national scale. The rules are different.  In my opinion, the US presidential elections have become far too skewed in favor of the dumb electorate choosing its leader because of the relaxed rules for voter eligibility. Nowadays, even an ass can vote.

Huda: An ass?

Elmer: I mean a donkey. And that is usually a democrat. Not to say that an ass and a donkey are not similar, or even identical.

Talma: Why do American Republicans have an elephant as a mascot?

Elmer: Because they think it makes them feel powerful, but their problem is they leave it often in the room and are too decent to throw the guy out and clean up the mess.  That annoys a lot of people and that’s why they don’t win.

Mars Man: so that means that the democrat presidential candidate Clinton is a donkey?

Pasha: It would be improper to call her an ass. I hear they can’t even call her the B-word, although it seems that her husband Bill always did in the White House when she threw plates, knives or lamps at him. I also heard that all that is on tape somewhere.

Shamus: She says it would be great to have a female president. But why? She is still a socialist, so she would bring in other socialists and continue the Obama administration. More ruin for America. American electorates don’t realize that being a first female or first black president does not necessarily bring in good governance, and socialists surely don’t.

Talma: Are they even sure on Mother Earth that she is a woman? She looks rather manly to me. I always wondered why that Bill cheated on her all the time wherever he went. Even in the White House. Maybe she did not feel like, permanent headache?

Mars Man: Huda, you are our expert on Mother Earth gender matters. Your thoughts?

Huda: I think she is a male. Or at least transgender. Something must have happened on the way. You can hear that the way she laughs. Ever heard her laugh? It’s indeed like an a…donkey, I mean. That’s why Bill could not get his satisfaction anymore. And she lies like Bill, and he is definitely a male because we know that from that blue dress. So yes, my conclusion is that she is a male, a transgender male. That’s why the democrat party is so much for sexual liberties.

Elmer: The American Founding Fathers could not foresee this in their time. This is what is wrong with the American Presidential system. The French system is better: national scrutiny and in case the candidate does not get the absolute majority of the votes, a run-off takes place. The good thing is that when that happens, the electorate may become sensible and vote for the right person a second time. Had the US had that in 2012, Romney might have won as those dumb Republican non-voters would  have gotten scared and gone to the voting boot. What a difference that would have made.

Pasha: what would Clinton like to be her legacies?

Elmer: So far, the old socialist stuff: supporting the middle class (who doesn’t), raising the minimum wage which only prevents youngsters from getting entry-jobs, supporting education including kindergarten (who doesn’t), the usual platitudes on immigration and foreign policy. Absolutely nothing on revamping the social divide Obama has created, or fighting religious persecution, and strengthening America.

Pasha: There is a theory going that candidate Clinton has passed the menopause and that she therefore would not have hot flushes anymore when she lies, and that being deprived of hormonal fluctuations  would make her a better President.

Mars Man: But Huda’s transgender theory makes that possibility moot.  It’s going to be interesting for us to watch. Just hope that for once good reason wins on Mother Earth and that means a thorough regime change in the USA. It would help Mother Earth from further decline.  That’s all the time we have, viewers! See you next time. Bye-bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – SOON ON AMAZON

John

This is to announce that my novel Some Women I Have Known will soon be available on Amazon.com. Paperback and hardcover will follow shortly. See the cover below:

Cover

 

Some Women I Have Known is a coming-of-age tale in which John van Dorn searches for his true love and meets some playful, perilous, and wonderful women along the way. He rides a pony with soon-to-be film star Audrey Hepburn, senses his first fondness of female attention at elementary school, experiences tender moments with his cello-playing sweetheart while at boarding school, loses his virginity in a risky adventure, then savors several dangerous and unfortunate loves in Paris, Amsterdam, Geneva and the Swiss Alps, learning that life is full of losses and ephemeral relationships. After rescuing a woman in the middle of Africa and a narrow escape of life and death, he finally finds peace of mind with a warm and beautiful Caribbean goddess in the United States.

The novel is based on the nine short stories that were published under the same overarching title on Amazon before–and listed on this blog– but was rewritten into a self-standing novel to which has been added the story Joy to the World which tells who John van Dorn finally marries (not previously published). Some of the individual short stories were adapted and modified to fit into the one story-line.

Pre-launch critiques are positive:

“Paying homage to his great uncle, an ex–World Bank professional makes his debut with a memoir featuring the series of women he encountered in his youth. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (or Maarten Maartens as he was called in publishing circles) scored the jackpot…

A wistful memory…” Kirkus Review.

The cover design is by Melanie Stephens, Willow Manor Publishing, Fredericksburg, VA, based on a photograph taken by a close family friend, Irma Pahud de Mortanges, baroness Snouckaert van Schauburg, at the author’s home in Holland, in 1955. Audrey Hepburn’s picture on the piano is an original taken by Noel Mayne, Baron Studios, London, 1950, when she was still modeling and not yet “discovered.” It was a gift to me from her mother, Ella Baroness van Heemstra. The original is now in Audrey’s archive, kept by her sons Sean and Luca.

 A new website of ENCHANTÉ is under construction by Danielle Koehler (www.dalitopia.com). All very exciting!

Till soon!

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The Dumb Electorate – Let the Platitudes Begin

Mars Man

 

Mars Man to Mars TV: Viewers, we are on with the latest on Mother Earth. Our panel is in place. The first candidates for the 2016 US Presidential Election have announced.

The banalities have started. We will take our country back. We will roll back this and that. We will preserve America. We will tell the truth and not hide e-mails. We are disciplined, hard work, service, looking after YOUR wellbeing. And so be it. Dear panel, your views? Let me start with Elmer, our foremost political analyst.

Elmer: It is so boring. That Clinton women puts me to sleep. She walks like a peacock heaving her chest. Promising and promising what she never does herself. What do people want?

Huda: But I like peacocks, they are so peaceful in the park.

Shamus:  Ever seen them when they get mad? They storm at you screaming like yelling firebrands and throw a lamp at your face if their wings can get a hold of one.

Pasha: But it would be so nice to have a woman president. That motherly smile when you wake up and go to bed, rockydee baby rockedee boo. Just imagine, three o’ clock and no nightmares anymore.

Huda: Yeah, much better than that smile of Ted Cruz. It’s so awful, it gives me the creeps. And he speaks without a teleprompter. That current president sleeps with one in his bed. No room for Michelle anymore. What a difference that would make. You can always make up something without a teleprompter. The current fellow never lies because his teleprompter shuts off when he does, at least that’s what the user manual says.

Talma: They must have disabled that device then. I have never seen an eight year American Presidency on Mother Earth with so many lies and so much division. That teleprompter must be made in China, like all stuff on Mother Earth. Only the Russian teleprompters are truthful by comparison. At least there they say what they mean and do what they say.

Pasha: Remember that Russian Reset Button that Clinton gave them with that big smile? The Russians made Russian dolls of it and every time you pick it up another doll pops up and screams “Njet!”

Mars Man: Any idea who wins the American elections this time?

Elmer: I hope it is not Clinton because she would continue the Obama ruin of America and may encourage the Russians and Chinese to come to Mars. She has only played politics and run nothing but the state department although she was never there. Even during Benghazi she was somewhere nobody wants to talk about, and she destroyed all her relevant government emails. But nobody bothers, because she is a woman and must be treated with respect that males don’t get.

Shamus: If I were an American, I would elect somebody with steel in his blood and no nonsense talk. Like that General Petraeus. But the American general electorate has a negative IQ and only wants celebrities, like a first black or a first woman, like their soaps, without thinking what harm their administrations will do to their country.

Talma: Would nobody care for somebody to get America back on its feet? After all, it’s the only country that once was considered exceptional. Six years of Obama have completely obliterated that.

Huda: I would vote for Jeb. He has gravitas in his face and can correct what the other Bushes did wrong. And he speaks Spanish  with a Hispanic accent, so he can relate to the Spanish speaking part of the USA. Grows by the day. Only problem is that most of these newcomers are illiterate, even in Spanish. They might just vote for Clinton when she hollers I will give you more dinero. Because that’s the only English they understand. Her husband says she can scream very loud.

Pasha: I would like Carla Fiorina better. There’s a woman who knows how to manage. Got from secretary to the top of Hewlett  Packard. Biggest merger ever, with Compact. She can put that Clinton ten times in her pocket. And she will know how to deal with that Obamacare computer that goes flat whenever you have a heart attack or tummy cramps.

Mars Man: So far, nobody has taken a stand on something substantial, like the religious murders and ethnic cleansing that is going on in the Middle East. Media and people in America raise their voices in a huge chorus and destroy property for racial issues on the street but I see no protest marches about these religious murders, Christians, Jews, all over again. That current man in the white house only talks about the Crusades and how bad Christians were then, one thousand years ago. But Muslims were bad then too and killed thousands because they did not want to convert. That’s why the Crusaders went in, and that Husain fellow does not want to say that’s what they should do again. Only that  Wisconsin governor has made a comment that the Iran deal is a bad one and that he would screw it back.

Huda: Yeah, but he is only a governor.

Talma: So? At least he stopped the socialists, moved the state from red into black, and was twice re-elected.

Elmer: So was the current socialist tenant of the white house, and he increased the debt by more than all former presidents combined, did nothing to get the economy going, still tepid after six years of stimulus and what have you, and a substantial decline in the labor participation rate. They say that unemployment is 5.5 percent but actual unemployment is 10.6 percent.

Pasha: Thus, by your rationale, those state elections are not comparable to national elections?

Elmer: Exactly, because at the national level the dumb electorate is exponentially bigger and is supported by the national media that lives on them.

Mars Man: In other words, hold your breath. That’s a fearful outlook for the USA and Mother Earth.

Dear viewers, see you next time.

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Easter Hymn

 

john

Because readers asked.

Happy Easter – John

A last meal and blessing hand

Bring us peace in holy land

Make your neighbor a best friend

Hate has no place in holy land

 Easter Blooms 1

My heart will fold as red as blood

Forgive I will my tears will flood

You were created to be good

An undivided brotherhood

 Easter Blooms 006

Lavender blue will spread in spring

It’s peace of mind that it will bring

Don’t make hate your tool of life

End your endless words of strife

***

Shout that peace is good for all

Not just you in clustered walls

Tear them down your flags of hate

They are NOT an act of faith

 Easter Blooms 008

Shaking hands across the line

Sharing meals of bread and wine

Showing trust in someone’s heart

Making one a world apart

[And keep that dagger just in case

The other earthling shows bad grace ]

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