THEY DON’T MAKE WOMEN LIKE THIS ANYMORE
We had arrived a little early at the restaurant on Rue Des Archives and my nerves we’re starting to get the better of me. The street was packed with shoppers and the pavement was littered with chairs and tables as diners spilled out from the busy restaurants. The smell of garlic was in the air and barbequed meats and fish. Mel gave me a reassuring smile.
“You’ll be fine”. She said as she took hold of my hand. “You’ve come a long way. A long journey to get to here. Just enjoy the moment”.
The heat from the Paris sun was beating down, casting shadows upon the shimmering concrete floor.
“Wow! Look how black the shadows are?” I’d never seen shadows so black. Maybe it’s because I’m a black and white stills photographer. Anyway, Mel looked at me, the kind of look your parents used to give you when they were disappointed at something you’d done.
“What?” I said innocently.
The sun was relentless, and my black shirt was showing signs of perspiration through heat, anxiety and nervous tension. We stood on the pavement just outside the restaurant entrance, looking inside to see if we could see her. It was hard to make out if she was sat inside or not. I looked at my phone to see if she’d messaged.
“Maybe we’d come to the wrong restaurant?”
“Maybe she’s changed her mind?”
My phone had died. The meeting had been so last minute that we’d not brought any travel plugs and hadn’t been able to charge our phones night before.
“I can’t see her. Maybe she’s not coming?”.
“Jamie. She’s just text you before your phone died to say she’s nearly here. Chill your bean! Come on let’s grab a seat.”
Sylvia had called the meeting in Paris to discuss the photoshoot, to see my portfolio and wanted to establish my ideas for the shoot. I hadn’t really thought of any yet. Just then, a very tall lady approached and stood at the make shift entrance between all the chairs and tables on the street. I will never forget my first sight of her. An Iconic figure, wearing a large boater style hat, her blonde wavy hair resting on her shoulders. With one hand in her chino style trouser pocket, hips and foot turned out slightly she smiled at the waiter and said.
I turned to Mel.
“That’s her!” blurting it out for the world to here “That’s her!”
I couldn’t contain my excitement. Sylvia stood, head and shoulders above the world, a very imposing, beautiful woman. I watched her for what seemed like an hour and then suddenly waved my hand in the air, like I’d just won the bingo, shouting.
“Sylvia, it’s me, Jamie. Sylvia!”
She never moved her head, just glanced in my general direction and seemed to squint her eyes together. A pause of silence, then a huge smile came across her face and a warmth bestowed.
“Jammy” she said in her German, Austrian, English accent.
She held out her hand as she walked over. I paused. I suddenly had a vision of my father and how he had always taught me to shake a man’s hand firmly.
“It’s a sign of respect” he used to say.
“Show that you mean business. That you’re not a wet fish!”
With his image in my head, I had the urge to shake Sylvia’s hand firmly, not that she looked like a man, far from it, but she did look like she could quite easily handle herself and eat me for breakfast.
“Very nice to meet you” she said as her hand gripped mine.
I had made the right choice. My father had taught me well. She was a very domineering woman. Powerful in statue, but delicate and beautiful. I immediately knew why Newton had used her in his work. As I felt her grip around mine, I remember thinking to myself.
“They don’t make women like this anymore. Wow!”