Posts Tagged ‘Paulo Coelho’

Viva St Joseph’s Day

March 19, 2017

Today, 19 March 2017, is St Joseph’s Day, patron saint of workers.

In the evening, guest of my good friends Paulo Coelho and Christina Oiticica, and many other friends, we would be celebrating St Joseph’s Day at some wonderful venue, in a historic town, chosen by Paulo.

It seems only yesterday, we were in Prague.

Sadly not this year.

I wish Paulo, Christina, and our friends who come together from all over the world, Viva St Joseph’s Day.

I endorse thoughts of my dear artist friend Dasha Bell:

Our hearts are enlightened with numerous fabulous memories of all the fantastic moments shared at Paulo Coelho and Christina Oiticica St. Joseph Party ! What a magical time, how many dear friends and sensations of love and happiness shared ! Thank you !!!

And some memories shared by others:

St Joseph’s Day celebrations last few years:

The Alchemist: four hundred and twenty three weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 22, 2017

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred and twenty three  weeks in New York Times best-seller list, ie eight years and two months.

What a way to start 2017.

Not bad for a book that was first published nearly three decades ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

The Alchemist: four hundred weeks in New York Times best-seller list

April 24, 2016
The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list.

What a way to end April 2016.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty seven years ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

Fête de Saint Joseph de Paulo Coelho du 19 mars 2016 à Prague ( @paulocoelho )

April 3, 2016

St Joseph’s Day Party in Lobkowicz Palace

April 2, 2016

PPrague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. — Paulo Coelho

Two weeks ago, St Joseph’s Day, a chauffeur driven limousine to Prague Castle to a party in Lobkowicz Palace. A guest of my dear friend Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho has a knack of hosting parties in wonderful iconic locations.

It is strange, how you have an entirely different perspective of the world, if driven around in a limousine. An argument maybe for forcing politicians and their wealthy masters to use public transport at least once a year.

A police checkpoint, car checked, though odd not the passenger, then dropped off outside the German Embassy.

I did not query this. I had instructed my driver to drop me off at which ever entrance to Prague Castle was best for him, and I would find my way on foot to Lobkowicz Palace.

Thus when he said he would drop me off at the Germany Embassy, I did not query it. I assumed it to be located somewhere inside or nearby the castle entrance.

I got out, asked my driver where I was to go.

Luckily I did.

Not where we should be.

He asked me to get back in, ten minutes he assured me.

Off we went, with him tapping into his Sat Nav.

We are lost he told me. I will have use Google Maps.

By now I am perplexed. How can anyone live in Prague and not know how to get to the castle? Am I lost within a Kafka novel? Did not K have problems getting to the castle?

A journey that should have been no more than 15 minutes, took 50 minutes.

He dropped me off at the entrance to Prague Castle.

More security checks. Police and army armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Stunning views over Prague.

I walked in, luckily it was not far for the palace.

More security.

Was I on the guest list?

Yes, said a voice who confirmed who I was.

waiters bearing drinks

waiters bearing drinks

jazz quartet in the corner

jazz quartet in the corner

frescos on the ceiling

frescos on the ceiling

Inside warmly greeted by Christina, guests who I know, waiters with drinks and little titbits to eat, a jazz band playing in a corner.

Trying to take it all in, paintings, frescos on the ceilings, not possible to put anything down anywhere, trying somehow to balance  wine, eats, books, camera, phone and take pictures.

Leave books at cloakroom, yes, a good idea.

Paulo chatting with guest

Paulo chatting with guest

I walked out onto a balcony overlooking the town. A warm greeting from Paulo who was chatting with friends.

Annie a prayer in Greek

Annie a prayer in Greek

Eventually we are called to order for prayers in multiple languages and faiths, people called forward.

To my surprise and shock, my lovely Greek friend Annie is there. I had not seen her and did not know she was there. I have not seen her since we met in Athens three years ago.

Paulo Coelho, whose party it was and whose guests we were, explains why Prague.

Many years ago, when he wanted to be a writer, he had toured Europe.

He had found himself in Prague, in the Church of the Infant Jesus, a church I was to visit a few days later.  He asked to become a writer. If he did, he would one day return and give the infant Jesus a new shawl, which he had done that morning.

Whilst in Prague he had walked along the Golden Lane, a street of the alchemists. There was no one there apart from a  young man painting, his hands covered with cut off gloves against the cold. Paulo buys a painting, gives the equivalent of a dollar, very little. The young man is overjoyed. He points at Christina. Thinking he wants more money, but no, he offers to paint Christina.  Offered money, he refuses to accept it.

Paulo was very moved by this experience, to him it was an epiphany. Here was a man, painting for his art, for love of what he did, not for money.

Thirty years on, Paulo was determined to track this man down. He called upon his friends in Prague, and a miracle, the man was found. But could he prove who he was, did he remember the two gifts Paulo gave him?

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Paulo had pointed him out earlier. He now invited him to join him on the stage.

A very emotional scene, the man was in tears.

Paulo explained he was his guest of honour, would he please stay and eat with us.

Whether he did, I do not know, as I did not see him again.

Paulo told the story the day before at his press conference and has recounted  the story on his blog.

Paulo told us this was the 30th St Joseph’s Day Party, a celebration when friends get together and there was nothing more important to him than friendship and his friends. Those who were no longer with us, were with us in spirit.

There was though to be a change. From now on, the party would only be held every other year, not once a year.

Following prayers, we were asked to go in for dinner.

I hugged Annie, and walked into dinner together.

Sadly we could not find a table seated together.

Not to worry said Annie, we have all night after dinner to talk.

I found myself sat at a table with friends, including Paulo and Christina.

Part way through dinner I found myself chatting with William Lobkowicz. We discussed music. He was very interested in what I was suggesting as he wanted something different.

I recommended Pieles, a musical production which I had seen in Puerto de la Cruz at Teatro Timanfaya. He thought stage where we were dining. I said no, it would have to be a small theatre.

Others I thought off Socos DuoA Ritmo de TangoImágenes de la Compañía MuvenDanz.

Why not make a Canarian season, rope in Spanish Ambassador for support.

I also added Jewelia, Zoe Keating, Imogen Heap, or at least made a mental note to add.

The Sixteen added to my mental list. I did not now know at the time, that in Lobkowicz Collection, were held original manuscripts of Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

The Sixteen could play from the manuscripts, either where we dined or St Nicholas Church, a Baroque church in Prague Old Town, depending upon the music. The cathedral in Prague Castle would be too big, they would be lost.

The problem with Prague, as I learnt wandering around, everyone is putting on the same nigh identical tourist trap concerts.

He gave me his card to follow up our discussion, as he had to leave early.

It was only later, I discovered my dining companion was Prince William Lobkowicz, to give him his correct title.

string quartet played whilst we dined

string quartet played whilst we dined

Whilst we ate, a string quartet played.

Dinner over, wine having freely flowed, and more was yet to flow, Paulo called us to order.

He thanked the string quartet.

He then told of Paul McCartney being asked to summarise his music. He said he cannot, it has to be listened to.

Paulo gets asked the same question: Can you summarise your books? He says no, read the books.

At his side, I recognised a girl, though I could not recall why. Paulo introduced her  and a guitarist who had appeared, as who had played at his party in Athens.

He then broke into All You Need is Love, with everyone joining in.

He then told everyone to party, the band was playing.

Usually at the end of a party, Paulo and a few of us sit around chatting.

Not to be, Paulo and Christina left early.

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

I caught Paulo as he was leaving and he kindly signed my books, presents for friends.

Then the night was over.

We could not order our own transport, due to the tight security, transport had been arranged.

Annie and several of us left around 2-30am. Annie wanted to walk. I said no, we did not know the way and she would get lost. I also knew it would be very cold, and she only had a thin dress and a light jacket.

As we left the palace, army on guard outside armed with semi-automatic weapons.

We piled onto the coach and off we went, with one girl in high spirits demanding music and then inviting me out the next day.

Final drop off, everyone piled off, I said goodbye to Annie and friends, a couple of us stayed on the coach.

Where to next?

I did not mind not being dropped off at my hotel, Old Town Prague would do, and I would find my own way.

The coach was going nowhere. I too got off, to find Annie standing by the roadside all alone shivering.

But for the grace of God the coach  did not take me, as otherwise Annie would have been all on her own.

We were lost, we did not have a clue where we were were. We wandered around for an hour or more. We were lost. We were going round and round in circles getting nowhere, but slowly turning to ice. Then I said look. What said Annie? I pointed to a lit up telecoms tower, what I had seen during the day. Assuming it to be the same one, it was located on a hill behind the castle. If we turned with our backs to the tower, we could head to the river. I still had no idea where we were, but at least we could head in the right direction. The only problem was, every  road we headed down, was blocked off.

Look, I said again. Annie looked. Exhausted. Cold. The name I said, the name of the hotel, The Alchemist. It was a sign. We both laughed. We knew everything was ok. We know how to read signs

We then met two people. They sort of headed us in the right direction.

Then I realised where we were. It was where I had walked earlier in the day when I crossed Charles Bridge.

From there Annie found her hotel.

Will you be ok?

Yes, cross the bridge, find the Old Town Square, then I can find my way.

I probably sounded more confident than I was, I neglected to tell Annie that although I had walked this route during the day, I had got lost, and that was in daylight, now it was dark.

I promised to send her a message when I was safely home

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

I crossed the now deserted Charles Bridge with someone following me. Creepy.

I crossed the bridge and was lost. It is one thing being lost with a friend, quite another on your own in a strange city in the early hours of the morning wandering cold, dark and deserted streets.

I wandered around, absolutely no idea where I was.

Eventually a taxi driver stopped, asked was I ok. I said no I was lost.  He pointed me in the right direction. I immediately regretted I had not asked him to take me home. I passed another taxi , but he was either picking people up or dropping people off.

I found the Old Town Square. It was very different to daylight, or even night when lit up. It was in darkness. I found my way through the square, then down an alley then finally I knew where I was.

I finally reached my hotel at 4-15am in the early early hours of the morning, very cold and very tired.

Many thanks to Paulo and Christina for hosting the party and inviting me. And thanks for the friendship. And thanks Paulo for your patience and signing the books as you were leaving.

When Paulo announced the party was only going to be every two years, I felt very sad as in my heart I knew there was gong to be no more parties.  And so it proved to be.

A couple of days later, a sad e-mail from Paulo thanking his friends, saying there would be no more parties, after thirty this phase of his life was over. He has already decided before the party but at the party decided to compromise by holding every two years, but on reflection to keep to his original decision.

I am sure Paulo we will meet somewhere, but in the meantime my dear friend, take good care of yourself.

I usually write up the party on getting home, the first account published.

I am sorry I did not. I was tired and exhausted, and I had no computer.

I asked the hotel. They kindly went out and bought a computer and delivered it to my room. I returned and found a laptop sitting on my table. Only problem was, it was in Czech. I can handle a Spanish keyboard, but a Czech keyboard with four, sometimes five, characters on each key. Plus it was Windows 10 in Czech.

Now, two weeks later trying to keep everything in chronological order, my write up.

Apologies for lateness.

I have though found it very hard to write.

Paulo Coelho books in Prague bookshop

March 26, 2016
Paulo Coelho books in Prague bookshop

Paulo Coelho books in Prague bookshop

A little bookshop around the corner from Jewel Hotel in Old Prague, next to or nearby La Piccola Perla.

A shelf of Paulo Coelho books.

I suggested, that as Paulo Coelho was in Prague, maybe they should have a display of his books in the window.

No. We decide what goes in the window. And we do not like his books.

A few days later I passed by, a large Paulo Coelho poster in the window, a pile of Paulo Coelho books on display in the window.

Maybe they were influenced by the press conference the day before his St Joseph’s Day Party at Prague Castle.

The Alchemist: three hundred and ninety weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 31, 2016
The Alchemist three hundred and ninety weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist three hundred and ninety weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, today The Alchemist three hundred and ninety continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list. That is an amazing seven years and six months. And it is at No 5.

What a way to end January 2016.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty seven years ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

The Alchemist: three hundred and eighty-six weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 3, 2016
The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, today The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list. That is an amazing seven years and five months. And it is at No 2.

What a way to welcome in the New Year.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty seven years ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

Courage 2016

January 1, 2016
Courage 2016

Courage 2016

wise words from Paulo Coelho

wise words from Paulo Coelho

illustrations by Catalina Estrada

illustrations by Catalina Estrada

words from the books of Paul Coelho

words from the books of Paul Coelho

Courage 2016 is  a special limited edition diary with illustrations by Catalina Estrada and quotes from Paulo Coelho.

I resisted the temptation to look until today.

Each month opens with a beautiful illustration by Catalina Estrada and a quote from Paulo Coelho.

Each page opens with a quote from Paulo Coelho.

Diaries usually have less space for weekend entries. Sharing turns this around and devotes an entire page to Sunday.

These diaries are collectors items.

Catalina Estrada designed Scarves for Solidarity. Monies raised go to support Laboratorio del Espíritu, a project in Colombia.

In October I was quite surprised to find  on sale on bookstalls in Athens.

For successive years, I would strongly recommend as of limited edition, supplied to indie bookshops only, and readers directed to indie bookshops.

Christmas Tale : The music coming from the house

December 24, 2015
Merry Christmas -- Ken Crane

Merry Christmas — Ken Crane

On Christmas Eve, the king invited the prime minister to join him for their usual walk together. He enjoyed seeing the decorations in the streets, but since he didn’t want his subjects to spend too much money on these just to please him, the two men always disguised themselves as traders from some far distant land.

They walked through the centre of the city, admiring the lights, the Christmas trees, the candles burning on the steps of the houses, the stalls selling gifts, and the men, women and children hurrying off to celebrate a family Christmas around a table laden with food.

On the way back, they passed through a poorer area, where the atmosphere was quite different. There were no lights, no candles, no delicious smells of food about to be served. There was hardly a soul in the street, and, as he did every year, the king remarked to the prime minister that he really must pay more attention to the poor in his kingdom. The prime minister nodded, knowing that the matter would soon be forgotten again, buried beneath the day-to-day bureaucracy of budgets to be approved and discussions with foreign dignitaries.

Suddenly, they heard music coming from one of the poorest houses. The hut was so ramshackle and the rotten wooden timbers so full of cracks, that they were able to peer through and see what was happening inside.

And what they saw was utterly absurd: an old man in a wheelchair apparently crying, a shaven-headed young woman dancing, and a young man with sad eyes shaking a tambourine and singing a folk song.

‘I’m going to find out what they’re up to,’ said the king.

He knocked. The music stopped, and the young man came to the door.

‘We are merchants in search of a place to sleep. We heard the music, saw that you were still awake, and wondered if we could spend the night here.’

‘You can find shelter in a hotel in the city. We, alas, cannot help you. Despite the music, this house is full of sadness and suffering.’

‘And may we know why?’

‘It’s all because of me.’ It was the old man in the wheelchair who spoke.

‘I’ve spent my life teaching my son calligraphy, so that he could one day get a job as a palace scribe. But the years have passed and no post has ever come up. And then, last night, I had a stupid dream: an angel appeared to me and asked me to buy a silver goblet because, the angel said, the king would be coming to visit me. He would drink from the goblet and give my son a job.

‘The angel was so persuasive that I decided to do as he said. Since we have no money, my daughter-in-law went to the market this morning to sell her hair so that we could buy that goblet over there. The two of them are doing their best to get me in the Christmas spirit by singing and dancing, but it’s no use.’

The king saw the silver goblet, asked to be given a little water to quench his thirst and, before leaving, said to the family:

‘Do you know, we were talking to the prime minister only today, and he told us that an opening for a palace scribe would be announced next week.’

The old man nodded, not really believing what he was hearing, and bade farewell to the strangers. The following morning, however, a royal proclamation was read out in all the city streets; a new scribe was needed at court. On the appointed day, the audience room at the palace was packed with people eager to compete for that much-sought-after post.

The prime minister entered and asked everyone there to prepare their paper and pens:

‘Here is the subject of the composition: Why is an old man weeping, a shaven-headed woman dancing, and a sad young man singing?’

A murmur of disbelief went round the room. No one knew how to tell such a story, apart, that is, from the shabbily dressed young man sitting in one corner, who smiled broadly and began to write.

(Based on an Indian story)

— Paulo Coelho