My friends are the ones that keep going, come hell or high water, and through the ups and downs. There are a few, at least one or two, from each period in my life. We get together rarely, missing years sometimes, but you know the cliches, whenever we do see each other, it works.
Karim Medjad is my best friend from Paris, and was the best man (called a témoin) at our wedding. He was a law Professor at HEC during the whole period covered by this memoir, and has since moved on to life tenure as the sole law professor at the CNAM, one of the French Grandes Ecoles. He counsels entrepreneurs and the World Bank, in equal measure.
Both Marie-Helene and I met Karim in 1988 at the now defunct law firm of Kevorkian & Partners in Paris. He enjoyed his time at the firm, up to a point, but was eager to leave once he’d absorbed what he felt there was for him to learn there.
Being a law professor was more to his taste, and at HEC (where he found his first position) he taught law in their prestigious entrepreneurs program for many years. That fitted in perfectly with his work at the Paris firm, where we’d both helped a start-up together.
It was at HEC that he became a guide on the ins and outs of corporate law for developing countries or any other country that wanted a legal system modeled on the common or civil law framework. Karim would go in, often retained by the World Bank or the EDB, and help draft the country’s commercial code. Talk about interesting work!
Even further back is England. That’s where I was raised and went to school. My two secondary schools were Solihull School, near Birmingham, and Sir William Borlase’s School in Marlow. I still have friends from both. David Milsom was at Borlase’s, and our friendship has lasted for almost 40 years.
Despite his wife Janice’s occasional reserves! I forget exactly how it happened, but early on in their relationship there were two women with an interest in David, and the other one was closer to me than Janice at the time. Not long after, I was uninvited to their wedding, which hurt, and then it took a few years before David and I started hangng out together again.
That said, they became surprisingly central in our world of friends. The first video filmed with mum’s then new video camera was in their home with their two lovely daughters and a large bunny rabbit! I still take constant advantage of their joint generosity to invite myself to stay at their home whenever I’m in England, which is naughty, but hey, what are friends for! Thanks guys!
Jumping forward to the US, Berkeley was a rich source of friends. What an education! I had dropped out of Imperial College in London, where I would have been very well trained as an engineer, but where almost all the courses were required. There was almost nothing in the curriculum which wasn’t a part of becoming an electrical engineer. I wouldn’t have minded getting to that point, but after years of required curricula at grammar school (the key quality then of school in England: minimal freedom of choice), I really wanted a little more knowledge closer to home, about people, life and love. It was finally beginning to dawn on me that it was not possible to learn all this without guidance.
Enter Berkeley! Which I did in 1976. My first class, team taught by Charles Muscatine, an English professor hooked on Chaucer, and Margaret Polatnick, a sociology grad student hooked on feminism, was titled “The Formation of Male and Female Roles in Western Cluture,” and required papers instead of exams. Yes! Beat that for an undergraduate course!
Fergus Ferrier is the friend from Cal whom I’ve probably spent the most time with over the years. He worked in London while I worked in Paris, and lived in Santa Cruz for most of our family’s years here. Then also high on the Cal list are Tom Henry in Salinas and Mike Gardner, also in Santa Cruz.
Ferg helped us out a fair bit in 2004 by tutoring our forcefully adolescent adolescents. A couple of them were basically refusing to benefit from their high school studies. Not an entirely incomprehensible position, but we worried about the effects of that refusal on their respective futures. In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have worried so much: their futures would not be determined by their high school grades.
At Cal, Tom, Mike and Ferg all lived at Lothlorien, the vegetarian student housing coop, during the year that I lived parked outside it in my converted bread van. I had $2,000 in savings at the end of that senior year thanks to that van and the deal struck with Lothlorien: I did their weekly fruit and vegetable shopping in the van; in return, they let me shower and eat dinner in the coop.
Law school followed college, with no time off for once. Graduation was only 12 years before this memoir began. Plus, Yale is better organized that most of the periods of life, in that they hold regular and well-attended reunions. As a result, more friends remain from this period than from earlier.
Russ Hanlon is still my best friend from there, although the friendship has been less easy since Marie-Helene and I separated: she is close friends with Russ’s wife Annie!. He and his family are part of our reason for moving to Santa Cruz, and they have their own page here. Our 25th reunion, which Russ did not attend, has its own page here.
Ian Summers and Ian went to school together for three years. As a twelve year-old, Ian Summers liked music and physics, and with impressive life-long consistency he became a Professor of Physics specializing in sound at Exeter University.
Here he is with Stella early in 1994.
Here are Nick and Tom with several of Stella’s and Ian’s “blended” children, again while out walking in the woods near Exeter in early 1994.
Next to Nick, this is Karim again, with Nathalie. The couple spent six months in Oakland in 1999 while he held a visiting professorship at Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley.
Despite his Harvard degree, Karim is a very nice guy!
Marie and Paul Roy, in Cambridge, New York during the fall of 2004. The Roys hosted Ian as a high school exchange student for three weeks of his senior year at Borlase’s in Marlow. He fell in love with the US during those three weeks, and can trace emigrating to the US to the welcome he received in their home.
Jim Blakey, on top of his world (Boston, if you don’t recognize it) in November 2004. Jim worked with Ian at the New York law firm where he met Oded Eran (above) and John Fore (here). Kronish Lieb hired the best people!! Jim made partner, but after a few years and a couple of kids, he and Joann decided that Manhattan was not for raising children and moved back to the Boston area, where he is General Counsel for a private company. Ian and Jim worked together again on a real estate deal in Paris in 1997.
This page shows people from Ian’s past with whom he has stayed in touch. Not everycontent:encoded, of course, because who is on the page depends on when the camera
was available and how often we get together. One friend who with his family has
his own page is Russ Hanlon. A couple of other Marlow friends are here. A few of the friends that Ian and Marie-Hélène have made since being together are visible here.