Fiona Alderman’s Blog: Just A Heartbeat Away

I write this with a heavy heart but feel it will be cathartic after this very sad month, losing Barry that I have known for nearly 40 years. Meeting him way back in the late 80’s in Glasgow was,  to say the least, different? I was a young dancer newly returned home after several years in London training and performing in contemporary dance.

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I had formed a small group of dancers and we were busy rehearsing for our up and coming performances at Cottier’s. Not the theatre it is now but still an empty Church with a great floor space – but cold! A huge open fire had to be regularly stocked with wood, that I remember both Barry and my parents going to find, often in skips around the area.

Barry and I met in the famous West End bar, the Ubiquitous Chip. I was with my mum and Barry came up to chat with us and another friend. He asked us to a party he was giving with his mum, who he was staying with at the time. Walking down the lane in a very nice part of the city, my mum said “We know this house, don’t we?” Indeed. It had been my sister’s and her family’s just before Mrs Paton bought it. Such a coincidence.There were many to follow.

Barry came to photograph and film our next performance – he  captured dance photography very well, going on later to photograph many companies such as DV8 and Lloyd Newson, Scottish Ballet, Philippe Decoufle and even Merce Cunningham in an interview in Glasgow during May Fest. He also covered many International Jazz concerts in Glasgow photographing, amongst others, Stephane Grappelli, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and the great Ray Charles.

However, his previous years working as a war journalist had taken him to many parts of the world, in which famine, death and danger would play a very large part of his life. From Ethiopia and Sudan in Africa, working for Bob Geldof and Band Aid, to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Beirut and Bosnia, he kept a focused eye on telling the truth behind the camera.

His “ love affair “ with La Belle France began early on too, travelling with his wife and family throughout the country. When we came ourselves on holiday years later, we talked about how much we would like to live here. We finally did in 2000, coming with our little cat Gemma all the way from Scotland. She liked it immediately, I seem to remember.

Setting up with the Salignac Foundation and welcoming students from all over the world, we offered short courses in both dance and film and we soon became integrated into this lovely village. Barry was well known for always having his camera with him , discreetly taking photos of local events and other numerous occasions of people watching, always with respect and affection.

He was a true descendant of Captain John Paton, who was a prominent Covenanter in the Scottish Rebellion during the reigns of Charles 1 and Charles 11. Involved in many battles against the Crown, he was declared a rebel, and executed in Edinburgh in 1684.

My Barry was a bit of a “rebel” too. I miss him.

More Missy Tales

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Once again this little cat has been such a source of comfort and joy during this last month.Following me around, checking up on me? Never leaving me out of her sight, it has been really nice. In the extreme heatwave we had recently, she stayed indoors in the relative cool but going out later in the day, often until 10 30 at night. It is still light then and she likes to watch the little swallows swooping and diving, searching for food. She has found such a vantage point, in a high chimney within a neighbour’s house. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw her up there.

She gets up and down by the roof and fits snugly into the chimney space. Looking over the world and contemplating, as cats do. Merci beaucoup Missy!

Fifi’s stories from rural France. June 2022.

Fiona Alderman: Another Place in History
Fiona Alderman: French Elections and Tricky Bureaucracy

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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