Hydra Memorial Event for Bill Cunliffe, Owner of "Bill's Bar" Immortalized by Leonard Cohen

Bill's daughters Carolyn & Kathy scatter his ashes in Kimini Harbour, Hydra

July 20, 2012
Now the crickets are singing
The vesper bells ringing
The cat's curled asleep in his chair
I'll go down to Bill's Bar
I can make it that far
And I'll see if my friends are still there...
(Night Comes On) 

Bill Cunliffe's Memorial Event 

(from the leonard cohen forum with permission)

by hydriot Thu Apr 26, 2012
Bill's daughters are holding a small memorial event on the beach at Vlichos at 1300 on 1 May, followed by lunch.

We first met when I was a teenager and he remains one of the most colourful characters I have ever known. He seemed to be friends with everybody. He was one of life's great fixers, able to introduce you to practically anybody you needed (or wanted) to meet, and from every walk of life: I remember once bumping into him on a Hydra street and being immediately introduced by him to Claudio Abbado. How did Bill come to know one of the world's greatest conductors? Who knows?

I'll go down to Bill's memorial event, I can make it that far, and see if my friends are still there.

* * *

by hydriot Thu May 03, 2012 
We gave Bill a good send-off on 1 May, his birthday when he would have been 65.

About forty of us gathered at the far end of the shingle beach at Vlichos for a few minutes of silence in his memory. Next several poems were recited relevant to him.

Roger Green reciting a poem

His two daughters were then taken out to sea a little way where they scattered half his ashes on the water (the other half had already been scattered in Amersham, his English home) and strewed flowers.

Those on the tiny pier threw their flowers and wreaths into the sea too. We were then each given a small packet of raisins and cereals, koliva, a traditional pagan offering in remembrance.

A banquet -- there is no other way to describe it -- then took place at the Endalion taverna just off the beach. Nine courses spread over more than two hours: a beetroot and yoghurt dip, Greek salad, green salad with figs, zuchini balls, tomato-and-something balls, spanacoppita, meatballs and chips, mushrooms, cake. Somebody commented that all we needed were couches and it would have been a Roman feast. Considerable amounts of wine and beer were consumed, as Bill would have required.

And of course around the table many anecdotes of Bill's life circulated amongst friends who had known him from as long ago as the sixties. My favourite anecdote was this one --

In the afternoons, Bill insisted on drinking tea like a proper Englishman before he started on the evening's alcohol. One afternoon, having brewed tea very correctly (including warming the pot), Bill amazed a friend by adding an ice-cube. When the friend asked why, Bill replied impatiently "It's not cooling fast enough!"

The end of an era, indeed.
*   *   *
  • Thank you to Hydriot for sharing his moving report on the Leonard Cohen Forum and to Judy Scott (Jazz4111) for sharing the photos.
  • Bill’s Bar is now the restaurant of the Bratsera Hotel on Hydra.

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