Paris - Day Yesterday, Day Today, Day Tomorrow
I am exhausted. My legs ache, my feet are like swollen balloons, distant ships on the horizon... I really couldn't be bothered walking, doing anything vaguely touristic today. I have done my laundry in M. Lav next door, saving the price of a pair of underpants with each pair of underpants I wash myself. Now at least I know why people are wandering around Montparnasse with their suitcases. I thought everyone was a tourist, but no, they have their dirty washing in them.
Today I'll work on my presentation, write up yesterday's tour, then maybe head out to catch the Eiffel Tower lit up at night... it's just on the other side of the Tour Montparnasse I found out yesterday.
That should do me for Paris. This time.
I have a 7am start tomorrow. I will walk down to the RER stations at Denfert-Rocherau with my suitcase (they'll think it's my laundry) instead of struggling on the bloody Metro again.
Yesterday, I took the wonderful Metro to L'Odéon. That Big Man's Store is actually for pathological giants, not beer-bellied men of normal height. My pituitary is doing OK thanks, so no, that casual jacket which extends below my knees will not do...
I head via circuitous flâneuristic routes to the side by the Seine. I walk down steps to the bank opposite the Louvre for a better angle for a photo and a man is fishing. Across the river, the Louvre is obviously huge. Fuck doing that.
Instead, I choose to cruise on my aching feet in the warm sun, in the chilly wind, to walk down towards the Musée D'Orsay, that old train station done up as museum. My bladder is starting to make its presence felt. I'll duck in and have a look at all the art and culture and stuff, take a piss while I'm at it.
Oooops, the queue is huge. Duck in? Not likely. Fuck doing that. There must a pissoir somewhere: this is Paris, non?
All is for the best in this best of all possible Paris's.
Voltaire died, of course..... Mona Lisa - Your Face Here.... Tom Jefferson waits for the bus
I keep on the left bank. At the Quay Anatole France, an artist, hooded against the stiff breeze is sketching something in a book. He has a row of small card-sized paintings on display on the wall. Probably pop-out art done in a factory by gifted eight year-olds in up-country China for all I know.
Two middle-aged female tourists are walking past him, in my direction, when another woman stops in front of them and starts up a conversation. The artists jumps up and waves his book at the woman. The tourists are startled and move on. She proclaims something to him, doing the Gallic shrug, as I walk past them. She looks me in the eye briefly with a twinkle. There is something glittering in her hand. He yells at her again: "Get out of my area," or something I presume. She chases after the two tourists, shows them her sparkling something again. They talk for half a minute with her, but shake their heads. She turns to come back, pauses, thinking about perhaps another confrontation if she has to go past the artist then continues on, having come to some couldn't-give-a-fuck conclusion. I am sitting on the wall, pretending not to look at all this, but with my camera poised. She walks past him without incident as some other men are looking at the cards. She strolls past me without a glance.
By the time I amble as far as the golden statues at Pont Alexandre III my bladder is very troublesome. That is not all that troubles me. I stop to rest and write up the previous immensely amusing (to me) story, when a young woman passes near to me, stoops down and says something cute, like "ooh la la!" as she brings something up in her hand -- a broad golden ring, shining brightly in the sun. Did I drop this? - I guess that is what she is asking. I smile, not with politeness but at the sudden understanding. So *that* is the trick!
While I continue to write up the story, three more people including a very young kid and couple of youths try it on me. By this time, I am no longer looking at them when they make their play and my automatic reply is: "Ooh la la, magnifique - now FUCKING FUCK OFF." I consider next time stooping down myself, going "Ooh la la", and bringing up my middle finger to their noses... But no-one goes for me again, damn it!
It's like the touts and tricksters in Phuket with their, "Giddoi moite! Hey, Aussie, you speak English? Have t-shirt your size! Hey, you've own a prize." They're just making a dishonest buck, looking for the gullible and weak. People rarely lose money overestimating the out-of-normal-situation-public's naive stupidity - i.e. their inherent good nature.
I wonder how many of these Paris scammers get the shit pummelled out of them? Not enough, is the obvious answer.
I am looking in the phrasebook for "My back-teeth are floating." There are no pissoirs on the streets but I finally find a restaurant in this stark business area - thanks Christ I am not staying round here, I'd starve... or internally drown. I ask for a beer, order a snack and drop downstairs to the dunny. Aaaahhhhhhhhhhh...
With a "PING" the microwave announces itself as I come upstairs and in a prompt minute my sausages and frites arrive on my outside table. As I crunch into the twelve-times re-fried chips and micro-waved skin-burst frankfurters, yum yum -- NOT, I wonder about the wisdom of drinking a beer when my bladder seems so active... The waiter serves the people on the table next to me. With a snap he pops the metal-lid off a bottle of water and in a fluid motion flings the cap behind him onto the street... Did anyone else see that?
At the Rue Saint Dominique, I have to make a decision - left to the Hotel des Invalides, or right to the Eiffel Tower... Tower wins out. But by the time I get to the Champ-de-Mars by the front on the Eiffel Tower, my bladder is playing up again. That beer has gone straight through me. I follow a cryptic set of arrows back to where I had just entered the park from and eventually find the unmarked steps leading down to the toilets...
OK, I admire the tower, one big mother-fucker. I might just go on up the top and get a view on this glorious day. Oops, check the fucking queues - fuck doing that.
Instead, I stand underneath and take some photos...
On the way to the Metro all these guys are selling Eiffel Tower key rings. Imagine that sharp mother-fucker in your pocket! Not me.
The Metro: I change at Nation for Pére-Lachaise... a man is talking loudly to the crowd on the train for whole trip, standing right next to me as I pretend to sleep, no need to pretend that I don't understand him... I shrug and say, "Ne comprends pas Francais" as I walk past. I am not sure if *he* undertood *me*...
There are two toilets at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in case you are wondering... I used them both.
I wonder if people are going to hate me, think me stupid, for not doing this queue thing and the GRAND TOUR?
When I get home people will say:
- Did you see inside this? - Nope.
- Did you queue forever with a full bladder to go into that? - Nope.
- Did you wait in-line for two hours for a trip to the top of the other? - No fucking way.
- What about all those classic paintings here? - Nope.
- The display of modern sculptures there? - Nope.
- All the "Must See" things? - Didn't see them.
But when they ask:
- Did you have good time?
- Fucking brilliant! I love Paris.
I haven't seen it all, but I've seen more than I'd seen last week... or the last 50 years for that matter.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
There used to be a couple of pissoirs publiques in the Tuilleries....oh well next time.
Ended up walking the Champs-Elysees and the Tuilleries today, after all my promises to rest. Found the excellent Galignani bookstore on Rue De Ravioli, next to Sav's favorite hot-chocolate shop the Angelina (which had a queue, so no go).
Have you read any Huysmans? (I couldn't find his grave the other day, looked for it...) Makes me feel so much better reading how shit he feels in "Downstream"...
I worked in Paris for a year opposite Place De L'Opera with a bunch of french people. Paris is far more fascinating than London and even after a year there I was discovering churches and parts of Paris/World History that I had never been aware of.
My favourite place is the church at St. Madeleine near Place De Concorde. They do confessions in four or five different languages.
I think you have to be French to appreciate Huysmans. For the language. Can't get into it myself.
By which I intended to convey the fact that I love the French language but tend to find Huysmans a little on the flowery side.
Spike: I only sin in one language - body language - so not necessary. I watched the movie "Paris, je t'aime" on the way home yesterday. Excellent - the mixutre of sadness and happiness, the sense of of something finally achieved, or the memory of something you never done till now.
Dick: Huysmans: I've only read this one, "Downstream" - flowery? NOT! It's harsh and sparse. More like a bunch of rose-stems whipped across one's tender gonads... Could be the modern translation of course.
I haven't read 'Downstream'. I was thinking of 'À rebours'....I'll give it another go sometime. I remember it as elaborate and self-indulgent but maybe that's the point. So much to read.
Just read a bit of À rebours online at Gutengurg. Downstream was the book before this, very naturalistic, and as it is only a brief novella perhaps is wasn't so intimidating.
*hiss* I hate you. The closest that this job brings me to Paris is an email from someone in Paris