Sunday, 26 January 2014

A first trip of the year (1)

A street, a Paris

It’s a long way from where I live to Paris, especially when it’s raining.

There’s a place someplace, in between the back of beyond and the middle of nowhere, where the landscape gets flatter than flat, greyer than grey, boring upon boring and I start to think that I’ glad I don’t have to be here.

And then I am.

And then it starts raining.

That’s when I looked at my travelling companion, forty years younger than I, yet fast asleep because she’s soooo tired.

What is it with youth, why do they need so much sleep?

What is it with oldth, why can’t we?

We were in the middle of a game of Spot the Spot when she yawned and turned her back and shut her eyes.

Obviously it is bad etiquette to take advantage of someone sleeping and rack up some points, but it was a real drag. For the last 400 kilometers I hadn’t seen one number plate with an X AND a 4 in it, neither hide nor hair of a boat on a river and not one fish.

Suddenly they were everywhere.

So I listened to some archive Dylan tapes, and then found Talk Sport and listened to fools debating rubbish.

Then she woke up.

“Ah, you’re back,” I said, “do you need anything?”

We had already finished a giant size packet of M and Ms, some disgusting liquorice aniseed balls and a slab of chocolate.

“Fizzy water, I feel sick.”

We stopped at the service station, had a coffeee, some apple juice and then some fizzy water. We did leg and back stretches on the bubbish bins and then got into the car forgetting to pay for the petrol.

There was a tap on the window.

We paid.

We left.

And suddenly we were on top of Paris.

We came around a wooded corner in the gloom and rain and there it was, laid out below us like a science fiction film set, lights and electricity in the night.

And then.

Another corner and the Eiffel Tower.  
Blurred? i was driving


I hadn’t seen her for a long time and at the end of a gruelling drive she uplifted the spirits better than the M and Ms.

You could market her image, it’s that good.

And I got another Spot the Spot point.

Then my daughter saw a fish.

It looked like a whale to me, it was part of a movie post on the side of a bus stop somewhere near L a Place Clichy but I was still chuffed about the Eiffel Tower so I gave it to her.

Then I waved at a boy in a car as we joined the traffic on La Pereferique and he waved back so I got a point for ‘a person waving’ and then Minnie saw a shop called ‘Printenps’ and got a bonus point for ‘a sign of spring’ – I had the official point because I had already seen a lamb.

Before the rain had set in.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower however, had changed everything and the rain was no longer.

So we parked.

We were close enough.

Ok it wasn’t a parking place, more of a the police-will-tow-you-away-place, but it was late enough and I was tired enough not to care.

We took the GPS device from it’s wrapper and set it to “where is my wife” and began walking Parisian Pavements.

We saw a Christmas Tree.

We saw a statue of Father Christmas.

And we saw our hotel.

And then we were three.

“Let’s eat!”

We ate.

Pumpkin soup with sour cream and poppy seeds.

Montmatre, midnight
Then we walked up the hill to Montmatre, it’s beautiful at night time, and you have it to yourself.

But there was a guy trying to do portraits in the artist’s square.

“Are you insane? It’s almost midnight!”


We didn’t take a portrait, but I gave him the money I had found in the street at the start of this trip.

It was lying in the gravel at the station where my daughter ended up going after she had missed the train we had agreed she would take.

The train that was travelling towards Paris and not away.

If we had met at the designated stop, the one nearer to Paris I wouldn’t have met the two cats who sat on my lap whilst I waited for the train to arrive.

If they hadn’t sat on my lap I might not have found the money.

So if my daughter hadn’t gone to bed as late as she had and subsequently missed her train then the midnight portrait painter of Montmatre probably would have had to gone to bed even later.

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