Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fucking Fine

What is wrong with me? The only way I will ever be able to save money is if I superglue fifty euro notes on to the inside of my thighs. Even then I would probably hack a leg off just so I could buy a nice pair of shoes and I would be so consumed with shopping hysteria that the irony would be completely lost on me.

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned my Fucking Fine. I’ll start at the beginning…

On Saturday, I went to Ikea with Amo... yeah, I know- forget the Eiffel Tower, forget the Palace of Versailles, you come to Paris to enjoy a nice day out at Ikea right? But I did have a valid excuse for going- it's disgusting so I won't tell you. Ok, I'll tell you: I haven't changed my sheets since December. It's just such a faff because I only have one set of sheets, so I have to wash them and then wait days for them to dry... The annoying thing is yesterday the mum casually mentioned that I could use any of their bedding whenever I wanted, so there was no need to go to Ikea. But I will not regret spending money, it is my life motto, but one that I’ve come to question of late.

Normally I can justify any spend. But that fucking ten euro Medieval Ballad that I bought whilst in a Shopping Trance; I'm having trouble justifying that. I'm pretending that the man who owns the bookshop is in deep financial shit and that, by buying Sir Gawain and The Overpriced Knight, I gave him a little hope and a little money, and maybe some rich person outside saw me inside buying a book and thought 'Ah, that makes me want to buy a book' and maybe he then went inside and bought six hundred euros worth of rare books and then went home and told everyone he knew about this great little book shop and then the little old man who owns the book shop will get lots and lots of money which he needs to buy his disabled wife a new wheelchair. Yes, that is probably what happened. Spend justified.

Anyway, let me finish my FASCINATING story about Ikea. I’m sure you’re on tenterhooks wondering if I bought a plastic colander or not. (I didn’t. Although one would have been useful.) I went in there with a very Sensible Attitude- I was just going to get sheets and also a soap dish, because I’ve been using a big glass ash tray from a brasserie and it takes up too much room. And also it looks weird.

I did very well; I didn’t stray too far from my shopping list (I got a mug, a candle, a blanket and some wooden cooking utensils, but I was in a Shopping Trance so I can’t really be blamed) but then when we got to the till I still had to ask Amo for ten euros… Then she had to lend me the money for an Indian meal later… and then later on she bought the alcohol… so much for my new NEVER LEND MONEY OFF ANYONE FULL STOP policy.

But she doesn’t mind; we’ve been friends since we were fifteen and I’ve always been a Bad Scav. Besides, I’m sure I lent her a tenner once when we were in Year Ten, so it’s a very equal balance.

Anyhoo… the next day I didn’t want to ask Amo for more money to get the RER back to Paris, so I asked her to swipe in her Navigo for me instead, because her Navigo is from zones 5 to 4. I snuck in smugly and figured that when I got to Paris, I could use my Navigo to get out of the station if needs be. On the RER, all was going well. Now RER A is a bit ghetto, so when swarms of scallies came running past, I thought they were just running from a fight or something. But no. It was like in a film when all the rats or cockroaches run away and the main character goes ‘That’s weird’ and his co-stars tell him to ignore it so they continue, unaware that the vermin were running from an evil force, that is yet to be detected by the humans, but is nonetheless drawing ever closer…

I had my headphones on, so I couldn’t hear the evil. But I saw it, from the corner of my eye. And then I knew what the scallies had been running from. Transport Police. They were checking tickets and passes. I knew there was no escape. I handed my Navigo over to the woman nearest me and feigned ignorance.

She was having none of it. I tried to explain that I didn’t know I had been out of Zones 1 and 2 and she sarcastically quipped ‘How did you get through the barriers then?’ To this I mumbled something about going through the gates fro pushchairs because I had a big bag, but she cut me off: ‘That will be Twenty Five Euros.’

I got my purse out and showed her it’s contents. They were empty. She then pointed at my cards and said we could try those. So we tried them, but once she realised there was no money on either my debit card or my credit card, she finally believed me that I had no money. I wondered what would be next… the police station, maybe?

She asked to see my passport which you legally have to carry with you everywhere in France. I didn’t have it on me. The only thing I did have was my hideous student card which is now invalid and my French student card which doesn’t have a photo on but does have my address on. She copied everything down and gave me a little slip, telling me to pay the fine ASAP. It was only when she’d gone that I realised our whole conversation had been in French. Haha! So nothing is for nothing, if you know what I mean. Fined, yes, but confidence in my ability to speak French- boosted. And really, the RER would have been about eight euros anyway, so I was only fined seventeen euros, which isn’t bad for a mini French oral exam.

‘Lesson learnt’ I thought. ‘From now on, no unnecessary spending!’

On Monday, some friends (yes, I have many, despite appearing to stay at home on my laptop all the time) asked me to meet them at Concorde in the afternoon. I thought we would be going for a nice, free stroll. When I got there they announced we were going to CafĂ© Angelina to enjoy their seven euro hot chocolate and the week’s spending habits have gone downhill from there really.

Whilst enjoying my delicious hot chocolate, one of the girls had a look at my little blue slip from the transport police and they pointed out that because I didn't pay the fine on the spot, I now have to pay 47 euros. Clearly I will do what I always do, that is: do nothing until the angry letters arrive, watch the fine get bigger and scarier, then finally pay it when the amount has reached into the hundreds. But I'm 21 years old and that's too late to change your ways.

I have just realised what a huge big block of writing I’ve written, so here’s some pictures from last Sunday afternoon. We went to Buttes-Chaumont, a big beautiful park in East Paris. It has a temple and a waterfall.











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