Monday, 11 April 2011

Getting Somewhere: Part 2

Just got home from my fourteen hour day with the kids, I agreed to do extra babysitting tonight because... because I'm a soft touch perhaps? I let the eleven year old stay up until she wanted on the basis that if her mum and dad caught her I could jump off the sofa and say 'I WON'T SAY IT AGAIN! GO TO BED!'

Hmmm. I don't know how I'll ever write about being an au pair again. It seems so boring now I can't believe people have actually been reading my blog. But before I decide to quit my blog forever, let me finish describing my half-exciting weekend. I stopped the last post at the point where I woke up and someone said we were in Surrey...

I could tell they were joking, but it made me realise that for all I knew we could be in another country. I still didn't really believe we were on a tour bus travelling somewhere. The reality hit me as soon I tried to put my clothes on and manouvre myself out of the bunk bed- fucking. awkward. Tour buses might have a reputation for being Orgy Transporters but they were certainly not designed for Seedy Times. Once I'd managed to extract myself from the curtained capsule I went downstairs to find Anna and one of the 'act' watching The Office and drinking tea.

And out of the window I could see... France. Miles and miles of the country I apparently live in went rolling past us and I remembered that when I first came to Paris I planned to see as much of France as possible. So far the furthest I've been is Disneyland. I decided that for the travel opportunity alone, I was glad that we'd come on the tour bus. It was quite relaxing drinking tea and watching the countryside slip by, looking at the green fields bright in the sunlight. But for every bright square acre of land we left behind it meant that yet another bright acre of land stretched between me and Paris.

After half an hour or so the fields all started to look pretty much the same, so I went back upstairs and 'napped' some more in the bunk bed with November. (Keep up, November is my new code name for the Dubstep DJ I blogged about last November.) When we finally arrived in Lyon it was about noon and we stepped off the coach into a beautiful summer's day. I know it's only April, but it was so hot and the sky was so blue. The only dark cloud was the fact that I looked like 'a dirt' and I've not used that phrase since I lived in Liverpool but it's the only naming word appropriate for the way I looked, smelt and felt.

At first I wasn't sure if we were going to be allowed in the hotel. What if everyone had only been pretending to be nice and really they were about to spin round and leave us on the streets of Lyon to be picked apart by judgemental French people? But November (I don't really like this code name by the way but I think it will just be easier to stick with it) said that of course we could go in the hotel, use the showers, hang out, have a nap, etc...

After a shower I felt a bit more human but I still looked ridiculously English and seedy. The dubstep DJs were going into the city centre for lunch so me and Anna tagged along, but that fear was coming and I didn't feel right at all. I didn't want a free lunch- I know my friends will be choking on their brews at that but honestly I felt really awkward. We went into this restaurant and I refused to order anything. Everyone was insisting I eat something (makes a nice change from everyone yelling 'YOU CAN'T STILL BE HUNGRY!?') but I just came over all para and had to go for a walk. I was very hungry but also starting to worry. How exactly were we going to get back to Paris?

(I've just remembered, as I left the restaurant Kat rang me because I'd sent her a drunken text the night before hinting at what was going on. I told her where I was and who I was with, hamming it up a bit because she lurrrves dubstep and knows a lot about music. She didn't believe me.)

I bought a pair of fresh knickers from Tati, which is like Primark but more expensive and more disgusting, and that made me feel a bit less helpless. I went back to the restaurant as everyone was finishing their food and one of the DJs made me little sandwiches out of his meal, kind of like I was a stray cat but I do like being a cat so I didn't mind. (The food, by the way, was amazing, and I am definitely going back to Lyon, it's supposed to be the best place in France for food, although I'll take more than five euros next time.)

After a lunch of water, charity sandwiches and paranoia, I tried to calm myself down a bit and enjoy the 'adventure'. Then back at the hotel, November slipped me 100 euros for the train fare and although I did do my usual show of refusing it, I obviously took it in the end as I would have been stranded otherwise, and I felt that at least now I could enjoy their show that night and appreciate the randomness of it all, secure in the knowledge that I'd be back on my way to the City of Light by sunrise.

(I even let him buy me some pizza in the evening, although I only ate half of it, I swear my stomach has shrunk.)

That night we sat backstage with the DJs before they went on and they were so chilled and, frankly, not arsed about the fact they were going out there in front of thousands of people. I suppose none of them had slept for a few days and they had had me and Anna to put up with for the past twenty four hours. Also, I guess they've been doing what they do for years and years... it was so weird talking to November about how he used to DJ (or whatever the right word for is) in clubs when he was thirteen- when I was thirteen I wasn't even allowed to go to the under-18's night at The Palace in Levenshulme.

So everyone was pretty subdued before they went on stage. Nobody was talking much and I didn't want to get too drunk in case I fell asleep but as always I found myself drunk anyway, but it actually made me feel more awake and I had a nice chat with the two 'lighting guys', one of whom was a lovely girl who let me use some of her lovely make-up and we swapped numbers and said we'd meet up in Ibiza. Even if she was fobbing me off I don't care, she was really cool and she had MASCARA in her bag and she let me USE it.

The Dubstep DJs weren't on until 2am and there were a lot of acts on before and after them. It was an electronic music festival thing in a big warehouse and there were loads and loads of backpacker-types who had obviously travelled a lot further than us to get there, so I didn't feel as much as a scuttler hidden amongst the crowd. We didn't see anyone who was on before the Dubstep DJs because I literally just wanted to Sit Down and Die, but then I thought 'I've travelled six hours to be here, I might as well drop my knees and throw my arms about.'

(I just asked LND Kat how I can describe dubstep dancing and she said she always pictures the Cookie Monster in her head, bouncing around dead low, scrabbling at the bass and cramming beats into his mouth instead of cookies.)

After the show we didn't really know what to do- I knew the Dubstep DJs weren't leaving until six am and their set finished at 2am. The first train back to Paris wasn't until 7.15 am and I was so, so knackered that the thought of raving for another five hours made me want to rip my heart out and sell it exchange for a private helicopter home.

We went back to the tour bus and had a nap in the little bunks. I could hear the bass from inside the warehouse and the odd snippets of song. I couldn't quite make out the lyrics but they sounded like: 'Welcome. Overstayed. Welcome. Overstayed.' But it was all right because, as naïve as this makes me sound, November was just a generally nice person. I'm glad I got on the tour bus. It was made worth my while and I'm not talking about the one hundred euros. Still, in the morning when it was time to go, Tag-Along Paranoia got the better of me. I barked a goodbye and then literally dragged Anna out of the tour bus.

We tried to get some sort of taxi to the train station sorted but Fate wasn't on our side, so we ended up walking to the tram station. Luckily there were loads of people waiting who had been at the festival. Unluckily I ended up sat next to the weirdest of them all and after slurring at me in French for about fifteen minutes he grabbed his dick, grabbed my hand and then tried to get the two together. Shy guy.

Once the tram finally arrived we were made conscious once more of the fact that English girls dress differently to French girls. I'd like to point out that me and Anna both had our LEGS, ARMS and CHESTS completely covered, yet somehow we were a target for groping because of 'the way we were dressed' as one lovely little prick yelled at us in French. We had to change our travel plan half way to the station because we realised we were going to miss the train, so we hopped off at a different station and got a train at half seven. The ticket was just a little bit less than the money November Dubstep DJ gave me and the journey took just under two hours, so all my worrying was for nothing really. But I stand by what I said earlier that the only people who don't worry are the ones who really need to.

As we waited for the train on the platform, the sun rose, which was perfect. Recently every adventure I embark upon seems to begin with either a sunrise or a sunset and end with the vice versa. I wanted to look at the yellow sky forever but tiredness got the better of me and when I woke up we were in Paris. I never thought I'd say this, but it felt like coming home. I stumbled on to the Line 1, got home and in my bed in no time at all and then woke up to calls from the girls- they wanted to know where I had been all weekend.

I went to meet them at Tulleries where we drank wine and ate bread and chatted to the random guy Georgie and Kayt had met at Jamie XX the night before. (We also watched the sexiest group of friends playing football ever, it was a miracle they were all friends.) You guessed it, I ended my day with a sunset over Paris, over the Eiffel Tower in fact. We had a clear view of Le Tour and it sounds dramatic but in that moment I decided to stay in Paris. What am I going home to? I love love love my friends back home and I love going out in London but I can still do that if I live in Paris.

Things happen in Paris. I feel if I stick it out I could get myself somewhere... well, ok- we all know I'm never getting nowhere, but at least in Paris I'm happy. I don't know what job I'll do or where I'll live or how I'll master the French language (being in Lyon taught me that it's not just Parisians who can't understand me, I really am Shit at French), but as we took our wine and sat on the edge of the Seine, drinking and giggling and marvelling at the glittery water, I realised I don't need to rush off to London. I don't need to do anything. I wanted to take a picture of the scene so I'd remember the feeling of calm optimism, but I broke my fucking camera on Friday night didn't I?

That's why there's no photos from the weekend, by the way. In fact, I guess for all you know I could have made the entire thing up.


  1. Don't give up on your blog! I read it and enjoy reading all about your au pairing experience as well as your amazingly eventful nights out. Also, you write really really well, which makes its all the more enjoyable.

  2. Oh yey! Thank you so much! I won't give up then, you made my day.

  3. I'm so glad you got on that bus!