Friday was supposed to be a lovely, quiet evening... I was still recovering from Wednesday night and Georgie had her Swedish cousin and her pal staying over, so we decided to take them to good old Chez Gladines for some delicious, cheap and authentic French food. (It's actually a Basque restaurant, but why confuse everything with accuracy?)
But the annoying thing about Chez Gladines (apart from always being served by Nico, the waiter who hates us) is that you have to get there early or expect to wait for at least half an hour during the week... on a weekend, forget it. As it was a Friday night and getting on for 9pm, we decided to try somewhere else instead. Laura suggested la Mascotte, a seafood restaurant at Montmartre, so we went there and had to wait for about half an hour before getting a table, but we had a bottle of wine at the bar and a nice chat with Georgie's Swedish Guests, who were lovely. They're currently travelling round Europe with an InterRail pass. (Georgie just so happens to have a Swedish cousin because her uncle and his best friend met two Swedish au pairs who were working in London together and they each married one and moved to Sweden... how cute is that?)
I really wanted moules-frites but they'd run out so then I panicked and ordered crab. When it came, it was literally a whole crab cut it half and stuck in a tray of ice. (Obviously it was cooked.) I felt like some sort of seaside-dwelling hermit monster, devouring a whole crab... the kind that shuffles around in the shadows that gather at the bases of cliffs, reeking of fish and disguising their possibly barnacled face beneath a hooded cloak... Oh my God! When I get my cloak I can do that!
What was I talking about?
Oh yes, the crab- there wasn't much chance of me 'devouring' it because I had no idea how to eat it. When the torteau* was placed in front of me on a tray of ice (it was kind of like those trays you get with a Cream Tea, except instead of scones and little pots of jam and cream there was bread, mustard and butter and instead of a teapot there was a dead crustacean, hacked in half) I looked around me, panicking, but nobody else had ordered the same as me.
I picked half the crab up and put it on my plate. Its pale, armoured legs had dark prickly hairs on. Laura had taken us to the restaurant because she loves eating oysters and my logic was: anyone who knows how to eat an oyster must know how to dismantle a crab, so I passed my plate to Laura and she showed me how to snap the legs open and dig out the meaty, white flesh. Aside from the legs, the main part of the crab was filled with a strong-tasting, grey mush which I wasn't as keen on. It was nice, but it was quite expensive (although if you sit at the bar you can have nine oysters and a glass of white wine for twelve euros) so I don't think I would take anyone else there unless I knew they were a Seafood Fanatic.
I'm also glad we went because Laura let me try one of her oysters. I've never had them before and I've always worried that one day I will go on a date with a hugely sophisticated and wealthy gentleman and he'll take me for oysters and I'll make a fool out of myself by trying to slide them down my ear or something. But now, thanks to Laura the Oyster Expert, I know exactly how to eat them. (A squeeze of the vinegar and lemon, slide it into your mouth, bite it once and then swallow.)
So, when our lovely meal was finished I felt as if I'd learnt** something: I no longer felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; if someone Cultured, Wealthy and Dashing wanted to take me out to eat oysters, or even a dismembered crab, I'd know how to style it out. Let me just say, if my life was a play, sixth form students would now be underlining the above sentence (excellently punctuated, I thought) and penciling dramatic irony into the margins...
Do you know the meaning of dramatic irony? Cos I fucking do.
After the meal we walked up to the Sacré-Coeur to show Georgie's Swedish Guests the amazing all-encompassing view of Paris, the majestic atmosphere spoilt somewhat by the Bad Scallies that hang out at the top of the steps to the cathedral for Some Reason- sitting in their cars with the doors wide open, playing cheesy hip hop on their stereos and looking for tourists to stare at intimidatingly. Georgie's cousin said innocently "I didn't imagine it would sound like this."
By that time it was midnight and Georgie's Swedish Guests decided to call it a night, as they'd been sightseeing all day. Me, Georgie and Laura however, felt as if we could stay out a bit longer AND Kayt called us to say she had just arrived back in Paris after being on holiday with her au pair kids for a week. Our two most-frequented bars at the moment are le Mansart and le Sans Souci, two bars within walking distance of each other in our favourite area (south Pigalle), owned by the same person. That area of Paris is, to be quite blunt, a Sausage Fest. The pavements outside both bars are always PACKED with men, drinking and smoking and chatting...
We were having such a good time at le Mansart that we forgot all plans of having a 'quiet one' and were soon raucously drunk, convincing a man called Julien to come with us to- you won't believe this, but- le Blue Note.
I know, I know, after everything I always say about it being full of strange, pervy men and pimps... But the music is good, it's open until the early hours, it's free to get in and the last time we went it was full of Normal People, honestly. The crowd in there really depends, sometimes you get lucky, other times...
Anyway, last Friday we got lucky and the strangest people in there were us. We danced all night and even managed to pretty much stay away from men altogether (apart from our new friend Julien, who is incidentally quite a hilarious dancer, he kind of bops about shrugging his shoulders up and down) until... Well, I blame Kayt.
"Come and smell this charver!" she yelled down my ear at one point during the night.
(I should tell you now that 'charver' is Geordie for chav/scally/townie, because I'm going to be using it a lot in this post.)
Behind her was stood a baffled looking charver in a black shiny puffa jacket (they are huge in France right now... with scallies). I lent into the nape of his neck and inhaled... He smelt delicious. Me and Kayt spent quite a lot of time leaning into his neck and sniffing, but somehow through that we bonded with him and were soon sat down having a chat. He was called Smelly Charver (oh come on, why do you need to know his real name?) and he was a plumber. He said me and Kayt were princesses.
"We know." we said earnestly.
He then told us he was a Prince and joked that he lived in a chateau.
"Do you live in a chateau? Or do you live in a chambre de bonne?" I asked.
Me and Kayt cackled away like two witches but Smelly Charver got a bit upset because he obviously does live in a chambre de bonne. Well, what he actually said was "You're lucky if you live in a chambre de bonne in Paris, because it's hard to find somewhere to live here" which makes me think he might live in a storage cupboard with nine other plumbers.
We then tried to cheer him up, by telling him we lived in chambres de bonne and that plumbers are highly-sought after in England and that we weren't making fun of him and that he was cute because he had dimples and could we smell him again please?
Erm. I don't know how to tell you this. But me and Smelly Charver kind of hit it off... I accompanied him outside for a cigarette. (I feel like talking all prim and proper because in reality I was such a disgusting sloppy jezebel.)
The bouncer obviously knew him and made a joke like 'Don't go off with him, you don't know him' or something. Ha ha. I've just read that back and it clearly sounds like the bouncer wasn't joking at all and was actually being serious, but trust me, he was having a Joke and a Laugh. I'm 90% sure. Anyway, I told the bouncer not to worry because I could look after myself. He pissed himself laughing for quite a long time, perhaps because I was small and drunk and wearing a pencil skirt, so I pulled my sleeves back and insisted he feel my 'muscles'. Unfortunately I don't have any muscles, but this didn't stop me forcing them on the bouncer. A few other people who were stood outside smoking got involved because I was being so loud and insane.
"Look! Look!" I was saying, perhaps a little bit too loudly, "Don't worry about me pal, I'll bang him out." (Well, I didn't say those exact words because I can't say that in French, it was more like: "Look! Look! I can look after me, I am going to go BOOM I am going to go BAM..." accompanied by the appropriate gestures.)
So we had a cigarette, we went back inside, I let him twirl me round the now empty dance floor to the salsa/samba/whatever band (Laura, who is half Mexican might have been able to tell me what kind of music it was, but she had left at this point because she had work at 9.30am the next day, poor girl) and every time he pulled me in close I got a whiff of that lovely scent. I asked him what it was and he reeled off a list of about five different after-shaves... Me and Kayt made a snidey joke behind his back about how he had to steal a tiny dab of fragrance from each of his nine roommates because he couldn't afford his own... Oh, bitches. I'm going to hell.
When it was time to go home me, Kayt, Georgie and Smelly Charver somehow ended up walking to Julien's apartment. It was about a twenty minute walk back down the hill and around the Sacré-Coeur to Pigalle. The sun was coming up, the dawn chorus was sounding above us like a sweet symphony and the damp air was flavoured with budding lilacs and dew... I was off my face, of course, so perhaps the scene wasn't exactly as I'm imagining it but I distinctly remember feeling of nature, like I was a breeze lifting the leaves, like there were flowers fluttering on my breath and in my hair...
Yep, definitely off my face.
Moving on... We got back to Julien's apartment and it was fucking AMAZING. It was a huge open plan affair and for a moment we were speechless, spinning around, taking it all in... it was beautifully decorated and immaculately ordered, with massive windows looking out over Blvd de Clichy.
It was weird Smelly Charver being there. He didn't say much but I think he felt a little bit uncomfortable, he muttered to me: "He doesn't own this, it's his dad who pays." He could be right, but then again Julien told us he worked as a screenwriter and he was in his late twenties/possibly early thirties, so it could be his own place.
Julien and Kayt had an arguement about politics- she found some posters of Marine la Pen on his desk and defaced them with a marker pen. I've been trying to learn a little bit about politics recently... Kayt told me Julien voted for Bayrou who she thought was more right wing than Sarkozy, and Charva voted for Mélenchon who is very, VERY left wing. Kayt had a massive go at Julien for being a right-wing bastard and me and her were saying how weird it was that we'd brought two such people together, kind of like inviting a communist to an after-party at a Tory's house.
However. Kayt has since found out that Bayrou is in fact, not right wing at all, he's kind of in the middle. Oops. Kind of ruins the romantic image we had of ourselves as social boundary-smashing party girls, transcending political divides with our love of after parties. We were just drunk, really.
Anyway, enough of the French politics talk, back to the juicy stuff. One of my friends (they won't let me name and shame them anymore, boo) stayed with Julien and the other friend left with me and Charver. Then I'm not sure if I can divulge what happened so let's skip to...
After a lie in and a very awkward afternoon- "Il pleut. (Silence) Moi... Je l'aime quand il pleut. (Silence) Jus d'ananas?") I went to Kayt's, I'm sure there was some sort of food involved but I can't remember, toxic subtances have settled over last weekend like smog, making it difficult to make out the details, and then when the sun set once more we headed over to our favourite Sausage Factory le Mansart. A few drinks turned into another night of getting very fucked. We were having a splendid time chatting absolute shit to each other and laughing hysterically at everything- in the way that only very hungover people who have forced themselves to go out drinking again can- when who should we see but Georgie's ex.
Dun dun dun.
Me and Kayt are supposed to be helping Georgie be strong and stay away from him, but he's very charming and we were all glad to see him. Also he had two friends with him... We had been chatting to another group of guys (I told you, it's a Penis Party down at South Pigalle these days) but when Georgie started chatting to her ex they quickly left, which led us to call Georgie's ex a cock block or as we shall henceforth call it le coque bloque, because that's how Georgie's ex was pronouncing it and he wanted to know what it was in French.
Somehow we, erm, persuaded Georgie that it was a good idea to carry on the night with her ex and his friends, but when the bar they wanted to take us to was closed, the only option was... you guessed it... after party. The ex had a friend who Kayt nicknamed the Ex's Hot Twin, because he looked like Georgie's ex but was hotter, in Kayt's opinion anyway, and he said we could all go back to his apartment that his parents had bought him to share with his sister who spent half her time in Rome with her boyfriend... Now these boys were a slightly different kettle of fish to Smelly Charver.
Once again, we were delighted to find ourselves in a lovely, spacious apartment and although we had a nice time, it turned out to be a lot tamer than the night before and we left about five am. We walked back to Kayt's in the rain, me and Kayt belting out 'Someone Like You' while Georgie and her ex walked ahead of us having what looked like quite a deep conversation... quite inappropriate of us really.
So that concludes Friday and Saturday and now I'm going to go to sleep, as tomorrow I have to go to a big family lunch with the au pair family, except I won't be eating- I'm just there to look after all the babies and toddlers. I predict it's going to be very awkward... The mum's cousin who lives in my building is giving me a lift to the restaurant as well. Should be fun. Not.
I tried to have another chat with the au pair family last night about next year and how much they might pay me, but they are being really shady, asking me how much I get paid at the restaurant and stuff. This is why rich people stay rich, because they're fucking stingy. I don't even know if I want to stay next year. I don't know if I want to stay in Paris. On the metro the other day I had a mad thought I should move to Marseilles and last night Laura convinced me I should do a masters in Amsterdam because it's so cheap and in English.
Arghhhhhhhhhh. What shall I do? How will I ever make a decision?
Anyway, off to bed with me, but if I get a chance tomorrow I'll tell you about Monday and Tuesday just gone... Just when you thought I'd learnt my lesson. BAM. I have more tales of debauchery to share. Also I apologise in advance because Smelly Charver will be mentioned again... but in my defense, Kayt said he is the 'Cheryl Cole of Paris' because he might be Rough and Ready, but he has cute dimples. Unfortunately, he didn't know the name for them in French, not a man of many words... (It's les fossettes.)
One last thing! In case you didn't get the 'dramatic irony' of me meeting a man called Smelly Charver on the same night that I teach myself how to eat oysters in preparation for meeting a Sophisticated and Wealthy Gentleman... Oh if you really don't get the irony, I give up.
*Yes, I'm using the French word for crab, but only because I can't think of another way
of saying it in English and there's only so many times you can write the
word 'crab' without thinking about pubic lice... Hands up if you're now feeling a psychological itch Down Below.
**In my previous post, I changed the 'learnt' to 'learned' after re-reading it last night when I was drunk and panicking that I'd used incorrect grammar but in actual fact, 'learned' is American English and I'm British y'all so I can use learnt, smelt, spelt, dreamt, leapt etc whenever I fancy it. However, I also, in my previous post, wrote 'hedony' instead of 'hedonism' and that is just wrong and quite simply, a made-up word. So soz about that. I think the alcohol has killed some of my braincells...