Remember when my friend Jen came to visit and I never really told you what happened other than we drank a lot and I ended up being so hungover that I spent all of Sunday crying hysterically before going to a children's birthday party? (Read Hummingbird to jog your memory.)
Well on the Thursday she arrived, we went for drinks with Georgie, Laura and Kayt around Tuileries where there is, rather surprisingly, a couple of cheap bars to be found. Jen wanted to get a kebab and I kept telling there that there is never anywhere to get fast food, late at night, in Paris... But lo and behold, I turned my back on her for one minute and the next time I looked, she was eating a carton of hot chips. Apparently you can get fast food on a night out, in one of the poshest parts of Paris. Who knew?
As everyone had work early the next day, we found ourselves alone by about midnight, much to Jen's annoyance. By this point we'd had a lot to drink and should have gone home, but for Some Reason we refused to stop drinking, so as everyone ran to get the last metro, Laura suggested we go to Café Marly- the bar in the Louvre right next to the pyramid.
Here is a photo of some civilised people enjoying the nice view:
Luckily I don't have any photos of me and Jen because, although we did enjoy the nice view ('Look at that eh? Just look at that! Wow. Eh? Eh? Are you looking?' 'Jen I've gone blind.') we weren't very civilised. No, actually that's not fair- we behaved ourselves quite well I thought, we just didn't need to buy a whole bottle of wine.
We got chatting to a very posh, arrogant English guy who was really cocky until his 'client' came over- a massively-built man from the East End (of London, to any non-English readers) who kept slapping the posh guy on the shoulder and cackling "He's got to impress me because he works for me!'
The posh guy was grimacing and trying to repress shudders of repellence. I'm not sure what it is exactly he did, but it was something to do with small businesses, and they'd brought some of their clients out to the Roland Garros tournament to try and woo them- and the posh guy clearly hated smarming up to 'common folk'. Ha ha.
For Some Reason, Jen told them I was a naked waitress in a 'private club' on the Champs Elysees. As ex-drama students, I guess we miss improv classes, so we tend to lie to strangers... Naturally I had to go along with the whole thing, doing (I thought) a very convincing impression of someone who is mildly annoyed that their friend has revealed to everyone their shady profession, when I would have liked 'just one night off as myself and not a naked waitress'.
The English guys said they were going to Showcase (we all know how I feel about Showcase and their over-crowded tunnels of techno-soundtracked death) and as we were still 'in role' we said we'd love to go, as soon as we'd finished our wine.... Then, just because we're Drama Queens, I explained to the waiter how we wanted to get away without the huge table of English guys noticing us (they were the only other customers) so he let us escape through the back door.
On the walk home (it took us nearly an hour) Jen asked a policeman for a cigarette and he said something to her in French.
"What did he say?" Jen demanded.
"He... he said you're ridiculous."
The next night we went to Pause Cafe with Olivia for a 'quiet tea' (dinner, for any Southern Belles reading and supper for Posh Clare) that turned into a couple of bottles of champagne (now I understand why I had no money for Ibiza) and a few bottles of wine. On the way back to Olivia's we stopped at two bars, where we told everyone we were Swedish for Some Reason and they believed us. Two old Moroccan men bought us roses and guessed that we were speaking English to each other, so we told them Jen was visiting from Manchester. One of the men got really excited, telling us his son had just moved to Manchester for university, so me and Olivia insisted that he get Jen's contact details so his son would have a friend in England.
Jen was really mad at us, but me and Olivia found the whole thing hilarious. On the way home we put the roses in our mouths and dropped to our knees in the middle of the busy street in an attempt to woo her back, but that only made her more mad. In the end, she said she'd forgive us if we stopped walking along the streets on our knees. I don't know what she was so mad about, she gave the Moroccan man my telephone number anyway...
Back at Olivia's we raided her mini bar and Jen fell asleep with a shot in her hand. Me and Olivia had a whispered conversation across her two balconies for Some Reason and then when we took the conversation inside, I passed out on the bed in the middle of Olivia's story. The next morning Olivia had to leave at 7am to catch a flight, which was why she'd wanted a 'quiet tea'... oops... and she got to the check-in desk with two minutes to spare. Phew.
Me and Jen woke up at a more reasonable time and told Kayt to come round with food 'and beer!' shouted Jen.
"And beer?" I asked, putting my hand over the phone for a second.
"Trust me." Jen said.
The beer is the only thing that got me through the weekend. I knew if I let the alcohol levels in my blood diminish the hangover would kick in and I'd want to die...
That night we went to Nouveau Casino with Ricky (who was working at Roland Garros) and Mark and Caitlin, who are Ricky's friends that went to Ibiza (and last year Caitlin was in Paris on her year abroad and Mark was visiting her for the weekend) and another friend who does not wish to be named because of the terrible things she did that night. Let's just call her C.B which stands for Cock-Blinded...
I knew Ricky, Mark and Caitlin really wanted to go and rave somewhere, but there wasn't really anyone good playing that weekend. In the end we went to Nouveau Casino because it's a really nice club and there's never any nobheads there. We went to see DJ Funk who, a swift bit of Google research revealed, is Chicago House Ghetto-Tech... Yeah I didn't understand either.
I don't think anyone really liked the music (Ricky politely said 'It's really fast, isn't it?') but they got completely fucked, which is all you can ask for, sometimes.
That night me and Jen had about half an hour's sleep before we got the bus to Gare du Nord. After I'd dropped her off, I went home and tried to nap before the little girl's birthday party- the mum had booked a really expensive entertainer but wanted me there to distract the really little kids- but I just couldn't doze off. That's when things got Dark.
After crying for about an hour in front of my laptop, I went to the party feeling as if I was heading for my execution. In the end, it wasn't even bad. I sat in a room filled with toys and throughout the afternoon random toddlers waddled in and out. There was one little boy who wanted me to play the guitar while he drummed. The fact that I can't play the guitar didn't stop me and we spent a good half an hour banging out a horrid, tuneless din.
Me and my toddler (you know what I mean) started this weird game where he pulled his t-shirt up and I stroked his back with a feather that had fallen out of someone's fancy-dress feather boa. Every time I stopped he backed into me again. I guess it was a little weird, but my frazzled brain was enjoying the repetitive, silent activity. (The mum filmed us doing it because she thought it was funny and now I have to live with the fact that the au pair family have a video of me looking as awful as I did that day, and that the video might be the only thing they have to remind themselves of what I look like when I leave.)
Towards the end of the afternoon I started coming down again, so I just sat in the corner and ate cake until the mum told me I should probably just go home. It was a shitty end to a really amazing weekend.
My Brother Lost in Paris
So, remember when my brother came to see me in Paris and he missed the last Roissy bus and his phone wasn't working? Click here if you don't remember, or for lazy people, here's an extract from my panic:
I told him to say Roissy Bus Roissy and start crying. Then I realised he had already missed the last one, so I told him to get the RER to Charles de Gaulle Etoile. Then I realised the RER doesn't go to Charles de Gaulle Etoile, I was thinking of Chatelet. Then he said the internet was running out, he was in an internet cafe. So I said CHATELET CHATELET. Then I realised he might not have missed the last Air France bus, so I told him to get that instead. Then he went off line.
His he going to get the RER or the Air France bus? What do I do? Should I wait at Chatelet, or should I wait at Charles de Gaulle Etoile in case he got the bus? Should I just wait at home? He has my address. How can he get in contact in with me?
Well, after coming home to write a quick blog post (I have no idea why I did that) I decided that the last thing we agreed upon on Facebook Chat was for him to get the RER, so I headed to Chatelet, having roughly worked out what time he should be arriving.
I've always hated Chatelet- the walls smell of bones and its grimy tunnels go on and on and on. Now I hate it even more, because it will alway remind of that horrible night when I waited on the platform for my brother, who never showed up there.
I couldn't shake the feeling that I was doing the wrong thing. What if he did get the Air France bus? I should have gone to check the Air France bus first, because if he had made it, he would have made the last one, and so I would have known straight away if he'd made it or not and then I should have come to Chatelet.
Trains came and there was no sign of my brother. My mum Whats Apped me and said she was sure he told her he was getting some sort of bus.
An hour went by. I'd been pacing up and down like a wild thing, shaking and muttering to myself, running my fingers through my hair like a Very Stressed Person, stopping even the mad-eyed tramps from sitting next to me.
What if this went on all night? He could be anywhere in Paris and there was no way of finding him.
After an hour and a half, I decided to go and check at the place where the Air France bus stops. But as soon as I got on the metro I felt as if I was doing the wrong thing. What if he was getting off the RER that very second, as I headed in the opposite direction?
My phone rang, it was a number I didn't recognise. It was my brother, calling from a French number.
"I'm at Chatelet, outside." he said, "I'm near a big fountain."
Thank FUCK for that. I told him I'd be ten minutes, I messaged my mum and told her I'd heard from him at last. I got off the metro and jumped back on in the opposite direction. Chatelet has about twenty exits, but I saw Place de Chatelet and guessed there would probably be a fountain there. I was right- there was a fountain there, but my brother wasn't there. The fountain was all in shadows, I felt like I'd arrived at a party after everyone has gone home and the lights have been switched off.
Where the fuck was my brother?
I walked round and round the fountain, even though it was so small you could see all the way around it from any angle. I rang the number that my brother had rung me from, but there was no answer. I texted it three times, telling the person that they must have just spoken with my brother and lent him their phone, where did they speak to him? What street?
What I didn't know then was that my brother had rung me from a telephone box...
I got another call from a different French number.
"Where are you?" he asked me.
I ried to ask for more specific details on his whereabouts. He told me he was in a police station and that he would go and wait for me at the entrance to the RER.
I went back down into Shitalet but the RER had stopped, so there was no access to the RER exits. There were crowds of people, as confused as I was, but luckily there were lots of staff too. I grabbed the first one who made eye contact.
Where's a fountain?
My brother is English.
He got the RER.
It's a big fountain with lots of people.
He can't speak French.
He's near the RER exit.
I need to get there.
The woman I spoke to was really nice. She said she wasn't sure, but that if he'd taken the RER, she could guess what fountain he was at. She told me what exit I should take and gave me directions. We all know I don't understand directions, so when I exited the metro I asked two different people how to get to the fountain and then at the fountain I asked a policeman where the RER was.
I almost ran to the RER station. Yes, I am a Drama Queen, but I was so anxious and I'd been running round Paris for about three hours.
He was there.
We were really lucky actually, because if it hadn't have been Fete de la Musique, the streets would have been empty and all the public transport would have stopped. We had to walk for about an hour before we found a metro station that was running (they only keep certain ones open on Fete de la Musique) but I didn't care by this point, I was just glad I'd found my brother.
He insisted that I'd never mentioned the fact that his phone wouldn't work in France. He even showed me a history of our conversations on his phone, where you could clearly see I'd said it TWICE.
When we got home I showed him the blog I'd written.
"You came home and wrote a blog, when I was lost?"
Can't remember any other lose ends I need to tie up, but let me tell you what everyone's doing, just because sometimes I abruptly stop talking about people and you probably think I've killed them.
She finished her teaching job in the North of France that allowed her to come to Paris nearly every other weekend and went to work as a kid's rep in the South of France. I really wanted to go and visit her but funds didn't commit.When the season ends in October she's moving to Edinburgh for Fun and Frolics.
After her dramatic 'I'm not getting on the train' moment she went back to London a few weeks later. The reason she wanted to stay in Paris is because she got a job interview at the Louvre. She didn't get it, but she got a job in South London organising events at a philosophy and arts cafe/music studio.
Staying in Paris, with me! It's so shit though, because she had a bit of an arguement with her au pair family and as a result she now has to move out of her lovely studio into a much smaller place in the same building as her family.
Apart from making me beautiful cloaks, Amy is keeping busy doing freelance pattern-cutting and teaching 'Ethical Fashion' classes in Liverpool. She's coming to stay in Paris for two weeks at the end of September as is...
You know, frightfully posh Clare who went to boarding school. Since leaving Paris she's been trying really hard to get a job 'in fashion' but at the moment she is signing on. Now, it's not funny at all that Clare is on the dole, I really hope she gets the job of her dreams any day now, I know she will eventually... But... you've got to admit... It is slightly funny to imagine her queuing up for her weekly benefits, wearing her fur coat and calling everyone Silly Billies.
Staying in Paris for one month to complete her internship, then moving back to London to finish her degree. One month! It feels like she's staying for another year because she's still going to be there when I get back, so I don't feel like she's really leaving!
Filming finishes in November, although I don't know if we'll still be friends when Olivia leaves... For God's Sak!
She leaves Paris three days after I get back to Paris. I hope we have time to film our rap that we're doing for the resto. The manager said we can film it in work and then she'll put it on the Facebook page. Then I predict it will be about two weeks before we become Hip Hop Superstars.
Do you remember Mairi from my first year in Paris? She came to Paris on the day I left this summer, and we met up for a coffee. Since she left Paz she's living in Madrid and she loves it.
Abby, my first ever real French friend, has finished her Masters and needs to do an internship with a Development Agency/Company. (I don't really know what they're called but you know what I mean, those organisations that help developing countries.) She's hoping to go back to Senegal and do it because she's worked there before... so if anybody in Senegal is reading...
My second French friend! She finished her job, which she hated, and won a place at art school, yey! And, the art school is in Paris, so she isn't going anywhere! Yey!
My friend Anna has been travelling round Australia since last autumn. She said she's in no rush to get back!
I first met Angelique because she was Anna's flatmate, and after Anna left me and Kayt started out with Angelique. We always said we'd have to see more of each other but then the last time we met up, Angelique told us she was moving to New York. She didn't have a job or anywhere to live, she just fancied living there... the last time I heard from her she had an internship and was living with friends. Amazing.
Coincidentally, Anna's flatmate before Angelique was a girl called Sasha who was full of mad stories about how she used to live in New Orleans and Israel and New York, and I always wondered how she could have possibly done so much and still be so young. She left Paris about this time last year and a few moths ago I heard from Anna that she had died from a heroin overdose. I guess she lived the life she wanted to. I'm not going to pretend that we were friends, but she was very talented and I wanted to share that.
So. There you go. No more loose ends, at least for a while.
Coming soon... Ibiza.