Sunday, 30 September 2012

My Paris

It's a completely inappropriate time to be drunk and I'll tell you more tomorrow, but for now... hold on... I've just had A Moment and I realised, 'This is my Paris, this is the exact atmosphere and moment that the city conjures up for me, and only me, for always, every day and forever.'

I was leaning out of the window and listening to my iPod and I thought that maybe if I acted quick enough, I could catch the moment and share it, because I can't put it into words.

This is what my Paris looks like, forever dusk, this light, this view, these colours, this time of day and year, everything:


And this is what my Paris sounds like:



This is my Paris, exactly, completely.

Calm and Sweet

My new pure, wholesome self is going very well.

Yesterday I went to my au pair job for a couple of hours (in the end I agreed to rearrange my 'observation lesson' with Annabelle, because the mum said she really needed me. I know, I know- I'm being walked all over, but I like to be accommodating), then Kayt came round and made poached eggs with Hollondaise sauce. Dee-licious.

Then we wandered over to the Petit Palais for some CULTCHA. Unfortunately, and to my Eternal shame, I must admit I sullied our intellectual art experience by asking Kayt to play 'Shag, Marry, Kill' with a large 17th century painting composed of about thirty different portraits of very serious-looking men. I've just tried to look for it on Google and I can't find it, maybe it wasn't even from the 17th Century... Kayt said we're not really qualified to comment on art, after I looked at one painting I felt particularly drawn to and said:

"I like the moon."

Hmm. So, I might never be an Art Historian, but believe me when I say there are some lovely paintings in the Permanent Collection, really nice colours and stuff... (Now I feel like I should upload my dissertation or something to prove that I am a very Intellectual, Intelligent and Arty Person... If anyone is interested in Lorca's portrayal of women living in early twentieth century rural Spain in his three tragic plays, let me know, yeah?) It's free anyway, so definitely go. The little garden is worth a look as well:

Photo from: www.parisandbeyond-genie.blogspot.fr

After walking around Paris for about an hour, taking in the sights and talking about how lucky we were to be in Paris, we went to Bastille and met Ruth for Happy Hour.

(Yes, Olivia, if you're reading- we talked about how sad and strange it was coming out of the metro, knowing you weren't round the corner. It felt really weird actually.)

We went to le QG, on the corner of Rue de Roquette and Rue de Lappe, otherwise known as Costa del Paris. I know those cobbled streets are normally home to kebab-eating, drunken maniacs that make you feel as if you've gone on a LADs holiday to Kos by accident, but le QG do really lovely mojitos and during happy 'hour' (6 - 9pm every day) they are 5,50 euros.

From Bastille, Kayt had to go and babysit- frightfully bad luck, old gal- and me and Ruth (oh SOZ- 'Ruth and I') went to meet her new work friend in Belleville. I invited Becky, a girl who lived in Paris the first year I was here and is back for a couple of months, doing an internship.We went to Cafe Cherie where it was still Happy Hour for a bit and a pint of Amstell was 3,70 euros.

Yes, I got a little bit drunk BUT I was in bed, asleep by 1am.

I'm keeping it Wholesome and Pure.

Oh! I've really changed guys, I feel really different! I know you've heard it all before but honestly, from now on I'm going to be so GOOD. I really mean it. I'm going to be so fucking calm and sweet; people will think I'm a stationary fruit gum.

Amy arrives tonight and although I am very much looking forward to her visit- and also Lynn, Kayt's friend from Newcastle who moved to Liverpool and now lives with Amy, a lovely example of friends setting friends up with friends- she better not bring any Ridiculousness with her. She knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Just leave it out, Amy, alright? I've changed. Don't try and taint me with your Ridiculous Ways.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Autumn Is Here

Uh-oh, I feel happy and I don't know why. I want to sing 'Isn't She Lovely' by Stevie Wonder, ok yes, whilst in the mirror, but only because I happen to be sat opposite the mirror as I type. The worst thing about living in a chambre de bonne is that the walls are super thin, and so I can't sing. I miss singing, as loudly as possible, blasting air and noise out of my lungs. It doesn't matter what it sounds like- there's something so joyful about singing to yourself.

Yesterday I felt a similar urge to sing, but instead of Stevie Wonder, I wanted to sing 'I Dreamed a Dream' and 'On My Own' from Les Miserables, and sob at my own reflection. (I did for a little bit, but then I heard someone shuffling about down the corridor so I had to stop.)

Sometimes I feel like my little room is the stage for my very own operetta and the audience has no idea what's going on, but at the end they come out into the cold and as they button up their coats, one of the husbands says, chuckling: 'It was very melodramatic, wasn't it?' and all the wives titter. I don't know why but I've got a feeling they're getting the coach back to Whitby now. Perhaps they came on a trip organised by the Retirement Club...

I'm just talking nonsense now. There wasn't anything in particular I wanted to say. Look at this nice Klimt painting:

I've just got back from the bilingual school. On Fridays I work with the really little ones. One of them kept attacking me with her hairband, shoving it on my head and brushing my fringe down until it hung straight past my nose. (It needs cutting badly, but I'm trying to resist a DIY 'fringe trim'.) She forced me to lie down on the bench, telling me to 'fais dodo'. She's less than half my size and yet I found myself bending to her manic will...

If kids ran wild in the woods, they would be terrifying. One false step and you're in Toddler Territory, you feel a tiny weight drop onto your shoulders from the treetops, a squeaky voice chattering gobbledygook and growling in your ear, while two more of the things leap onto your legs, pulling you down to the leaves so they can brush your hair and make you sing 'Incy Wincy Spider' with them until your run out of breath and pass out.

Later I'm going to make lasagne at my au pair job. I never, ever cook proper meals really, because I have to use all the stuff in the fridge, which mainly consists of ham, tomatoes and gnocci, but tonight I am determined. I hope I don't fuck it up.

Well, that was pointless.

The bilingual school asked me to think of some English songs that we can use next month for our Autumn Theme and I couldn't think of any, so I made one up:

Autumn is coming
The trees are bare
Leaves are falling everywhere

The leaves are brown
and orange and red
The leaves are falling on my head!


I know what you're thinking- why do I waste my time as an au pair when I could be making millions as a songwriter? Well... I do it for the kids. Actually, I might ask Lady Gaga if she wants to buy this one off me. Maybe she could wear a leaf-bikini for the video and she could borrow my cloak.

Oh My Goodness Gracious Me- my cloak! Cloak Season is almost upon us... Stand by for photos of me swishing around the streets of Paris in my floor-length, black velvet cloak.

Maybe that's why I'm happy today, because Autumn is here. I was getting sick of the half-arsed, not-hot-but-not-cold-enough-for-tights-weather.

That means it's officially Too Late to finish blogging about Ibiza, it was so long ago...

But if I don't blog about it now, I'll never remember. Ok, I'm going to make a brew and then JUST DO IT.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Secret Parties, Shivering in a Cloud

After last weekend, I've decided to Change.

From now on, I'm going to be pure, like snow. Purer than snow, in fact- I'm going to be a rain drop, shivering in a cloud and waiting to fall, looking down on the dirty earth below.

Hmm. I sound quite smug, don't I? Freezing and stuck in a cloud, still thinking I'm in a position to look down on everybody else just because I'm yet to transform into a polluted snowflake- destined to melt away in a muddy puddle, or else be turned yellow by the pungent urine of a cold badger. I don't know what Rain Drop Me is so smug about anyway, because I've just Googled 'clouds rain pollution' and it turns out rain drops are infected with pollution while they're still floating about in clouds...

LOOK.

Forget about pollution for a moment (but then get right back to worrying about it, ok? Time's running out kids and I for one do absolutely Fuck All to help the environment. I console myself by thinking one day, when I've had my fill of technology and roast dinners, I will run into The Bracken and live off wild berries); the point is I've decided to be Good and Wholesome.

But then last night I was talking to Julia about my blog and we decided that it's ok for me to go out all the time because I should make my blog more nightlife-based. Then Julia convinced me to go to Katapult Party- a 'secret party' at a 'secret location' with 'secret guests'. I really, really want to go. Julia has a family meal tomorrow until quite late, so we planned to go about 1am and have a really BIG ravey night and I was getting all excited and then...

shit.

I realised I have my first 'Learning English Through Drama' class on Saturday, at 10am. The annoying thing is, I'm not even teaching the lesson! I'm just going to observe and to get to know the kids, because some weeks I'll be substituting. Pffft. I definitely won't be getting paid for it, I'm just kind of going to be helpful. Am I too helpful? Should I just sack it off?

No. No, I can't. Sometimes you have to do things with the End Goal in sight and I need these classes on my C.V, especially if I want to apply to drama school next year.

But the Katapult Party looks sooo good. Apparently it will be as good as Concrete was before it got 'mainstream'. (Not my words- I'd never be presumptuous* enough to describe anywhere as 'mainstream'.) I love things that are secret and surprising, turning nights on the town into nights of adventure.



Maybe if I left at 5am, I could be home by half past (depending on where the 'secret location' is I suppose) then I'd have to wake up at 9am, meaning I could get three and a half hours sleep... if I managed to get to sleep at all.

No. I can't do it, I really can't do it.

It's not fair.

Life's not fair, I know this, but...

Pfffft.

Forget it. I'm over it. I'm getting on with my life.

I do quite like the sound of being 'a rain drop, shivering in a cloud and waiting to fall', so maybe I'll just stick to that plan. But just because I'm not going out, doesn't mean that you can't. There's quite a lot on in Paris this weekend:

Foreign Beggars are playing at Le Cigale tonight, but it's sold out already. Of course, if Georgie was still in Paris we'd be probably be able to get on Guest List. I wonder just how crap my social life will be this year, without Georgie, who seems to be friends with absolutely anybody who has ever lived/hung out in London and touched a turnstile?

Tonight Birdy Nam Nam, Bambounou and French Fries are playing at Social Club...

Even though I love French Fries I'm NOT going. I kind of fell out with Social Club a little bit last year because it was overcrowded and overpriced but actually, on reflection: it's no more expensive than the Rex or Nouveau Casino, they always have good DJs playing and the crowd is more likely to be made up of Pretentious Dickheads than Dodgy, Rob-your-bag types, which can make a nice change, trust me.

Tomorrow is Seth Troxler at Showcase, but need I remind you that I swore a jihad on Showcase? Look, obviously Seth will be good but go at your own risk and don't, for the love of God, go in that bloody tunnel that leads from the entrance to the toilets, because you will probably be crushed to death.

Also, a quick sweep of Resident Advisor has revealed that Benji B is playing at La Machine tomorrow and I:Cube is playing at Rex Club.

The annoying thing is, I bet in a few weeks when I have a whole weekend of doing nothing stretching ahead of me, there will be NOTHING on in Paris.

Anyway, I'm depressing myself talking about all these nights that I can't go to- I shouldn't really be going out until I've booked flights back to England for my cousin's wedding, which is in three weeks, and then my Eurostar back to London for Olivia's birthday in November.

Have a look on Resident Advisor yourself.

*Presumptuous as in, I wouldn't presume I'm not mainstream. I'm in the stream, definitely, maybe not right in the middle splashing about with everyone else, but I'm definitely in there somewhere. Or am I  a rain drop in a cloud? So many metaphors... confusing myself...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fou Fou

So I might have teased you earlier by saying 'I nearly got stabbed on the night bus'.

I was being a tad dramatic, but let me tell you what happened anyway...

On Saturday night Julia wanted to go out to celebrate her birthday which was last week, but she was away with her boyfriend*, plus Kayt had three friends over from England. My friend Ruth said it was her friend's birthday as well and we plotted to bring our two groups of friends together for a night out.

(I invited Cece but he literally refuses to leave the Marais- I don't think he's used the metro once since he got here: he gets driven everywhere for work and we normally go out within walking distance of his apartment. I tried to tell him that East Paris is where it's at, but he was having none of it.)

Me, Julia and her friend Matthieu from Versailles went to Ruth's apartment for pre-drinks and there was quite a lot of people there. When Kayt finished work, she and her friends got the metro to Menilmontant, but we were all still in Ruth's flat... I asked Ruth if they could come up and was she like 'Yeah, yeah of course,' but as soon as the four of them arrived, I could tell her boyfriend was a bit annoyed that there were so many people in the flat. Argh. It was awkward. I secretly resolved to send Ruth a text the next day saying:

'Hi, it was nice being friends with you, but I completely understand the difficult position you're in- you can't continue being friends with me while your boyfriend hates me so much. Maybe if he goes on holiday ever you can sneak out and meet me for a coffee  xxx'

But in the end it was fine!

All of Ruth's friends are really lovely and cool, we went to l'International just off Rue Oberkampf, a big Indie club that has live music every night. It's a bit of a dive but it's free to get in, the drinks are relatively cheap (for Paris) and sometimes they have really good bands playing.

Anyway, from there I kind of lost Julia, Matthieu, Kayt and her friends from England. I might have had a little too much to drink and as a consequence, I have no recollection of getting from l'International to Nouveau Casino, which was also free that night. Wait- I've just looked on the internet and it says that on Saturday 'Hello Catin' was playing and it was 12 euros on the door, but we definitely didn't pay to get in...

Strange.

One of Ruth's friends, the birthday boy in fact, kindly offered to escort me home so we left before everyone else- What? Why are you looking at me like that?- and tried to find a taxi. We walked for ages and couldn't find a cab. What I did find, however, was a scally with his hand in my pocket. I was so drunk that I wasn't really mad, I just kind of tutted at him as I pulled his hand out. It was so lucky I caught him, because in that pocket ( I was wearing my I Know What You Did Last Summer coat with the huge pockets) was my bag, which had all my money, my keys, my passport and my phone in. We carried on walking and then we saw a night bus.

"That goes to my house!" I yelled, so we jumped on it.

Now- the night buses have got a bad reputation in Paris, but all my experiences of the noctillien have been absolutely fine. (Apart from one night last year, when a guy in a red cap told Kayt to tell me he was going to rape me, so I told Kayt to tell him I was going to take his red cap and do something vile in it- he was so disgusted that he got off the bus immediately.)

Maybe it was because we were further east than I normally go, but the bus we got on Saturday was full of dodgy, dangerous-looking weirdos. At first we sat, rather inadvisedly, in the middle of a group of scallies who all had their hoods up and were looking around the bus menancingly. One of them kept staring at us, trying to be intimidating, so I asked him how old he was and he said sixteen! I asked him where he lived and he said they lived really far out, in the suburbs.

"What are you doing in the centre of Paris, at this time? On your own?"

They didn't look so intimidating after that. The one sat opposite me even tried to practice his English a little bit, probably had a test on the Monday.

For Some Reason, we moved from the group of adolescent scallies to the front of the bus, where a guy with lank, greasy hair and eyes like grubby marbles took offence to us, for Some Reason. (I know I say Some Reason a lot, but it does seem to be the main reason for things.) He sat opposite us, staring and being a weirdo and Ruth's friend calmly whispered in my ear:

"He's got a knife."

I looked down to see the handle of a Swiss army knife in the guy's hand. He was holding it just a little bit out of his pocket, as if he was showing it to us in a warning way. A warning to do what, exactly? A warning to stop sitting on the bus, quietly?

He finally got off the bus, but he was making weird gestures at us and lurking around our seat as he waited for the bus to stop. I don't know what he was on, but I hope it's that really nasty Russian drug that makes your skin rot down to the bone.

Ergh. I feel sick now after typing that.

Anyway, as he got off the bus, perhaps I said something to him that I shouldn't have... In my defence, all I said was: 'T'es fou fou', which is what the au pair mum says to the toddler when he does something crazy, like take all his clothes off and make me rub his back with a feather he's found, or run around in circles until he falls over. It's not my fault that I learn French from toddlers. The weird thing is, it really offends French men- remember when we were in Hot Man Bar and those guys wanted to kill Cece because I said the French equivalent of 'You're a meanie'?

Anyway, no matter how correct I was in labeling the glassy-eyed, greasy-headed, knife-wielder as fou fou, I shouldn't have said it, because I said it just as he was getting off the bus and the doors were closing, and he immediately walked round to the front of the bus and got back on the bus.

He came over to us, looking all wild and weird.

His hand was in his pocket and he stood right in front of us, looking into my eyes.

The birthday boy was saying "Just be calm" and so I pretended that I didn't care if he stabbed me or not.

"Oh, why does everyone want to stab me? What's the point?" I was gabbling.

Everyone on the bus was silent. The scallies at the back were craning their necks to see what was happening.

For Some Reason, the guy walked away, yelled at the driver to open the doors and got off.

What. the fuck. happened there?

We were on the bus for about an hour and I started to worry that we'd got on the wrong bus, but then I recognised where we were. As we got up, I saw that the really drunken guy sat near the door was clutching a half-empty bottle of gin, so I bought it off him for ten euros.

I know you're thinking why on earth did you do that, IDIOT. But, listen-

I will never care.

The next day I went to Marks and Spencer's to get sausages and bacon and took it all to Kayt's. It was the best idea I have EVER had, last night we ate the rest of the sausages with mashed potato and red onion gravy.

Ok, so. I know I've made myself seem like a bit of a drunken psychopath in this post, but you wouldn't want it any other way.

ANYWAY. Guess who is back in Paris! Angelique! She's back from New York for a few days, so me and Kayt are going to meet her later for coffee, she says she's brought a friend back with her who she wants us to meet- a New Yorker called Leah who is going to be an au pair in Paris for a while.

*Let me just quickly tell you the story of how Julia found her boyfriend, because it's sweet:
The last time I saw Single Julia, we were sat in her car talking about how horrible men are and Julia turned to me and said:
'But I believe in happy endings! I believe in movie-style romances! People laugh at me but it does happen and I believe it will happen for you and for me'. 
I've never heard anyone say anything like that before. I'm not sure if I believe her now, but in the moment I was completely taken in.
About a week later, Julia and Georgie snuck ('snuck' is a word, isn't it?) into the 'Petite Ceinture'- a secret, abandoned railway line that circles the city-  in the middle of the night for a 'Photography Adventure'. Georgie invited another photography friend who hit it off with Julia and that was that. Even I- The Boyfriend Hater, as Lauren calls me- enjoy this story.
Julia, if you are reading this, me and Kayt are going to get you a birthday present, but we want to get it from England. Also, I hope you don't mind me sharing your story on my blog...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Goodbyes and Birthdays: Part 2

'Part 2?' I hear you scoff in disbelief...

Look, sometimes I like to serialise my social life. I'm sure there's some dickheady things that you do, too. Just humour me please, and keep reading.

I think I got up to the point where the police rudely interrupted Cece's party. As we were trying to clear everyone out, four complete strangers walked in.

"Excuse me!" said Cece, outraged, "Who the fuck are you?"
"We're friends of Cecile." they said.
"Who the fuck is Cecile?"

Cecile turned out to be a friend of a friend, who had been there all night, so we let the four strangers stay at the party- it was ending soon, anyway.

Everyone quickly finished the leftover alcohol (ok, so all the English people finished the alcohol... I overheard a French girl say 'You can tell who is English and who is French!') before congregating on the street outside. A few people decided that this would be a good time to go home and the rest of us decided to go to Andy Wahloo which was, up until last Saturday, my new favourite bar in Paris. Now I can never go back there again, and I shall tell you for why...

Me and Olivia were the first to arrive and the woman on the door told us it was too late to let anyone else in. Fine. Then the four strangers who had turned up at the end of the party- claiming to be friends of the mysterious Cecile- walked straight into the bar!

Outrageous.

The four gate-crashers were all French, and I was convinced that the cold-hearted trollop (for that is what she was) on the door had decided not to let me and Olivia in simply because she'd guessed we were English. But then everyone else from the party arrived- most of them Parisians- and the answer was still a very cold and dismissive non.

We stood in the street outside, deciding where to go next, and the bouncer actually shushed us. Olivia said to him in indignation:

"I'm not going in your bar, so you can't shush me!"

She had a good point- you can't order about random people in the street who have nothing to do with your stupid bar. (Ok, it's not stupid- it's really, really cool and I like it a lot, but I will never go back. I have my PRIDE, you know.) As we walked away, he followed us up the street a little bit- how annoying. I resolved to say something really Cutting and Clever to him. He stopped just ahead of me and as I went past him he put his finger to his lips and shushed right in my face.

"Shut up." I snapped.

Brilliant, excellent- I'm sure he's still reeling a week later from my very cleverly constructed insult...

From Andy Wahloo we trudged to another bar/club that one of the French people had suggested because they said it was within walked distance. I have no idea what it was called, but it doesn't matter because I don't think I'll be wanting to go there again. We had a good time there, but it was just like one of those cave clubs you can find dotted around Chatelet or Rue de Princesse- there was commercial music pumping and a crowded, sweaty dance floor down in the cave. Our large group kind of got split up and some people went missing, but thankfully I managed to stay with a few people, because I didn't have my phone with me and I had no idea where we were.

The rumour is that Olivia caught me trying to leave the club with a very questionable young man. Apparently, the bouncer wouldn't let me leave, saying I was too drunk and that he didn't trust the guy I was with...

This is a SLANDEROUS LIE.

However, if it was true (which it is most definitely not)- it is horrifying. And if it was true (I already told you though, it isn't true)- I would certainly have to take a long, hard look at myself and promise not to drink so much in the future. For all the advice I love dishing out to young au pairs- telling them to be careful and to look after themselves in Paris- I am the biggest bloody idiot going when it comes to going out and being sensible. But I solemnly swear to stop compromising my safety with unnecessarily large amounts of alcohol. On Saturday night I almost got stabbed on the night bus, but I will tell you more about that later...

Cece's director, two of his friends from England and I got a taxi back to Cece's apartment. Olivia and Katy were supposed to follow us in another cab. In the taxi, Cece's friend Anna suddenly realised that we didn't have a key and she didn't think that Olivia and Katy would be able to get a cab for a while, so she made our taxi stop at a bar- she thought we could wait for Olivia and Katy there. I could see a flawed logic in this plan, but I was too drunk to argue, which is why, at 5 in the morning, I found myself eating burger and fries, listening to Anna and the director discuss Islam... or something.

Me and Cece's other friend Emer, who was as drunk as me, kept looking at each other across the table and giggling, because we had no idea what was going on. Eventutally we walked back to Cece's apartment to find the door wide open...

There was nobody in.

We tried calling everyone, but nobody picked up. I decided this was enough to warrant a full-on hysterical crying fit and had to be put to bed by Anna.

In the morning, I woke up to Emer hurriedly putting her make-up on in the mirror by the side of the bed- she had an hour before her Eurostar left and was still a bit drunk. (I found out later that she made it, though. Phew.) Me and Anna had fallen asleep fully-clothed, me covered in mascara from where I'd been resting my head in my arm and sobbing- and this is when I discovered that I had a huge hole in the knee of my Cheryl Cole pants. Very upsetting.

Cece had been asleep in his bed, the whole time that we were stumbling about the living room trying to call him. He said he'd also gone for a burger and fries with his friend Jo, and we figured out we must have been sat in the same restaurant at the same time. Olivia and Katy and gone to Olivia's, after returning briefly to Cece's flat and discovering that nobody else had arrived.

The next day I felt vaguely panicked in case Olivia left her flat, because all my stuff was at her's, including my phone and my keys. I got Cece to call her and I heard him explaining how he had found 'a little gypsy girl' wandering about his apartment.

"She says she belongs to you."

Olivia said he could send me to her place, as long as I picked up McDonald's on the way.

Me, Katy and Olivia had such a lovely hangover day- we ate the McDonald's and watched four Harry Potter films, then we went for a planche and a beer in the evening, 'to get some fresh air.'

The next night me, Olivia and Cece went for a drink, which turned into a full-on, disgusting binge on red wine. I tried to break into the carousel at Hotel de Ville and we stopped everyone on the street to get in a photo with us. We got back to Cece's and spent an hour filming ourselves rapping and singing, then taking pictures and putting them on Twitter.

I know, I know.

We're bad nobheads.

Tuesday was Olivia's Last Supper. It started to sink in that she was really leaving. She made onion soup, beef bourguignon and 'berrymasu' for pudding- a kind of tiramisu, made with raspberries and raspberry liqueur instead of coffee. Mmm. It was so nice. I performed a rap for Olivia, obviously. (Whenever anyone leaves now it is tradition to write them a rap.)

On Wednesday Olivia's mum and dad arrived- they helped her back and then drove all her stuff back to England for her while she got the Eurostar, she's got them wrapped around her little finger.

It still didn't feel like she was really leaving...

Then on Thursday we went out for one last drink. Of course one drink turned into a bottle at Cece's, just for old time's sake, but then it was time for bed and then it was 5am and Olivia was leaving to get the Eurostar...

Sob.

We've been friends for exactly a year, but it seems a lot longer.  That's Paris though, most people come for one year only and if you want to stay longer, you have to get used to saying goodbye.

But.

Amy was only here for a year, and Clare, and we are still as good friends as ever. Amy is coming to Paris actually, in less than a week! (Clare was supposed to come as well but she finally got a job 'in fashion' that she's been trying so hard to achieve ever since she left Paris over a year ago. Unfortunately it means she can't come to Paris as they won't give her time off, but I'm so proud of her for finally getting the job of her dreams! She can come to Paris anytime, but it has taken her so long to get a job, she can't give it up.)

I'm going to London in a couple of weeks for Olivia's birthday, but until then I'll just have to try and get by. She bought me some rose syrup as a leaving present so I can attempt to make her famous Rose and Lychee Martinis, and Kayt wants to try making Olivia's onion soup.

Pffft. It's hard though, when friends leave.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Goodbyes and Birthdays

I've literally done nothing all afternoon. I went to my au pair job for a couple of hours this morning, then came back, ate some potatoes and had a nap. At the weekend, I resent anyone asking me to do anything that doesn't involve bucks fizz and cake, but in the end this morning wasn't too bad. I took the toddler to the park, we saw two tractors, then I came back and the dad gave me half a bottle of wine that he thought was disgustingly sweet. He let me taste a little bit first and I had to pretend that I really liked it, otherwise the mum and dad would know that I will drink anything for the sake of getting drunk.

So. I don't really know what to do with myself now. It's one of those days where you know you're going out but nobody has a solid plan, so you just hang around feeling anxious and vaguely wondering what you're going to wear.

Olivia left Paris for good yesterday. Well, not for good, because she says she belongs in France and Paris is her favourite French city, but at least for a few years. She has to finish her French degree and then she wants to go to drama school for three years.

The problem with Paris is- everybody leaves. Every year you say goodbye to your friends and you feel like the last one on a sinking ship. Next year I'm jumping overboard, I promise.

Anyway, our last weekend together was very fitting- we did ridiculous things and had such spiffing fun and frolics. On the Friday, Olivia's friend Katy arrived from England, so we took her to Chez Gladines. I haven't been for months and Olivia needed to go one last time. We've had so many fun nights in that restaurant, and so much lovely food. Well, actually, every single time we go we order the same thing. I know it sounds weird to always order the same thing, but once you've tried the pavé de canard avec sauce Roquefort, you will not be able to order anything else; because you know you'll regret missing out on the duck in Roquefort sauce.

It's so good. I could eat it twice a day for the rest of my life.

For once, we didn't get too drunk and went to bed quite early- we wanted to save ourselves for Cece's birthday the next night. When we got home we drank tea and sat on the bed reading the English magazine Katy had brought, taking it in turns to read things out. (Maybe we were a little bit drunk after all.)

Oh, and while I remember, when we were at the bar waiting for a table (you normally have to wait for at least an hour, but it's so worth it) some idiots at the bar overheard us speaking English and decided to try and talk to us in their appallingly bad English. (There's always someone at Chez Gladines. Once a man tried to order our wine for us and said to the barmen in French that we were English and so didn't know what we talking about... We were absolutely FUMING.) We replied in French and one of them corrected Olivia's French because she said 'tout le trois' instead of 'toute le trois.' The correction wouldn't have been so bad, but then he said 'C'est dur, le français .'

Absolute choc ice.

We didn't correct their shitty English. I would NEVER do that to a stranger, trying to make conversation with me. I've been feeling really angry recently about how people in Paris will either insist on speaking English to you, or be really rude about your French- they can fuck off. I've completely given up on my French now and I will NEVER care. I feel like nobody in Paris wants me to learn French anyway.

So, it was Cece's birthday on the Saturday. Me and Olivia were secretly worried that his Birthday Monster would be worse than mine, but for most of the day we managed to keep it docile. The only time the Birthday Monster got a bit aggressive was when we asked Cece what the plan was for the evening, so we just stopped asking. He was having a party and then we would go out... somewhere. Me and Olivia didn't bring up the fact that in Paris, it can be quite stressful trying to get into clubs, especially when there are thirty of you...

Some of his friends had come over from England for the weekend and we started the celebrations with a boozy lunch in the Marais. The next table was shooting us dirty looks the entire time because we were being a little bit loud. I knew then it was going to be an EXCELLENT weekend.

Me, Katy and Olivia went shopping before the party to buy Cece a sarong, because on Sundays he always says, 'I wish I had a sarong to wear right now.' Sarong but so right.

We also wrote him a rap and performed it at his party. We decided to tell everyone that if they were embarrassed for us, they could turn around and face the wall in until we'd finished. As it happens, when we arrived, the only people there were Cece and his friends from home, all of whom are actors, so they loved it and didn't see anything wrong with us giving him the gift of Performance.

The party soon filled up and it was really fun to be around so many different people. At first I felt a bit awkward, like I always do at parties with French people I don't know, but once everyone was drunk it was fine and we all mingled and danced. I even did my Cheryl Cole dance because Cece had requested that I wear my Cheryl Cole trousers, you know, the purple, Aztec-print ones*. In fact, everyone decided that as we were having such a good time, we should stay at Cece's apartment all night, rather than go out and risk the night going downhill.

But disaster struck. Somebody called the police. (It was midnight, on a Saturday night) The policeman said to Cece- 'Make your party somewhere else, next time you go to jail.'

Harsh.

Oh, now I have to get ready for tonight and I have nothing to wear. I will continue this tomorrow.

*Sadly I might have overdone the dancing because when I woke up the next day, my Cheryl Cole pants had a big hole in the knee. I'm so sad. I secretly think a lot of my friends will be glad though, because, while I think they are amazing, let's just say... 'only a mother could love them'.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Teaching and Planning and Acting

It's not even 9.30am and I'm out of bed. Also, my room is tidy! I feel so accomplished and productive. Mainly it was panic that drove me from the warmth of my bed, I heard my phone go and unfortunately it was a text message from the au pair mum, telling me to come an hour early today, meaning I can't go to one of my new 'private tuition' jobs. I thought about telling the mum I can't, but part of the reason I get paid so well (well, I get paid alright) for for doing so little hours is on the understanding that I'm flexible. Seeing as I can't touch my toes, I suppose I better make myself more available.

Yesterday I had my first lesson with these two little girls I'm going to teach. It was terrifying, the mum is paying me 30 euros an hour and Annabelle has told her 'all about me' I suppose. I prepared loads of stuff to print off and then, obviously, I decided to go to the print shop on my way to the lesson, but the metro fucked up, meaning I had to go a different route. I decided to go straight to the lesson, because I had a funny feeling I'd get a little bit lost...

As it happens, I arrived half an hour early, so walked around the block a few times, thinking stupidly that there might be a print shop just waiting to reveal itself like the stable in the Navity Story. And... there was! I swear there was a beam of light shining directly onto the shop front. I ran in and asked if they let people print things from the internet- it looked like one of those shops that prints leaflets and flyers- and they did! But I had no cash and you couldn't pay by card. I walked around the block again, looking for a cash machine, thinking that surely it was Meant To Be and that I would find a cash machine... and then one appeared in the wall. Literally, appeared, I saw the bricks move around before my eyes, making a huge hole and behind was the entrance to a cobbled street... Hold on. No. I'm thinking of Harry Potter, aren't I?

Probably the cash machine had always been there, but it was use to me because it only gave out twenty euros notes and I have the fantastical sum of exactly fourteen euros in mine.

I went to the lesson empty-handed, with a hand-scrawled lesson plan and the children's book that Lauren and Claire got me for my birthday last year.

First I had the eight year old girl and her friend, I got them to make a family tree and to talk about themselves. The hardest part is giving them instructions, because I really I should talk to them in French, but my mind went completely blank and I couldn't think of one simple thing to say in French. The mum told me they were doing 'Body Parts'' at school, so we sang Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and I taught them the Okie Kokie.

Then I had the five year old sister for half an hour. We drew her face, her mum's and then her dad's (she stopped drawing the bodies because she saw that I'd only drawn the heads, because I always start with the heads and I couldn't explain that I was just getting all the heads down so she knew how many I wanted her to draw) and then I labelled them for her- Me, Mummy, Daddy. She repeated all the words after me.

"Great! Bravo!" I said.

Then there was an awkward pause, so I got out the children's book and read it to her. She must have had no idea what I was talking about, because it's quite long and the language is quite difficult, but I decided that if the mum asked me what I was doing, I'd tell her that it was just good for the five year old to hear English. I got her to point out 'mummy' 'daddy' and 'cat' though (it was about cats), so I don't think it looked completely random.

After my beautiful Dramatic Reading, we did Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and played a game where I said a body part and she had to touch it. The last few times we did the song, she was singing all the words herself. I think that's a good goal to have achieved... right?

Later I'm going to go and print off loads of worksheets and activities, so the next few lessons will be more structured.

I was quite looking forward to my lesson later on, but I told the mother and she said she understands. Hopefully next week will be fine. Eeek. I hope so.

Sometimes I wish this year I'd just sorted out a house share, so I was free at all times of the day for teaching jobs, but I don't think there's anyway I could afford to pay rent. I could fill my 'rooms' with books and tea sets, like Brian Roberts in Cabaret. Oh, but I don't want to be Brian. I want to be Liza Minnelli's character! I want to wear silk stockings and do jazz hands!

The pressure is on now to organise something for next year. I've decided to apply for drama school, which I know of my friends and family will think is mad because I already did a three-year Drama degree, but that was different. I want to be trained as an actor and I want to go to one of the best places to do it. RADA, Guildhall, Central or LAMDA.

I'm really not sure if I've got any chance of getting in, but I need to try. Recently I've learnt that you don't know how much time you've got, so why not spend your life doing exactly what you want to do? And if I do live to be one hundred years old, I don't want to regret not going to drama school and not giving the acting thing a go. I don't want to be bitter and miserable, wishing I'd tried. Wishing my life hadn't turned out the way it had.

On Saturday it was CC's birthday (who will hence forth will be known as Cece because I don't like having initials littered everywhere) and a lot of his friends who came over are actors. Talking to them about it convinced me even more that I should apply for drama school. The only problem is now that I have to do my C.V and Personal Statement and stuff.... blergh.

Anyway, I will tell you about Cece's birthday in another post. 'It was such fun, such fun!' Ah, now I really want to watch Miranda. Any American girls reading who like British humour, look for Miranda Hart on Youtube. In fact, why don't I just look for you now...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ibiza: Tuesday and Wednesday

I'm going to blog about Ibiza while I have the time and inclination. Strike while the iron is hot! (Or lukewarm, I guess, seeing as I got back from Ibiza almost three weeks ago.) Go, go, go!
OK. Quickly now, keep up, come on...

Tuesday was Carl Cox at Space which was my favourite night last year. Carl Cox has had a residency at Space for eleven years now, he must really love that club. Or maybe they just keep upping his fee...

(I was asking everyone whether they thought Resident DJs played the same set every week, all summer, or if they do a different set every week. Most people thought that the DJ would have a list of tracks they always played, but that they would mix in different stuff each week, depending on their mood and the vibe of the crowd.)

Iit was supposed to be house music/tech-house, but all I remember is thinking it was really techno-heavy, I felt quite dark and didn't really speak to anyone all night, I just bopped about in my own little world, composing mad emails to people in my head and thinking about what it would be like to live in Paris forever. I wish when I went clubbing I could switch my brain off, because normally I can't remember any of the music but I can remember the stupid conversations I had with myself inside my brain, or things that I thought happened between other people that it will turn out, the next day, didn't happen at all...

Sometimes in clubs things feel a bit edgy and dark and you see danger everywhere.

Someone wants to rob me, the bouncer wants to throw me out, that creepy guy is trying to dance behind my friend and she hasn't noticed, I have to tell her, I have to get her away...

In fact, nothing bad is happening and I've made everything up.

For example, at one point on Tuesday, the crowd parted and a girl ran through the middle of the dance floor. It was bizarre, because the dance floor was packed and there was barely room to breathe, let alone make a path for somebody to run through. I decided that the girl was chasing after a robber who had snatched her bag. Then I remembered that there had been another figure running ahead of her, so I deduced that this was the guy who had robbed her...

It was only when I was discussing the event with Hollie afterwards that I realised my reality was different to everybody else's. Hollie said that everyone had moved out of the way because the girl was going to throw up.

"Look, there's a bit of sick on the floor where she ran past." she said.

It's so weird- I can't be sure anymore of what is really happening, and what is my (wrong) perception of what's happening... Maybe I'm not even an au pair. Maybe I've been assigned to a French family so that they can keep an eye on me, letting me look after their kids in a way so I feel like I have some purpose in life. Maybe they're not even French and I'm not even in France! Maybe when I look at the Eiffel Tower, I'm really looking at the Blackpool Tower. It would explain why I can't speak French.

I think my mind just exploded.

What... was I talking about before all that started?

Ibiza! Carl Cox! One two three... and you're back in the room.

We stayed on the terrace  for agesss, which was Tim Green and Yousef, before we decided it was time to  brave the crowds of the main room for Carl Cox,  Just Be (Bushwacka)- click here to listen to his set from that night- and Umek. Now shut the door because I'm going to tell you something in private...

I have no idea who Umek is.

Actually, all holiday I was a bit on edge, scared that someone would ask me what my favourite track was by a DJ I had never heard of and I would panic and say: "It's a toss-up between 'Jolene' and '9 to 5'."

But I think I got away with it...

Anyway, Tuesday was good, then on Wednesday it was ZOO PROJECT. (Technically it's called 'Channel Zoo' on a Wednesday, but it's the same thing if you ask me... Are you asking me? Forget it then.)

Once again, while everyone else dressed up as leopards and zebras, I panicked and put my feathery headband on, with a normal outfit. When I got back to Paris I was talking to Olivia about my holiday and she asked me why, on some of my Facebook photos, everyone had face paint and animal-print on. After I explained that Zoo Project took place in an old zoo and was wild animal-themed, she asked me innocently (yeah right):

"Did you try and go as a tropical bird?"

I'm never going to Ibiza again. It's too hard to think of outfits. Every year I get home, look at the photos that people upload onto Facebook and wonder why I look like I'm on a different holiday to everyone else. 

But nothing can spoil my enjoyment of Zoo Project, not even looking like a peaky tropical bird. We got there as soon as it opened at six and secured ourselves a huge table under a canopy of camouflage netting. There is even a photo of us on the Zoo website, although I don't why, because we don't look like we are having a particularly good time:


Everyone was knackered from the night before, but that is why Zoo Project is so good- you can chill out and get something to eat from the BBQ while you ease yourself back into a Party Mood, then you can get a pitcher of cocktail and see how you feel, then before you know it you are dancing about in the seal pit, having the time of your life and trying not to rub against the girl next to you whose entire body is painted in glittery zebra stripes.

The cocktails are very alcoholic. For Ibiza, they're not particularly expensive either (it's twenty euros for a pitcher I think) and soon every single one of us was really, really drunk- Ricky was telling everyone he'd gone blind. It's funny because it's the first time I've seen the Rave Team so drunk, all at the same time.

It was the bestest night ever, I love Zoo project. We danced and danced more enthusiastically than we had all week, right until they played the last song which was, rather controversially, 'I'm Every Woman.' we loved it, of course, because we were all smashed.

Zoo Project finishes at midnight, so we decided to have a little party of our own back at the villa rather than go on to a club. We left on a high, then queued ages for a taxi, then went back to the villa for our 'pool party'. I wanted everyone to get in the pool and was convinced everyone was going to do it, but in the end I think it was only me and Sarah who got in. Not quite the Dizzee Rascal video I was imagining but it was still really fun.

Shitting Hell going to be late for my au pair job now.

Chilly, Squirmy Idiot

YESSSSS. The au pair mum just texted me to say that the girls are staying with friends tonight so instead of picking them up from school, I just have to go to their house at half six, to look after the toddler for a bit. I'll probably be able to leave at 8pm.

I don't know whether to have a nap or not. It's been a busy morning- I was in the bilingual school from 9am until midday, when I had a meeting with the French actresses about the drama lessons. We decided on themes for each week and discussed how each lesson should be structured. It sounds like things will be a lot easier this year, mainly because the Mental Kids from last year have moved up to Big School, but also because we have a set idea of how each lesson plan should look. This doesn't really affect me however, because- and here's the thing, old chap, bit of a sticky wicket you understand- the classes I was supposed to teach aren't happening anymore.

There aren't enough kids to fill the lunchtime classes which are the only classes that fit in with my au pair schedule.

To be honest, I'm not bothered- at least Anabelle has sorted me out with two private tuition jobs and she's the reason I got the job at the bilingual school. I should be able to earn the same amount of money that I earnt in the restaurant last year, except instead of carrying plates and taking orders, I'll be playing with lego and reading stories...

I love the bilingual school! The kids are so cute, I could eat them. I don't know why really cute things make us want to eat them, perhaps it's an evolutionary thing. Although I can't see how the human race would benefit from consuming tiny, silly creatures in adorable, miniature Converse and teeny tiny, skinny jeans... (The kids might only be three years old but their parents dress them like they are achingly hip teenagers.)

Anyway, this morning we played with toys, did some 'sport' (they did a roly poly and then crawled through a tunnel) and then it was Story Time. The French teacher wondered if perhaps I would like to read one of the English books? I literally leapt off the ground and jumped into the chair- there's not many things I like more than The Sound of My Own Voice.

Now. I'm not being arrogant, I'm just being truthful when I say that my dramatic reading of 'Night Night Baby' was stunning, perhaps the Greatest Moment of my career and it saddens me that only a small group of three year olds and one other teacher bore witness to it. I've always known that Sight Reading was my only Gift and Talent (apart from washing up, but I have recently decided that my aptitude for dish washing is neither a Gift nor a Talent, merely a manifestation of my sad, strange eagerness to please people). I used to think that sight reading was a useless skill to have ('Wowza kid- you read that Microwave Instruction Manual like you'd read it a thousand times before! You gotta take that talent to Broadway! You're gonna be a HUGE star!') but now I know that I can use it to read books to little kids. My life's work has not been in vain.

Jeez Louise! I'm a bit full of myself today, aren't I? Maybe I will start winking in the mirror, pointing one finger at my reflection and clucking out of the side of my mouth. Go get 'em tiger.

Since I'm in such a positive mood, let me give you some more good news- yesterday I did flyering again and this time I got there on time, without getting lost!!

The night before, I spent ages on Google Maps in 'streetview', noting down REAL DIRECTIONS for myself like: 'Turn left at cafe with yellow awning.' The only problem with Google Maps is that sometimes, since the satellite photos you're looking at were taken, that cafe with the yellow awning could have become a cafe with a red awning, but at least in Paris cafes and restaurants normally remain cafes and restaurants... Even if they do change into something completely different, like an Islamic bookshop or a Thai massage parlour (haaaa- imagine either of those sprouting up in the sixth arrondissement), Paris is so serious about preserving itself that everything except the sign would remain exactly the same.

Uh-oh. I've just remembered, nobody likes it when I'm happy and confident. People mostly read my blog so that my sad, paranoid ramblings will make them feel better about their own life.

But yesterday was just such a lovely day- in between handing out flyers and my au pair job, I met up with My Newish Friend Ruth, who I may as well just start calling Ruth, and we went to the Pompidou Centre. (They've recently changed the permanent collection so if you've been too many times in the last two years and you're a bit sick of all those videos with the dead chicken, now you can go again!) How very cultural and productive of us.

Things took a slight turn for the worse at my au pair job- there was a really awkward moment when the toddler was insisting that the dad kissed me goodbye, so the dad leant in and made a really big deal out of it, trying to embarrass me...

The thing is, in Ibiza when I say goodbye to everyone, I accidentally kissed somebody on the neck. Yes, it was awkward. Oh my God it was so awkward. Every time I think of it I have to sing loudly to drown out the sound of my own voice bleating 'Oh God, oh God'... so don't blame me for being a little apprehensive every time someone kisses me hello or goodbye.

I reckon the mum and dad think I am a 23 year old virgin, because I'm so weird and squirmy. Maybe when I leave I should say:
'Look, just to make myself feel better, I must tell you that I'm actually a massive slag. I just don't like faire-ing the bisou.'

Or maybe:
'I may have the social skills of a plastic fork, but I'm an atrocious whore, just wanted to let you know."

Hmm. I think if I ever get married, it will have to be to a very quiet, shy man who doesn't try and touch me in any way, unless we are doing You Know What, in which case it is fine... I'm not a robot, you know. I'm just very, very cold, apparently... I got told I am 'so cold' in Ibiza. I asked somebody else for confirmation and they said 'You're chilly.'

So I'm chilly, am I?

I'm a chilly, squirmy idiot who can't read maps.

Not so cocky now, am I? What happened to that big-headed sight reading superstar from the beginning of the post? I think I can see her out of the window, leaping about like a dickhead and doing jazz hands. Maybe she'll come back later. Maybe I'll pretend to be out.

Ok. All this talk of Ibiza reminds me... finish blogging about it! I'm going to make a cup of tea and then I will.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Exploding Kittens

I need to finish blogging about Ibiza, right now, because the memories are slipping away from me already and if I leave it any longer all I'll have to say about the entire week is: 'It was hot and the villa was nice.'

It was hot and the villa was nice but there's so much more to say... at least I know that there must be more to say but I can't think of anything right now. Instead of chronicling the holiday day to day like I started doing in the last post, I might have to just randomly throw images and sounds together as they come into my head.

The cats! I've just remembered there were three kittens and a mummy cat that came crying to the walls of our villa one day. We had a huge pan of rice left over from tea (it had been kept warm in the hot evening air and so we didn't want to risk reheating it another day- I wasn't being wasteful, honestly Sir) which we decided to chuck down- we balled the rice up in our hands and threw the clumps, not the metal pan- for the kittens. There are always stray cats on holiday, aren't there? I think my destiny is to move to one of these sunny, touristy islands and set up a huge sanctuary for cats. I could sunbathe all day until my skin goes a lovely, leathery mahogany, and in the evenings I could put out food for the hundreds of little cats that would gather around me, and I could stroke all of them and pick them up and rub them all over me and I could lie on the ground and they'd lie on my stomach and my legs and maybe one would curl up in my hair and I'd just be COVERED IN CATS as well as being really, ridiculously tanned.

One day. One day...


Do you know what? I was a bit worried that maybe kittens aren't supposed to eat rice, in case they react like pigeons and it expands in their little bellies, making them explode. The mummy cat wouldn't touch the rice and for the rest of the holiday we only saw her, not the kittens. (I saw her sneak into the villa when everybody else was getting ready in their rooms, so I secretly gave her a piece of chorizo and squinted at her, which as all true cat-lovers know, means you want to be friends in Cat Language*.) Oh my God- what if we killed the little kittens? What if they exploded?

No. I won't believe it. I'm just going to look on Google to appease my guilt.

Five minutes later

Erm. There seems to be a lot of people wanting to know if rice will make a cat's stomach explode, but not many people who know how to answer such a question. From what I can gather, cats can eat rice but it won't give them any nutrition. Oh! It says too much rice can give them constipation and bloating. I feel really bad now. Why did I start talking about those kittens?
 
Shit! Now I don't have time to talk about Ibiza! Tomorrow or tonight. I need to get an early night tonight though as tomorrow morning I am flyering again and I CANNOT be late. I've already got lost virtually on Google Maps, so hopefully tomorrow I'll be fine. I'm going to set off an hour before I really need to, just to make sure...

Today I had another phone call from someone who wants private lessons after Anabelle told them 'all about me'. What exactly is she telling people about me? I'm not even sure if this shaky schedule I'm creating for myself is going to work. I'm scared everything is about to blow up in my face. It's Karma for making those kittens bloated and constipated.


*If you don't believe me, try it with a cat next time you make eye contact- after a while they will squint back at you. Unless they're a rude dickhead type of cat, in which case don't bother with them.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Crap, Shit, Fucked Up.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that today I finally unpacked and tidied my room- it has been a horrible den of messy misery since I got back a week ago and opened my suitcase to let it explode into each corner of the room. Nearly everything I own is now spilling out of my laundry basket and my bed has been rained on quite a lot- I needed to keep the window wide open to prevent dust-induced sneeze attacks- but I can breathe again.

The bad news is that I have fucked up quite spectacularly, or rather my inability to read maps has fucked up things on my behalf...

I know I say this a lot, but MAPS DON'T WORK. I feel like maps are a sick joke that everyone is in on except for me. For example, a map will say that if you turn right off Rue A, then you will come on to Rue B. But then you will spend forty minutes walking the length of Rue A and there will be such street as Rue B. There will be a Rue Z and a Rue R and you will go down these just in case Rue B is hiding behind them, but all you will find is the top of Rue A and you'll be back to where you started, except now you'll be hot and sweaty and angry and on the verge of tears and you will curse maps and anyone who has ever been able to decipher one.

Last week I did a few hours work for Anabelle, the woman who runs the drama classes, handing out flyers outside schools so that we could get parents to sign their kids up for classes before they start next week. The first two mornings were fine and the girl I was working with was really nice. Sometimes it was really quiet and we chatted, and other times we would get a surge of parents, some of whom seemed really interested and asked us a lot of questions about the lessons.

Oh, I was a fool to think that things could stay that way...

On Friday I got really lost and couldn't find the school. There are A LOT of schools in the small area between Montparnasse and Jardin du Luxembourg and all the streets look the same: there are three wide, boulevard-type streets that strike out from a point; and coming off the boulevard-type streets are lots of little streets that criss-cross over each other and sometimes disappear into churches and market places never to be seen again, even if you are counting on that particular little street to lead you to your destination... They are all lined with identical looking boutiques, cafes and schools and it's impossible to remember which streets you've already walked down...

As the clock ticks and you become more desperate you realise that the boulevards, streets and cobbled passageways are a web, and you are being led deep into the centre against your will. In the centre you find yourself, against all logic, standing on one of those wide boulevards, too far away from either end to tell where you are. Either that, or you find yourself at a metro station that you know is about three stops closer to home than the one you got off at. You sink to the floor, the world closes in...

That is my life.

When I got lost on Friday, I called the nice girl I was doing the flyering with and described my location. Luckily, she grew up on those streets and knew exactly where I was. She told me she'd come and get me, but then I got a text from Anabelle- she had come to the school to see how we were doing and saw that neither of us was there. I explained what happened and she told me to just go home because it was now too late. I texted the nice girl to say I was sorry and she said: Don't be for me it is ok   : )

So that was shit. But then I did a four hours of flyering on Saturday, outside a town hall where people were signing up for extra-curricular activities, and I made sure I got there ridiculously early so that I'd have time to get lost. (The town hall was really easy to find.) It was really boring and quiet and I got sunburnt on one half of my body, but then I got paid 65 euros which will pay for my phone bill this month. (Haaa joke, already spent it.) All in all, I might have fucked up but it all turned out ok and that was the end of that.

Except.

It wasn't the end of it.

That couldn't possibly be the end of it, I had to fuck up just a little bit more...

Anabelle asked me if I would flyer for her again this morning and I said yes without really knowing why. I hate getting up early and I hate standing around giving out flyers, but it sounded like she really needed somebody to do it and after I Fucked Up last week I thought I should probably offer to help her out. This morning was at a different school, in the same web of tricksy turns and cobbles. I got off the metro with ten minutes until I had to be at the school, which I knew was about  five minute walk away....

I got so lost that I ended up MILES away, even though I kept asking passers-by for directions; it seemed like each person thought the road I was asking for was in a completely different place. Anabelle kept ringing me and in the end I told her that I had no idea where I was, and that I didn't think I'd find out any time soon.

She was pretty angry... but I've been thinking it over and I think I have a disability, so it wasn't really my fault. Well, not a disability, more of a Learning Difficulty... There is dyslexia for people whose brain can't process letters properly, discalculia (had to google that one) for people whose brain can't process mathematical skills, dyspraxia for people whose brain has problems with controlling movement; and my brain can not process directions and maps. I understand that a map shows Place A and Place B, but how do you get from one place to the other? A map doesn't show you how to get anywhere, it just shows you a picture of what is around you. That is crap. Maps are crap.

MAPS.
ARE.
CRAP.

Anabelle told me I'll have to go again on Thursday, so my plan is to get there an hour early, giving me plenty of time to walk around asking people for directions.

Phew.

I feel like I've pissed a lot of people off since I got back to Paris- Anabelle has given my number to a couple of her friends who want private English lessons, which would be brilliant of course because I need the cash now I'm not working in the restaurant, except they keep calling when I'm at work and I haven't had time to get back to them and I know they're getting impatient.

I don't know if I any time to give private lessons, anyway. I'm supposed to be teaching two drama classes a week and now I have a job at a private bilingual school, which I also got through Anabelle. (Hmm, if I was Anabelle I would be pretty annoyed at me too actually.)

I had an interview last Monday and, surprise surprise, got spectacularly lost and had to ring the director of the school and tell her I was going to be late but that I was in the vicinity, somewhere...

Somehow I got the job and I started this week- I'll be doing all day Monday and then Friday morning. I won't be teaching on my own, the idea is that me and one of the other teachers will be like a bilingual team, doing everything together, in both English and French. The kids are so cute, they are all about three years old. There's only ten kids in the whole school.

My first day was ok, apart from the fact that I forgot my purse and my lunch so I just sat in the park feeling sad for an hour. I love the kids and the other teachers are really nice, but so far I haven't had to actually do much teaching. When it starts properly I'm worried the director of the school will think I'm crap. She thinks I did my degree in Drama Teaching, because I was telling her how much 'applied theatre' we did and how I did work experience in a school... She only talks to me in French so perhaps a little bit has got lost in translation... or perhaps I just bullshitted.

Anyway.

Busy busy.

I feel like I'm too busy. There's loads of things I have to sort out- getting a social security number, lesson planning, booking flights back for my cousin's wedding, replying to emails and phone messages...

Ok that's it, just thought I'd let out some of the stressy thoughts that are buzzing round at the moment. I've been so busy I've not really thought how I feel about returning to Paris. On Saturday we went to Comptoir Generale and then Favela Chic which was fun if not incredibly sweaty and then Champagne Charlie had an after-party at his lovely apartment in the Marais. I love that we know someone who lives on those narrow, old streets that are normally the home of either Pretentious Hipsters or Old Money, neither of whom would ever invite me in for an after-party.

I feel very negative and quite paranoid. I'm not sure who but I get the feeling somebody I know has fallen out with me and is reading my blog right now, sniggering and being mean.

Also I was trying to grow my eyebrows over the summer but when I got back Ibiza, I saw on the photos that they looked really straight and crap, so I went mad with the tweezers and now they are well-defined but thinner than I wanted them. I am thinking of writing a biography about my eyebrows. Perhaps it will be called 'Sisters, Not Twins.' Or maybe it will be one of those abused-child autobiographies (obviously they will tell me what to write and I'll type it for them, they are only eyebrows) 'Never Good Enough- the tragic tale of two eyebrows who were made to feel shit all their lives by their owner, who tortured them with hot wax, metal tweezers and cotton thread.'

Oh now I feel really sad. I don't mean to make them feel shit, they are my eyebrows and of course I love them no matter what, it's just that I want the best for them.

I only ever wanted what was best for you!!

Ooh! I've just remembered- last week me and Olivia went on set with Champagne Charlie to watch him film a scene and it was really exciting! We stood in front of the monitors and they let us listen on the headphones then, in between scenes, he took us to Catering and we got a free dinner. The food was really nice. I really want to be an actor now, I think Champagne Charlie has reignited the old acting flame, but nobody in their right mind would put my nose on television.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ibiza: Saturday to Monday

Did I really get back from Ibiza two weeks ago?

In some ways it seems more than a fortnight ago. The memories from this year are already getting mixed up with the memories of last year's Ibiza holiday, and the year before that.

I'm imagining a pretty pool of ink, that to begin with is all blues- sky blue, the darker blue of the sea and the turquoise of a swimming pool. The surface of the liquid begins to bounce as thin, glittery strands quickly unfurl, silver and gold twisting through the blue. Then the beat stops and all the different coloured inks are still. A spread of sunrise-pink moves slowly from one side of the pool to the other, billowing up around the other colours until it's too late to separate them.

Was that too poetic? Do you feel a bit betrayed? Calm down, let's just roll with it. Let me just make a cup of tea and then I'll tell carry on telling you about Ibiza...

Are you sitting comfortably? I'm not, my chair is half-balanced on a squished up ballet pump. One sec. O.k.

I'll begin.

There were no dramas at the airport this year. After all my soul-searching about whether to check a bag on or not (perhaps one of the most important questions man has ever had to ask himself- surely it's up there with 'Who am I?' and 'Why did God make AIDS and why did he give it to humans and not some other species, like pandas, for example, who only have sex once a year anyway and so wouldn't spread it about as much?') I decided to check a bag on, so I didn't have to worry about liquids and not taking enough clothes. In the end I wore about a quarter of all the shit I took with me, so I probably could have got away with hand-luggage after all. I realise my baggage dilemma is not interesting to anyone but me (and I'm only fractionally interested) so I'll stop this train of thought now.

Apart from all the perfectly-coiffed Scouse girls in their maxi skirts and wedges, making me look like a pasty-faced Scruff, my flight was fine and I arrived at a very hot Ibiza Airport a little after 1pm.

Everybody else was flying in from Gatwick on a flight that was supposed to get in an hour before mine, and I was a bit worried that they'd forget to wait for me and I would have to sleep outside the airport for a week, crying and trying to work on my tan whilst fending off robbers. Luckily, I saw them  as soon as I walked through Arrivals, sitting in a heap near the entrance/exit...

I'd known there was going to be sixteen of us, but somehow it didn't seem like such a big number until I saw us altogether at the airport- we were going to be one of those nightmare groups that everyone swears at as they snake through the crowd to find a dancing spot.

Sixteen, however, is a perfect number for taxis. From the airport we got cabs to the villa which was called Casa Carolle. It was really hard to get to as there was no street name and we were worried that all holiday we'd have a nightmare trying to get taxis home. Fortunately, it was just down the road from Amnesia and on the corner was a really big restaurant called Dos Lunas that all the taxi drivers seemed to know.

The villa was a lot better than I was expecting, and I was expecting it to be really nice. There was lots of outside space- obviously there was a pool and sun loungers, but there was also a shaded, outdoor eating area, a little grassy garden with a pond (not that we really wanted a pond but it's just nice to be nice, isn't it?) and a veranda with benches and cushions. There was a also a roof terrace and at night time we could look across to Ibiza Town, all pretty and twinkly against the black of the sea.

Ah-ha! I've just found it on the internet, so you can see exactly how nice it was! Click here if you're curious.


On the first day we just drank beer and bobbed about in the pool all afternoon, knowing that we didn't have to go out until really late. It made a nice change from last year when we went on the Mixmag deal and were given Early Bird tickets as part of the deal (which meant we had to get ready for 8pm some nights); whereas this year we had luxurious amounts of time to play with and that first night we didn't leave the villa until about midnight.

We went to see Heidi at Sankeys (also playing were Waifs and Strays and... I dunno) which should induce a little nod and smile from any Manc readers. I actually got talking to a girl from Manchester in there because I went up to her and said 'You dance like you're from Manchester!' (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, she was kind of  lifting up one foot and then the other whilst swinging her arms from side to side... I'm pretty sure it's where the term 'Northern Monkey' comes from.)

Sankeys opened in Ibiza last year and I think it's normally full of workers, but everyone wanted to see Heidi and there was nowhere else we really wanted to go that night. It's a really small club and so dark- you can barely see the raver in front of you when you're on the dance floor. I like clubs to be dark though, so you can get straight into the music with no distractions. It wasn't too busy either; I think someone mentioned that there was a big worker's party on somewhere else that night so the usual crowd wasn't there.

It was a really good night to start the holiday with, it felt like we were jumping straight in to our seven nights of raving.

Well... I actually did five nights (technically four because on the last night I went home early but don't worry, I wasn't sick on the dance floor or anything. In fact, I wasn't sick all week this year, not even a little bit!) but I knew before I went that I would have to opt out of a couple of nights due to Budget Issues. I'd love to say that I've really learnt my lesson this year and that from now on I'm going to be sensible and Save Up... but I'd just be lying. Last year I didn't have enough money and it didn't do anything to curb my spending habits, so why should this year teach me anything? I'm 23 years old, it's too late to change my personality now. Besides, have I told you about my Money Pores theory? About how our bodies are covered in invisible money pores that let wealth in and out? We have to keep them open at all times so that Money Karma can float in and out freely.... Erm. I've gone way, way off topic now. What was I talking about?

Ibiza. Staying in. Saving money. Blah blah blah.

On the second day I decided to stay in on my own whilst everyone else went to 'We Love...' at Space. Once everyone had gone out, I realised I was pleased to have the villa to myself for the night. I sat outside for a bit and a MASSIVE dragonfly came and went round and round the pool like a helicopter. I listened to the noise coming from another villa hidden somewhere in the darkness... I think they were LADs On Tour because I heard a lot of cheering and then male voices singing along to the Stereophonics.

When it came to going to bed, I did worry a little bit about burglars. Maybe they prowled the area, knowing that the villas would be empty for the night and full of cash and phones... I went in the kitchen and found the pan with the heaviest-base. Then I hid it in the cupboard next to my bed and practiced grabbing the handle suddenly if anyone were to come in the room. I stayed up reading for a while, with the pan handle in easy reach, but no burglars came in.

After an hour or two, I still didn't feel sleepy and it seemed silly to sit in bed when I had the whole villa to myself, so I decided to do a patrol of the whole place, tiptoeing around with the pan held expertly midway between my head and my shoulder, ready to swoop down and deliver a heavy smack to someone. I think that perhaps I'd been slightly influenced by the Chuck Norris film someone had put on the day before when we were trying the television out.

I had a little fantasy that everyone would come in from their night out and they'd see two bloodied bodies lying face-down on the tiled floor, with me stood between them, still with the pan in my hand, maybe with a split lip or a cut on my eyebrow (no unattractive injuries like a broken nose or a knocked out tooth). Little would I know that there was secret CCTV in the villa and news channels the world over would get hold of the footage and everyone would see me battering the criminals to death (in a cool, stylish way that didn't make me pull any unflattering facial expressions) and looking bewildered at my own strength and I would become a world-famous, real-life super hero who everybody liked because while I was a Deadly Killer, I also had a vulnerable side that made me like-able and approachable and more importantly, I wouldn't get sent down for murder because it would be clear to see it was self-defense.

Unluckily for me, we didn't get robbed, so the pan remained unused and I'm not, to date, a world-famous, real-life superhero. When everyone came home at about 6am, I actually got up to say hello and felt really awake. I considered staying up and doing useful things like reading by the pool and sunbathing, but that would have been RIDICULOUS.

I did, however, get up relatively early to put my hair in velcro rollers. As the day wore on I got a bit nervous because everyone knew I had been sitting in the pool all day with these bloody rollers in, so if it Fucked Up I couldn't pretend I hadn't tried. Everyone would know that I had made an effort and my hair still looked shit.

I kept them in until the very last minute. The moment of truth came and... they'd worked! Kind of. I don't have any layers in my hair so it wasn't very curly, but it came out in big, bouncy waves. I know that sounds like I am bigging my own big, bouncy waves up in a very Vain and Big-Headed Way, but, shut up. Listen to me- Chris said that my hair looked like Cheryl Cole's hair. He did! You can even ask him! Why would I lie? I would show you a photo (from the back, to keep my Top Secret Identity a secret, of course) but then you would see that...actually... it didn't really look like Cheryl Cole's hair, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

This was the Monday evening, when we went to DC10. I was really, REALLY looking forward to DC10 and I hate to say it because I don't want to be negative about anything to do with the holiday, but it was not enjoyable. Seth Troxler was playing so the place was packed and people were being idiots, pushing and shoving and generally behaving like dickheads. It was so hot and sweaty and there was no room to dance or even breathe. Sarah got in a fight with some Spanish people, Kat had to be taken outside because she was going to faint. Within five minutes of getting in there my hair was a big, sweaty mess.

And that's all I'm going to say on the matter because there's no point moaning.

After DC10 we went to Sven Vath's Cocoon Heroes at Amnesia which made up for DC10 being a Dickhead Convention. Cocoon is one of the biggest nights on the island. The night we went, it was really techno-heavy with Adam Beyer and Daniel Stefanik joining Sven Vath. All night we just kind of  danced with our heads down, in a dark headspace of techno. When the night came to an end (and it always comes too quick) we moved from dark techno beats into the quiet morning light and a pale sky. As we walked the short distance home the sun came up and with it the night faded away...

(I would say I stole this photo from Kat because it's in her photo album but she's in it, so who knows who took it.)