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...
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...