Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Metaphor for Life

Yes, another blog post so soon.

I feel like Clare and Amy will kill me because I didn't write a lot about their visit, especially as it was Clare's birthday on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, I had to go to my au pair job in the morning to introduce the new girl I've found for them-  she's the sister-of-a-friend-of-a-brother-of-TC's. We took the two youngest kids to the park for a bit and then had a quick conversation about me leaving early... Basically, when I got back from TC and OJ's wedding I decided that there was no way I could go to Secret Garden Party, but I sent a text to the mum anyway to see if she'd be ok about me leaving two days early, just in case I changed my mind... I pointed out that the new au pair would already be in Paris, because she's moving here in July and staying with a friend until I clear out of my/her room.

The mum ignored me all day, but kept messaging me about other things, so in the end I just said: "Did you read my message about the festival?'

She responded that it would be a problem because she'd be working on the Friday and on the Saturday she'd need me for the toddler and didn't want to leave him with the new au pair, who had only met him once 'for ten minutes'.

As soon as I read the message, I was FUMING.

I've worked for them for two years, what's two fucking days? I only decided to stay for another year on the condition that I wouldn't work so many Saturdays, as I'd be teaching the drama classes. As it happens I've only taught on a Saturday four times all year, most weekends I go in and play with the toddler for a few hours while the parents hide upstairs or go clothes shopping, if I'm not away for the weekend which the parents always make a big deal of, as if I'm dumping my kids on them for a couple of days. (I don't get paid extra for Saturdays, I'd like to point out.)

I'm sick of people treating me like a commodity that they have to 'get their money's worth' out of. Once I leave France I'm never doing nannying/babysitting again, because Rich People are just disgusting when it comes to the people looking after their kids. I'm not really talking about myself, to be honest, I'm just thinking about the underpaid nounous I've seen  in the park, calling their employers Sir down the phone and spending all day in the house cleaning...

Even my au pair family's nanny is ridiculously underpaid, she told me the other day that once she gets her French papers in order she wants to be Declared and the au pair family said if she wants to be all above board, then they'll 'be forced' to cut her wages by four hundred euros a month. They must spend four hundred euros a month on clothes and shoes for the kids, I'm not exaggerating (that much).

As soon as I realised she was effectively saying I couldn't go to the festival, I bought my ticket.

When they meet the new au pair, the mum casually mentioned that I wanted to leave two days early and the new au pair said she'd be happy to replace me. Everybody seemed fine, it was hardly the dramatic shouting match I was envisioning, perhaps Paris leaving in the middle of the night in a glittering blaze of hurt pride and selfishness, which I've always secretly wanted to do.

But I was talking everything over with Amy and Clare over the weekend and they said it's crazy for me to stay in Paris for two weeks, without working, just to work four days and then go to a festival in England. The au pair family don't need me for two weeks in the middle of July, you see, but they need me for the last week and because I'm an idiot I agreed to hang around.

Clare and Amy had 'a talk' with me on Sunday, while we were sat in a little park near Republique, watching a homeless Romany Traveller family hang their washing out on a hedge. The whole thing was grim. Clare was telling me things that I don't want to hear, about the job situation in England, about how hard things are in London.

It freaked me out a lot and I realised I can't take a two week holiday in Paris when I have no job, no money and nowhere to live. I told the au pair mum last night that I wanted to leave early but that the new au pair was happy to fill in for me... and she was aghast. She reminded me that the new au pair can't work during the day because she's taking intensive French lessons.

Fuck. I forgot about that.

If you're wondering why I'm passing this job on to someone when it seems as if I hate it, then let me remind you that it has enabled me to live in Paris rent-free, most days working just two hours in the evening. Also, I don't hate it. Things are so different now to when I started, I get on with the family really well. That's why it's so difficult for me to kick up a fuss about leaving, because I don't want to end things on a bad note.

I've told the new au pair all this by the way, so she knows exactly what she's letting herself in for.

On Saturday she wanted to see my room, which will be her new home for a year once I get my shit together and move out. I know I say this a lot without any real conviction but I think I am going to have to burn a lot of my possessions on a ritualistic fire. Obviously not the kimono, or my eyebrow pencil.

After the poor girl spent what must have been a horrible half an hour sat in my very messy room drinking tea from one of my (soon to be her) chipped mugs, I went to Kayt's for Clare's Birthday Brunch, only I didn't get there until after 3pm and everybody had already eaten and was ready for a nap.

We spent the rest of the day wandering round, then we went to Les Parigots and got the massive slab of meat, served with chips and salad. We got the beef skirt which was on the Specials Board, don't bother with the beef which is always on the menu, because it's never as good as the Specials meat. The dish if for two people and luckily me and Amy both wanted it rare. That's the one thing I'll take away with me from Paris- I can't speak French, I can't smoke in a cool and sexy manner and I can never just have one glass of wine with my meal... But I do like my steak rare. Great, not a complete waste of three years then...

Talking of food, I need to say this while I remember: Forget what I told you about the raviolis restaurant- on Sunday night Laura took us to a much better one just down the road from Restaurant Raviolis!

It's called Ravioli Chinois Nord Est and it's five euros for ten gyoza, not fifteen, but the gyoza are much better. In the other place they just reheat pre-made gyoza, but at Ravioli Chinois Nord Est they are made fresh with fillings like beef and turnip, pork and celery and chicken, prawn and egg. Go. But maybe have a wee at home before you go... the toilet is that much-feared but seldom seen 'Continental style' toilet (a hole in the ground that you have to squat over) and it's not even in the restaurant, it's located in the courtyard of the next building along and you have to ask the staff for the key.

Anyway... I was really excited when Amy and Clare were here about moving back to England. It's just suddenly hit me- I'm done with Paris. For weeks I've been shuffling along, feeling quite sad about leaving and wondering if perhaps I'll end up staying after all, but I'm definitely ready to leave now.

Last night the nine year old was asking me about when I move to England and she was really shocked when I told her I wasn't moving back in with mum.

"But she don't know where you are, what you do, if you in the house ou if you in the street!"

When I reminded her that I'm 24 (almost), she calmed down a bit but still seemed surprised that I didn't have a house. She told me about her fit uncle who is twenty-three and has his own house... Yes, I'm sure he bought it for himself... HA. I asked her if she was alone, meaning does he really live alone in a house, or does he share it with friends, but she thought I meant is he single. She will probably tell him next time she sees him that her au pair was asking if he had a girlfriend or not... (He does.)

The eight year old said that it was ok for her uncle to live alone because he has a girlfriend.

"If you have somebody then ok, your mum can not look you but it not normal you have no boyfriend!"

I felt like telling her that if I did have a boyfriend, he would probably be unemployed, depressed and addicted to online gambling and so I'd be better off living alone. I bet he would be called Dave and I'd tell everyone that he was an amazing artist and that he was waiting to hear back from a gallery about an exhibition, but in the mean time he couldn't really get a job as it would stifle his creativity which is why I was working full-time in an office and hostessing in the evenings, just until Dave's exhibition gets sorted... Then I'd give a big, pained smile and secretly enjoy being a martyr. And Dave would just roll up a spliff in the corner and wonder how he was going to tell me that he'd been sleeping with somebody else, a Hedge Fund Manager called Carol.

When I leave Paris everything is going to go to shit.

Last night I deflated the airbed that I borrowed for Sunday night (me, Clare and Amy are close but we still couldn't sleep three of us in my single bed). I lay on top of it to help things along and as the floor slowly but surely came up to meet me I thought, 'This is a metaphor for my life.'

Also, have I told you about the piece of blue fur that she takes everywhere with her- Fluffy? Well she left Fluffy. She realised on the way back from the ravioli restaurant on Sunday night. Kayt sent us photos of herself wearing Fluffy as a beard and draped across the crotch of her jeans. Clare was furious and wants me to take Fluffy away from Kayt as soon as possible. She said we can't post it unless it gets lost, so we have to 'babysit' it until one of us goes to London so we can hand-deliver it to her. Sigh.

Clare is insane, but lovely. She took a big bag of stuff back for me on the Eurostar, even though she had a bag of her own. She said I can stay with her in London and of course Amy said I can stay with her in Manchester too, while I look for jobs in London.

They are so lovely.

But they keep giving me Tough Love and I don't know why. I wish they would just pat me on the shoulder and say:
"Eveything will be fine, you will get a GREAT JOB, even though you haven't applied for any or even got a CV. You will get a REALLY NICE FLAT London that is really cheap and in a lovely area, just by strolling down the street. Also you will wake up one day and you will be a famous playwright and you will star in all your own plays, all by doing no work, ever."

Aww, that's better. In other news, I'm going to be very late for a drama lesson. Apparently there will be sweets and cake as it's the last lesson. I wonder who is bringing them?


Monday, 24 June 2013

TC and OJ's Wedding

Clare and Amy were here this weekend, I can't believe it. The time went so quickly and now they've gone.
It made a nice little circle- Clare and Amy visiting a few weeks before me and Kayt leave Paris forever. We wrote our names on a padlock and put it on the Pont des Arts. I kept saying, “It started in Paris and it will end in Paris” until Amy pointed out that I was making it sound like some great catastrophe was about to befall us, or else we were going to have a falling out and end our friendship.

"We'll always have Paris" became our tagline. Me and Kayt saw it on a mug the other day and bought one for Clare and Amy. (We're going to buy each other one as well, as a parting gift. Maybe we will dress up as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and exchange mugs at the end of a runway, in the fog.)

It was quite a quiet weekend, revisiting old (Les Parigots) and new favourites (Chez Justine, of course, our new Sunday drinking haunt). On Friday night we met TC and OJ at Montmartre for Fête de la Musique because they said there was really good music going on down by the side of the Sacré-Coeur. I don't remember Fête de la Musique being so ravey last year, but maybe that's because I was running round Paris all night looking for my little brother, who was lost and didn't have a phone. (Still gives me nightmares.)

I thought we'd end up raving in the streets, but unfortunately I'd eaten far too much pâté, bread and cheese for tea... I felt like I was going to throw up and couldn't make myself dance. TC said we could all go back to their flat for 'a drink' and we ended up getting very drunk, drinking tequila out of teacups and dancing around to Kate Bush until four in the morning. I miraculously stopped feeling sick once TC and OJ cracked their box of wine open, but Kayt threw up when we got home. She did something else on the walk home but I can't tell you what it is or she'll kill me. (BAHAHAAAA.)

By the way... TC and OJ are married now! 

Husband and wife. 

Mr and Mrs. 

I went to their wedding and I've been wanting to blog about it ever since I got back (over a week ago now) but my laptop has been behaving atrociously.

It was such a fun, fun wedding. I was really nervous before I went, I kept wondering why they'd invited me when I was clearly going to be an awkward problem for everyone, not knowing anybody and leeching onto anyone unfortunate enough to make eye contact, forcing them into polite, boring conversation until they could think of an excuse to slip away.

The night before the wedding I was panicking and debating whether to accidentally-on-purpose miss my Eurostar, but I really wanted to go. Plus, I'd bought a new dress. 

On the day of the wedding, I travelled to London wearing the dress and some flats. Originally I wanted to saunter onto the train in my entire wedding outfit, so people would think, 'Look at her, popping over to London for the afternoon! What a jet-setting, European Playgirl she must be. I am in awe.' But my shoes were quite high and I didn't want my feet to hurt, so I took my heels in a bag... Can I can still be a jet-setting, European Playgirl, though?

When I got to St Pancras I put my shoes on and touched up my make-up in the toilets. I also had my feathery headband with me but I wasn't sure if it looked ok... I put it on and asked a sensible-looking granny by the sinks if it looked stupid or not.

"No dear, it looks fine." she breezed.

I realised then that if it did look stupid, nobody in Britain was going to be rude enough to tell me the truth. I decided to keep it on my head nonetheless and made my way to the underground, slowly clip-clopping along, a little out of practice in my heels.

The ceremony was at Marylebone Town Hall, but a lot of people were meeting in a pub down the road about an hour before. I got to the nearest tube station about twenty minutes before everyone was supposed to be at the pub and because I didn't want to show up too early, on my own, I sat in Starbucks, worrying and feeling nervous. I wanted to ask everyone in there if my feathery headband looked alright but thought this would probably make me look like an unhinged, egotistical maniac.

Talking of egotistical maniacs, I've just realised I'm doing that thing again where I pretend to blog about somebody's wedding (like Bryony's and Emily's) and then just write about myself for six or seven paragraphs, so now I'll talk about the actual wedding. It was over a week ago and the day has kind of blurred into one loud, colourful collage of memories and snippets of conversation, so I'll just write down anything I can remember:

Everyone seated, waiting for the bride and groom. All the girls on my row whispering about the bride's gown, people excitedly wondering what kind of dress it was going to be, rumours flying round that it wasn't white... I heard it's cream. Suddenly OJ took his place, standing on his own at the front, waiting for his bride to come in, I wonder if he's nervous all on his own... He was wearing a dark blue suit jacket with a pale blue floral tie and his four best men (two sets of brothers OJ has known since childhood) wore dark blue floral ties.

The music came in softly, the instrumental of 'Kissing You' by Des'ree.

A sudden shush.

TC's two bridesmaids, in 1960s style white and sapphire blue dresses, short and sleeveless with A-Line skirts, both had their hair in neat beehives.

Then the bride walked in and there were gasps from people closest to the aisle, whereas people in my position were trying to crane their necks to get a glimpse of The Bride. She looked like Maid Marian, with very long, dark wavy hair, entwined with a wreath of white flowers. I could only see the back of the dress, it was white and lacy with a long train and long sleeves. TC and OJ friend Katy was sat next to me and she whispered "Oh, it's high at the front" and I really wanted to see it. From the back it looked as if TC was crying which is weird because she swore OJ would be the one weeping hysterically throughout the ceremony...

After the ceremony everyone got on old fashioned London buses to the reception in Hackney and the best men came round with many bottles of champagne. I felt sorry for everybody we passed on the street because they weren't on the bus, having a Really Nice Time.

The pub in Hackney was beautiful and I didn't just think that because I was drunk. TC's mum had spent months making bunting which was strung across the room with fairy lights and photographs. On each table there was an old wine bottle with a candle burning in it and the bottles were covered in photos of people sitting on the table! (I told TC later on that it was a really lovely detail and just yelled "What? Oh, it must have been OJ who did that.") The wedding favours were sunglasses with fluorescent frames.


All the speeches were excellent but if I try and describe them I'll just make them sound rubbish. OJ's aunty performed a poem she had written for the occasion. She began by saying "This is not a love poem" and nobody knew what to expect, but it was brilliant. I can't remember why not but she had the whole wedding yelling YES or NO at the end of each line.

I know I'm in danger of veering into gushy sentimental territory... but everything was perfect. Not only was everything lovely lovely but I didn't once feel awkward. It's weird because now I can't remember how I got chatting to people but I was always with people, having a great time, throughout the whole day.

After the food, people milled around drinking and dancing. TC and OJ's friend sang with the wedding band and everybody flocked to the dance floor. Later there was a DJ but it was not your typical Wedding 'Now for some David Cassidy' DJ. For a start there were two of them.

I remember TC and OJ were raised up on people's shoulders, dancing above everyone and below them people in animal-onsies were weaving in and out of the crowd, just as 'We Are Your Friends' by Justice was on. Somebody showed me a video of the DJs on their iPhone, I can't remember who it was but they were saying “I thought I recognised them!” and it was these guys, who did this song for an Ikea advert:



TC and OJ had no idea who they were when they booked them. It was brilliant. Suddenly I looked around and realised everybody was fucked and all I could think was 'Where are all the grannies?”

Everybody was herded into taxis to TC and OJ's friend's flat. There were so many of us back at the flat. I'm really not sure how we passed the hours until morning but there was a core group of us that didn't go to sleep. I did have a sinister half an hour where I didn't want to go home or sleep but I didn't want to be awake either, but then we started drinking wine again and I got a Second Wind. Apparently the police came into the flat while some of us were chatting on the balcony... they probably didn't believe it was a wedding party.

Around noon the next day the people that had stayed awake went to the pub. I was so happy that so many people had stayed awake- I hate that feeling when the rave (or wedding) is over and you feel really lonely and ill and full of dread for No Reason. When I went to order a drink the barman asked me if I was with 'the wedding party'. When I said yes he asked, 'When was the wedding?' and he didn't look surprised when I said 'Yesterday afternoon.'

Originally people were only going to the pub for a couple of hours so I tried to get hold of my cousin Sophie so I could hang out at her's for a bit before my train... but I can't really remember what happened. I remember speaking to her and arranging to meet but we never did. TC said she would stay until it was time to get my Eurostar so in the end I went straight from the pub to St Pancras and it was fine, I even had an escort to the tube station.

Before we left I looked in the mirror and realised that for Some Reason half my face was swollen up like I'd been at the dentist's. I looked less European Playgirl, more Eurotrash Crackhead Prostitute but as we all know that is a Great Look.

When I got to St Pancras I tip-toed around so people wouldn't look at me. Inconspicuous. I got on the train, found my seat, briefly wondered why everyone on the train was wearing wedding suits and then I woke up moments later as the train was pulling into Gare du Nord. I felt like I'd teleported myself back to Paris.

So that's it- TC and OJ's wedding. I'm so glad I went and also... after the wedding I decided that I should definitely go to Secret Garden Party with TC, OJ and all their friends. (They did invite me, honest.) I've got a ticket now and I am so very, very excited! Just have to sort out the small matter of packing up my room, deciding how I'm going to get back to England and breaking the news to the au pair family that I'm leaving earlier than planned...

It was such a happy day, everybody there was so, so thrilled that TC and OJ were getting married. Imagine if TC had never commented on my blog and I'd never met her that night for drinks? Here is a photo I stole from their friend Matt, this is the moment they were dancing on everyone's shoulders:



Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Unsavoury


I want to blog but my laptop is being a dickhead, freezing and updating itself, then letting out a jar-jar-jarrrrrr noise when I try to do two things at once. My Cinderella room is unbearably hot as well, this afternoon I actually had to get dressed and go for a walk around sunny Paris, can you imagine?

It's been a whole week since I last blogged and in that time I've eaten at the Oddest Restaurant in Paris, been chased under a bridge by a mad Spanish man with a broken chair, taken the nursery kids to a photo shoot at A.P.C and I've been to London and back, for the bestest wedding ever!!

First the restaurant...

It was B's restaurant on Wednesday and she wanted to go a Manga-themed Japanese restaurant she'd read about, where the waitresses dressed up as cartoon characters and everyone sat in individual booths, which had little televisions in them showing Japanese cartoons. B told everyone it was next to American Dream a garish, USA-themed bar near Madeleine, which I've walked past before and thought it looked like TGI Fridays on crack, with the walls and ceiling crammed with random photographs and 'comedy' props...

What B didn't realise is that the Japanese Bistro isn't just next to American Dream... it's the same place. There's a separate entrance and the decor is 'Manga on acid' rather than 'Americana on crack', but the two restaurants share a staircase, a kitchen and menus. 

As soon as the waitress (who was indeed dressed as a Manga cartoon character but her monochrome, ill-fitting costume looked more like an old fashioned school uniform, or a non-sexy French maid's outfit) told us that the Japanese Bistro and American Dream where the same place, we contemplating going somewhere else, but it was already half nine, we wanted to go out afterwards and we reasoned that sometimes bad restaurants make an evening ten times funnier...

 

So we stuck with B's choice and got a booth in the Japanese Bistro. It was almost empty, the bright neon lights and televisions flashing at nobody. It was a bit eerie. Then we got the menus and everything did seem a bit nightmarish. The same person responsible for the trippy decor was clearly behind the hideous, disturbing menus... and they love Photoshop. The menus were bursting with mad photos of girls dressed as Manga cartoon characters and freaky images of people pretending to be Japanese food...


  


The woman made of sushi I found particularly terrifying and it was partly because of this image that I decided not to order Japanese food but also, we all agreed that it wasn't a good idea to order sushi in a restaurant that also serves burgers, fries and milkshakes. Jack of all trades, master of one (digitally turning people in Japanese food).

I also took a photo of this disgusting patisserie snail, a surefire way to put people off deserts (for life):
 

And this crusty sandwich that has sprouted legs and eyes. There was really need to write 'Sandwiches Remember!' underneath, this sandwich-lizard will haunt my dreams forever:


As predicted, the awfulness of the restaurant made the meal a memorable one... We stayed until the restaurant closed (trying to finish our two litres of wine- it was one litre for twelve euros) and the owner/manager stood at the side of our table making cat noises until we were so freaked out we left.

After the Japanese Bistro, me, B, Shayna and Holly went to Wanderlust. I've not been since it first opened last summer, but I've been told by my Twitter spies that since it first opened it's become a crowded, over-priced poser-magnet.

Full of posers or not, Wanderlust is an amazing building, viewed from across the river, that tunnel of light reflecting on the black river, like a green snake under the water. Unfortunately, looking at it from across the river also means you can see all the cool kids partying on the roof top terrace, which Julia told me is an exclusive club 'for artists'. Humph, I wouldn't want to go up there anyway...

Before we went in to the club, we sat under the bridge drinking a bottle of champagne B got for her birthday. We attracted the attention of a very chatty Spanish man with teeny tiny pupils (crack? heroine? lighting fluid?) who, considering none of us spoke Spanish and he didn't speak French or English, enjoyed a very long conversation with us. Actually, Shayna and B spoke a bit of Spanish to him, much to Holly and mine's surprise, but the novelty wore off once we realised Spanish Man wasn't going to leave until we gave him some champagne.

We finished the champagne really quickly and got up to leave. Once Spanish Man realised what was going on, he ran across to the other side of the bridge where bizarrely there was a wooden chair. He started smashing up the chair, then he roared at us and ran after us, holding one of the chair legs. We kept stopping and laughing, then one of us would turn round and see he was still chasing after us.

Just before we got to the entrance, two guys asked us in lovely school-boy English is they may please accompany us into Wanderlust. Obviously they needed girls to get in. Normally, when men ask to 'accompany' us into clubs, they are unsavoury-looking characters wearing double-denim or trackie bottoms and I just run away from them, but these two guys looked ok. I felt sorry for them, it must be hard going to clubs in Paris when you're not with a group of girls.

As we walked to the entrance, one of them said indignantly, "We've got money!"

I felt proper soz for them then, I imagined them choosing their clothes and doing their hair, trying to look cool and the bouncers just taking one look at them and saying 'Non'. They looked fine to me, but I think they must have had scally accents, more easily detectable to Parisian bouncers than to me. The bouncers wouldn't let them in, so we left them at the entrance. Me and Holly felt like crying for them but that might have been all the wine and champagne.

Inside it wasn't too crowded, I suppose because it was a Wednesday night. The music was good, kind of 70s funk and house (I DO NOT mean Funky House) but we were all knackered, so we left at about 4am. On our way home, crossing over the bridge, we saw Spanish Man staggering around and we ran past him, screaming.

My laptop has started being ridiculously slow now, it's overheating and dying a little death.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

"C'est trop swag"

Once again I have become so consumed by the book I am currently reading- 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' by Susanna Clarke, a story of magic and fairies, set in the 19th Century- that I find myself thinking in the style of the narrative...

It has rendered me quite incapable of achieving anything useful, for I spend most of my free time reading the aforementioned book. I am also convinced that I have been enchanted. Perhaps it is the muggy weather.

I can't concentrate on anything and keep wasting my afternoons, reading and napping in between teaching and my au pair job, when I should be out in the city enjoying my last two months of living in Paris.

I want to blog but not sure what to say. Can't be bothered to do anything, really. It's funny because I know I'm leaving Paris at the end of July but as yet haven't made any plans to pack up my room or travel back to England. Maybe I will just lie on my bed until somebody comes to get me. The horrible thing is I don't think anybody would come and get me- oh everybody says that they want me to move back, but are they willing to actually hire a van, drive to France, pack up my things for me and drive me back to England?

Are they fuck.

People are so unbelievably lazy and disorganised, it's astounding.

My mum did ask me over Skype if I'd be staying with her at any point of the summer, but as she had just finished telling me about how their monstrous new 'puppy' thinks it is fun to bite people's hands, the answer was a resounding no.

Apparently the Puppy Trainer said you have to put your hand over the dog's mouth, to train it not to bite... What is wrong with people?

Anyway...

Another weekend been and gone. On Saturday night I ended up in the bar of Mama Shelter with Ruth and her friends, a 'boutique hotel' about ten minutes walk from Gambetta. I'm sure it's a lovely hotel but it was a weird scene and not at all where I wanted to find myself on a Saturday night, feeling a bit fucked and in a brightly-lit hotel restaurant/bar, dodging out of the way of waitresses carrying plates of meat. We stayed for one drink then went across the road to Le Gambetta, an almost-empty bar, with a reggae DJ. As the night went on, the bar filled up and it was really fun.

Not so fun was the next day, when I woke up at Ruth's and felt really sick and faint. I was supposed to meet Kayt and her boyfriend at Parc de Belleville but I asked her to come and pick me up from Ruth's instead, because the thought of venturing out alone terrified me.

We were supposed to meet Julia for lunch at the restaurant at the top of the park, but a strange thing happened- we decided against the restaurant (because they've changed the menu and it's gone really expensive) and Julia still hadn't turned up, so we went into the park to find her. We found her sitting in front of  a camera, on a wall, being interviewed. We couldn't get her attention because we didn't want to interrupt filming, so we just left her there.

We went to this gyoza restaurant that Ruth told us about ages ago- you can get fifteen gyoza for five euros. Julia joined us (and explained that the filming had been for a public project about how young people in Paris use public spaces) so we ended up getting sixty raviolis between four of us. I can't work out if the restaurant is called Restaurant Raviolis or Guo Xin, or Restaurant Raviolis Guo Xin, but whatever it's called you should go if you like Chinese ravioli because it's so cheap!!

After eating we went to our new favourite Chez Justine for Happy Day, this time I looked at the menu properly and discovered that is also Happy Day every Saturdays, not just Sunday. Happy news. We were there so long that soon it was time for tea so we got burgers there too, they were good but as they were fifteen euros each we just got two between four of us, we thought we should start being money-conscious... especially as we had just bought twelve cocktails.

On the metro journey home we pretended that the man opposite me was my boyfriend so that I didn't feel like a third wheel with Kayt and Adam. Dave (as we named him) was ridiculously rude and didn't talk to me once throughout the whole journey, in fact he didn't even look up from his book. And he had his headphones in! I felt really embarrassed in front of Kayt and Adam and apologised to them on Dave's behalf, but really I shouldn't have to. I wish he would grow up, stop being so sulky and start acting like my boyfriend instead of some stranger who just happens to be sat opposite me on the metro.

Sigh.

Goodness, do you know, I completely forgot to blog about SBTRKT. It was really good but we left at 4am, the club was just too crowded and full of dickheads. The night reminded me why I never go to Social Club. I see the same arseholes in there every time I go, do they really not go to any other clubs? The bouncers were ridiculously rude, to the point where we were laughing at them. Kayt had to exit the club upstairs so she could get signal on her phone and show the bouncer our digital tickets, but the bouncers outside didn't want her to be outside for Some Reason, so they pushed her round and round by the shoulder like we were playing Blind Man's Bluff.

Once again I have to ask myself... What is wrong with people?

SBTRKT was really good, he played A LOT of hip hop, which I wasn't expecting at all, but of course everyone in Paris loves hip hop...  

C'est trop swag, quoi.

(By the way, everyone has started to make sarky comments about my kimono, at first I thought that maybe I've been wearing it too much [I've barely taken it off since wearing it out in society for the first time a week and a half ago] but on deeper reflection I am convinced people are just jealous and wish to relieve me of it somehow, either because it has magic powers, or because I possess magic powers when I am wearing it. This might be the book talking, but I'll keep you posted.)

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Happy Day

Summer has finally come to Paris!

Unfortunately, all my summer clothes are in England. I can't even wear jeans with sandals because of my Fucked-Up Toe. This morning I finally went to the doctor's, Kayt convinced me that my foot was going to drop off if I carried on self-medicating with salty water. The doctor just said it looks as if the toe is healing (thank you, salty water), and prescribed me some medicine that cost a tenner, that was on top of the twenty three euros I had to pay for the appointment. I'm looking forward to some free healthcare once I move back to England, although I bet in England they would have taken one look at my toe and said:

"Bathe it in salty water and don't come in here wasting my time again. If it turns black and falls off, come back in two weeks."

Once I tried to get a free nose job on the NHS, as my mum is convinced I broke it when I was younger, but the doctor wasn't having any of it- he just listened to me breathe through each nostril individually and then declared that any surgeon would be crazy to operate on it (for free), as it was a 'perfectly nice nose'. It's not a perfectly nice nose at all, but now that I have become a very Wise and Mature Young Lady, I no longer care. There are so many more important things in life to worry about- child soldiers in Africa, Islamaphobia in the UK, nuclear weapons in North Korea...

Last time I was in England I binge-bought magazines and newspapers*- in France I like to live in a news-free bubble of ignorant bliss- and my mind was blown by what is going on in the world! Apparently there is a new pastry on the scene which is a cross between a donut and a croissant ('the cronut')! Also, almond-shaped nails are the new squoval!

It's important to keep up with with current affairs.

I might not be able to wear sandals thanks to my F.U.Toe, but guess what I have been wearing, now that the weather is so nice?

My kimono jacket! I wore it for the first time on Saturday night and haven't taken it off since. Listen, it's hard for me to say the L word but... I think I love my kimono jacket. There, I said it.

On Saturday night I went to a new bar in Pigalle called Bonnie and Clyde. It's just opened- in fact I think it opened the night we were there. Two of Julia's friends from uni were DJing there, although they weren't really DJing so much as choosing songs on iTunes and playing them through the bar's sound system...

They were supposed to be starting quite early so we arrived at about 10pm. When we first walked in, the bar was completely empty and we thought we were in for an awkward night.  The staff were just sitting at the bar chatting when we walked in and looked really surprised to see two customers, but they all got up straight away and were really friendly. We got drinks (I think it was five euros for a beer, six for a shot and eight euros for a cocktail) and sat down on some sofas which had been arranged on a stage at the back of the bar. We found out later that the stage is for burlesque shows, although apparently they were inviting any burlesque dancers out there to come and perform for free, so I can't really imagine what type of burlesque shows they will put on... Probably they will just attract a lot of strange exhibitionists who want to take their clothes off in public, to music.

Julia's sister and two of her friends (who are both bilingual, which was an anti-climax as I'd been gearing up for an evening of speaking French) arrived and then finally 'the DJs'. Julia told me that the music was 'rock and roll' so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was really fun! They played some Northern Soul and 1950s jazz- retro classics that are fun to dance to. The bar eventually filled up but it was never crowded, it felt more like a private party than a club night.

It was open until 6am but I couldn't imagine staying there for more than a few hours... that was before I got drunk. After a few drinks we lost track of time and suddenly it was 5am. Me and Julia got a kebab on the way home (preparing myself for moving back to England) and I fell asleep with my toe rammed in a glass of salty water.

The next day I wore my kimono for the second time for lunch with Kayt, Laura and... Georgie! She was back for a few days, she still has stuff here and there was so much that she'll to come back again to collect it all. I'm getting scared now, about how I'm going to get all my shit back to England...

As usual we left it too late for the Parisian approved 'lunchtime' but we knew Café Charbon would still be serving food, so we went there and had burgers. As it was Sunday they didn't have much on the menu. The burgers were ok, not great. It's hard to tell though, when everybody is hungover and hungry. (I think I like Café Charbon best when they turn it into the smoking area for Nouveau Casino.)

We noticed that at Chez Justine- the newish restaurant opposite- it was not Happy Hour, but Happy Day. It was five euros for a glass of champagne or a cocktail. Champagne for everybody! Oh, Happy Day indeed.

I know I say this about every bar I go and get drunk in, but I liked Chez Justine a lot. The art deco interior is beautiful and they played old school hip hop tunes- perhaps it will take over from Comptoir Général as my new favourite Sunday drinking spot?

Georgie and Laura took themselves home after a couple of coupes, claiming their hangovers had become too horrendous to bear. Me, my kimono and Kayt went to meet TC and OJ for an English pub quiz. We didn't win the quiz but we won shots for the best team name- Slutty Savile Gets Randy in Rio (it had to be Brazil-themed). Jim certainly fixed it for us...



I felt bad, so bad, on Monday morning. I've never gone into the nursery hungover (ok, a couple of times, but not for ages) and I won't be doing it again. The woman who runs the nursery wanted to talk to me about a song I sent her two months ago, or something... Can't remember when my contract runs out for that job, but I hope it's the end of June and not July. I've had enough of teaching toddlers to last me A LIFETIME. They're so cute but there is literally no point delivering 'structured English lessons' to kids who haven't even learnt to speak their own language yet.

Anyway, on Monday night I met Georgie, Laura, Kayt and Georgie's friend Liz- who lives in Paris and is lovely but we never see her- for drinks in Batignolles, an area of Paris that I've heard people say is quite cool and bobo, but I've never been there before. It's like a lovely little village, I can't believe it exists, especially so close to Place de Clichy. Batignolles doesn't feel like part of a big city, yet it does feel very Parisian, with its  cafés and outdoor terraces. As we walked back to the metro, Kayt pointed a tiny kebab shop that she said was supposed to do the best Turkish kebabs in Paris. I am definitely going back there before I leave.

Talking of food...

Last night we had Supper Club at Sheger, an Ethiopian restaurant at Republique. At first we thought it was all over before we'd even began, as Ruth had booked the table so long ago (two weeks) that they'd assumed we wouldn't turn up and given our table away... Erm, we did turn up and there was no table for us. Oops. They gave us a free 'Ethiopian cocktail' (made with mint and ginger) because we had to wait in the street for an hour. Luckily it was a cobbled street with a step to sit on, but if it had been raining we'd probably have just left.

After we were finally seated, we had to wait ages for the food, meaning we didn't eat until 11pm (our table had originally been booked for 9pm). But.

When the food arrived, nobody was bothered that we'd had to wait for so long. It was so good, I think it was better than Menelik, the only other Ethiopian restaurant I've eaten at. I really enjoyed Menelik, but I think a big part of that was the novelty of eating from one big, shared pancake and tasting Ethiopian dishes for the first time.

The food at Sheger seemed fresher and the dishes we ordered (which were all served on one big pancake, shared between four people, if you've never had Ethiopian food before) each tasted distinctly different. It might be my favourite Supper Club restaurant so far. At the end of the meal some of us had coffee, which came on a platter with a bowl of incense burning in the middle, a gorgeous-smelling wood burnt to ward off evil spirits. The coffee had such a delicious, smoky taste, but looking back I was smelling the incense as I drank it so it could have been bog standard coffee for all I know.

The food, with half a bottle of wine (we were waiting for a rrreally long time) and a coffee, came to twenty seven euros. I would definitely go again, but not sure if I ever will... less than two months until I leave Paris!

It doesn't seem real. How is it fucking June already?

And why has it just started raining??

*By newspapers I mean... more magazines.