Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Abandoned Paris

I know I keep whinging but... it's too. bloody. hot.

How am I supposed to pack and clean in this heat?

I can barely stand to touch my laptop, my wrists are hot and wet.

I can't do this. I can't type any longer. I was going to do a massive, final blog post but there's no way.

Basically: I'm getting the Eurostar on Wednesday, I don't know how I feel about leaving, here's some more photos I uploaded last week from the 'human zoo'. Me and Julia went back and broke into a different pavilion, it used to be the Tunisian Pavilion (as in Tunisian people lived here and French people would go and stare at them through the railings) but since then it has also been used as a kind of community centre- there were pieces of paper pinned to a bulletin board from 1989, the year I was born. What community lived there? Why did they leave in such a hurry that they didn't even take their phone?



Also, here' some photos from la Petite Ceinture, my favourite place in Paris. I might make the last one my new LBM profile picture, seeing as my current one isn't actually me, if you hadn't already guessed...

That's my bag by the way, in the first photo. There's something about a bag lying on railway tracks that makes my heart stop. It actually makes me feel sick to look at it, I think they did a railway safety campaign a few years ago using similar images, it must have made an impression...

 


This is it, I'm actually leaving. Thanks to everyone who reads my blog. I know I don't have thousands of fans but I can't believe how many I do have. I never thought I would make friends through my blog, or find a job that I stayed at for two years. I want to keep blogging after I leave Paris but not sure if it will be the same. I'll always write anyway, I know sometimes I swear a lot and my grammar veers on the vernacular side and I sometimes tell long-winded, boring stories about getting a scabby nose.... But I have wanted to be a writer since I could write, so if I can't think of anything to blog about perhaps I will start putting up bits of writing.

We'll see.

Sigh. I wanted to my final post to be very poetic and nostalgic, but it's so fucking hot...

To sum up: I wanted to live in Paris- for No Reason- and I did, for three years.

Sep 2010 - July 2013.

So not quite three years, but hey, this is my blog... who's going to argue with me?

I know I'll miss Paris and obviously my friends that are staying here, but I'll also miss the person I thought I could be.

Last weekend I was in a taxi with Julia and her friend from work and we were on our way to Social Club and the taxi driver was letting us smoke in his taxi and was playing loud music for us and chatting away... I wished I really belonged there, in that moment, but it was borrowed.  I can't really speak French and I only have two or three French friends, even after three years.

I always knew I might stay in Paris for more than a year but I thought it would be easy to slip into a Real Life. I don't feel like I have a Real Life in Paris- I live in a chambre de bonne that is provided for me by a family that I work for, as an au pair- no matter how much I pretend I'm not an au pair because it's only two hours a day and I don't live with the family and I worked as a waitress and a teacher as well...

This blog post has ended up sounding really melancholy and I'm not sad at all- I'm excited for Secret Garden Party, then to travel around seeing friends and family...

I have no idea what is going to happen next. I really wish my life were a book, so I could skip to the end, but it isn't, so I'll just have to wait and see.

I won't say this is my last blog post from Paris because it might not be, but just in case it is, let me quickly say what I spent my last few days doing so I'll never forget:

- being pleasantly surprised by Social Club because it wasn't too full and the bouncers were nice
- finally going on la Petite Ceinture with Julia, leaving a srawberry tart for the Romany family that sleep at the secret entrance
- taking Julia to the colonial garden and wandering round the eerie, new build offices where one person was working in one room, then seeing white tents hidden in the bushes, secret experiments?
- going back to la Petite Ceinture with Shayna and walking as far as we could, then trying to escape because we thought two guys were following us. I leapt over the fence but Shayna stayed on top of the fence, refusing to come down, until the two guys caught up with us and helped her down
- meeting Amo for lunch and not getting home until six in the morning, very drunk and slightly embarrassed about spending the night in Chatelet dancing to shit music with 22 year old Australian boys on their hols
- having a water fight with the ten year old and the three year old in the park and going home soaking wet
- walking for hours and hours, along the river, listening to MC Solaar 'La belle et le bad boy' because three years ago I told myself I would learn all the words and my time is almost up...

I know it's cheesy and no French people think it's cool, but here you go anyway, I still love it:





Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bye B or The Human Zoo

I'm melting, I'm melting!!

It's so fucking hot in this room, my laptop is burning up and I'm sat here typing in my knickers, a sheen of sweat all over me. I'm pretty sure the people on the roof terrace above can see through my blinds into this horrible, messy room (it's too hot to clean, leave me alone) and I hope the sight of me- my skin all red and sweaty, as slick as a seal's- puts them off their refreshing glass of fucking rose wine and ruins the beautiful FUCKING SUNSET FOR THEM.

I think my biggest problem with not going out is the thought of them, sat up there, listening to me typing and swearing under my breath, whispering to each other: "Why is she staying in, again?'

Let's be honest, they don't give a shit. But in my paranoid, egocentric mind, everything revolves around me, even the evenings of people I've never met and who are probably having too good a time on their amazing roof terrace to notice the sound of typing, if they can even hear it under the sound of their clinking glasses and gay, tinkling laughter.

Arseholes. 

I'd go outside for an evening stroll but today I walked for five hours straight. I can't walk anymore. This week 'on my own' hasn't been too bad actually, I haven't been on my own as much as I thought I would be. But before I tell you about this week, I need to finish blogging about B's last two days in Paris...

We went to the ballet, at the Palais Garnier (the big opera house at Opéra). I really wanted to go before I left Paris and a few months ago- I think it was early March- B asked me if I wanted to get tickets for the ballet, because they were going on sale and you've got to grab them quickly. The tickets were about forty-five euros each but it was worth it- we were in a box to the right of the stage, on the front row. We had to lean forward to see the entirety of the stage but it was still a good view.

I've never been inside the opera house before, even though they do guided tours. It's beautiful. My phone ran out of battery just before we went in to the actual theatre, but think: red carpet, red velvet, gold pillars, gold statues and a huge fresco on the ceiling, which is painted in primary colours, like a child's drawing. This is a photo of before you walk into the theatre:



The ballet we went to see was La Sylphide, set in Scotland and based on an old fairytale. Basically, it follows the same structure as a lot of ballets and folk stories- a man and woman fall in love, the man falls in love with somebody else for No Reason and then the first woman dies. One of the women is usually a magical creature. The end. What I liked about La Sylphide is that for once, the man met a tragic end as well as the fairy/nymph-like creature that he kills (by trying to bind her to him with a magic scarf) and actually, the woman he ditched ended up marrying his best friend. Good for her. 

I love the ballet. It almost makes me want to stop eating kebabs and do some exercise so I can be all slender and lithe and wear a leotard everywhere, almost...

Every box at the opera house has a little cloak room, luxuriantly decorated with a pink velvet chaise longue and heavy, pink curtains. After the ballet we sat down for a moment and pretended to be aristocratic rich people who went to the ballet/opera every weekend and were waiting to receive some esteemed guests into our private box... and we realised, it was EXACTLY like that scene in Anastasia. I'd completely forgotten that they go to the opera near the end, to meet the Duchess. Do you know what film I mean? The cartoon one... 

Hold on.

This is it! This is the bit at the Paris opera!


Aw.

I wonder what I'd be like if I hadn't watched so many Disney (and rip-off Disney films, like Anastasia) when I was little... would I be be more content with my lot in life as a non-magical, non-royal, non-gypsy (Esmeralda was my favourite, just ahead of Pocahontas) normal, average person?

That's not the question we're asking today, folks.

What we're really asking here is: What did me and B do on her last day in Paris?

I'm glad you asked. On B's last day in Paris, we went to the Jardin tropicale de Paris, on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes. For some years the gardens were home to a touring 'Colonial Exposition' otherwise known as a 'human zoo'. I know, it's sick, but we wanted to explore the abandoned site and see what was left and what France had tried to cover up (before you start, I know there were 'human zoos' in England and Germany too, they were a popular 'attraction' in 19th Century and early 20th Century).

It was eerie. The first thing we saw was a huge Oriental gateway. A few yards later we walked into a clearing in the woods and found ourselves in the middle of a Chinese village. (It reminded me of the Japanese anime film 'Spirited Away'.)



There was also a recently built pavilion opposite which, the plaque said, had been build to commemorate the Indonesians who lost their lives fighting for France. There were a lot of memorials like this and it was confusing, trying to work out what was left over from the Colonial  and had been updated; and what had been built recently.




Further on, through a weird, French-Oriental forest made of bamboo and erm, French trees, we found two derelict buildings, one a ramshackle wooden hut that wouldn't look out of place in an American horror movie; and the other a huge, white structure that looked as if it could have been a community centre. The fences were easy to climb over and there was nobody else around... 

We went inside the wooden hut but now, looking at the photos of the collapsing roof, it really wasn't such a great idea:


We trod carefully, so carefully... Tiptoeing across the rotten floorboards into a back room which still had faded wallpaper on the walls and a wardrobe in the corner. In the main room, where the roof had all but fallen in, we found a small blackboard propped up next to a carton of gasoline and somebody had written in chalk: 'home sweet home.' 

I felt like we were in Paris, Texas (Chainsaw Massacre), not Paris, France.



Next we tried to get into the larger building opposite. We walked all the way round, deep into the bushes... and found that a panel of fencing had been already been pushed over by somebody else. The doors to this building were all locked but there was a really sinister basement that we could look down into and high above it there was a little room, separate to the rest of the building, with a thin, rusty ladder leading up to it.

I climbed to the top and strangely, found a rusted film projector, with a roll of film still hanging out of it. It made me think of a reoccurring dream I used to have when I was younger... 

I would walk into a clearing in the woods and there would be music playing, very gently and tinkly like it was coming from a music box. In the clearing there would be a contraption a bit like a film projector, only there was a conveyor belt of film moving slowly along in a loop. When I got closer I would look at the film and see it was made of family photos, then I would wake up.

I know other people's dreams are boring, but it really freaked me out, finding a film projector and film, in the middle of the woods.



The buildings we broke into were definitely used a long time after the sick 'human zoo' exposition, but what were they used for? Who else lived there? I actually went back to the Jardin tropicale de Paris three days ago, with Julia, and we discovered something even weirder, but first let me finish blogging about B's last ever day in Paris.

When we got back to Paris, we had tea at my (by this point, our) Chinese traiteur. As we ate, we discussed what to do in the two hours we had before B had to get her bus to London. B wanted a nap, but as it was her last night EVER in Paris, thought that she should have one last walk along the Seine. It was a beautiful evening and I live so close to the river that it would be a shame not to.

They've opened up one of the roads along the river that used to be for cars only and at the moment it's full of pop-up bars and small shipment containers they've recycled into rooms with little gardens, big glass windows and furniture inside. (You could hire them for free apparently but unsurprisingly they got booked up quickly.) We strolled along, then climbed up the steps so we could look down at the river from a bridge. As we look into the glittering water, B said:
"There's one thing we've not done."

I looked at her. I knew what she meant but I couldn't tell if she was joking or not.

"Jump in the Seine," she said, "It's now or never."

I didn't think we'd actually do it, but B seemed serious. I said I'd do it if we could find a spot that had steps leading out of the water, as I didn't want to get stuck trying to flop myself over the side like a baby seal that everybody knows will be weeded out by Natural Selection, any day now.

We walked along the river, looking for a spot. I felt sick, I didn't want to do it, but I really, really wanted to do it at the same time. I told myself I wanted to do it, to be excited, not scared. But it didn't matter, because there was no way we were going to do it, anyway. We weren't actually going to do it.

Were we?

B had two hours before her bus left Paris. We'd have to walk home, get showered and dried, then get all the way to Bercy. I didn't think we had enough time. 

First we had to find a public toilet, because we both needed a wee and thought that the excitement of jumping in the Seine might be ruined somewhat if we both wet ourselves.

Ok, wees- done.

Were we actually, really, seriously going to jump in the Seine?

Across the river, we spotted a mini-jetty that sloped into the water and there were no people around, just boats. We crossed over and walked along the edge of the water, trying not to look suspicious. We kept seeing disgusting heaps of rubbish and dead leaves floating on the water, caught between boats. Then we found the slope we'd seen from the other side of the river and the water looked perfect, it looked so clear and inviting. We sat down, with our legs dangling over the edge. 

We took our bags off. Should we jump in from here? Or wade in from the end of the slope?

The sun was setting, we could see the Eiffel Tower. It was perfect. If we didn't do it, I'd always regret it.

I plunged my feet in, my ballet shoes filling with water.

I took them out again. We weren't actually going to jump in, I knew it.

B said we go to the end of the slope, so we edged along, on our hands and feet like crabs. We got closer and closer and we sped up. There was one second at the edge of the water where I debated not doing it, then I slid in and B came in after me.

The water was really warm and nice, I could have almost swam around in it but wasn't sure what might be lurking under the surface. We screamed and laughed a bit, then we climbed out and jumped around, soaking wet and looking mental. A family of tourist walked past and looked alarmed.

I don't think we even looked that wet on the walk home. Neither of us put our heads in so it was just our clothes that were wet and it was hard to tell if they were soaked through, or just made of shiny, dark material.

We had to rush to get to Bercy on time and it was a bit of a nightmare with all of  B's cases, but she got there with ten minutes to spare. (She got the new ID bus and she said each seat has its own plug socket and there's free wi-fi.) It didn't feel sad saying goodbye because I know I'll see her soon in London, but I'm glad we made a big deal of her leaving, jumping in the seine. Here's the spot we jumped (or rather 'slid') in from:



And that was it, B was gone. I was all alone. 


Except... I wasn't really. Now I only have one more blog post to do before I leave Paris for good- my last few days in Paris.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Twerk On, Twerk Off

B messaged me from England to say I should blog about 'our time together', otherwise she'll forget what we got up to. I've already forgotten a little bit... I remember we spent a lot of time eating at my Chinese traiteur and learning how to twerk. We watched this tutorial video (erm, don't look at any of the other 'how to' videos in the sidebar, I think only bad things can come from watching 'How To Get a Guy to Like You' and 'How to Make Out'):



She makes it look easy. It isn't. We thought if we just kept practicing we'd be able to do it. I even started twerking in my dreams and woke B up by kicking her in my sleep.

Then one night we were trying to do it and I suddenly got into the motion. It was like the breakthrough scene in a sports movie, when the protagonist has been struggling to perfect their golf swing/back flip/hoola hoop against all odds, practicing night after night in all weathers and suddenly they just get it and they do it again and again and again. B was shouting "You're twerking, you're twerking!" and I could almost hear the uplifting, classical musical fading in from the corners of my room and rising to a triumphant crescendo.

Then I lost my momentum and couldn't get it back again. Sigh.

Our plan was to become Expert Twerkers and use our new-found bum-shaking to Dazzle and Beguile at parties/in the bedroom, but it takes so long to get the right motion going that I don't think anyone would hang around while I squatted on the floor with my bum sticking out, saying "Hold on a minute, hold on a minute, I just need to get it started..." like I was starting a car motor. It's really not a case of: Twerk On, Twerk Off. Twerk On, Twerk Off.

Also, the key is to keep your upper body completely still and even when I managed to briefly get my twerk on, I couldn't stop my shoulders jiggling around.

So the twerking didn't work out.

What also didn't work out, unfortunately, was my Birthday Night Out Plan.  B had to work until 3am and Julia was exhausted from moving into her new apartment... and they were pretty much the only people here that weekend. Julia said she'd go out for drinks, but in the end we just stayed at her new apartment; she was really tired and I wasn't really in the right mood for going out.

Julia and her sister Laure's new apartment is amazing. You walk through the front door into a U-shaped corridor, with rooms on one side of the corridor and glass doors on the other side, opening onto a terraced garden. The garden is overlooked by high walls with ivy growing up them and there's a fig tree growing in the corner, the large leaves making shadowy patterns on the flagstones. It's such a lovely space. Whatever room you're in you can see into the terrace and the bedrooms have to have shutters over the doors because there's so much light coming in from the garden.

The only problem is that they don't have an oven yet and I brought pizzas round to eat, so we had to microwave them. Floppy is not the word...

At midnight Julia stuck some candles in a gingerbread cake she found somewhere, then she and Laure sang Happy Birthday to me. I got the last metro home and had a smashing time, reading Alan Partridge's 'autobiography'.

As I write these words I’m noisily chomping away on not one, but two Murray Mints. I’ve a powerful suck and soon they’ll be whittled away to nothing. But for the time being at least they have each other. For the time being, they are brothers. Which is more than can be said for me, for I was an only child. I will now talk more about being an only child.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

I was really sad when I finished it. 

Anyway, the next day was my Actual Birthday and even though the Birthday Monster is no longer with us, I still woke up with an invisible Birthday Princess Tiara perched on top of my head. B took me for brunch at L'Estaminet-  a cafe inside the Enfants Rouges food market, in the Marais. I can't believe I've never been to Enfants Rouges before. There were so many stalls I wanted to try- Japanese, Moroccan, Italian, Portuguese... A lot of them had little tables and chairs outside that you can sit down and eat at.

B and me ( YES I KNOW it should be 'B and I', but it doesn't rhyme) chose L'Estaminet because it was listed on the Time Out website under 'Best Brunches in Paris'. It really wasn't what we were expecting... It was more a meat and cheese plate than a traditional brunch (patisserie, eggs, fruit etc)- we were each served a huge plate filled with cheese, cold meats, scrambled egg, potatoes with sour cream and chives and salad with a sweet, fruity dressing. They also put a jar on the table that was filled with mysterious floating meat... it turned out to be chunks of salami in oil and was very unnecessary but delicious.

My top tip? As soon as you order the brunch they give you a coffee, a glass of apple juice and a pain au chocolat... Leave the pain au chocolat, save your stomach space for meat. Me and B are quite greedy, yet it was a hard slog to finish the plate. I didn't eat very tactically (ate a lot of very filling bread) so was forced to leave a lump of Camembert. B decided to leave her terrine- we all have to make sacrifices.

It was the best birthday brunch ever! We definitely shouldn't have opened the jar of delicious but disgusting-looking meat though. Once it was opened we couldn't stop eating it. B called it Pandora's Box of Meat. At the end of the brunch I wanted to lie down and sleep for a very long time but I knew that we had to go raving.

It was finally time to give Concrete a go.

It's taken me three years to get there, including a couple of near-misses, but I've just never had the momentum to go out all Saturday night, then queue up in the freezing cold at 7am- fucked off my face and feeling like shit- to then carry on raving all day Sunday AND it's twenty euros to get in, on top of the night out you've already had. Plus, Parisian people who go used to go a lot (like Angelique, who is still living the dream in New York, by the way) told me that Concrete had gone really rubbish and mainstream.

I don't know why it hasn't occurred to us before to go in the afternoon, though. I think somebody told me it was a nightmare to get in after 1pm, but it really wasn't. There was a queue of about ten people, a quick bag search and then we were in.

We got in about 4pm and planned on staying until it closed at 2am, so there was no rush to get downstairs and start raving. It was unbearably hot downstairs, anyway, in the belly of the boat where the DJs play and people who have been raving since 2am the night before dance about and get all sweaty. We spent most of the day on the top deck, it was pretty busy but there was always somewhere to sit. They had little sprinklers rigged up everywhere, so it wasn't too hot. (Unfortunately, due to Noise Complaints, they had to cut the music they were playing on the deck, but I still loved sitting up there in the sunshine.)

For about four hours we actually couldn't move, we just sat by the edge of the boat, occasionally asking each other if we felt ok. We were feeling mellow, but mellow in a mashed up, time has lost all meaning kind of way... Then the mellowness wore off and we started chatting to people, then Julia and her friend arrived and we decided to brave Downstairs.

As we walked down the stairs I could feel the heat coming from inside the boat, but actually, once we got further into the dance floor, there were big fans blowing cold air on everyone. The music was ok, but it wasn't a great line-up, considering Concrete is well known for its lineup de malade. (HA- that has to be the most ridiculous French Anglicism ever. B told me about it after she read it on a Facebook event page.) It was techno-heavy. There was one fifteen-minute period where the DJ played nothing but discordant, electronic sounds and weird tribal beats. When he slipped a primal scream in, I knew it was time to take a break on the top deck. But then towards the end of the night, the music was good. We would have stayed until the end but decided that we might as well get the last metro home, so we left about midnight.

So that was my birthday. The next day I overslept and was woken up at half ten by a phone call from the ten year old, telling me I could go into work at twelve instead of eleven... They had clearly decided to rush out and buy me a birthday present, because when I got to their house the little girl presented me with a store gift-wrapped present. It was a really pretty, thin gold bracelet, tied at the back with a piece of material.

On Monday night I went to a free concert at Bastille with Holly and Shayna. Jake Bugg was playing- an acoustic singer/songwriter type that I've never heard of but Holly and Shayna love him- and then Babyshambles played. It was weird seeing Pete Doherty strut about in a sailor's hat. It's weird to think that he lives in Paris. I wonder what he does here? Quite a few of my friends in Paris have met English girls living here that have slept with him, so I suppose we can guess what he spends most of his time doing.

After the free gig I went to meet B at work because it was her last ever shift at the restaurant/bar. It's weird to think that around this time last year it was my last shift at the very same restaurant.

None of the people I used to work with are still working there, nobody I liked anyway, but B works with a few nice people so after the restaurant closed I stayed to drink with them. When the manager threw us out, we all went to Trocadéro. There's a tiny jardin to the right of Trocadéro that I've never seen before, it has an ornamental pond and a rock garden. Amazingly it was open all night and not one weirdo strayed in to hassle us. We stayed there drinking until the first metro, which was maybe a bit excessive considering I had work at 11am, but I really don't know where the time went...

The next evening we went to Chez Gladines with Shayna and two people from B's work that I'd met the day before. I felt really sad, actually. It was weird not being there with Kayt, Amy, Clare or Olivia.

Me and B were asking Shayna again about that time she jumped in the Seine- she was on her own,  it was November but she just had to do it. She said everyone around applauded her as she climbed out. Me and B said that maybe we should do it before B left Paris...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

On My Own

Day 2 of my Two Weeks Alone in Paris and things are worse than I thought they would be. I've been spending a lot of time in bed, pretending to be asleep so I don't have to get up and do things all on my lonesome. I bet there are lots of people out there who think I'm ridiculous for wasting my last days in Paris; people who think I should be striding about with a bumbag on, ticking things off on my Paris Bucket List.

Well you can get to fuck, because I don't want to do things on my own, all day, every day for two weeks. When I first moved here I spent a week walking around with no friends, looking at stuff and taking pointless photos of things. I've done my Lonely Tourist Time in this city, I'm not doing it again.

Except... I might have to. God this is so shit. This weekend is the Peacock Society festival- Cyril Hahn played at the opening party last night at Social Club- and on Sunday there's also Concrete and Coco Beach. I'm not going to anything, in the absence of tickets and/or friends.

I might be exaggerating a teeny tiny bit- Julia is still here, but she's working a lot and so isn't available for cocktails and sunbathing, twenty four hours a day/seven days a week.

Also, G.Shore's girlfriend is visiting and yesterday we went for an afternoon drink at Le Café A- the cafe/bar of La Maison de l'architecture, two minutes from gare de l'Est. I didn't actually know it was a museum, I'd just heard it had a really big terrace and was a nice place to drink in the sun. It's perfect for this weather. 

Photo of Le Café A from their Facebook page
 
After our drink I trekked all the way to Batignolles to get a Turkish kebab from that place Kayt noticed weeks ago and that a local resident told us was one of the best kebabs in Paris. I felt very English getting a kebab for my tea, but I think it was quite French of me to eat it at a genuine mealtime and to also travel quite far to visit a certain kebab shop. It was a really good kebab, spicy meat served in thick, fresh pita bread with salad, yoghurt sauce and chips (eight euros). It's about halfway down rue des Batignolles, on the right-hand side if you stand with your back to the church and it's called Sandwich Kebap. I tried to eat it in the park but I felt a bit paranoid and had to take most of it home to eat. 

I ate the kebab, slept for two hours, then woke up and stayed up until 3am watching films. (My laptop was being so slow that I had to stop the film every fifteen minutes and give my computer a break.) The people who have the rooftop terrace outside my window were having a very loud party, as I sat in my sweltering bedroom with the blinds down, trying to watch 'The Help'. Well that just about broke my heart.

Now we're on Day 2.  What shall I do with myself over the next fortnight? Wander along the river singing 'On My Own' from Les Mis? Petrol bomb all the shops and restaurant where the staff have ever been rude to me? Sit in front of the mirror, teaching myself how to do a perfect fishtail plait? I'm guessing all of the above, but first I would like to shut the blinds so I can pretend it's not a beautiful sunny day outside; and catch up on my blogging.

Well my laptop's fucked up now so can't actually do any blogging. I guess I've just done some anyway.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Kayt's Last Weekend in Paris

B has been my Official Roommate for four days now and so far things are going swimmingly. The only thing I was slightly worried about was the possibility that, as two messy people, our cohabitation would turn my Cinderella Room in a crack den of clothes, make-up and mugs with cold dregs of tea in them (because I'm always late and so can't finish my tea, NOT because I don't like tea enough to finish a whole mug). So far though, this prophecy has not come to pass. Today it's looking a little chaotic actually, but I'll give it a quick tidy later... maybe.

The only other problem is that I've just cut my toenails and although I managed to capture nearly all of the cuttings, one of them flew into the air and- I'm 85% sure- landed in B's open suitcase of clothes. If you're reading this B, don't worry. When you get back to England you'll find it and think of me, it will be a comfort. Anyway, there's a 15% chance it just landed on the floor, so try to forget about it.

Look. We can talk about my toenails later, I have some catching up to do. Last weekend was Kayt's last weekend in Paris. It still hasn't sunk in that she's not a fifteen minute metro journey away. I don't think I can go to Place de Clichy or Pigalle ever again, it will be too sad.

On Friday night we went to La Villette Enchantée, the music was amazing. It was the release tour for the new Watergate compilation album. I've heard that German clubs are notoriously difficult to get in to and I wonder if they were trying to recreate the feel of a real Berlin club when they put a stony-faced, power-tripping arsehole on the door. He stared at everyone in the line and kept asking those closest to him: "Ca va? Ca va?"

Kayt thought she wasn't going to get in because she didn't have any ID with her, even though she is 28. I thought he wouldn't let us in because we were with three boys (Kayt's boyfriend, B's Gentleman Friend who I think we're now allowed to call her boyfriend and Kayt's boyfriend's friend who was visiting as well) and he seemed to be turning away guy-heavy groups. It made a nice chance going out with as many boys as we were girls though: Sinister Perverts on the metro refrained from tutting, tongue-clicking and hissing at us like they normally do, much in the same manner you would call over a cat or small dog.

In the end it was completely fine, although the doorman made Kayt and her boyfriend hang back a bit, just to freak them out and make Kayt regret not bringing her passport. Once we got inside, I was actually glad the guy had been so difficult on the door, because the club was about two thirds as full as it could have been, making it pleasantly spacious and jostle-free.

The queue for the toilets was still massive though and there were only two urinals for boys, meaning they had to queue up with the girls if they needed more than a wee. I witnessed a few boys looking at the urinals with horror, asking the bouncer in a quiet voice where they were supposed to go for a Number Two and then having to do the Poo Walk of Shame to the back of the queue. Boys who weed in the urinals weren't even allowed to wash their hands.

Apart from the doorman, the bouncers were actually really nice. At one point, me and Kayt's boyfriend's friend were sat down on a bench and a girl next to us started vomiting on the floor and a little bit on her shiny, silver leggings. Kayt's boyfriend's friend got her a towel from behind the bar and I wiped the sick from her leggings because we are really lovely, conscientious, kind, very kind people. (I thought that the vomit would soak through the thin leggings and then dry and the material would be fused to her skin with dried sick.)

There were some people there, however, who were not so nice. Some guys were pointing and yelling at the girl, being massive dickheads. I told them to shut up or else the bouncer would come over and kick her out and we didn't know where her friends were... Then one of the guys went over and told the bouncer that the girl was being sick. The bouncer came over and told the girl to go to sleep, then told the guys to be quiet. HA. La Villette Enchantée is a bit like a giant greenhouse, a glass structure built on cobbled ground, so perhaps it doesn't matter so much if people are sick, but still... I was really impressed and put him on my Nice Bouncers List (along with Big Dave in Pigalle, who kept Sinister Perverts away while we ate our burgers at three in the morning and the bouncer at La Bellevilloise who chased me round a courtyard yelling at me, but then we made up and became friends 'because it was Christmas'.)

We left just as the metro was starting and it was the worst metro journey ever. Maybe it's because we normally go out for big nights on a Saturday, but I've never gone home after a rave before and been completely surrounded by Normal People going to work. It was awful. The metro was really busy and we were the only people who looked as if we'd been on a night out. What's more, I was the only one changing at Republique and had a horrible ten minutes trip-trapping through crowds of Normal People, trying to find the Line 9.

When I got to the Line 9, a guy sitting next to me on the platform started gagging because he was so thirsty and asked if he could have a sip of my open Coke can. I know what you've been up to, son. Eventually I just gave him the whole can because I'd had enough and when we got on the metro he asked me conspiratorially if I'd been out too. (He used a really colloquial phrase for going out/raving that I haven't heard before, something with the word piste in it, I think. I'll ask Julia what it could have been... unless she's reading this and would like to leave her thoughts in a comment below? SMILEY FACE.) I said yes and we had a little lol and then two more people got on the metro who had clearly been out all night too. The guy I'd given my coke can do was obviously a Social Simon because he got them involved in our We've Been Out and Nobody Else Has secret gang.

"Yeah," yelled one our latest recruits, "I've got  a packet of tissues, he's got a bottle of water, you've got an open can of coke and you (to me) have got nothing!"

The guy with the can of coke was laughing and pointing at me, asking me why I didn't have anything. I laughed as well but it was only when they all got off that I realised it had been fucking coke can in the first place! Then when I got off the metro, ascending to white sky and daylight, I had another thought: Why did we all need tissues and/or a drink anyway?

When I got home, the new gardienne (we finally have one and she's really nice) was taking the bins out and I walked right into her, wild-eyed and edgy. I said 'Bonjour' as if I'd just been for an early morning stroll, in my kimono, in the pouring rain. She had a little white dog with her that chased me down the entry. I must have been fucked because I found myself stroking it and cooing 'hello little doggy, hello little doggy', instead of running away, making sounds of British discontent such as 'oops' 'oh dear' and 'uh oh'.

The next day I went to the Musée Rodin with Kayt, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's friend. Well, we just went in the gardens, because they were free for me (I'm under 26) and a euro for everyone else. People were lying on the grass in the sunshine, so we followed suite and the next thing we knew a very, very angry man wearing comedy, coke-bottle-bottom-glasses leapt out of the bushes, screaming at us to get off the grass. There were signs but they were hidden in the hedges. There was one girl who had her headphones and sunglasses on and I felt so sorry for her when she woke up to see the maniac groundskeeper leaning over her, looking like he was about to punch her. There was another groundskeeper who followed behind the mental one, apologizing to people and explaining in a calm manner that his colleague was just upset because people never saw the signs... Tell him to get some new signs then, the lunatic.

That evening we went to Le Relais de Venice at Porte Malliot with Julia. They just do steak-frites and are famous for their special 'secret' sauce. We queued for an hour (they have different 'sittings', so even if the queue looks big, everyone in it will normally get a table at the same time) but once we were in we got served really quickly. You get a salad, then the steak-frites, then another portion of the steak-frites, for 24 euros.

The woman who makes the secret sauce was also the maître d' and her look was a cross between 'kindly grandma' and 'Dutch brothel madam', her glamorous black dress and heels contrasting with her white hair. All the other waitresses wore old-fashioned French maid uniforms. The whole thing felt very dated and a bit surreal- even the clean, freshly pressed napkins were frayed and threadbare- but non of that mattered because everyone was there solely for the steak in special sauce. I won't spoil the surprise and tell you what's in the sauce but also... I have no idea. It was green, oily and herby, it was nice. (Apparently they now have a branch in Manchester!)

We were going to out afterwards and optimistically agreed to meet up again at 11pm, after a quick nap. But when I woke up at 11pm I knew I couldn't make it out... I went back to bed and didn't wake up until 3pm the following day. It was amazing.

For Kayt's Leaving Drinks we went to, where else, Chez Justine. After some Happy Day cocktails we moved on to Point Ephémère, so we could drink by the canal in the sunshine. Unfortunately the canal was edged by puddles of slurry and sludge, but we sat down anyway, taking care to avoid the dirty pools of horror... Then of course, I stood up to say hello to someone and put my hands and my bag in the muddy slop. Kayt's boyfriend said I could wipe it on the bottom of his jeans, but Kayt didn't hear and was shocked when she saw me casually wiping wet dirt on her boyfriend's trousers, as if he was a living, breathing dish cloth.

On Monday, I stayed over at Kayt's for the Last Time. There was nothing in her room, we didn't even have a sheet to cover us. It was so weird, but not really sad because we'll see each other in a few weeks when I move back to England and... remember how she had to leave early because she had an interview? Well she got the job! I don't think she was sad to leave as she has a new life in Manchester to look forward to- she'll be living with her boyfriend, she has a job and Amy is now in Manchester living with her boyfriend. Now I just need to move there, get a cat and we can begin our new Triple Couple Social Life!

No.

But I will be in Manchester for a bit and I am excited to move back to England. I might be moving back sooner that I thought anyway, because the au pair mum is kicking off and I just can't. Be. Arsed. She wants me to go to the countryside this weekend and I said no, I'm really sorry but it's too short notice and I have plans. Then she said it's a shame and that I've not been able to work hardly any weekends this year...

I WORK NEARLY EVERY FUCKING SATURDAY.

This is why you shouldn't do anything for other people, ever, because all they remember is the stuff you didn't do for them. She's just focusing on the five or six Saturdays out of the whole year that I've not been able to work. Even now I'm contemplating cancelling all my plans and going to the countryside, what's wrong with me?

It's my birthday this weekend and even though we all know my Birthday Monster died a sad death last year, I still want to do something. I'm thinking La Machine on Saturday (Pearson Sound and Kyle Hall) and then hopefully we can keep the birthday energy going for Concrete on Sunday morning- me and B have still never been. I'm going to go now because this post is really, really, really long but as I have so much stuff to do this week, I'll probably be back soon to procrastinate.

This is for Kayt:

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Beginning of the End

Yey, it's a Monday morning and I'm not in the nursery! Friday was my last day. I actually thought I'd be finishing this week, but when I turned up last Friday with nothing planned, wondering if I could make the Okie Kokie last thirty minutes (You put your little toe on your left foot in, you put your little toe on your left foot out...); the other teacher told me it was the last day for a lot of the kids and that we'd just be playing games and eating cake. Phew.

I never explained why the nursery kids had a 'photo shoot' at A.P.C. (A.P.C is an upmarket clothes line, if you didn't know, v.hipster at the moment.) It was their school photo, just casually taken in the A.P.C design studio. I've no idea why it was such a ridiculously cool location, but it was weird settling the toddlers down in front of a white backdrop while a model and a photographer waited at the back of the room, looking slightly horrified.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be in the photo or not, so I didn't to put make-up on or wear nice clothes in case the other teachers thought that I thought I was going to be in the photo. I backed away once we'd finished sitting the kids down in front of the camera... and the other teachers told me to get in the photo- typical. It's weird to think that in fifteen years or so, an achingly hip Parisian teenager could be looking through their old school photos and my face will be there and they'll have no idea who I am. And they'll wonder why I looked so shit when I clearly knew I was going to be in the school photo.

Anyway. I have a few things to tell you.

First of all, I wrote a piece for a website called Essential Travel, about how being an au pair could make a good a career break. If you've got a minute, read it here.

Secondly, after Kayt sent Clare photos of 'Fluffy' (Clare's beloved piece of dead animal) placed on her crotch and sitting on the end of her chin like an Abraham Lincoln beard, she has now sent Clare a photo of 'Fluffy' draped across her bare breasts. Clare was furious.

This weekend was Kayt's last weekend in Paris, she's leaving earlier than planned because she has a job interview in England. It's so weird. This really is the end.

Last Thursday was our last Supper Club as well, we went to the 404. I've wanted to eat there for about two years but have never gotten round to it. I fell a bit out of love with the bar next door- Andy Wahloo, owned by the same person as the 404 (it's the guy that has Sketch and Momo in London)- after they refused us entry on Cece's birthday last summer, but to be fair there was about twenty five of us and it's a really small bar. Look, I'm not one to hold a grudge...

The decor in Andy Wahloo is really fun- think retro, Moroccan cocktail bar with low stools and couches, good (and expensive) drinks- but the 404 is beautiful, it's so much more than I was expecting. My first impressions of the place were that it was dark and small, but in cosy way- dark wooden beams, dark wooden pillars and dark wooden tables crammed close together. It looks as if it could have been a 16th Century banqueting hall, apart from the North African decor- lamps, silver tea sets and candles that sit on shelves set into the brick wall- that is infinitely more elegant and exotic than they would have had in 16th Century Northern Europe*.

We all ordered a tagine, apart from Holly who got the wild pigeon pastilla, which is kind of like a huge pasty. The tagines arrived in clay pots, still bubbling away and so hot that the waiting staff had to try several times to remove the lids with a cloth. I had the chicken, lemon and olive tagine which was really nice- it had a whole peeled and cooked lemon in there, which I put into my mouth thinking it was a potato- but I was bit jealous of the people with lamb tagines. I didn't order lamb because I always order lamb, but we all had a taste of each other's food and my favourite was the lamb, raisin and prune tagine. For ten main courses and two bottles of wine (we tried one of the red, Moroccan wines) the bill came to just under 24 euros per person.

I'm so glad we went, but now I really want to try their other restaurant in Paris, Derrière. It's next door to the 404 and is supposed to be amazing- TC and OJ have been and they said it's really expensive but fun- it's set out like a house and you can choose which room you eat in.

Photo from the Derrière website.

Thursday night's Supper Club was also the last time I saw Ruth before she went back to England for the summer. She's staying in Paris but has a job in a summer school for the holidays. We were running to get the metro and so we didn't really get to say goodbye. Hopefully we'll see each other in London at some point in August.

I know I'm leaving Paris but I don't think I am. It feels different to every other summer in Paris, when I thought I was leaving Paris but deep down I knew I wasn't...

I have to go now, because Kayt's boyfriend was here this weekend and he's very kindly agreed to take a suitcase back to England for me. I'm supposed to be meeting him with it before he gets on the bus to the airport.

Also I need to sort my room out because B is being kicked out of her chambre de bonne today and as we are going to the ballet together next week, I've made her stay in Paris so she'll be staying with me in my Cinderella room for a bit. The longest anyone has ever stayed is Amy and we slept top-to-toe in my single bed every night for two weeks and even had naps together.

Before I get, me and Kayt got our hair cut on Friday morning by a really nice Scottish guy called Dean. He used to work for Toni and Guy in England and has now moved to Paris, he comes to you. If you're looking for a good, English-speaking hairdresser go on his Facebook page- Bad Rabbits.

*This may sound like something I have just Made Up but actually, I'm a very good authority on 16th Century Northern European decor because- and not a lot of people know this- I was born and raised in 16th Century Northern Europe.  I miss ruffs and pottage and fairies, I don't miss the plague.