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.”
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...