Thursday, 25 September 2014

Early Night

I was going to blog tonight but have just found my nana is in hospital, very ill. My brother has been trying to call me but I missed his calls and so he sent a text. Now he's not answering his phone, maybe he's at work.

I know it is a bit awkward when people announce private issues on their blog, but I would feel a bit weird posting something normal, like it was a bit disrespectful.

Apparently she has been in hospital for three weeks and my dad didn't tell me and my brother because he lost his phone. I have been pissed off at him for a while now, mainly because I decided to stop contacting him, just to see if he would ever contact me, and since the last time I called him in March, I've heard nothing... apart from a cautious text two days before my birthday saying Hello how r u

I think he half-hoped I would text back and say 'Hi dad how are you? I'm very excited for my birthday on the 7th July' but I just texted him back a standard 'I'm fine' message, giving him no clues as to when my birthday was. Ha. The day after my birthday I got a text back saying, 'Happy Birthday anyway'.

I told him thanks but my birthday had been and gone.

My mum said maybe he think texts are like telegrams and they take a few days to come through.

Hmm.

I received a friend request from him on Facebook about a month ago which was a complete shock because I didn't know he a) knew what Facebook was b) had an email address c) had a computer.

There was just a grey blank silhouette where his photo should be, his name and his age. I accepted his request but he seems to have since delete his account.

Also word on the grapevine is he has moved to Darlington. I thought about playing a trick on him and calling up to say I was outside his house in Liverpool in the rain, would he let me in?

And he would have to say sorry I've actually moved four hours away. I was going to tell you, never...

I guess I'm shit because I never sent my half-brothers a birthday card or anything, I never call or see them.

Have I said all this before? Lately I've been thinking it over and over and over again and now my nana's in hospital and I knew what to do. I feel like maybe I should go to Liverpool this weekend. I don't know. I can't ask my dad what to do because he won't know.

I spoke to my nana a few weeks ago on the phone, I called her out of the blue and we chatted for hours. She told me my dad had stopped with 'the ale and the funny ciggies' and had been showing up at her house every morning to make her breakfast.

I wonder.

I'm just ranting because I feel like I should be talking to someone in the family about nana but I can't. because I don't have anyone's numbers.

Here's a post I wrote a few days ago anyway.

I walked to the river, then down the steps and along the edge. Most of the way I was on my own, with nobody obstructing my view of the wide river bend. (I didn't break into the song from Pocahontas, but maybe I should have.)

It was quite a cold day, the weather report had said it would be raining all weekend but I decided I knew Paris better than anyone and I didn't feel like it was going to rain...

It did rain, a lot.

But it held off while I walked along the river, then back to Rue de Rivoli and down to the Marais. I met Abby outside L'as du Fallafel and it was just like I'd never left, both with the falafel shop- the same guys were working there and, excuse the cliche, the falafel tasted even better than I remembered- and with Abby.

It doesn't really matter how much time passes, with most of my friends it's like no time has passed at all every time we meet up, even we meet up every few years, that's how I know we're friends.

Cleo, my friend from my waitressing job, came to meet us too and we went and sat in Place de Vosges with our food. We sat on a bench and talked for ages. I miss how conversations with French people can quickly turn philosophical, or sharing of stories of friends the other people don't know and will never meet.

The only dampener on our joyous reunion was that when Abby bit into her fallafel, her tooth crumbled and fell out of her head, which has probably put her off fallafel for life.

When it started to rain, we went to find a bar and ended up in La Perle by accident. Julia met us from work and we had a few glasses of wine before heading back to Julia's. We were supposed to go to a rave festival thing on the outskirts of Paris, but by the time we got back to Julia's apartment it was raining really hard. Julia told me the rave was in a field, which put me off a little bit and then she told me the music was Pys-Trance, which put me off a lot.

Also, I was knackered from the coach. I know I say this every time I get the coach and I always go back on my word- but I'm never getting the coach to Paris again, especially not just for the weekend. Not only does it eat into your Paris time, but the impracticality of sleeping during the journey means that you have to waste a lot of Paris time napping too.

I slept for two hours, which I think makes me the worst house guest ever`. When I woke up it was quite late in the evening and we couldn't be bothered to go out. Also, at the moment Julia is a very, very poor art student (she said her lecturers actually advised them all to steal paint for their projects, when they asked how they were supposed to buy supplies) and I was skint. Too skint for Paris...

In a way it was good, because lately I've only been remembering how much more money I had in Paris and what a nice lifestyle I had, but it wasn't always like that. Remember when I survived on cake decorations and took my eye make-up off with an apple? (It wasn't very effective, but it was worth a try.)

Instead of going to a trance rave in the rain, we got Thai take-away and Julia's sister came round. We chatted all night and drank gin and tonic, it was really nice. Actually, it was nice just to catch up with people, I'm glad I didn't try and do too much.

I love talking to Julia and her sister, because they always have crazy conspiracy stories and scientific breakthroughs to discuss...

Julia's sister told me when she was studying in America a few months ago, she spilt boiling water down her leg and called her mum. Her mum put her on the phone to this guy who can help heal burns just by talking to you... Julia's sister is going to be a scientist- she doesn't believe in spiritual magic things- but it really helped heal her burn and she has since discovered these 'burn people' are actually employed in French hospitals! And nobody can say how it works.

I some people won't believe this, because some people are just fucking boring and don't believe anything they haven't seen with their own eyes (which is ridiculous, it's like me saying I don't believe in Croatia just because I have never been there), so here is a link to a blog post I've found, discussing the issue further.

(Basically, if you think it sounds mental, the people who really believe this therapy works liken it to when people can walk over hot coals unscathed using the power of their minds. I obviously don't think you should stand around on the phone when someone suffers a burn- you should act fact and then rush them to hospital- but what's the harm in calling the number on your way to the hospital, if you believe in that sort of stuff?)

So.

The next day we slept in quite late and then went for brunch round the corner from Julia's, with her sister and my friend Cleo. (Abby couldn't come because she was sorting her tooth out at the dentist.) Instead of the brunch, I had steak frites with blue cheese sauce, because that's what I dream about in London.

It was raining heavily, but in a nice way. The streets were pale grey and quiet, trees fresh and green above. After brunch I wanted to go on la petite ceinture, but the entrance we normally climb in round the corner from Fleche d'Or was boarded up.

And it stops there.

I'm going to drag my Paris weekend out even more, now I'm off to call my brother and see if he'll pick up his phone.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Autumn Soup

Summer definitely isn't coming back for a surprise encore- it's early evening and the sky is dark, the blackberries are finished... even the nettles are gone. My master plan this month was to live off nettle soup, due to an unfortunate decision to get rid of my monthly wages in various bars and supermarkets around London by the second week of the month; however, when my mum was here last weekend I asked her for the recipe and she said nettles are no good at this time of year.

Grass soup anyone?

Potatoes are a cheap soup ingredient but I can't use them anymore after a girl at work pointed out the leek and potato soup has the same texture as... I can't write the word. (Next time you put a spoonful in your mouth, ask yourself if you're going to spit or swallow and you'll know exactly what I mean.)

Anyway.

I haven't had much time to blog recently. I wanted to blog about the Irish pub me and B discovered, then Kate Bush, the end of my Paris trip, which- to be honest- I know I'm dragging out, but when I finish writing about it that will really be the end and now I don't know when I'll go back. If only I didn't drink alcohol or eat food or use toiletries and the tube wasn't so fucking expensive, I'd be going back and forth every weekend.

Sigh. This time of year is when I would always return to Paris, after spending three weeks in England then one week in Ibiza. It's weird that a year ago I moved back to England for good and this year, yet again, September is nearly over and I'm still not in Paris.

But.

I am sitting in my house, listening to last night's Craig Charles funk and soul radio show (it's on iPlayer) with my housemate  who is cooking us chilli and that's exactly what I imagined England would be like when I was sitting in that little room in Paris, needing a wee but listening at my front door to see if any of the neighbours were using it, cooking a chilli in the same room I slept in.

I've got so much space now, I could do a cartwheel across the living room, if I could do cartwheels. I could  definitely do a roly poly.

Is it weird that I think about Paris so much, even though I left a year ago?

In other news... I'm so happy Scotland decided to stay in the UK!!



Friday, 12 September 2014

Bush

Calm down, I'm not going to debate the issue of women's lady gardens again.

This is Bush as in Kate Bush as in Heathcliff, it's me it's Cathy I've come hooome.

There is so much I need to say- mainly that on Saturday me and B went to an 'IRA pub' (apparently it used to be) and danced to Irish pop music until 6 in the morning and didn't see anything wrong with it (I actually think the key to having a good time as a house and techno fan is to listen to house and techno in the privacy of your own home and then go out and listen to shockingly bad crap, high as a kite on Ronan Keating 'Life is a Rollercoaster' leaping about with not a care in the world- but for now I am too excited to write, I just want to dance around to Kate Bush.

It has just sunk in that I am going to see her on Saturday! (And I NEVER use exclamation marks.)

Argh I feel like a kid again. When my dad looked after me I used to make him put on mum's Kate Bush video and watch it over and over again. I wish music videos were still like this, and less full of naked girls holding goats:





Thursday, 4 September 2014

That Paris This Paris

I'm not being needy but, why have only two people written in my Au Pair forum? Why aren't au pairs flocking in their thousands to ask each other advice? Is it because I have overestimated the global market for a Left Bank Manc Au Pair Forum?

No.

No, that can't be it. I suppose you are all just thinking up really good questions to ask.

Sigh. Now's as good a time as any to finish talking about my return to Paris.

So, after walking in the warm rain and the morning quiet, and after reaching Julia's lovely apartment, built around a courtyard with a fig tree growing in it, I had a quick shower and went to the au pair family's house for breakfast.

Back on the metro- that strange staring at the door handle again and feeling like it was anchoring me between all my lives, that Paris and this Paris, me Then and me Now. Then the same walk from the metro station to the family's house that I used to do twice a day, shockingly familiar, like blasting myself into the past.

I know I keep going on about it, but I thought maybe I'd somehow found myself in an old self and was looking through old eyes at my old life. Maybe I was really sat on the couch in London, vividly remembering scooting round the crowds outside Monoprix, people stopping to look at the market stalls outside the entrance, then the narrow pavement and the fruit and veg shop on my right, glancing at the raspberries that always caught my eye as I walked past.

Then walking up to their blue front door, ringing the bell...

It was exactly the same. We fell into old patterns quickly- at first I ate croissants and chatted with the mum, but soon I was back on the living room floor, playing a ball game with the ten year old (now eleven) and the toddler (now a four year old, I think).

Me and the ten year old plaited each other's hair and discussed the never-ending saga of her tempestuous friendship triangle (the latest: the other two were spending the summer flitting between each other's country houses in France and Mallorca, they didn't invite my girl- bitches).

The four year old kept showing me a photo on the iPad of him and his dad on holiday, taken from the back as they both have a wee. In the photo they are both naked. The mum pretended not to notice, which made it even more awkward.

I love how I can teach the little boy English phrases in about five minutes- I'm not just saying this because I looked after him, but he is so clever. During the ball game me and his sister would shout 'Who wants the ball?' 'Me!' 'You?' 'Get the ball!' and after twenty minutes he'd understand what we were saying and he'd start saying the same phrases as us.

I suspect the parents think I'm a bit touched, because after making awkward conversation with them for five minutes, I wondered off to talk about lions and dancing with the kids, just like I used to when I worked for them.

(They looked at me a bit weirdly and said I looked different... when I saw myself in the mirror later on, I realised that my pupils looked like two fucking moons- shouldn't have taken that Valium so close to Paris.)

The parents disappeared upstairs and without thinking, I helped myself to a glass of water like I used to and stood in the kitchen doorway, watching the kids playing. The dad came downstairs and laughed when he saw me- I forgot I haven't worked for them for a year. I was acting like it was just another night at work.

After I'd said goodbye (thinking I'd see them again one day, but who knows if I will), it only took me half a second to decide what to do next. I wasn't meeting Abby for a couple of hours, so I got the metro back to Saint-Philippe du Roule- my old metro stop.

I went to look at my old front door and as I got there, it opened. A little dog trotted out that I recognised- my old enemy- and then its owner, my old neighbour, stepped out and glanced at me across the street. I don't know if he recognised me or not. I felt like a ghost, observing a life that used to be mine.

I know, I know... I can't quite grasp the fact that things change and time moves on, but god it was so weird. I took the shortcut to Place du Concorde- the same way I would walk twice a week when I came home from my morning class in the nursery- and it felt like I was walking through ghost-versions of me, all our eyes on the trees, all our feet on the pavement, all of us/me walking simultaneously, around everywhere, blurry and almost invisible and then all concentrated in me, in that moment.

Ok I'm freaking myself out now.

Also my housemate is on her way back from kickboxing with some McDonald's for our tea.

Before I go...

TC and OJ and everyone in their disco circle went to Wilderness Festival this summer and I couldn't go due to the fact that I got back from Spain the day before (really it was because I'd spent all my money on alcohol and kimonos). When they got back everyone kept telling me about Greg Wilson's set on the Saturday night and he's put it on Soundcloud.

It's SOOOO GOOOD.

This is the reason I have been having private discos in my living room: