Spring is encroaching, so I thought it important to get at least one entry in before another season is upon us. The last few months have been a blur, and continue to be hectic, hence my lack of recent posts. During the past few days, I’ve been getting up early and washing in the kitchen sink, as our shower-room is being completely renovated, and soon I’ll be cooking on a little electric hob in the living room whilst the 1960’s kitchen is gutted and rebuilt. In two and half weeks I will have a new daughter join the family (assuming she’s on time) and shortly thereafter a move to an entirely different part of France.
I’ve scarcely taken any photographs of Paris this year, and those I have taken have been with Mme. Grenouille’s simple point and click. I had to swing by the DIY shop next to Paris’ main town hall (Hôtel de Ville, shown above) a couple of days ago, and met up with an operatic singing friend who lives in this part of the city. The winter light and haze creates a picturesque drama; the bus journey along the river Seine left me feeling a little sad to be saying goodbye. I know part of me will be nostalgic when I look back to my life here, and whilst nice Parisians certainly exist, I won’t be upset to leave the rest behind.
Last night the strangest thing happened when I went to reach for a glass from the kitchen unit. The glass is a thick drinking one, only used for fruit juice and water, and hadn’t been subject to any environmental influences. It was at head height, and the moment I touched it, very lightly with finger and thumb, it didn’t just shatter, it exploded! How a glass finds the kinetic energy to splinter into a thousand tiny fragments, some landing four metres away down the hallway is beyond my understanding of physics. Not only were the fragments in the dinner I’d just prepared, but the splinters found themselves into every corner of the kitchen.
Whilst I’m writing with no coherent direction, I might as well continue with my disjointed musings… After the glass incident I went to the local La Poste. En route there’s a small, quiet one way street off our road where I pass through to take a shortcut. There’s sometimes a strong police (marked, and unmarked police cars) presence on it, and I’ve seen a posh escorted blacked out car come down here several times, which I’ve no doubt is Sarkozy and/or Bruni who have a place at Villa Montmorency (or possibly on Rue Pierre Guerin which runs just behind it). I’ve thought about buying one of those bags with a nude picture of Carla Bruni (she tried to sue the company over it) and waving it up to the car window with a big grin as it passes. I like staring into blacked out car windows, as I imagine the passenger sitting there, paranoid : ‘can they really see me?’
The other week we visited a cop friend, and met with several Paris cops, who made Bébé Têtard eat snails (poor devil), and they said the police station next to where we live just spend all their time dealing with security for Sarkozy. Probably why they weren’t that interested when the driving school over the road ripped off Mme. Grenouille and did a runner with our money.
The Villa Montmorency itself is all gated and very security conscious – either to keep the riff-raff out, or to act as posh prison for the rich and famous. It’s where CEO’s, pop stars and film stars live (Céline Dion reportedly paid 47 million euros for her house here). The main entrance is on rue Poussin, just a few metres down the road from La Poste. At the top of the road is the edge of Bois de Boulogne where we took Bébé Têtard to a small enclosed park that sits opposite the hippodrome d’ Auteuil yesterday evening as the sun started to set.
Just across from the hippodrome a terrible scandal is facing Paris’ historical and beautiful botanical gardens. I’ve written about the Jardin des Serres in the past, with photographs of its magnificent and ancient greenhouses. Somebody thinks it would be better these were demolished so that people can bash a little ball across a net to one another in the name of sport (war without the bullets as George Orwell once described it). Not only that but it seems the Parisians will be hit with a 200 million euro tax bill to cover it! You can protest against it online
This morning I walked down to the opticians, along a fairly quiet, straight road where the pretty infrequent traffic moves slowly. When I came out, the police had cordoned off the road, and there was car debris scattered everywhere. When I saw the car (which sat by itself), the entire front was completely destroyed, so I don’t know how the heck that happened, but am glad I wasn’t there at the time.
This afternoon I’ve just come back from a little park around the corner where they have a sandpit and some playthings. The parents dump all their plastic buckets and spades for their kids, and Bébé Têtard, being only small, very gingerly helped himself to play. We didn’t see the harm in it, but then one of the mum’s took the bucket off him and said something to him, so we tried to buy him a bucket and spade which is actually really difficult to do out of season. For now we have some plastic cups, but as I was the only parent interacting with their kid (most have babysitters who just stand on the sidelines chatting amongst themselves), it drew the attention of other little kids who then decided they wanted his cups, so the poor little chap sat there in the sand with nothing to play with.
Several months back we took him to the 15th arrodisement, where they have a place for kids under three to play. We thought it would be good as we never got a place in a crèche and he doesn’t get to interact with kids his own age. He did enjoy himself, but there were two adults to every kid, and the room was jam packed, which is tough when you’ve babies crawling all around you, and certainly meant you had to be vigilant. One Parisian lady holding a young baby didn’t pay attention and stood right on his hand, she muttered a very brief sorry, as Bébé Têtard went red in the face and started to scream. Mme. Grenouille picked him up and sat down to comfort him next to the lady who had squashed his digits. I watched from across the room, and you would have thought any decent person would have been mortified, or turned to check and ensure he was okay, but she didn’t say a word, and just continued to stare forwards, almost irritated that he was screaming. This is not an untypical Parisian mentality; it is infuriating, and I will certainly not miss it.
It may just be rumour, but several newspapers and said Marks and Spencer is making a return to Paris on the Champs-Elysees later in the year; not that I’m a fan of retail, but I know several Parisians excited by the prospect! And on that random tangent I must think about getting some tea.