Thursday, 21 April 2011

The City of the Dead

Paris is for lovers. I was hoping so. Remember that James Bond nonsense in the other blog? A transmission was decoded that seemed to indicate that Nina, my sexy agent, would intercept me in the French capital, a few weeks ahead of our scheduled rendez-vous in Berlin. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be. That was a great shame. I was looking forward to seeing her Pussy Galore. Y'know, her impression of a secret agent. What did you...? Oh, stop it.

I doubt I would have been up to much loving anyway. Yesterday my body developed a curious new ailment. Although wearing the big rucksack while cycling doesn't cause any pain (it causes backache in other cyclists) I've developed a strange spinal affliction whenever I'm walking about without the thing. And then my right leg goes weird and tingly. I trudged around the Parisian streets for a while, having to sit down every few minutes and then realised that the best remedy in any pain-based scenario is to sit down for lots of minutes and have some beer.

Now, beer in France in stupidly expensive and, as you've probably guessed by now, I'm a cheap sod. I managed to find a tiny place in the middle of happy hour (actually happy four hours) where beer was just slightly more expensive than any normal, miserable hour in Britain. So I sat there and had a few. If I was normally going out to do this type of thing on purpose I'd take something to read but, because of my new condition, I'd been caught unawares. All I had in my bag was the Paris A to Z and there's only so many times you can look up rude-sounding street names. So I just sat and people watched. Several thoughts occurred to me based upon the things I saw.

I discovered that a Muslim head scarf, far from being the instrument of oppression many in the West believe it to be, is actually fantastically useful. I saw a young woman walking down the street pushing a pram with both hands while her mobile phone was tucked into the side of her scarf as she had a conversion. She was hands free and in a totally Islamic way. Brilliant!

I also saw pure unadulterated joy. Across the road from where I was sitting seemed to be a students' hall of residence. Given the weather, some of them were sat outside catching a few evening rays. A new student appeared and two of her girlfriends positively bounced to greet her, and kept bouncing. Like Tigger, they bounded on top of her and covered her in kisses, ending in a Mexican jumping bean-style embrace. Do you have any friends you really love? If so, the next time you meet them in town, bounce up and down with excitement. See what they do. That's what I'm planning to do. I bet it makes us all feel good. Or sick.

So today I thought I'd cure my backache by forcing myself to walk hundreds of miles around Paris. And so that's what I did. I saw the Palace of Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement, Notre Dame in the 4th, from there I headed through the 3rd and the 11th to reach my main target for the day in the 20th, the Cemetery of Père-Lachaise. It's massive, more like a city of the dead. It's the only cemetery I've been to that has its own streets. And it's stuffed full of household names in enormous tombs. Buried there are musicians such as Rossini, Bizet and Chopin, writers such as Balzac, Proust and our own Oscar Wilde and scientists, philosophers, politicians, actors and even a clown. But, possibly most famous of all, and the reason I was there, was to fulfil a Nina challenge and take a photo of Jim Morrison's grave while singing a line from "Light My Fire" (given where I was "...and our love become a funeral pyre" seemed most appropriate). From the graves I trudged back through the 11th and 12th arrondissements to my hotel home in the 13th. I'd walked nearly every street in Paris at least three times but my back was cured.

So, what to do now that I have a pain-free spine? Maybe go and have a beer.

1 comment:

  1. I think John Walker and I have missed out on life. When ever we walked or cycled we have never EVER been approached by a female bouncing or not. Probably better that I missed out at my age, anything could have happened. x