I have not written for four days. My excuse: Paris.
My friend Alex and I chose to celebrate the end of dreary January with an adventure to the land of art galleries, inexpensive wine and infinite numbers of women in polo necks.
By 8pm on Thursdawy we had already opened two bottles of Proseco on the Eurostar from Kings Cross (causing a few people to jump as we popped the cork). We were both in our best parisian garb, both insatiably excited. We both needed this break. Our mantra for the weekend was WE ARE NOT SOFT COCKING IT. (*I recommend this phrase whole heartedly - ideally one should tattoo it somewhere visible on ones flesh*). Whatever we did this weekend we were going to do it to the absolute maximum - no going halves, no holding back. It was going to be a saturated holiday of the senses. This meant good wine, good champagne, strong cheese and loud Vinyl records at all times. It also meant crucial attention to fashion details and creating numerous personas as we strolled along the Seine and the back streets of Bastille.
Highlights included the bar La Rochelle, the cinema Studio Galande, the fois gras in the gold cafe on the top floor of the Musee D'Orsay and ruminating on the meaning of life around the beautiful Parc des Buttes-Chaumonts. Also, going up to people at every opportunity and asking "Ou est la bibliotheque?" and "Je veux une grande saucisson.". Because despite being a woman, behaving like a child is fun.
Having returned from Paris this morning and spent the day in bed I have come to some assessments. I adore Paris, but I am glad to be apart of the barmy identiy of London. Before I left for Paris I read How to be Parisian Wherever You Are hoping it would instill in me some Parisian class. It sort of did. I wore lots of white shirts. However, I believe the writers make the concept of being Parisian more complicated than it needs to be.
Thus, from my extensive experience with the people of this marvelous city, for all you Francophiles, here is MY short guide on HOW TO BE PARISIAN.
Please take it seriously.
Rule 1 - GET A DOG AND LET IT SHIT EVERYWHERE. You can not be Parisian if you don't have a dog that looks like it's dying of chloera. Paris would not be Paris if you didn't tread at least five times in a day in the turd of someone's snouzer, greyhound or bounding labrador called Sartre.
Rule 2 - NEVER SMILE. Smiling is for people who like things like cake, fun and sunshine.This is not a parisian quality.
Rule 3 - FRENCH STYLE in one word: FUNERALS. Clearly, the average Parisian never knows when they are going to be called to attend the funeral of a loved one - so they tackle this by choosing to dress in prep for one EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. Think greys, blacks, navys, heavy knits, hard denim and the facal expression of a personifided brooding storm.
Rule 4 - AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY FEEL FREE TO TELL TOURISTS THAT THEIR CLOTHES ARE UGLY. They need to know. ESPECIALLY if they are two Londoners who both happen to be wearing tiger print blouses, leather trousers and a sheer leotard. If you wouldn't wear it to a funeral, you shouldn't wear it in Paris. Even if you're Elton John.
Rule 5 - IF A TOURIST ATTEMPTS TO SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE AT ANY POINT, DO NOT LET THEM. They will never be able to find the biblioteque. Why? Because you refuse to tell them.
Rule 6 - ALWAYS SMOKE. Never DON'T SMOKE. If you are in bed - SMOKE, if you are on the loo - SMOKE. If you are at a funeral - SMOKE. Ideally you should be doing this whilst waiting for your dog to finish shitting in the middle of the pavement. CLASSIC PARISIAN.
Rule 7 - AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY YOU CAN, PUT 'PUTAIN' INTO A SENTENCE. Even if you are asking where the library is, how to get to Shakespeare & Co or ordering a coffee. The French DIG this word. It's the French equivalent of saying YOLO.
Rule 8 - Parisians love NOTHING MORE than tourists pronoucing their well-loved artists in NEW AND EXCITING WAYS. They love eccentricity. So make sure you practise the folllowing and saying them confidently whilst walking around the Musee D'Orsay - especially if you are American....
Name: VAN GOGH = Pronounce it: VAIN GOG
Name: RENOIRE = Pronounce it : REEN-WAH
Name: MATISSE = Pronounce it: MATT - ICE
Name: RODIN = Pronounce it: ROAD - EEN
Or, if you are shy, just shout the following question really loud: "WHERE CAN I FIND THE VAGINA PAINTING??"
FINALLY, Rule 10: When in a Fromangerie, always ask if they have any CHEDDAR. THE FRENCH WILL LOVE YOU.
And there you go... run free.