So, I went to Paris earlier this week and spent most of the time in a state of exaggerated panic due to my poor interviewing technique and crippling social anxiety (even though I was only asking nice, unobtrusive questions about cake for god's sake, it's hardly fecking Watergate), but apart from that it was its beautiful, scornful self.
Things that I bought:
1. Cat bus from Totoro biscuits:
2. Skeleton cookie cutter:
3. Decorative edible skulls:
(this led to an entertaining conversation with Peter who was trying to convince me that all skulls are edible, which may be the case if you have sturdy, impeccable American Teeth, but is certainly not so when you have British Teeth made of dust and tannin and apologies like me. We are, however, entirely in agreement on the vexed subject of meringue (=wrong). Yes meringue is vexed. Well, it is in my head. I can vex pretty much any subject you like, given half an hour on my own. Shut up)
4. A sack dress in the sales:
5. The most wildly expensive glass of red wine, accidentally. Even my sister laughed at how appallingly I was fleeced by an unscrupulous waiter who declared it le vin préféré des femmes as if that would make it OK. I really needed wine though since my chest cavity was about to explode with tension. My sister is living in Paris at the moment, and seems to be faring much better than I did when I lived there nine years ago. Momentarily I found myself wishing our mum knew about her living there, because she adored Paris and it always astonished me with how well she knew the city, she was always leading us to all manner of ancient brasseries and back street bars and secret parks, and the thought of her getting to visit my baby sister there and do lovely things makes me wistful. Conceivably she would have been less enamoured of my sister's mystery Calvados related head wound, but passons (actually, I think she would have absolutely understood).
Things I was given:
1. Two eclairs, salted caramel and pistachio. Pistachio looks a bit like a metallic gherkin.
2. A dainty black forest gâteau:
3. An absolutely delicious Mont Blanc shaped like a ball of wool and filled with a sort of light blackcurrant compote and whipped cream.
(this is what happens when you write about cakes, and very bad it is too, I have about ninety five chins and by the time I got back I was hallucinating about melted cheese and tuna)
4. A free pass through the Metro barrier when my ticket failed. Whilst Parisian generosity can fall short of the full 'milk of human kindness' standard at times, in acts of altruistic civic disobedience you are ALWAYS OK with a Parisian.
5. A bed for the night by the lovely Beatrice, who now lives in Paris rather than Brussels to my great sadness.
Things that I did:
1. Walked round and round and round and round and round, mainly in the 3rd and 4th, to try and walk off my lunatic anxiety. God it was cold, I felt like the little match girl or something, especially since my anxiety seemed to preclude me going into eg. shops and cafes. The weather was not, however, the 'showers of Christmas decorations' my phone seemed to be suggesting we should expect. What the fuck kind of hail is that supposed to be?
2. Sat in the BHV (venerable and deeply unglamorous department store) canteen, as advised by a recent interviewee, who said it had the best elderly people watching opportunities in Paris. This was excellent advice, there was a great variety of elderly people in good knitwear drinking tea out of tiny institutional metal tea pots, and also a wonderful view over the rooftops of Paris and a rather forbidding, stormy sky (perhaps pondering the imminent assault of Christmas baubles).
3. Interviewed patissiers. I'll link to the article when it comes out in April. I still have two more to go, including one who I have most unwisely promised, airily, that I will drive around Brussels. Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Ha. Oh god. Which will it be? The ludicrous getting lost? The inability to park? Possibly a minor prang involving a static piece of street furniture? I dread to think. It's ok, it's not Pierre Hermé. Imagine if I killed Pierre Hermé in a tragic Toyota Yaris/bollard incident. I am making myself laugh thinking about that, but it's the laughter of terror and prophecy.
While I was away, the dog ate a lemon cake I had been saving, and a gigantic radiator in the bathroom collapsed. As a result and via the agency of Lukas the builder (I mentioned recently on Twitter that one of my most dependable and long lasting relationships was with Rick of Digital Photo Editing Services who appears without fail daily in my spam folder; the other is with Lukas who is a near constant presence in my life), I have spent the last 36 hours without heating but as of 7 tonight IT IS BACK. I declare Lukas my Valentine hero, even though strictly speaking, and he admitted as much to me, it is actually his fault the radiator fell off the wall in the first place. But it is a day of love and forgiveness, so we let it pass and he didn't comment on the fact that 80% of my wardrobe was piled on the radiator which may also have been a contributing factor.
I will leave you on this puny, yet vital, high. What news with you, the internet?