Saturday, 23 April 2016
Paris Paris Paris
So: Thursday. Thursday was amazing, and strange and unreal. I am going to write it down even if it is a bit boring to read, being in the "and then we did this" mode, because I really need to remember it later on when I am back to being Eeyoreish and immersed in the Powerpoints of Death. I'm not very good at that whole "being in the moment" business, so I need to be able to do it retrospectively. This was definitely to be savoured. Post contains the words "beautiful", "mad", "ludicrous" far too many times and there are a lot of photos. On that basis, let us proceed (update: I am having to do this for a second time thanks to Blogger losing the whole lot ARGH).
I got to Paris in the morning (after a train ride sitting next to an aeronautical engineer who of course turned out to live about 100 yards from me and who told me about his French bulldogs). The sun was out and it was balmy and beautiful and the Air bnb M and I had rented was in the middle of the Marais, all sun-warm honey stone and nonsensically pretty little boutiques (it was brilliant, perfect for acting out all your fantasies of Parisian living and highly recommended if you don't mind having to do some full on contortionism to get in and out of the shower/loo).
I dragged M off on a cake crawl even though she was actually dying of a chest infection.
1. Du Pain et des Idées
I dream of these little savoury bread twists.
Oldest pâtisserie in France. Home of the rum baba. We did not have a rum baba, because gross. We had this guy. He was actually not up to his usual standards, but tasty nonetheless.
3. Lafayette Gourmet
Lafayette Gourmet plays a really pivotal role in the book but they have MOVED it, so we wandered around in confusion for a while, but finally located the Sadaharu Aoki counter and the significant Bamboo cake. Then M saw a sign for a Pierre Hermé ice cream counter, so we went there and found THESE BEAUTIES, which are macaron ice cream sandwiches:
I love this picture of us maddened by sugar:
I think I might print it out and put it on my office wall along with the polaroid from the very first time we ever met, which was also in Paris.
Then we went back and had a rest and took a selection of stupid pictures. Look, I am totally calm and not freaking the fuck out at all.
M vetoed the dress - too dressy - so I wore my discount silk shirt with little swimmers all over it and discount Margaret Howell trousers and we drank half a bottle of champagne as we got ready. There was a total fucking panic when I realised I had left my eyeliner on the table at home and a woman with no lashes really can't do without liner on a Big Occasion, or indeed any occasion at all in Paris. M lent me a crayon-y thing and I cobbled a bit of face together, then we walked through the Marais and over the river and along the Seine in the twilight and it was beautiful, stupidly beautiful and there were people kissing all along the quais.
I dunno why I'm putting so many pictures of me: I think I can't quite believe it was me, there, doing it and I need hard evidence.
I looked thoroughly pissed off here, but it's just the cold hand of terror clenching my insides up. As it turned out, the teror was totally unnecessary. Everyone was LOVELY, the audience were smiley and encouraging, my sister came, no one quizzed me on French politics or Proust and Shakespeare & Co in the balmy spring evening was like something out of a fecking romantic comedy it was so charming. I think I did ok at the reading/answering questions though I did gibber on in a not especially coherent fashion at some points. I especially liked the bit where someone asked me what French expressions I thought were particularly telling about the French character and my mind went totally blank and I ended up ranting on about jambes lourdes and the French obsession with magnesium (I have fully internalised this and am devoted to magnesium too).
Afterwards people wanted their books signed and I signed books which felt like a complete out of body experience, Barbara took a picture, or I wouldn't have quite believed it happened. I then completely fucked up her book dedication, due to being barely sentient with the weirdness of it all, sorry again Barbara and Rob.
We had a mad, funny dinner then M took me to Le Caveau de la Huchette, legendary jazz club type place which was magical and strange and I got to watch her DANCE, she is a fiendishly good dancer. There was a child prodigy boogie woogie pianist, a weirdly high concentration of bald American gentlemen in their 60s and an insane woman who came over and plucked petals off the rose she was holding and laid them on our table with a beady expression of deranged menace.
On the way out we stopped to take a picture of Shakespeare & Co in the moonlight. A rat ran in front of me down the drain and I became very over-excited "LOOK A RAT DID YOU SEE THE RAT", I don't know what is wrong with me.
We walked home along the other side of the Seine and it was EVEN MORE STUPIDLY BEAUTIFUL in the moonlight (nearly full, clear and pale yellow). Ludicrous. Paris, you beautiful bastard.
There you go. My book is launched! If you see it in the wild I would love a picture. And if you read it and like it and are inclined to leave an Amazon review apparently that is a very helpful thing for the goat fund, so I would be hugely grateful if you did.
Reminder: On Thursday 28th April at 7pm I will be doing something similar at Waterstones Brussels, details here (no rats or Pierre Hermé, but otherwise similar). Come! Don't quiz me about Proust!