Saturday, 27 March 2010


Shall I be dull and do the "holidays" thing? After the Parisian glamour, the TGV took me to the Côte d'Azur to stay with my soeur d'acceuil of 2004. Laura personifies the word acceuillir. She is utterly lovely and calls me her Australian brother. And the countryside too seemed in a welcoming mood. After the steely grey of the North, sunshine and 20 degrees are marvellously uplifting.

Laura adores horses and riding, so these featured rather a lot in our hectic social calendar. At the Domaine Equestre des Grands Pins, some rather startling wealth was on display. Surprisingly, a lot of it seemed to emanate from Belgium. But for all this, the club restaurant was quite, quite awful. The service was bizarre to say the least, with an old man scampering about congratulating people on their choice of dish. My soup was cold, my pasta suspiciously un-pasta-like and I noticed nothing. Well, not terribly much, because directly ahead of me was the Swiss Miss. One of my absolute favourite tennis players, I used to love watching her. Love. Whenever I played myself, at 0-3 15-30 I would frequently ask myself "What would she do?". This didn't usually work particularly well, but by golly it helped the psyche.

But why should I be starstruck? I'm an equally valid human being, surely? I may not have dozens of trophies and millions in prize money, but I... Well at any rate I was there too, even if by accident, surrounded by obnoxious Monaco money. Of course this is such a poor man's retreat, I know it so well, quite off-by-heart. It's not the money's fault that it is being thrown in my face. This is rather what I resent the most. With such money I would not endlessly play charades with grandiose pretences. Perhaps one or two to begin with, of course, but only very privately. Probably in the antique free-standing bath, for example.

I took to considering life as an investment banker. Could I? I mean, truly, could I? Why not? Far sillier people than myself work in the industry, so whyever not? As I've mentioned before, I tend to think only about the results, never quite considering properly the details. I just want too much. The AbFab lifestyle in which one can fly to New York for lunch simply because there is a rather nice doorknob one saw and it might look nice in the new kitchen. Often insufferably tedious, but this is why there is champagne.

A friend we met in Cannes could quite possibly fit this bill. Nightmarishly manic to shop with, causing me an unexpected overspend just about everywhere and just wonderfully, flamboyantly French when in the Galeries Lafayette, she was hideously fascinating. Striking looks, very much savante, yet equally childish and naive. The highlight was her telephoning her Mother to check which day of the week it was. Charming, and I loved her the more for it.
However, La France hadn't finished surprising me quite yet. Organising passage to Germany (and specifically, Stuttgart) with SNCF was neither an easy nor cheap task to complete. By some bizarre stroke of luck, some of the equestrians were in fact Stuttgart bound, off to collect some horse or other. Four year old filly, if memory serves me correctly. The hilarious twist was that if I were to accept a lift from them, I should be sleeping in the horse van. I mean really, how could I not? A rather bizarre ten hour journey ensued, featuring a swearing German and a very timid Frenchwoman. And a lot of chocolate, inconceivably. When finally we arrived, the German rather officiously told me I should get out now, as they needed to continue East. So out I hopped, suitcases and all at 6am with no idea where I was, where to go next nor how to get there. My "Deutsch", if you could call it that, was about to be tested well. Naturally the only thing open at this hour was the butcher, so in I went, asking for directions. I didn't understand the reply. Thankfully the "English speaker" was summoned. Within thirty minutes I reached my friend's house and, happily indoors, tucking into the wonderfully delicious German bread. It really is so much better than English bread. I eat so much of the stuff on a daily basis. I defy anybody to lose weight in this country.

A week on and I am thoroughly enjoying Germany. Stuttgart is a marvellous city, full of surprises. I just wish that I could communicate better, I were a few inches taller and a few Euros wealthier. C'est la vie, hein?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Adieu Angleterre

In the midst of the chaos of a very tiny student bedsit in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the home of Parisian existentialism, I feel wonderful. The muscles in my neck are sore from a combination of  a very peculiar makeshift bed and too much red wine. The sirens blare, the bells chime constantly, and I remind myself just how much I love this city. Why? It's hideous in so many ways, so grandiose, so filthy, so smelly, so very un-English. But this city has a complete hold on me, in a way London couldn't ever. London is the best city in the world, but Paris is still remarkable in its way.

There is something so very adulte about Paris, and somehow one feels the energy of Napolean, Sartre and even Audrey Tautou all rolled into one; undulating as soon as one exits le Métro.

But I am filled with sadness, because the white cliffs of Dover seem so far away, and when I shall see them again is uncertain. My final destination is a scorched, barren land which is currently enjoying temperatures in the high 30's (over 100 for the Americans out there). And it feels me with pure and utter dread.
My last days in Britain were an absolute whirlwind. Clubs, countryside, the hospital, a short film (featuring more interesting leg-wear), a great deal of time on the Tube and also a lot of alcohol and wonderful Italian food. I implore anybody who can a) get there and b) find somewhere to sit, try Polpo on Beak Street in Soho. Just delicious. I'm sure I heard the collocation "taste sensation" muttered by somebody. The likelihood was that this was uttered by myself. Mais ça y est. I shall miss so much, and so many. The United Kingdom is one of the very finest countries in the world, I shall not stay away any longer than is absolutely necessary. If they will have me back, of course. I probably wouldn't, personally.

I suppose one other benefit of finding oneself in a pays francophone, is that French is rather the done thing. I have been pleasantly surprised by the ease at which my language has returned to me, and while I am a little hesitant at times, I arrive eventually. Much to my delight, I have twice been mistaken for a native. Or at least a local (NB the difference). I always try my best to be "one of us". Fitting in seems so important for me, I wish to blend in invisibly in one sense, and yet to be taken notice for doing so. Hence my very definite 'Anglocisation' (there may well be an actual word which I haven't yet discovered, for now this will do) while in the Mother country.

Apologies for the highly scattered thoughts, perhaps this is more of an insight into my deranged psyche than normal. Ah, that word is such a wonderful false friend!

Au revoir tout le monde. Je vous remercie pour tout.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Springtime - Sunshine Award

The wonderfully glamorous Christina from Fashion's Most Wanted has paid me the ultimate compliment in blogland: an award. She has created a space that is full of such beautiful things; I feel wholly unworthy. It is quite strange how a world created in the ether can be so rewarding, the heightened sense of worth from compliments given by complete strangers. C'est drôle, la vie.

Here are the rules of this award:

-Send it on - nominate 12 bloggers
-Put the logo in your sidebar or within a post
-Link the nominees within your post
-Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
-Share the love and link the person from whom you received the award

A Rose Beyond the Thames A veritable English rose, we share a passion for walks followed by tea - preferably in the sunshine.

Belgian Waffle Just hilarious. Most of you will know her already, a mere tweet from her and I am in an ecstasy of laughter.

Blonde Moments This writer's moments are so worth reading, she is far braver than I am.

Mr London Street A now officially published blogeur, this man is one of the few to know what is what, and how to put that thought into English. Sadly not quite so keen on getting muddy as I am.

Mrs Trefusis Takes a Taxi Love. 'Nuff said.

Smack Crumple Bang Photographeur, graphic designeur and all things in between, charming and exciting. The title truly does say it all.

Tessa Scoffs "She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit." ~W. Somerset Maugham. Of course Maugham had never met Tessa, nor read her haikus.

Age Of Uncertainty Readily admitting that this was intended to be a blog on books, it is so much more and richer because of this. Think forgotten Victorian photographs and scandalous bookmarks.

The Divorcee Dares To Dream A lady who we soon expect to put up photos featuring berets and Breton tops. I shall keep nagging. In the meantime, do read.

Miriam Levine A most faithful reader of mine, she saemlessly ties the background into the foreground and her photography skills put me to shame.

Psynopsis My fellow tennis player, Sabine creates the most inspiring photographs and her interest in fashion has more than taken over that of health. Or at least it has in Psynopsis' case.

Have you been living in Mars recently? In a cave? Of course not, and of course you will have heard of the Underground Restaurant. Recently her aga was playing up, but there now appears to be culinary normalcy (which is amazing).