Saturday, 18 June 2011

breaking up not breaking down

as it turns out, not everything can be solved by a nice cup of tea, though i'd be lying if i said it didn't help, especially after one of those hysterical crying sessions that i hadn't had since not being allowed the packet of biscuits/cereal i wanted whilst being carted around sainsburys age 5. the one where you'd cry so hard that you can't breathe and you forget what got you started in the first place, except that this time you don't forget and you can see yourself and feel ashamed of your scrunched up facial expression and runny orifices.

from previous experience, all you need to get over someone is someone else but at the risk of slipping into a hateful pattern of serial monogamy i'm attempting to go it alone for a while and using the well known tactic of distraction to keep me from thinking of mr x.

throwing yourself into work requires a job, which for the moment, no one seems willing to give me. monday is the day of chasing people up to remind them why hiring me before they go on holiday is the new black. it's strange to be back in london and no, i'm not glad to be back... yet. that'll come once the initial starting over again has started to take shape. i've done the catching up with friends over the last couple of weeks so the order of events now runs thusly: job, flat, happiness, relationship.

not to worry, i still have plenty more comparisons to make. i call this paragraph "vomderground":

after the paris metro with its gangrenous tramps, i found i had this vision of the london underground as this pristine haven, and so it should be for those prices and how insurmountable the barriers are! this vision was cruelly shattered last week when someone threw up 2mm away from my shoe, yes, the lace and tan brogues. it was the welcome back slap in the face that i hadn't expected. in non-london style, i moved away to the other end of the carriage to leave the man to fall into a drunken coma as his terracotta-coloured sick rolled around the carriage. the other passengers seemed more concerned to see if i was ok than him... which was nice.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

it doesn't add up

this is a common sight in the bars and restaurants of paris. the calculation of the bill is a long-winded process immersed in etiquette. under very rare circumstances will someone say "well let's just divide it by 4." it's usually responded with a very po-faced "but you didn't have a coffee and we shared that starter." this, along with the still very apparent use of cheques (spanning the spectrum of grannys at the supermarket to twenty somethings in a restaurant all pulling their cheque books out of their marc jacobs bags) is something i still struggle to get my head around. it's 2011! get a credit card! for the country that invented the chip and pin system it really is a little backward.

the misconception that 'service compris' means that the waiters receive a percentage of the total in tips means that even after the perfect evening, most of ze french are unlikely to leave a tip. what 'service compris' actually means is that unlike in the states, where some places don't pay their staff and they live solely on their tips, the waiters in france are paid at least a minimum wage. this is possibly why french wait staff have a reputation for being surly. chances are it won't make any difference to their income if they bend over backwards to please you or don't crack a smile throughout the entire service.

the other lesson that i learnt, and i don't know if it comes from the fact that in most bars there's table service rather than ordering and paying at the same time, but the french do not buy rounds.

i was at a gig of a friend of mine's not long after i arrived in paris. i got talking to a couple in the queue and once inside i asked them what they were drinking. chuffed with the pub prices and a bit surprised that they only sold beer by the half pint, i paid for our three drinks and they looked at me as if i'd just given them the keys to their dream home (take it, it's yours). gig starts, first half pint goes down a treat and they don't seem to be making any moves bar-wards so i ask if they want another drink "no thanks". off i go on my tod to get another half in. that one goes down too, they're still holding their empty plastic cups, so off i go again realising that that was probably the first and last drink they planned on having that evening. when i got back with my third half pint they were all "ooh, you're an alcoholic!" "actually i'm english... it's not the same thing." they then asked the girl who spent her pre-smoking ban tweens at the brixton academy, what they should do with their cups. "erm... chuck them on the floor." what could have been an instant friendship based on shared musical taste was not to be. pint and a half down, alcoholic, honestly!

Monday, 21 February 2011


i regret to follow up on my last post with another somber toned account of winter in paris. it's nearing the end of february and there are still shops with their christmas decorations up. i'm all for not letting things go to waste but rather than adding warmth to the grey streets it only accentuates the somber feel. of what i remember from last year this drags on into mid-april with abandoned christmas trees in varying states of decay littering the roads. i started a collection of photographs of trees i have seen on my walks. to me they have a certain beaten puppy look about them which pulls at my heart strings.

things are picking up though. i'm feeling more motivated to use the free time that i have more productively and to make more use of what paris has to offer - i haven't been to an exhibition since basquiat. i'm in the process of making a list of european cities i would like to visit. there's something about being on mainland europe that makes weekend trips feel more feasible than when i was in london. i've also just moved up in the world; into the roof of a haussmann in the 20th. that took a lot of time and organising but i'm finally feeling comfortable and at home for the first time since i arrived. spring is just around the corner, i might go and decorate some christmas trees with blossom to cheer them up a little.

Monday, 10 January 2011

samedi, different shit

i've found myself in another rut. i don't know whether it's winter blues but the greyness of paris in january and the drastic lack of light in the flat definitely aren't helping. my creative spark seems to have withered into the form of a small dry mushroom hidden at the back of my brain behind a bunch of heavy boxes that i simply can't face moving in order to start the slow painful process of reviving it. the larger the gap gets between graduating and the present and the deeper i get into a job that frankly doesn't interest me or require any brain power, the more i feel opportunity slipping through my fingers. two months without writing a word, blog neglect guilt is yet another feeling, probably stored in one of the heavy boxes, that needs unpacking.

the french seem to have it mapped out from the age of fifteen. they know exactly what they want to do with their lives and they proceed down the logical path towards their chosen career. they don't stray (they use their social lives for that) and they take the anal french administration system in their stride. opinionated and ready to take to the streets in the name of socialist change, certainly, but in most regards they remain firm traditionalists who want a certified guarantee that something works before having a go.

as usual it's very easy to see other peoples' situations objectively but when it comes to helping myself i get tangled up and defeatist.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

say cheese

whilst watching the tv i like to count the number of adverts for cheese in any given ad break. i feel a genuine sense of achievement for a 3 cheese ad break. this sounds ridiculous (my sense of victory is) but there are on average two per ad break, which seems high. in france, a country where cheese will be bought whether or not it's de rigueur this season, i find it really unnecessary.

nectar of nature? it's just cheese!

it's like this ad currently plastered all over the métro... why? why is "nectar of nature" taking up serious ad space on the métro? this wouldn't grate on me so much if there was a small spark of originality to these campaigns but no. money is changing hands in the advertising world over pictures of cheese on a flowery background. there's another tv ad for some sort of roll of goat's cheese where the campaign manager clearly saw the diet coke adverts of yesteryear, thought to himself; "sex sells" and has a woman rushing down flights of stairs to chase the window cleaner who is seductively (i suppose) unwrapping a roll of goat's cheese. it's truly cringe worthy. another of my least favourites is a dad in front of his son who is sat in a highchair, there's no clear message but i like to subtitle it "now do you want to grow up and be a proper frenchman like your dear old dad?". other cheese ads go for an upbeat humourous spin that makes me put the tv on mute: "you like fromage? we sell fromage! fromage!". something must be done.

in other cheese related news; i was poorly the other day and craving my feel better recipe for a delicate tummy which is boiled rice, grated cheddar and maggi all mixed into a comforting glutenous lump. the frenchman gallantly went out to find me some cheddar but to my disappointment came back with this:

plastic cheese. i'm surprised they even sell it in france, surely it's some kind of blasphemy. i was too ill to explain and not mean enough to send him out again (do it better!) so in a desperate measure i made said recipe with emmental. quivering bottom lip of the spoilt child... it's... just... not... the same!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

paris, france

i've always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about americans. there are an absurd amount of them in paris. when i arrived last summer i think the ratio of americans per square metre (that's right, i'm metric) was higher than that of the parisians. i'm not going to go off on some xenophobic rant because i'm not that way inclined, i have some very good friends who happen to be american and i assume that what with writing a blog in english, the majority of the anglophone blog reading population are most likely to be american.

my bias is limited to the not thinking before speaking arrogant americans. i was privy to a conversation with a girl from new jersey the other day which started "i like paris because..." and went on "'s like washington d.c".

now i've never been to washington d.c. and no doubt some comparisons can be drawn although certainly not architectural, cultural or historical. i was intrigued to hear how she was going to follow on from this statement. to my disappointment she proceeded with a goldilocks theory to back up her arguement "it's not too big, it's not too small".

i can be very polite when needs be, as i was with a nice, exceptionally un-patronizing (all things considered) smile. but on the very same evening i found myself talking to a different group of americans. i should point out i was not at the american embassy or wearing a big smile and an i  NY t-shirt under the eiffel tower. anyway, this group thought themselves very well versed in the world of sociolinguistics and after a brief discussion i was on my way to agreeing when this happened:

american guy to me: "you speak very good english".
me to american guy: "i'm sorry?"
american guy to me: "i said you speak very good english".
me to american guy: "... i am english".
american guy: "oh."

no gentle laughing it off from him, i found it quite funny. it explained why he kept cutting me off in the conversation, it wasn't that he disagreed, he just wasn't listening. douche.

Monday, 20 September 2010

oui nide iou

i found this postcard pinned up in a restaurant in the 10th. it turns out he is a superhero created in the '70s called Superdupont. with french nationalist undertones he fights against the "anti-france", that's right fellow ex-pats, a wonderful melting-pot of all things foreign. i think it's beautifully drawn and love the play on words. voila!