I still find it miraculous, Eurostar: you get on the train at St Pancras and disembark two hours later in a completely different culture – though not so different as Leeds. But then, Paris is closer, and more like London than Leeds can ever be. Expensive, for a start – nine euros for a pint at some outdoor place near Notre Dame, crikey on a bikey.
Did the usual stuff – up the tower for an eyeful, ate in great little Algerian restaurants in the back streets, visited the same Irish bar, the “Green Linnet”, twice (I just don’t care anymore, what is culture, anyway)… A decent place, this, run by a slightly deranged grey-haired expat with an ELO obsession, and a bookcase full of interesting books (and Barbara Cartland).
As per, struggled profoundly to make myself understood (even in the Irish place) – badly-pronounced French in a Yorkshire accent, frowns of incomprehension at every turn. Reminded me of the Ripping Yarn where Michael Palin’s parents in a Yorkshire pit down speak French because they find their son too dull to speak to.
As for Shakespeare & Company, I found it nauseatingly self-reverential: Marilynne Robinson was speaking later the evening I went and one of the male staff was whispering into his mike, “one two, one two, Pullitzer prize-winner…” And all the seats were taken so you couldn’t see the books. The shelves are too high to reach, the whole atmosphere is too musty, more about being seen than actually buying books and reading and writing them. Maybe I’m just pissed cos neither of mine are on show.
Why do bookshops separate fact from fiction, literature from poetry? They should give every book published a number and put them in numerical order – if I ever open a bookshop they’ll be lined up by ISBN. Anyway, came away with Houellebecq’s “Possibility of an Island”, so all not lost – wish they wouldn’t stamp their name in it, though – I mean, who cares where you bought the damn thing?
Oh – don’t eat anduoilette – ever... tasted and smelled disgusting, blobs of congealing fat falling out. I just googled the stuff and as I suspected it’s a sausage made of pigs’ colon which often retains the smell and taste of faeces…
God, reading the above it seems I’ve become too old and reactionary to travel. It narrows the mind, y’know. In future I shall stay at home with my English papers and 42”HDTV and sink Stella and eat curry and never strike out into the big old world. On the train home I finished Bill Drummond’s “45”, an excellent read for anyone with an interest in music and art, though I do find it sad that he’s marooned himself in Aylesbury all this time. Maybe it doesn’t matter where you live, it’s where you’re at – which is where I’m in trouble. Maybe I’ll move to Aylesbury and meet Bill in Friars Square library. See you on the normal bench, Bill…