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Hello dear all,

Day two in France and I think the ruination of my liver is not far behind.

I'm in France because my mother and stepfather are here for a congress and they offered to pay for me to come and stay and because I'm a sucker for travelling (even when it involves getting up at abnormally early hours of the morning).

So far I've seen an excellent movie and a terrible play (whose only redeeming feature was the extreme prettiness and short skirt of the lead actress, allowing me great entertainment as she pranced about the stage flashing her knickers and magnificent legs) and been exposed to people who act as though their greatest joy in life is to have me eat and drink them out of house and home and I had so much wine poured down my gullet yesterday that my attempts to walk up the stairs resulted in me falling down them instead. Felt no pain, and suffered no injury although frankly I think I was so anaesthetised from the ethanol peole could have performed open heart surgery on me and I wouldn't have registered a thing.

It is all relative - I drank half a litre, and it was with a meal but it's more than I've ever had up until now in my life and it was certainly more than my wussy body could handle, since it normally gets drunk from a single glass let alone four.

And today other kindly folk have decided that I clearly must be starving in England and that the only solution was to feed me enough seafood to fill a small aquarium. Of course the only downside of this was all the hissing from my mother about how a single bad mussel can be lethal, and all that jinxing affected my enjoyment of an excellent meal with her gruesome tales of people dying in agony. In fact my mounting anxiety made me slightly queasy which naturally resulted in me wondering if it was the first sign of seafood toxicity and my imminent death.

The presence of my stepfather seems to diffuse a lot of tension between my mother and me, possibly because he tends to support my underdog cause and point out to my mother that she is being unreasonable so our little family scenes are not as explosive as they usually are.

Mother: He (stepfather) keeps being annoyed with me.
Yours Truly: Why?
M:Because he says that I nag you.
Y.T.: I concur with his assessment.
M: I ask you ingrates, how can I manage to nag a child who lives 2000 miles away?
Y.T.: Surprisingly succesfully.
Mother laughs.

I am overall having a wonderful time. The weather is beautiful - none too cold and I'm getting to spend large sections of the day by myself, just walking around the city with no particular purpose and direction and I love every single second. I love all the lovely architecture and the wrought ironwork of balconies, I love being completely anonymous - just a face in the crowd. I love being in a country of excellent food, and excellent wine and bistrots who are happy to serve both in substantial quantities on every corner. I loved managing to not get lost in Paris tubes only to joyously lose myself in the crowds at Montmartre and sit on the steps watching people selling postcards and a clown scaring children. I've loved walking along the bridges of the Seine and the throng of people hawking various wares. I've loved just walking around and I've also adored the rapid improvements to my French - I am not fully fluent again and can speak it as easily as my mother tongue.

My grammar probably still leaves a lot to be desired but I'm immensely cheered by when I can engage in banter and witty repartee.

Among the many strange and wonderful things I've found is a Russian bookshop and a huge book of photographs of Russians who fought in the First World War in Greece and France. The book was too expensive for me to be able to afford to buy but I did spend a very pleasant hour just leafing through it and was delighted as always to find several pictures of my great-grandfather. A tall thin man with impressive mustaches and dark, burning eyes with the crooked nose and burnished-copper skin of the Georgians.

It made me happy to think of him dwelling in all those pages of photographs - a vanished thread captured by somebody. And I could feel all the ghosts I'd grown up with stirring at the edges of my senses - they were sepia coloured and smelled of snow and made a noise like rustling leaves.

It was a wonderful and fascinating book full of many many things I didn't know about and a few that I did - such as Mishka the little bear the Russians tamed and who was something of a mascot for the White Russian regiments in France. I do remember that in the stories my grandmother told me in my childhood Mishka was always one of my favourite characters (how I'd rejoiced when the soldiers had managed to heal the bear after he had been poisoned by gas and how I'd wept at the conclusion in which Mishka had to get left behind and died unhabituated in a French camp) and seeing him there was like meeting a dear friend after a long absence. Certainly the pictures of the bear are some of the best in the whole book (my particular favourite is when he's pulling a Russian soldier off his feet in his attempts to chase after a kitten up a tree).

I could have stayed and browsed for days, but I think then I'd have just become sad that I could not afford the book so I practised my Russian with the shop owner for a bit and headed off to see more of the city and in these wonderings I came across the internet caffe I'm in now and made my best discovery of all which is that they have a couple of English keyboards thus allowing me to update in grand style and with none of the spelling mistakes and protracted curses which follow my encounters with French hell-boards.

And for a last joyous note - Happy Birthday to tjej I hope you have a wonderful day and many pleasing presents! :D


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 30th, 2004 02:15 pm (UTC)
sounds great - when are you back? are you nano-ing again? I made the mistake of arranging something for Monday night, when I should be hammering out the first chapter, but I'd still be game for a spot of Tarot on Tuesday...
Oct. 31st, 2004 02:34 am (UTC)
joint the club, my liver is already in ruination - although propbably from slightly nastier stuff than what you have been drinking - i am a student after all!!!!!!!

Paris is a great place - I'm sure there is nowhere better to just goand chill. i had no idea you were so multilingual though :)

enjoy the rest of your time out there
Nov. 1st, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you - you must come to brighton the next time i go.x
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


deep sky, firefly

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