Saturday. I wake up feeling excited as this afternoon I’m off to Paris to meet my dear friend, Suzy, who's flying all the way from Texas for her 50th birthday. I'll be happily busy all weekend and if I could unplug my brain and leave it behind, I gladly would. If only Dyno-rod could vacuum out our heads and hearts once in a while, they’d make a fortune.
Mid-morning, my girlfriend Michele, who’s been having a tough time men-wise following a catalogue of dating disasters on the internet, asks me to take a look at her new profile which reads as follows:
‘Right - I'm really fed up with this now. Out there somewhere there has to be a tallish divorced man with decent table manners and children, who lives in London (or seriously within 45 mins. without a helicopter), who can look in the mirror and smile, knowing that he has made the best of himself!
Let's get a few things straight - I am not looking or a meal ticket, my photographs are all taken in the last three months, I weigh 8 stone, and what you see is what you get. I am shallow: if you don't make an effort to look good and keep yourself in shape then don't contact me, because it's just an insult if you can't be bothered. If you are married - then get a life and make sure it doesn't include me.’
I find this hilarious! I'm sure she’ll get a huge response as all the creepy crawlies will come out of the closet thinking she’s a feisty dominatrix.
At 1 p.m. I board the Eurostar to Gare du Nord, a journey which I love. I’m excited for Suzy who’s on a plane from Houston, as it’ll be her first time in the French capital and I’m so looking forward to showing it to her.
I give my texting finger a rest (at least for the 20 minutes I’m in the tunnel where there’s no signal anyway) and we meet up as arranged at l’Hotel du Quai Voltaire right opposite the Louvre.
Night is falling, and as we walk along the left bank and across the Pont Saint-Michel, Suzy gets her first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the evening sky. Her jaw drops and her eyes fill with tears. After dreaming of it for so long, she simply cannot believe she is actually here. I take some photos of her to capture the moment, and although I’ve been to Paris more times than I can remember, it’s as if I’m seeing all the iconic sights for the first time, with renewed wonderment, through her eyes.
The next day dawns hot and sunny and every building just glows with pride in itself and its unabashed beauty. We spend a thoroughly enriching morning wandering around the Musée d’Orsay feasting our eyes on the best of the Impressionists. Pure unadulterated cultural heaven.
Paris delivers at every turn. I guess that’s what you get for having collaborated during the war and not had the Boche bombing the shit out of you. The glorious weather and stunning architecture is a salve for my troubled soul. I normally come to Paris to dash about on business and shop on the hoof, but this trip is totally touristique.
I also finally get to Père Lachaise cemetery, the burial place of the great and the good including Jim Morrison. He has a fairly insignificant grave but it’s an international shrine, covered in flowers and candles left there by the pilgrims: hordes of kids who weren’t even born when he died in 1971. They stand around trying to squeeze a few tears out as they stare at the untended stone. I know The Doors were huge and Jim was gorgeous but apart from ‘Light my Fire’ which José Feliciano made famous first, I can’t think of a single one of their songs. I am more impressed by the tombs of Colette, Edith Piaf, Rossini and Oscar Wilde. I guess it's an age thang.
In the evening, we go to dinner at that quintessentially Belle Epoque brasserie, Le Grand Colbert, which Suzy remembers from the film As Good As It Gets. Unable to resist, we order the frogs’ legs - slivers of tastelessness dripping in garlic butter. The rest of the time is spent walking, talking, eating and shopping. I buy MLP the least tacky Paris t-shirt I can find in Galeries Lafayette. If he goes off the radar, I can always cut it up into small pieces and use it as a duster.
Sunday. I’ve managed not to text MLP all weekend but for no good reason, while sitting having a citron pressé in the Jardins des Tuileries, I send one to Eurotrash. Being without a man in this of all cities, makes me feel incomplete. Lovers walk by arm and arm and despite the fabulous time I'm having, I succumb to a pang of loneliness.
‘It’s a beautiful day in romantic Paree. Why aren’t you here with me?’
Of course, the minute I send it, I regret it. Why did I do that? I didn’t have to do that! About three hours later, he replies:
‘It’s a lovely day here too…x’
Well, thanks very much, asshole, but I’m not interested in the fucking weather report…