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The first time I flew was back in the 60's in an old airplane called a DC10 which waddled down the runway at Asford in Kent like a pregnant swan flapping it's wings wildly and shaking every nut and bolt till finally, (and every passenger had been holding their breath till now) it lifted off, and almost purred into the skies.
I have never lost the thrill of take off. If I ever learned to fly all I would do is take off and land. Forget the bit in between.
Jean Michelle and Nicole had once visited our club in Battersea, and we had struck up a conversation at the bar. JM was a most interesting guy. He was an English teacher in France who was translating Shakespeare in his spare time and was now in England with his French school kids giving them an introduction to English life.
For us living so close to London, The Aldwich was 30 mins drive. This was once the home for the Royal Shakespeare Company before they moved to Stratford, and most weeks we would go and see one of their productions, so we appreciated the size of Jean Michelle's translation task.
I have never expected much from friends and I don't even expect them to stay friends. I am just grateful for them being there when they are there. So when JM asked us if we would like a tour in Paris and that he would arrange it for us, what can you say?
Oui! Absoulement. Merci Beaucoup.
That's about the sum total of my French.
But my, did he live in a smart place! Rue d'Acacia just down from L'Arc de Triomph and parrallel with that famous street 'Avenue de Champs Elysees' - 'fields of Elysees' I think it means.
It was a tiny flat in a large block of flats with a kitchen that pulled open much like you would pull down a built in bed, in the lounge. But who cared. And it had colourful neighbours.
At about 2:00 am someone would knock on a door further down the hallway and a voice would ask "Who is it?" in French, and they would answer back "C'est le Flic" (It's the police) and the door would be opened and the customer would spend an hour or so with the girls and leave.
One night a customer happened to fall asleep with a girl, and we were woken up about 6 by a fearful tirade outside.
The local butcher had a delivery but the van couldn't get to his shop because the 'customer' had double parked, so the butcher was running up and down the street with his cleaver looking for the owner of the car.
'Get out of that one if you can' I thought, but somehow the car got moved along with an 'intact' driver.
The flat was so small that eventually we stayed the rest of the tour 'sous les tuiles', 'under the tiles'.
Nicole's mum lived in the attic section of a block of flats not far away, and had the end flat which was quite large, and we stayed in a small room just down the hallway.
It is literally under the tiles, since all that seperates you from them is a lining of probably roofing felt, then plasterboard, with nothing in between,so at nights it was freezing cold. I thanked my lucky starts for Audrey.
Next morning though, about 5:30 St. Martins' (that wasn't it's real name - I just called it that from what it did) began ringing it's bells for Matin services (matin=morning in French) so you woke up. Musicians don't like that much. We go to bed late, get up late, everything is fine.
Then the sun warmed up. So if you nodded off by 6:30am, around 7:30 the sun warmed the black tiles up till they re-baked in the actinic rays of the sun.
The more they baked the more we baked.
No more sleep after 8:00 unless you had breakfast.
Yeah well, one of our breakfasts!
Every morning they would wash down the pavements in Paris. Literally. A truck came by with an atomatic hose that jetted water over the pavement, so going out for breakfast was an obstacle course! So it had to be worth it.
Just down the road we discovered the cheese shop (probably called a cheeserie), and a wine shop, (probably called a winerie) and a bread shop, (ok a Patiserie). Nothing in Paris was mass market in those days, except for people working like made to produce enough handmade, so the wine smelt like champs & champignons (fields & mushrooms - it's a story. A little license is ok), the cheese had to be brie or camambert, either way it smelt, and the bread; ahh remember walking home from the shops as a child and picking the middle out of the loaf? Well it smelt like that.
Wine was 8 Francs a bottle.
Breakfast in bed!
There was nothing like it.
Edited by - John T on 15/05/2008 11:24:44 PM
The string theory proves that everything is connected, though it may just be in a different dimension.
I wondered where I was going wrong!
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