Busman’s holiday.

(posted by Mike)

Salut, mes copains imaginaires! Mike here, comin’ atcha live and direct from a Café Internet on the Boulevard de Sebastapol, in the heart of stylish and historic Paris, struggling valiantly with this battarde of a French AZERTY keyboard (though God knows I’ve had enough practice over the last couple of days) and trying not to get too stressed out by the little ticking hourglass thingy in the bottom right hand corner of the screen telling me I’ve only got 40 minutes left to do my stuff.

I am of course well aware that a blogger coming all the way to stylish and historic Paris only to cloister himself away in a Café Internet is pretty much on the same level as an American tourist heading staight to Macdonalds for his Royale Cheese. Mea culpa. But there was a good reason for this. As qB says below, one of her conditions for guest blogging this week was that I would promise to visit the Atelier Brancusi, just next to the Pompidou Centre. I didn’t need much persuading, mind; the AB has been top of my Paris Must Do list for far too long already.

Well, qB – I tried, I really tried. After two fairly ghastly days at work, a dose of high culture was exactly what my frazzled out little brain was crying out for. Open till 22:00, it said in the book – no, books. And website, last time I looked. No sweat, then. Until I actually got there, and found a sign displaying the new opening hours: 14:00 to 18:00.

So, unless I pull a sickie while I’m out here, (and oh, the irony of that particular realisation, having been suffering quite badly all week, aches and pains all over the shop, plus toothache and a largely sleepless night on Monday) I’m stuffed. Zut a-sodding-lors, eh readers?

Tant pis. It’s not really been my week, tourist-wise. After dinner on Monday night, I made the short stroll round the corner to the Tour Eiffel, just in time to see the much-vaunted twinkly light display come on (it’s on the hour, every evening for a few months, and lasts ten minutes). Having thrilled to this for, ooh, a good two minutes, (because at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of twinkly lights coming on and off at random, and the thrill quickly palls – I mean, it’s hardly the lasers on the main dancefloor at Turnmills) I decided that I might as well go up the thing. Rude not to.

Last time I’d done this was in the summer of 1981, when I was a penniless backpacking student, visiting the city with a now estranged friend who went on to become a highly influential Guru Of Branding, no less (we drifted apart after he got a job in media sales and moved to Wandsworth, around the same time that I was entering my (relatively) hardcore mid-eighties Right On phase, but I digress). Being penniless and all, we had only been able to afford the Premier Étage – hey, the summit would have been lunch – but now, being a fully paid up member of the jet-setting business eurotrash classes and all, I could afford to go all the way to the top. Chouette, eh readers?

The thrill of being at the wind-blown summit of the Tour Eiffel, gazing out at the breathtaking beauty of Paris By Night, spread out below me like a million sparkling candles on a counterpane of midnight blue etc etc etc insert-descriptive-prose-here, was somewhat dampened by the rapidly creeping realisation that I was – not to put too fine a point on it – busting for a sodding piss, after that nice demi of Beaujolais in the picturesque little café-bar earlier.

If you suddenly find yourself desperate for a slash in a public place, then there are few worse places to be than at the top of the Tour Eiffel. I mean, think about it (except, I hadn’t until then). Where exactly is all that water going to go?


Well, time’s up. A bientot, chums…

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