We’ve had some friends visiting and so this week has been something of a drunken fog.
But I think we saw some cool things. One night, for a visiting friend’s birthday, M cooked frogs legs in our tiny little kitchen, the smell of garlic and butter so thick you could almost see it. They were pretty yummy. Another night we were introduced to an incredible cafe near Bastille – a winding warren of a place with big, red leather armchairs and old wooden tables with spots worn off in the corners from the elbows resting on them for so many years. Countless Art Deco mirrors and potted plants, a collection of very cool paintings and black and white photos thick on the walls. The resident cat was a playful little tortoise shell that took the usual shine to Monique and curled up next to her for some love. Above the tortoise shell cat hung a hollow tortoise shell lamp, a dull glow emanating from where the venerable animal once dwelt. Other nights, other drinks.
The days were mostly hungover, spent walking slowly and purposefully towards one of the innumerable kebab stalls that grow in the city. One in particular, a tiny little booth on a tiny little street – it was a hot, muggy summer day (the ubiquitous threat of rain) and the swarthy Greek had sweat his blue and white uniform into a dull grey, sandwiched as he was between an immense cylinder of slow roasting meat and the heat-sheen of the shiny black hotplate.
Another day, an old man sitting outside a quiet cafe, his blue eyes sharp above his aquiline nose, braces holding an old linen shirt to his spindly frame. The joints of his fingers were so engorged with arthritis or gout or something that one could hardly hold back a sudden breath of shock. They fumbled (his fingers) clumsily with his glass of wine, a pair of grotesque, blind spiders. He seemed to be enjoying his wine.
At some point we watched a documentary on the Importance of Beauty – he spoke of how when beauty is not considered an integral part of the creation of an artwork or architecture, or any human endeavour really, we all suffer for it. My friends will have heard me rant on about this long enough. A slightly hit-and-miss programme - the obvious bias of the narrator sometimes felt a little preachy but as he was preaching to the converted it wasn't such an issue. At any rate, a quotable quote: “When a building is designed purely for utility, it very quickly becomes useless”. You can see this often in Paris – the pretty Bourgeois apartments are (for the most part) still lovingly cared for, and even if they’re run down they certainly don’t look bedraggled; yet the massive, simplistic boxes from the 60s to now are already often in impressive states of disrepair and even the most well-kept specimens have an air of decay about them. Don’t get me wrong – I love this. I think there’s something so poignant about these relics of a society that threw off all the shackles of tradition in the name of so many ideals. People so disdainful of the past that don’t care what they leave to the future. Yep, I love that.
A very exciting thing happened the other day, I was jumping around like an ADD toddler: it turns out M’s boss is a roleplayer, that is to say he plays Dungeons & Dragons and such. Moi aussi. The language barrier has meant I could not indulge in my nerdy little hobby for the past three months. But M’s boss saw the portrait she did of me, featuring the odd ten-sided dice we use and invited me along to join his group the next time they play – woo!
A week of boozing has meant not much work, but we’ve been making up for it the last couple of days. I finished a little painting I’m very pleased with and have almost finished the first painting of the second round of the adventure game backgrounds, so all-in-all a good week.