Wednesday, 4 July 2012

TENTH WEEK - birthday and shoe sale

The photos'll be extra random this week 

I turned 31 on Monday.  I think it’s the first time I’ve spent a birthday overseas.  We passed a sweet night with a few good friends, sitting on our floor eating delicious cheese and saucisson .  Last night Monique took me out to a delicious dinner at a lovely little cafe in the 2nd.  The place was so cute, a narrow space full of dusty mobiles – little planets and farm animals dangling in the summer heat.  The food was delicious, the staff were obnoxious (I keep wondering what it is that allows people who so obviously hate dealing with the public work in a service industry?  Is it because it’s some sort of expectation now – that foreigners like to be treated like scum by French waiters?  Is it because the constant stream of brash travellers crushes anyone’s sense of politeness into fine dust? It’s not really important, but I’d still like to tell some of these people to get over themselves).  Anyway, it was a great night and I’d happily go back.
Earlier in the day, Kate took us around to see some of the beautiful arcades in the area.  Such wonderful spaces.  Some of them are run down, dusty and gorgeous – faded prints pinned to the crumbling walls; (seemingly) forgotten shops with window displays of dusty, faded objects priced in francs; the glass ceilings grotty; the passage of time slowed; the noise of traffic muffled.  And some of these arcades have been restored – fresh cream paint, gleaming glass ceilings letting in the warm sunlight, all lights working; no chips in the neat, shining black and white tiled floors;  the shops all manned and selling wonderful little arty curios: ranging from objet-d’art from India to hand knitted little this’n’thats.

Another sunny day, another spread of wine and cheese on the canal.

A friend took us to a gorgeous little sangria bar one night, it could’ve been there since the invention of sangria, really – ceilings an inch above your head, walls yellowed by years of drinking and smoking, pale prints of old French musicals on the walls, a large and balding bartender who wore his little round sunglasses proudly in the darkness, plonking heavy ceramic pitchers of spiced wine onto the little scratched tables.
Later that night we were taken to a Salsa bar.  Knock to get in, an immense black bouncer smiles and through we go, down into the cellar of low, arched bricks.  Latin music pumping from the speakers.  It was fun although I panicked a bit.  I always do at dancing venues.  I like to dance, heaps and I am now comfortable enough to do it at parties and gigs, but as soon as I go into a venue that is just for dancing I regress to high school, dancing becomes competitive and sporty and I suddenly recall how gangly and odd I am, how very white.  How nerdy.  Still, it was fun.  Monique was danced off her feet (I mostly danced *on* her feet).  The image of a meaty, callused hand reaching across the dimness of the room to envelope her tiny feminine fingers and draw her across the room is so classic (if a little emasculating).

Another day, we went shoe shopping for Monique.  The sales are on here and the streets are thick with bargain hunters- another muggy day, the sky black and hot so you feel a bit like you’re inside an oven.  The shoe shops so coolly air-conditioned, the staff glamorous in stilettos and bright lipstick, the stereos spewing thumping technopop.  Monique tried on a whole lotta shoes, which was actually really good because she has a tendency to say ‘noooo, not quite that one,’ and such.  Hours of walking around hearing, ‘I don’t really like that one it’s too...’ is infinitely worse than hours of seeing Monique standing short-skirted in front of a mirror with her feet stretched into a delicate tip-toe, supported by some confection of leather and suede, I like shoes. At the end of it all, a cold pint from a charming Cuban bartender with a big smile and a bigger afro, who let us practice a bit of French.
Historical photo of the week.


  1. Post a photo of the fruits of labour from the shoe shop!

    1. I'm afraid we didn't get any photos, and we never ended up finding the 'right' shoes - sorry. But I'm sure we'll be shoe shopping again.