PARIS PAGES is my WORK-IN-PROGRESS: a linked series of short pieces in 3 parts written mostly on-the-hoof in Paris between October 2018 and March 2020 at which point Coronavirus hit and the world changed shape.
Here is a taster from Part2, just one of the pieces I have recently worked on:
These Bridges We Are Crossing: Sunday, UK Election week, December 2019
How the story travels towards its own ending. Today it is clear in which direction the river is heading, though it’s not always. And me, I walk through the bird market on Sunday mornings, the cages all lined up and all the coloured birds are singing. The river today is mud brown and fast flowing and I have no idea of the name of this bridge we are crossing.
On the other side, the Hôtel de Ville has carousels and Christmas trees and is that a choir singing in Norwegian? Ah, how Christmas and languages connect and divide us.
Yesterday, in Gallimard in the rue de l’Université I was reading about Pierre Alechinsky and he was talking about Les Tireurs de Langue and there was me thinking it meant terrors, or horrors. But no. I ask, and the Polish girl on the desk looks it up and she shows me: it means guns. Then later again I find it’s not firearms at all, it’s not guns, it’s tongues.
Now, over the bridge and looking the length of the Rue de Rivoli towards la Défense and as the crow flies it’s dead straight like a rifle pointing.
Then there’s the coloured curling plastic of the Pompidou Arts Centre, its guts exposed and tangled, its entrails precious, its digested languages universal memories all but erased by the yelling and shouting and screaming of Capital, here in this flashbulb city where generations of writers have peeled and scraped at their own palimpsest skins; and still we search for the bullet that might put a stop to something, anything to quell the swellings of protest, anything to pierce the screaming within.
Walking up the rue Beaubourg and I see someone has painted rainbow lines on the zebra crossing outside the LGBT Centre. It has bars on its windows and there’s been an attempt at a swastika on the wall outside. When we were kids we would try to draw swastikas. We didn’t know what they were. We thought they were just ordinary shapes that were difficult to draw and always came out wrong, confused legs all running in the wrong direction.
I know how this part-guy feels, when you’re carrying all that baggage and you’re only half there
The bouqinistes are really struggling through the Coronavirus times, as tourism dwindles and people stay home. And see in the background there, Notre Dame getting fixed
How the Gilets Jaunes became a feature of Saturdays and, yes, Art is life
Keeping track. The many manifestations of Paris.
If I lived on this stair I’d be on the second floor of myself