February in Paris

It doesn’t have the same sense of rhythm and cadence as the April song, nor the allure. After 34 C in Ghana, here I am suffering some minus measurement or other with a wind as sharp as a knife uncapping a soft boiled egg. L’Hotel Terrasse is well-situated on the edge of Montmatre, equidistant from the Sacre Coeur and the industrious sex shops and clubs along the Boulevard Clichy. The third element of my mental triptych is below my hotel window. It is the Montmatre Cemetery, so significant that they had to build an iron road bridge over it. It is typical of French flamboyance, a Lilliputian city of splendid grey stone tombs, clinging to the steep gradient of the hillside and descending higgledy piggledy under the aforesaid bridge. It is prime real estate. Do the living offspring have to pay rent? Some of these mausoleums are bigger than the average mobile kiosk, a tardis-sized wooden box that can house a whole family in the shanty in-fills of Ghanaian cities.

Anyway, sex, death and religion are near at hand, which is diverting, if not particularly comforting.

We ate in a bustling fish restaurant along the road last night and the surreal suddenly fell upon us like the icy air in the street. The place became invaded by Scots in tartan, a sad bagpiper who could only play Scotland the Brave and a group of ageing bohemian artists, the men with their grey hair in pigtails or swept in luxuriant waves behind their ears and down below their collars. One was wearing an electric blue full length coat and another the white equivalent. Their accompanying women were, as with feathered birds, less conspicuous.

So there was much kissing, embracing and loud talk as the MacDonald moths danced around the blue and white flames. As a floor show it wasn’t bad – probably more perky than in the lap dancing arenas in the other direction. Some, given their age, may be hoping to reside in comfort under my window, providing the ground rent is fully paid up and their ancestors have subsided enough to provide elbow room.

As for the Scots…? Their resting places will be, generally, less well advertised, given their tendency to moulder in the unknown graves of their Diaspora.

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