I am now well into my third trip to Paris since August and my second whilst living in an apartment in the 14e Arrondissemont.
When I was here in October I set myself small targets. I had only just started writing again after the death of my mum in June and I didn’t want to overload myself too soon. In between I have spent time at home in Scotland, but trying to cram two months worth of diary appointments into two weeks proved to be intense. It was a relief to board the Easy Jet flight on Monday and arrive in the rain and to the darkness of the apartment.
My targets this trip are more ambitious writing wise. I also want to spend one hour a day working on my French. Friends imagine I will be spending my days wandering along the Seine or sitting in cafes sipping absinthe. It’s not like that. I spend most of my time here, in the 14e, in the apartment. But I am not short of inspiration.
In Scotland my house is in the country. The only activities I encounter there day to day are the birds at the feeder and the rabbits scratching around for the last of my vegetable crop. Here in Paris I am surrounded by people and noise and light.
As I sit writing this blog I can hear the garbage men and women collecting the bottle banks every tenement has. Earlier the street washer truck sloshed down the Rue. The lady in the apartment opposite and one flight down looks like Cathy Bates and sits all night, every night in a large leather chair beneath a map of the world staring at what I guess is the TV. The little girl who lives with her family upstairs has a nightly tantrum and I wonder if it is her dinner or her bath she is objecting to.
I go for a run round the 14e streets every day and encounter mostly old people, mothers with pushchairs, postmen and homeless. Today a tramp clapped me on up the street. ‘ça va, ça va,’ he shouted with a grin. He had about a dozen black and orange balloons tied to his shopping cart.
No, I don’t need the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and all the rest to be inspired. I have it all here, in 14e Arrondissement.