It occurs to me that I’ve not said anything meaningful in quite some time (Possibly twenty two years) and I couldn’t tell you why. I mean, it’s probably that I haven’t <i>done</i> much.
Except that I’ve seen Louise’s fabulous new residence and been to Paris and back.
Firstly, my dear friend Louise now lives in a flat right near the town centre with her boyfriend. Went round to see her like, last Saturday and had a v. cool time. Felt very young in a <i>bad</i> way for once- several pals now live away from mummy and daddy- I had <i>my</i> dad come collect me from Louise’s.
I know I’m hardly alone- graduates who don’t move in with their boyfriends or a flatmate have hardly a hope of affording somewhere to live. Especially ones like me who’ve done a year of an MA too and don’t have a job yet. I just… I’m bored, man, and I’m so fucking sick and fucking tired of the bickering. My mum bickers with my dad who bickers with my brother who bickers with my mum who bickers with my brother and then they all shout at me too.
Anyway, on Tuesday I headed into London to stay with my grandad so I didn’t have to get up at some insane hour to get to Waterloo the next morning. We watched some of the Olympic swimming and gymnastics- was pretty much the first time I’d bothered with the Olympics.
OK, so I went to bed at <i>nine thirty</i> so I’d have a chance of being awake at like, 7am. I woke up at <i>twenty past midnight</i> and then didn’t get back to sleep until four. Despite telling my grandad that I was going to get up at 6.50am, he woke me up at six thirty. Then he insisted I get a taxi to the station rather than the bus.
I got to Waterloo station at <i>four minutes past seven</i>. That’s TWO hours before my train was due to leave. FOUR MINUTES past SEVEN. Had to waste time in every shop available in the station. Sat next to a girl who was the spitting image of .
Eurostar isn’t bad, but when you’re paying a hundred quid for a return, you at least expect seats that aren’t as dirty and grotty as these were. It wasn’t great, but I had a window seat. Witness the wonders of Brixon! Herne Hill! Ashford! I was disappointed by the Channel Tunnel, frankly. You couldn’t see anything! I thought there’d be like, lights and stuff so it’s like “YOU’RE IN THE CHANNEL TUNNEL, ISN’T THIS FANTASTIC?”
Instead, it was like every other train tunnel you’ve ever been through but longer and more expensive.
Anyway, so I went from the station in Paris straight to Pere-Lachaise. I say straight to the cemetery, what I actually mean is this:
1. Have gitfaced French dude push in front of me in the queue to the Metro ticket machine.
2. Not understand the ticket machine, even the English bits. Get ticket from lady behind screen. Manage a ‘merci’.
3. Get on Metro. Smelly and hot, and even worse than the tube. Have to change a few stops down, struggle with steps (my hip caned for some reason.) and get on second Metro. Equally smelly and hot.
4. Get off Metro, stumbling up steps. Have heart start thumping at realisation I’m this close to seeing my beloved hero.
5. Buy a white rose and a red rose in florist right by the cemetery. Go inside cemetery.
Then, despite reading the informatin sign twice, and having checked online a trillion times, I still got lost. OK, so there’s 70,000 people buried at Pere-Lachaise, but could Jim have not at least helped a bit? I ended up at Oscar Wilde’s grave before his! I must’ve looked like such a Doors fan. Just when I’d read a sign again (they don’t have many around, be warned) a bloke said “He’s that way.” I tried valiantly to pretend I didn’t know what he was on about, but I might as well have been wearing a Doors t-shirt and my leather trousers.
So, I finally make my way up a steep hill (leg caning still) and see a really familiar sepulchre. Familiar because right next to it is some rock star’s grave. It’s surrounded by the ugliest metal fence you’ve ever see (so was Oscar’s, but not quite so much of it) and there’s a really miserable security guard there. There were about ten other people there- two girls who sounded like they were from the Home Counties who were just squeeing cos liek OMG!FAMOUSPERSONGRAVE!!!1!. Wanted to slap them. Some Americans who kept getting in my way. Eventually I just sort of threw the flowers at the grave (fence is so far forward it’s difficult), took a couple of pictures for my projecty thing and then left.
The grave of Jim Morrison is a Doorzoid’s dream, but it’s not my dream. I’d been so desperate to get there, but I always thought I’d be disappointed. I’m not disappointed by him, but by the horrendous behaviour of Doorzoids through the years that have led to an ugly metal fence and a security guard. I couldn’t even reach out and touch the stone, man. The sepulchre next to it still bears the marks of all the graffiti, even though it was cleaned off. A ton of rotting flowers covered Jim’s grave, and I know mine joined them… I’m sure for many people it’s a genuinely emotional experience to visit Morrison and for me it was- to a point. For the rest of these people who’ve made Pere-Lachaise the third most popular attraciton in Paris, it’s just a tourist attraction. First stop the Eiffel Tower, then the Louvre, then Jim Morrison.
Fuck that. To me he is not, never was and never will be a tourist attraction. I went to the Louvre that day as well, but don’t let’s fool ourselves I went there for that. I went to see Jim, because I could hardly imagine spending another day of my life without having seen it. And having seen that pretty unremarkable grave (to me, the only special thing about it is the epitaph in Greek, which I’m reliably informed is something about demons), I almost hope he really did fake his death so he’s not under that tourist attraction after all. It would mean he’s lied to me for thirty three years, but that’s a small price to pay. I just… does what he left us mean so little to people that it’s just another photo opportunity, another anecdote to tell people? “Oh yah, I’ve seen Morrison’s grave.”
I swear, these are the people who always refer to him as the fucking Lizard King. HELLO PEOPLE, LAYERS ARE YOUR FRIEND! God almighty, if he’d just been some alcoholic twat rock star, do you think I’d give a flying fuck about him? Course not! If he were just some alcoholic twat rock star, he’d be Dave Lee Roth. Or *insert name here*. That’s not all he was, and a tourist attraction should not be the sum of his achievements in 2004.
Anyway… so I went to the Louvre after that, which involved more Metros (it’s almost impossible to find a direct fucking route on that sham of a system) and more walking. By this point my leg is really starting to hurt. I get it sometimes where I feel like my left hip bone needs to just click back into place, but it wouldn’t. Went into Louvre and picked up a floorplan and bought a ticket.
Man, that is one confusing bloody museum. It’s way too big, for a start. I was there from three to half six and still didn’t see half of the stuff. It’s really hard to get around easily and see everything, so by the time I got to the Grand Galerie (and the Mona Lisa), I was like “fuck this” which was not helped by the number of twats around.
There were a group of American boys who I took to be college age running (literally running) around having a competition to find the oldest painting. Glad to see stereotypes do still have basis in truth, anyway.
And this goes for people of all nationalities- if you’re in the queue to see the Mona Lisa, don’t fucking push me. You won’t get there any quicker. Also, if the sign says no photos, don’t take fucking photos. Get a fucking postcard for like, six eurocents, you cheap wankers. Don’t yell in my ear. Don’t try and push your daughter in front of me- it wasn’t even a little kid daughter, it was a girl about my age!
Mona Lisa was incredibly naff. It might be the total overexposure of the picture in our culture, but man was I unimpressed. Might be the above paragraph taking it’s toll. It might be the fact that I was almost dragging my left leg by this point.
Anyway, after that I decided to just go see the antiquities and have done. Stumbled down the stairs to them, and spent a happy period of time looking at statues thousands of years old. Very cool- I never realised that marble scultupures glittered like they do. Fabulous, although Commodus seems to have resembled Christopher Biggins more than Joaquin Phoenix.
There’s this GIANT statue of Athena there. A good 12 feet high, just fabulous. Some amazing stuff that made the eighteenth century French sculptures in the same style look pretty feeble in my eyes.
After that, I just couldn’t take much more. I’d been on my feet since seven that morning and it was now about twenty past six. My leg was killing me and I hadn’t eaten anything that day beyond some Thornton’s butter tablets (v cool butter/sugar crumbly sweets). After taking the wrong turn and ending up in Medieval Louvre, I went and bought a visitor guide (a steal at 8 euros) and made my way outside.
Was raining, but I tried calling Natasha from outside the pyramid anyway. I must’ve sounded weird cos I got a concerned-sounding text a few minutes later saying “Call me back now!”.
I limped back to the Metro and went back to the train station, which involved changing trains, of course. I ended up eating dinner at the station. It wasn’t bad- Parisien cuisine is good enough to have decent train cafes I suppose. Then went to the check in thing for Eurostar, which had a Haagen Dazs counter in it.
Anyway, so I get back to London about half past ten at night after managing a whole twenty minutes nap on the train. Get in a taxi and the wanker takes me for a tourist and drives up fucking Aldwych! A journey that cos a fiver in the morning cost eleven quid at night cos he thinks I don’t know any better! Wanker.
So anyway, get back to Grandad’s, have a turkey sandwich because he seems to be under the impression I never eat. Then collapsed back into my sleeping back on the foldy bed and fell asleep. Got home at lunchtime the next day, went to bed and didn’t get up for ages and ages. Then I read my Louvre guide and realised I’d managed to miss the Venus bleeding de Milo.
The moral of this story- I’m sure it sounds like I had a miserable time. I really didn’t. I no longer hate Paris with the fire of a burning sun (or the fire of a 9 year old ripped away from Disneyland for the entire day), but if I want to spend the day in a dirty, smelly city full of rude people, I’d rather do it in London! The Louvre really was great, but way too big. Next time, I’ll go on like a guided tour or something.
Also- I know it would’ve been way more fun if I’d gone with someone, if only because I’d have felt the incredible pressure to entertain them. Louise would’ve been great to go with for many reasons- not least that she speaks French!! *hugs Louise*
I tell you what, considering my ability with French doesn’t go beyond “bonjour”, “merci” and “sil vous plait” I did OK, even with the caption things on paintings and stuff at the museum. Either I know quite a lot about art or I remember more than I thought I did of school French.
What else? Well, I actually did some writing for my project, but I’m only up to about a thousand of the 8000 required. Am going to change Jim article into article about Jim and the Louvre, called “An Afternoon of Two Halves.”
The Jason Donovan concert is this Thursday, and I’m hoping to get some decent stuff for my project then… hope so: all this is due on the 2nd Sept.