Sustained rain finally came and settled on Paris this week – something I can’t complain about too much given how badly my Cornish brethren have been suffering this winter – but on Wednesday the sky cleared and Pont de l’Alma was as beautiful as I’ve ever seen it. I’m not sure why, but by chance I’ve been in that part of Paris three times in the last week. Next to the bridge is a monument Le flamme de la liberté (which is a bit like the Statue of Liberty without the woman) and an underpass made famous by the death of Princess Diana in 1997. I happened to be in Paris on the day of the funeral in 1997 with my friend Andy Carr, who’d somehow twisted my arm to go and watch U2 with him (honestly, he really had to twist the fuck out of it). It was my first time in the city and I had no idea then – as you don’t – that I’d eventually end up living here. I would have baulked at the idea at the time seeing as we’d just sat down to a pint and discovered it was a fiver.
Le flamme de la liberté – or the Flame of Liberty if you prefer – was adorned with flowers and tributes that day, some pointedly saying things like “the REAL Queen of hearts”, in anger at the REAL Queen who wasn’t very popular at the time. That’s the weird thing about Royalty, people actually think they know them, which made the creepy outpouring of mourning that swept the nation all the more bizarre. I won’t crap on about 1997 being a pivotal year in the nation’s regression but it was. I was just glad that I was in Paris for the funeral and didn’t have to sit through days on end of mourning and misery. Back in those days you didn’t switch the TV off so much because there was no internet as a substitute.
I went back to school this week and subjected myself to the normal kinds of humiliation that entails but thankfully was just bright enough to narrowly miss being put into the dunce’s group. The dunce’s group – to be fair – is for people who can’t speak any French yet, whereas I should be able to speak some having lived here 11 months. More on this soon, though I’ve got to run out of the door now without even doing any subbing on this shit as we’re heading to Amsterdam for the weekend!