Christmas is almost upon us which can only mean one thing – my final dispatch from Paris this year. I write this hurriedly from Orly Airport where we’re soon to depart for Naples, then we’ll be back in the UK for the big one. I spent part of the summer angrily putting my foot down saying, “I’m not coming back to England this winter!” when the subject hadn’t even been broached. I figured if I got it in early enough, and kept repeating it like a mantra with a serious enough look on my face, then I’d somehow get my way and stay at home in my own place for the festive period – though by Autumn my resolve was weakening. Come November I knew the game was up, and rather than put up some futile resistance in order to try to save face, I acquiesced pathetically knowing deep down I’d never win.
Now I have to leave my bubble, which is so cosy and warm and reassuring, and usually contains one person or two, and never more than four. It can expand as far as the gym up in Menilmontant and the Chinese restaurants in Belleville and Charonne. Sometimes I go as far as VeggieBowl, another Chinese, this time out beyond Grands Boulevards. Most of the time though, I frequent the local cafes in the 11e, boulangeries in three directions, and the Monoprix around the corner from the metro. I also spend a lot of time at home writing, reading and sleeping. My life is very glamorous when I don’t have cancer.
Recently I’ve taken to buying my produce from the market, which is so much fun I can’t believe I didn’t get down there before. Within a couple of months the stool holders have started to recognise me, and they’re all such friendly sorts who will shoot the breeze if you give them the chance. The veg is reasonable, and they’ll usually knock 50p off. It’s almost like I had to climb outside of my own bubble to partake in this biweekly exchange. At first I was frightened, but now I enter into the spirit of things like a true Parisian.
But that’s not enough for some. They want me to head to the projects and see what it’s like for the deprived who live out there, which perhaps represents a far more realistic existence to my coffee-quaffing living on the peripheries of the Internet nonsense. I’m on it when I’m not even on it half the time. Wandering around the 11e, shaking hands with the odd garçon de café, but not really engaging with them. I’ve been going to those places for three years now, and I know they call me Monsieur Allonge behind my back (they’ve got nothing else to go on). It’s not real assimilation is it? As one of the liberal elite (well isn’t everyone part of that these days?), I have no idea what other people are really thinking. No matter that I’m a bit skint myself – that has no bearing on how out of touch I am with the common homme.
I should also get out to the country and track down some Marine Le Pen voters to see what motivates them (cos that’s where they all live right?). It’s something I intend to do with my time next year; I’ll ask them why they feel so disenfranchised as the silent white majority who’ve had everything on a plate their whole lives, and who are just now getting the sense things might be changing as they creep stealthily to their impending deathbeds, and if they should spout forth prejudiced invective, I’ll nod and try to understand their predicaments. In fact, I’ll take their details so that after the election I can do some follow up, and should they confirm they voted for the Front National, I can offer my apologies for driving them into the arms of a demagogue by being a bleeding heart liberal. The fact they voted for a nasty racist old cunt is all our faults at the end of the day.
So say hello 2017 and bye bye bubble! We’re going to have to leave the 11eme for starters, which I’ll tell you more about in due course. Next year’s going to be a winner, I have a feeling in my water. Arrivederci for now.