Friday, 29 April 2011

paris street art - part two

 These first three were just off the Place Sartre et Beauvoir, the same road that the restaurant Le Petit Zinc is on (good seafood, so I've heard). Just looked it up - it's the rue Saint Benoit!

This one is above the je t'aime wall in Montmartre. Look at the shape behind it - is that intentional, or a shadow of some other wall painting from before? It looks like a woman sitting.

Montmartre, again. There's this one steep path down from the hill, just after you've gone through the artists quarter bit, which everyone goes down, and the walls along the sides are covered in some really imaginative and creative graffiti.

I've never seen this type of thing before: 3D faces coming out of the wall in front of you, touchable, while the artist has painted a background around it.

This looks Japanese, doesn't it?

Friday, 22 April 2011

In the most recent Sunday Times Style Magazine was a feature about a new photography exhibition by Robert Wyatt coming up, called 'At Home'. The premise was that Wyatt went round the homes of 'real women', and photographed them, in the nude, in completely natural lighting. No airbrushing, no lamps, no tidying up of the room in which they were photographed. Just a photograph of those women (who aren't all thin and many of whom have had children and have the bodies that bear the memories, hallelujah) in the most intimate settings, something which normally only a partner or lover would see.

I think it's a wonderful idea (no surprise there; we all know how obsessed I am with pictures of naked women). I'm dying to see the exhibition, but I'll be in York at the time, so don't think I can get to London. But if anyone is in London on those dates, have a look, see what you think, then tell me all about it.

Robert Wyatt
At Home - exhibition of nudes of 'real women' in their own homes
Redchurch Gallery E2
10th - 15th May

Have you ever heard of 'sex dust'?

Yeah, me neither.

I was reading Cosmopolitan yesterday and they described it thus:

'Ever heard of ‘sex dust’? It’s the reason that when you’re getting it, suddenly a whole load more men seem interested. Magic? No, just physiology. When you have sex, hormones and other chemicals are released and while you may not be able to see the difference, others can sense it.'

 I tried to search it on Google and all I found were references to the Lion King and that urban legend about some bored Disney film-makers who lazily wrote sex in the sky above Simba for shits and giggles.

But it kind of does make sense. It's that annoying situation when you're not getting any, and suddenly you do meet someone and then BAM, as soon as you're in a relationship with them you start getting other interested parties turning up to the show. Which you probably would have preferred had they turned up earlier. 

I always called it Sod's Law. 

Now I know it's Sex Dust. 

Thank you, Cosmopolitan. You're saving the world one useless yet vaguely entertaining sex fact at a time.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

It was face which darkness could kill
in an instant
a face as easily hurt
by laughter or light
"We think differently at night"
she told me once
lying back languidly
And she would quote Cocteau
"I feel there is an angel in me" she'd say
"whom I am constantly shocking"
Then she would smile and look away
light a cigarette for me
sigh and rise
and stretch
her sweet anatomy
let fall a stocking

~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Wednesday, 20 April 2011


The Je T'aime wall in Montmartre.

This was on the last day, when I was taking photos of anything I could, just to remember and capture a little bit more of Paris, and take it home with me. But looking at the photo doesn't recapture it. Sometimes, when rereading poems, I can recapture the feeling I had when I either first read it - or when I wrote it if it's one of my own - but with my own photos, they simply make me fond and nostalgic, rather than transporting me back. This is the Place de Sartre et Beauvoir, next to Les Deux Magots.

I saw this couple walking ever so slowly in the Jardin du Luxembourg. They were talking in low voices, and she had her arm laced through his constantly. They were ever so sweet.

Montmartre - is that Tour Montparnasse in the distance? Every person who's been to Montmartre will know from which point this photo was taken. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

doors part one

So you may find this hugely boring, but I've got a thing about doors. This will be the first part of a photographic series about some beautiful doors that I saw and snapped whilst in Paris. Paris has some excellent doors.

This one was near St Sulpice, I can't remember exactly which rue.

Montmartre. You can see me taking the photo in the reflective surface. Now, who's ever seen a mirror on a door?

The Latin Quarter, near the pantheon - rue Laplace perhaps? - dilapidated, peeling paint: lovely.

La Banque de France. Nicolas day.

And the first door I ever really took notice of in Paris: the door to Hemingway's old apartment on the rue Cardinal Lemoine.


 Update, 22nd April: It would appear that I am not the first to have thought of this - Damn it.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

the sum of it all

 This minutiae: Edinburgh last year, the woods filled with sorrel, learning something about your parents you wish you'd known a long time ago and it rocking you to your core, knowing some things, not knowing others, mint liqueur, absolute truthfulness at all times.


It's like mathematics, the way
we become opposite and equal
sides of the equation. You push your
hands through me; they clot in my hair
and we lay there,
nose to nose,
occasionally misting up each other's faces
with our breath.

I tell you we're parentheses
surrounding a nothing, or
the nothing is a something and the something
is that dream we each have
of our past lovers. I pretend you're
thinking of your last fuck, while we fuck,
because it makes me jealous and I always
fuck better when I'm seething.

You know this,
know these symmetry-games I play, matching
the holes in your body to the parts of her that
must have been placed there; I am like a child
learning shapes and numbers.
Circle. Square. Take away
and you have the proportional nth amount,
or the negative number that fills us.
You are you, +1, and minus all your old loves.

But mathematics does not show the trail they leave,
the ghost-fuck always between us, the droplets of
him still salting my stomach.
You can taste him,
the unknown amount – let's call
him z – but by working backwards you can
discover his mass,
the bulk of him that you replace, the number

We are the probability of it,
the sheer unlikelihood that humans
can fit each other like a mechanism,
whirring and spitting,
the statistical blunder of negative number.
A clock which turns backwards, a bed left
yellowing in dirty light.
The sum of it all is n, where n
is the aggregate of memories

Note: This poem, and another, have got into the next edition of the York Anthology. This one is quite old.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

It's my last day tomorrow. To soften the blow, I'm going to Stratford for a few days to rehearse. Can't wait.

This first photo is from the day we spent in Versailles. It was swelteringly hot. The Chateau was disappointing; the grounds baking.

And the customary photo of the Eiffel Tower from an arty angle.
It was like the bleeding Tower of Babel up there; when you stood in the lift, you could hear so many different snippets of conversations at once in a myriad of different languages. Like a radio, you would tune your ear to each different language, trying to understand something, before moving onto the next. I hate the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Oh god, please don't let me leave Paris. However much I love home, and York, I can't bear to leave this city. The only thing drawing me back is my friends. Sometimes I think I would dismiss my degree and one day, just stay here... Wouldn't that be the most insane, poverty-stricken, stupid and wonderful liberation?
 Parisian graffiti/wall paintings.

The white anatomy one on the right is all around Paris. I've seen it in the Marais (this one was taken in the 5th), on the metro bridges, on the Îles, down the winding streets of the 6th that lead to the Seine... Each time it's in a different position.

True dat.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The mater has arrived in Paris. It is as I expected: less independence (obviously), but still nice to be with her.

Places went today: the usual touristy suspects. Shakespeare and Co., Notre-Dame, Hemingway's house [at the moment, I'm reading a really interesting biography of his first wife, Hadley Richardson], and... oh yes, that's it. I feel that we didn't get much done. Mum's feet were killing her. (I don't meant to make it sound as though she is a ball and chain, but exploring Paris suddenly does get more... sedate with her around).

My first few shoddy attempts at street-style. I don't have the wherewithal, the quick reactions, to snap a perfect shot of someone before they move, nor a long enough lens. But here goes.

I managed to get this guy just as he turned around. I loved his bright red trousers and a sailor-style shirt on beneath a smart black blazer. A vision. From the front, that is.

I need to learn how to zoom. This woman had the floor-length, sweeping skirt that is very in right now, but teamed with that simple red-and-white striped jumper. What struck me was the effect made between the vertical stripes made by the pleated skirt and the horizontal lines on her top.

I have seen this a lot in Paris: men casually wearing their jackets over one shoulder. Is this a normal thing? Am I missing something? Do men do this in England?

Oh, such a sneaky shot! I saw this woman's shoes, saw she was coming my way, pretended to fiddle with my camera whilst looking downwards as she went past. Still wasn't exactly what I wanted: I don't even get the heel in! They were obviously new shoes, as she was walking through one of those sandy, gravelly parcs that pepper Paris (it was by the Palais-Royal, actually) and the electric-blue colour of her heels was barely dirtied. The heel was the same colour as her trousers; I wish I could have got the combination of the two into the shot.

I just loved this picture for the dazzling contrast of white against the sandy-coloured stone building. When you think of workmen, or builders, you think of blue overalls with paint and dirt and cement and grease. These men were sparkling - presumably they had only just started work for the day, or were only working on pure white objects... Maybe.

Outside the Banque de France. Don't you love a Gallic man in uniform?

With the seeming invention of the waist into fashion at the moment, the craze being Mad Men-high hips and full bosoms, it's nice to see a low-slung hip without looking chavvy. This dress did it perfectly: a gorgeous mixture of the casual low hip with a floaty, glamorous cling to her frame. Demure, but a lovely kind of recognition of the feminine body.

Tangerine, bright rose, fuschia, magenta: I can't get enough of these Spring colours! This girl lit up the dusty queues outside Notre-Dame.

This dress had a beautiful tapestry kind of design on it, with a lace sort of knitwork border. Really striking, and a symbol of the 70s prints around at the moment.

White lapels, polka-dot midi. It's all about the contrasts, the patterns, white against a dark background.

Friday, 8 April 2011

 The view from my window. Are you jealous?

These few days have been heavenly. But my mother is joining me tomorrow, which means no smoking, relinquishing the double bed, less shopping and certainly no French men.

I have just been out to a few bars - I wanted to go to the Fifth Bar and the Student Bar on the rue Mouffetard, but they were packed. Le Crocodile on the rue Royer-Collard likewise. Instead, L'Authre Bistro on the rue des Écoles, Wos Bar on the rue St-Jacques (excellent Gin Fizz), and Le Gay-Lussac.

I met a man today called Nicolas. We walked around the 1st arrondissement together. He had excellent English.

Yesterday, I was serenaded by a man in a thrift store in the Marais. He had classical music playing in the shop, and he grabbed my hand and twirled me round. I bought a dress from him. These French men! I told him he was a cliché, and he laughed.

I bought some lingerie today from Orcanta on the rue Halèvy, métro Opéra.The saleswoman was incredibly helpful, speaking slowly and trying to help me understand. I love lingerie shops in France - the saleswomen just put their hands on your boobs, muse and then say, 'Ah! I think that you are a size so-and-so'. I asked her what size she thought I was, not knowing the word for bra, and she looked at me shrewdly and said, 'La poitrine?' and placed her hands on my breasts. Now I know what size I am in France, and I own a new negligée and a gorgeous red bra. I think the only thing I said in that shop was, 'Peut-être en rouge?'

When I arrived on Wednesday, there was an incredibly hot man doing some maintenance work next door. The water was off. He kept having to come in and test my taps and play with some switches. He kept winking at me. Damn GCSE French for not teaching us how to seduce en français.

I have spent far too much money on clothes, and have been eating frugally. I am living a cliché myself. Eating only cheese and bread from the local boulangerie, and cheap red wine. Writing in cafés, reading, buying books everywhere I go.