Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Paris Hat

This writer wears many hats. Shoe devotee, novelist, classical pianist (who doesn't practise enough), gardener, cook, cleaner, short story writer, taxi driver, lover, mother, pet owner, swimmer, translator, English teacher... We all do, don't we? But one of my favorite hats is the Paris hat. Twice a year a fashion designer friend transports me from these soggy Veneto plains to the grey rooftops and tiled metro tunnels and exotic foods of one of my favourite cities in the world. Oh forget cranky Parisians and stiff monuments, this is buzzing mercurial Paris of colours and styles and energy fusions. All big cities have it and this country scribbler has had a giddy few days.

Anyone who scans ahead may be forgiven for thinking Catherine has been living it up in Paris at a four-day long rave. That's one way of looking at it. But these shots don't really show the difficulties in dragging racks of clothing up several levels of escalators, trying to write down orders in Italian while being spoken to in French and half-thinking in English, standing in heels all day (a personal and masochistic choice), living on peanuts apart from lavish Asian meals at night, staying in French Psycho Motels along the A6, drinking horrific French coffee and driving a van over the alps (in light snow) with windscreen wipers like oversized flippers.

They do, however, indicate some of the things that happened this week. For example:

Spending time with unexpected new friends (met up with some old ones too)

Being silly

Watching wild dancing from sparkling youth until there were tears in my eyes

Meeting entrancing people with weird talents (Yes this is the Etch-A-Sketch Princess who reminded me of Emily Dickinson in a way)

Oh and fashion, ho-hum, I didn't photograph any of that. Having had so many sneaky people sliding past trying to take surreptitious shots of Ale's clothes, I wasn't going to prowl the joint snapping people's work!

And here is the golden key, btw Downith, the famous BUBBLE CARD that made the three of us glow, giggle and trip sometimes.

And now - shock! horror! - I'm back at the farm. Another hat. A big woollen beanie. It's raining miles and the heating is bung. And Paris is where she is. Noble, dirty, full of poverty and power, bright kids and snappy ladies. Paris, je t'aime toujours.


  1. "Back at the farm." Love it - back down to earth! But to have had four days in Paris, ahhhh, the bubbles!

    1. Well I must stress that I was locked inside this disco fashion bunker in the fourteenth - no bookshops or cafes - but yes, thankfully, bubbles. What I would have done for a couple of free days for wandering tacked onto the end of it.
      The farm is soggy!!

  2. Oh to be able to whip over to Paris for 4 days! Getting to Europe is such an (expensive) ordeal for us! That said, I'm very happy with our 30+°C heat here at present! Though not all would agree.

    1. Here it is rain upon rain upon rain! Endless. And in the mountains metres of snow and roads closed and my eldest sons are stuck up there!

      I wouldn't mind some bright stark heat. And yes lovely to have Paris so close - I just wish I'd had some recreational time!

  3. well if you ever whip to Paris for four days of bookstores and cafes let me know lol x
    sounds like you had a great break from farm life xxx

    1. It was a great mental and physical shift, though now I'm feeling very... unsettled. We drove through Piemonte on the way back and I thought of you up in the mountains. Lots of snow there too? X

  4. Hey lady, your life always sounds so wonderful and so blessed. Yes, I know that your home and your kids keep you grounded, but, omg, London, Paris, ooo la la
    I love reading your stories

    1. Glad you enjoy! I love seeing your snatches of Asia too. I'm truly back in the mud and fog now and today will be mopping dog prints in the kitchen!

  5. Your 4 days sounds like a bit of a whirlwind! Any time in Paris is good. I am glad to be away from the wet in Italy for a while . It was getting me down. I have a few warm sunny weeks in Australia before heading back to my waiting garden at Casa Debbio.

    1. Yes I agree. Paris time is always great time - but way too short.
      I agree Italy is a swamp these days and quite depressing. I'd love to run away too. Back to Paris?

  6. From bubbles to beanie. Such is life.


    1. I think I'm much more beanie than bubbles but yeah such is life. At least I taxied across Paris a few times after work...

  7. What a whirlwind trip! I always enjoy your stories Cat, you somehow manage to capture your surroundings so that I feel that I'm right there. Guarding those racks of clothes and smiling at the Etch-a-Sketch girl. And what a talented friend I have in you, taking orders in Italian while being spoken to in French and half-thinking in English? My god, I can barely communicate in one language hahaha.. But my favorite is your sweet summation of home. 'Noble, dirty, full of poverty and power, bright kids and snappy ladies.' Now that's my kind of place. Thanks for the smile your post provided me today, I find that I'm feeling out of sorts lately with all this change. The family home is being sold and life feels downright gloomy, and these darks skies aren't helping. I shall have to try and channel some of your fearless spirit in the month ahead...

    1. I had a feeling this house move was weighing you down - lots to read between the lines of your last post. I wouldn't say I'm fearless, and I do complain, but I know how hard it is to keep chin up where conditions are adverse, or drawn out, or just endlessly grey as it is here now. Piccoli passi - little steps. We'll both get there xoxo

  8. The bubble card strikes again !

    1. Many times over! I couldn't help thinking of you as I tottered around with my tray of flutes...

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