15 January 2015


If the moment hasn't passed.

We went the first time in 2009. Mei had just been born three months earlier. We walked and walked and walked. It rained, and we stayed in the centre — the magical tourist centre, where you don't see any of the mess. Like Disneyland, but with hints on the edges of the mess. All the pictures, as I flip through them, are of Naomi eating chocolate. Perfect little tourists, all of us. I came back and talked about how enchanted and enchanting it was. I studied French for a year at the OU. It's so close — two hours and you are in Gare du Nord. Pronounce it right: we've been saying it wrong this whole time.

And then in 2011, when my sister came and we flew there together. We did the centre again — walked and walked and sat under a bridge near Notre Dame, eating kebabs. It was a kind of ending to that time in our lives, like we both had to then grow up. Yoko said it was the first time she had seen me smile in year, taking us to catch an early Easyjet flight from Luton. We walked and walked and finally sat down, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or the first stop on the lift, the cheaper one because we both didn't want to spend any more money. I don't remember what either of us said: in the picture, I am wearing a blue shirt and jeans.

I've made Paris what I want it to be, but of course, none of my Paris is really real. Or only real in a very limited way. Chinese men holding up smart phones to take pictures of the Mona Lisa. Sitting on Bassin Octogonal. Of course we all want to be French too, skinny and white and smoking cigarettes with espresso, emanating sex, the chairs of the cafe looking outward, towards the boulevards. There are so many French words in English.