Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's All Relative

I'm stretched out listening to a wonderful selection of Sondheim on fantastic new Spotify, and musing over the last weekend, life and the various choices we make.

My aunt, uncle and parents came to visit this weekend; they have just left, and we had a really lovely time. I think it took some pressure off, having my aunt and uncle there as well, I didn't feel obliged to spend every single minute with my parents and I knew they were having a good time. Everything was a discovery for my aunt and uncle; they had been to Paris over 20 years ago on an organised tour and things were a lot different then.

Seeing my life through their eyes made me realise that first of all I'm so very lucky to live in such a beautiful city. Second, that even though I see going down to the market and getting choucroûte and a bit of nice bread for Sunday lunch as a bit of a chore, they see it as a fascinating adventure because it is in Paris, and everything is new and different.

I have to admit to eyeing Lola's non-stop world with a pair of green eyes from time to time, knowing that she is often out in the evenings with her scores of friends, enjoying 30°C heat most of the year, and being in such an exotic environment, but I rarely see my own life as particularly exciting.

Seeing my daily routine in the eyes of other people makes me realise that yes, Paris IS fascinating, it is big and it is jam-packed full of history and monuments. Crossing the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville is a route from A to B for me, but with my family it was a discovery of intricate architecture, amazing lighting and a busier public space than they had seen for months.

The dinner we enjoyed at Les Ombres was no less impressive. We had a table right at the front of the restaurant, looking over to the Eiffel Tower, that sparkled 9 times during our 3-hour tasting menu (my mum counted). The food really was delicious, the view spectacular and the evening extremely enjoyable.

What I'm saying is that everything is relative, some people live in a whirlwind, some in a calm breeze, but wherever you live it is important to appreciate your life for what it is, because so many people are so much worse off than you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


My head is swimming, sinuses are throbbing and I have one nostril blocked. Lovely. In fact I'm fine, just suffering from a bout of the common cold, but if you believed the French I'm dealing not with a simple virus that I caught from some other poor sufferer, but the after-effects of going out without a scarf in less than 30°C heat, perhaps not closing the window at the slightest breeze, or worse still, having an open-buttoned shirt before June 21st.

Also, this mere hiccough in my otherwise perfect health is not even called a cold, more often than not they call it a "rhino-pharyngite" which sounds much worse.

Anyway, I'm fine, just a little more tired than usual and a little more nasal than usual, but nothing a nice sunny weekend won't cure.

The sun has been getting out his hat and popping it on for the last few days now, and today is no exception. I'm in Chablis, typing away on my keyboard with the sun shining down on the little river outside my window. I have to say that it's very peaceful.

My parents, aunt and uncle are descending on Paris this weekend, and I'm looking forward to seeing them. It'll be nice for them to have a touristy weekend that doesn't revolve around purely visiting me. I've booked a great restaurant for Saturday evening with a wonderful glass ceiling and stunning view of the iron lady herself. Apparently her lighting has been redesigned temporarily and now she doesn't sparkle only on the hour, but responds to a specific programme that has been designed for her, from now until early May apparently.

So, I'm hoping to be snot-free by Saturday evening so that I can actually taste some of the goodies that will placed in front of me.

Achoo! Sorry, just have a to go and get a tissue...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Unexpected Song II

When my friend M put a video up on facebook of some woman singing "I Dreamed a Dream", I thought it would be like any other amazing new talent, belting out the "sha-a-a-a-me" with a neverending diphthong in true Ruthie Henshall style. And yes, of course all the shiny new talents are good, but it gets depressing after a while.
So I clicked on the video expecting to just reply "oh yes, great". Then I saw this frumpy woman totter onto the stage and I thought it must be some kind of joke, that she would be really bad. The cruel wicked side of us all that enjoys seeing people in pain reared its head, and I sat through the introductory blah blah and waited for those first bars to come.
What I heard coming from that woman was a million miles from the bumpkin Scottish accent and neglected eyebrow combover that my eyes were deceiving me with. Her voice was magical, and not just taking her look into account, her voice was truly sensational. She could have been dressed in a full skirt and lace-up corset with an ashen face and dirty fingernails and passed for a very credible Fantine on any stage in the world. Admittedly I had to struggle to see past the eyebrows, but that voice really was unbelievable.

I wonder if I would have been so bowled over if she had been a younger, more attractive woman, with shaped eyebrows and flowing hair? I think not. I think I was so impressed because she looked like any other menopausal woman who helps out at her local church. And I'm truly ashamed of my reaction. Let's hope from now on that competitions like Britain's Got Talent really do root out the talent, and are not simply a showcase of blonde locks and bronze muscles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unexpected Song

I was just shamed into reacting like everyone else when this video came to my attention today from the lovely M.

Please, just watch a few seconds and don't judge by appearances.