Sunday, April 07, 2019

Les glycines


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Making hummous: the satisfactory blubbing sound of the putty-coloured mixture that is just the right texture, not too sloppy, not too dry.


One of the things I like most about our bedroom is the reflection of tree branches on the back wall. The shadow leaves sway and dance on the yellow surface.

I envy people who have canopies of wisteria in their gardens – the soft old-lady violet colour is just beginning to appear around town now, and then in a flash it will fade and wilt before the second, weaker blossoming.

It’s Sunday lunchtime, I cycle down a street with multiple bars where men throng outside in muted joy. They shout-speak to each other in Spanish and Portuguese.

At the market in Saint-Michel an old man on a bench in conversation with a similar old man. They are both wearing all-over grey. The first man holds a vertical forefinger in front of his lips and the conversation seems to take a confidential turn. The finger looks as if it has seen service on building sites.

That moment at airport arrivals  when you catch sight of a face that you know by heart but have not seen in several months. In a split second you drink in those beloved features and register the slight changes that have come about.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Haughty cat




2 things I noticed on a day I didn't leave the house.

A synthetic jumper I bought in Primark in Edinburgh and that kept me warm in the National Library reading room looks rust-coloured in artificial light but a rather alarming Irn-bru orange in natural light.

A white cat slinks through the garden looking for birds to kill.  When I send it on its way with a loud hiss, it manages to look haughty even as it panic-scrambles up the wall.
















Thursday, March 28, 2019

Poppies flowering by the railway track



Fragile green leaves on pollarded trees, still small and pale.

The Chartreuse cemetery is full of mini buildings that families have erected over the tombs of their loved ones. Some of them look as if the stone has been cleaned recently. 

A young woman with an open smile serves me a glass of Montagne Saint-Émilion. She tells me it’s a good supple one to start with.

A handsome boy high on drugs wearing two different sneakers pesters a woman on the tram. He moves on to another woman and ruffles her son’s hair repeatedly. I wish she hadn’t let him do that.

Poppies flowering by the railway track, red dots in an urban mess of cables and graffiti.

Wobbly slabs underfoot as I walk across empty spaces between towering glass and concrete.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

An up-high window-box


6 things I saw today

An up-high window-box on a honey-stone façade filled with cacti; the sort that look a bit like green Mickey-Mouse ears.

An old-fashioned marble counter in Cadiot-Badie, a venerable chocolate shop on the Allées de Tourny.  The young woman who served me was wearing yellow-gold eye-shadow.

A glimpse of long black hair as the woman sitting behind me on the tram told her friend back home in Marseille that she was really quite happy, it was just that nothing had happened in her life yet. Her not-from-here accent rang out like a fog-horn.

“Boats on the Shore”, a painting by Joan Eardley. Someone tweeted it earlier today and even on my phone screen I loved it: vivid boat colours streaked across the bottom left-hand corner, the rest a dullish green sea.

A woman at the tram stop with a tote bag that declared “J’ai donné/ du sang / et vous?” I can’t remember if those were the exact words, but the middle line was red and diagonal, with the whole thing giving off a bit of that seventies aesthetic that’s popular. They don’t want my blood because I lived in the UK during those very seventies. Prions, you see.

My daughter’s smudged mascara. A bad mark when you’ve worked hard is difficult to accept.