Helen's house turned out not the be the Eiffel Tower as I had first thought, but a lovely petit apartment. Roomy for one. Shabby chic. With wooden floors that leave splinters in your feet; a compact kitchen (I mean very compact!); chipped and cracked marble fire places (with no fire inside them);
books upon books (belong to the person from whom she is subletting) Shakephere, Nietzsche, Cocteau, Sartre, Genet, and an erotic/fantasy encyclopedia, more more more, all french; a toilet on which you can sit and look out to other Parisian apartments whilst you pee; a bed that keeps giving me a dead arm and Helen keeps claiming she can feel her bones and joints when she lies on it; and tons more besides. It is absolutely brilliant! It is due to be knocked down soon which is sad. On the ascent to her apartment (she is on the top - 6th floor) we cross other apartments which have had their doors bricked up (breeze blocked). It is very very sad.
Some of the books I have mentioned, their spines never broken, are destined to remain shut perhaps forever. Which is also sad. Very very sad. There is some poem or other that mentioned this phenomena, books that are read once then placed on a shelf never to be opened again. I mention this to Helen, how sad it is and how I'm going to give all mine away (with the exception of my favourites, ones I will read again, or will LEND to others, or ones that I will give my children, or nieces and nephews (that's right Daniella nieces AND nephews please! I will make a great aunt!) Helen mentions book mooch. A site where people all swap books. It is all free on the condition that you not only recieve books but you send them too. It works on some kind of points system that I haven't entirely figured out yet.
But then again on visiting Shakespeare book company and seeing the vast vast shelves of books (A bit like the Strand NY but like an eighth of the size so more like a mile of books, and much more expensive. Unlike the strand it allows writers and literaries that are hard up to stay there for free until they finish writing, a sort of residency) and then the used book cafe in Merci, with shelves three times my height stacked with books... I want my house to be like that. Unable to see the walls just books. Shelves and shelves. Screw the shelves. Just pile them up on top of each other. In fact screw the walls. It will just be books. Book bricks, book chairs, book stairs, book coffee tables, book beds, book stove, wait, on second thoughts, no kitchen, I will eat books. Books will provide all the nutrition I need. (See Dan I will make a great Aunt, I can hear the little buggerlugs now "can we go see crazy Aunt Mandi? I want to play on the books slide, and the climbing books and eat books on toast!") But then music there must be music too, a house of books, probably a cat (but then the cat wee! No cat), a guitar, Andew can bring his drums round. We don't need a record player because we already know all the songs. They are all there anyway, somewhere on the fret board, somewhere between the kick drum and the snare, the high hats and the crash. We'll keep the drums minimal. Any we don't know we will just make up, they will be better, improved. We will sing together. I can hold a tune but Andrew can't sing, besides drumming a singing at the same time is difficult unless you are Phil Collins!We can play music as loud as we like because no body will want to live near the crazy book house except maybe other creatives. And then they too can have book houses. We'll start a whole new community. A way of living. Only unlike the northern quarter, LES and oberkampf(?) we won't let the yuppies in because they'll spoil everything. If they want in they'll have to turn their backs on their current lifestyle, lose everything, start again, "one of us", read and read until they have the foundations for houses and build and build until they too have book houses, and we'll all make loud music together and eat books and swap stories and make things and show off and all the men will have creative facial hair like Dave Eggers and we'll all be attractive and beautiful and raise an army of children who will take over, a revolution, and they will save the world. Of cousre there will be elitists. The people that look down on the ones that have made their houses from Dan Brown books or Danielle Steel. And there will be the ones that steer clear of the people who have built their houses from Jackie Collins or Chris Nieratko. We will burn their prejudice book houses down Ray Bradbury style only there will be nothing left and they will be banished, doomed to live amongst the normals, conform and be oppressed. But they deserve it. Everyone here is creative and equal. We will even accommodate dyslexics and read to them (not me though, I am terrible at reading!) then they can have book houses too.
Considering this was meant to be a post about paris I seemed to have strayed. Nevermind. I will return with pictures and stories - true ones. I will sit you all down and show you one photo at a time, like a relative sitting you down with their dull holiday snaps from tenerife only mine are not dull and are not from tenerife, talk you through each one. One at a time. No straying, promise. Well maybe a little straying. Keep things interesting!
Incidently, the woman Helen is subletting from has just had a baby and has named it Ulysses and lives in a cave and husband/partner runs his car off sunflower oil (eat that government!!!) This is all the truth! I swear!