travel


Flea market, Bantry.

Flea market, Bantry.

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My parents go to a market in Bantry the first Friday of every month. It’s like the flea market at Port Clingnancourt but with less attractive people, a lot more rain and a surprising array of chickens. Unfortunatly I had a writing deadline looming, had a lot of work to do and really couldn’t afford the time to go with them….and yet an hour later found myself wandering around stalls featuring decapitated dolls and huddled baby rabbits. Discipline has never been my strong point.

Now I spent my last week in Paris whinging about having to go home to Cork, but be honest, it’s actually been rather pleasant. The weather has been, let’s say, flirtatious. At times bright and sunny at others, sombre and moody. It keeps you guessing, it’s ‘rules’ weather. And at the risk of sounding twee, water pistol fights with hyper young nieces and nephews can be as heady as any amount of glasses of wine over looking the Eiffel Tower.

And by God, people are nice! I travel a lot and I have to say, more often then not, national stereotypes hold true, and while the Bantry marketeres were a lot let stylish and attractive then those in Paris, they were far more friendly and pleasant. Indeed the affability and general good humour even seemed to dispel some the heavier rain clouds.

What’s more there was something to appeal to each of our interests.

When not reading history my mother is obsessed with charity shops and tat, the tattier the better, which she buys and adds to the other mounds of tat which fill the family home to dysfunctional bursting point. Hence she was in her element.

Over at the livestock side of the market my Dad was bargaining over chickens. Ever since I can remember, any trip with my father has involved either the buying or selling of fowl or dogs, his twin obsessions. As you can imagine these two passions often clash with bloody results and the ensuing carnage means he has to maintain a constant turnover.

And as for me, I found myself locked in the back of a dirty back Hi-Ace Van.

No, I’m not particularly into machinery or being kidnapped but I am into psychics. To some a dirty van in the middle of a fair might not be the most auspicious or inspiring of environments in which to hear of one’s future but Mystic Moria’s sign did say ‘as seen on TV’ and she was only a tenner hence I found my self locked in a van with a wall papered interior, with a 200 pound traveller woman, in the middle of a small country town. The Eiffel tower never felt so distant.

Mystic Moria: So make three wishes.

Me: Ok. Done. (No bother, I always have at least five to hand in case of just such emergancies ) It is a tenner right? (Be sure to establish the price off the bat, you don’t want to find yourself paying 150 quid for a two minute reading. )

MM: Aye, the palm is a tenner love, but the palm and the crystal ball together is twenty.

Me: Just the palm so please.

MM: Ah but the ball is very good.

Me: I’ll just stick with the palm today.

MM: The tarots is twenty, now them’s the best.

M: Ah now, if I got them all you’ll seeing poverty in my future.

Stoney silence.

So she picks up my palm, I resolve to give nothing away, neither by word nor expression.

She stares at it at its tangle of lies and starts to recite in a monotone.

MM: Oh love, you’re very up and down, you’re going through a very tough time, very tough.

Me: Hmm. (Hardly, I’m just back from a summer Paris. I’m free loading off my poor parents for a couple of weeks. I’m tad bored and broke but other then that, not a bother.)

MM: One of your wishes, it was about your family. You’re concerned about one of them and are wishing the best for him or her.

Me: Hmm. (Nope, my three wishes were entirely self centred involving money, men and me. Now I feel slightly guilty)

MM: And I see you have a man, a wonderful man that loves you and thinks the world of you.

Me: Hmpf. ( No, I bloody don’t, I have a couple of loopy internet blokes that seem to like my online alter ego, but otherwise there is no man, wonderful or otherwise thinking of me one way or the other. By now I feel kind of depressed.)

Her: And he’ll have a diamond on your finger or around your neck before the year is out.

Me: Huh! (Now she’s rubbing salt to the wound. NowI feel somewhat despondent)

Her: And I see you in two years time with a husband and childer.

Me: Whatever. (Okay, what ever about reading the palm, can you not just SEE how old I am?)

Her: And you are going have money, lots of lot of money.

Me: Silence (Not if I keep giving it to shite psychics in Hi-ace vans.)

MM: And you’ll come back here next year and give me a hundred pounds because everything I have told you is right.

Me: Glare. (Now I feel just bloody stupid.)

And my palm had curled to a clenched fist.

For all of two seconds I debated whether or not to pay the tenner. However, locked in a Hi-Ace with a very large rather tough looking traveller woman I decided against getting into any arguments. I handed over the cash with almost Parisian bad grace.

MM: Oh and be sure not to tell anyone of anything I’ve told you, or you’ll give away your good luck.

As you can see, I’ve decided to risk it.

A very cute guy has asked me out for coffee. Then he wants to take me to an exhibition of a photographer I really like. It sounds like a lovely evening. Just a shame it’s in sunny warm Paris while I’m stuck up on a hill in rainy fecky Cork!

I was trying to explain the dating scene in Ireland to my American friend Amber. She comes from a country where, strange people, if a guy likes a girl, he will ask her out on a date. I come from a country where the mating ritual includes getting drunk, snogging someone and it wasn’t too hideous an experience, ye might sort of tumble, stagger or literally fall into a relationship. It sounds primitive, it is primitive, but I can name a number of under three year olds who owe their existance to a pint of Guinness and a Bacardi and Coke!

Okay, I am being a bit facitious, it’s not that bleak…it just feels that way. Especially now that I don’t drink as much as I used to. How the hell does someone go about meeting someone? I could internet date here, however it is my home town and I’m slightly worried about joining the site for fear of whom I’ll find. Ireland is a small country and Cork is tiny. There’s just too much risk of coming across married relatives or friends philandering husbands.

My other problem is I live just outside the town, I don’t drive and I can’t afford taxis home. Seriously, a taxi can cost more then a budget flight back to Paris. Isn’t that dreadful, that one’s dating life is curtailed by sobriety and penuary?
Come to think of it, maybe I could just get a Ryanair flight to Paris, date the cutey, and pop home afterwards. I’m joking….but maybe…..!

For the first time in six weeks it’s gray rainy and miserable in Paris. I am going to be both fanciful and egocentric and imagine that it is becuase I am going home today. I’m presantly sitting in Rachel’s Pigalle apartment surround by mounds of excess luggage. I’m slightly wary of starting to write a round up of the time I have spent here in the last six weeks for fear of getting melancholy. In fact I think I might put off posting till I get home, other wise I might not get home, I might accidently on purpose get the RER in the wrong direction and miss my flight. So adieu for now.

Ganesh Festiva

Ganesh Festiva

Sorry to my two readers for the scrappy posts in the last few days. Ive been packing and moving. I’ve left the place I was house sitting in Bagnolet and am now in fab Pigalle in transit to Ireland. Oh God I hope I am only there for a month. Apparently its rainy and gray and grim! I will write about this Paris session round up more fully later. In the meantime enjoy a picture from the Ganesh Indian Festival which took place yesterday. You’d think an Indian festival, replete with Hindu Gods and half naked sufis would be incongerous on a Parisian Boulavard but it all seemed surprisingly right!

I was going to meet some friends last night in a part of the 19th that I’m not too familier with. As I walked along the road I heard the most intense shouting and yelling. With my crap French I couldn’t make out what the man was screaming about but what ever it was it seemed to reduce the woman to wailing sobs.

Now apparently it’s a crime here not to help out in event in of an emergancy but I have to admit my first impulse was (a)to wonder why the heck my mates had chosen such a dodgy location for and (b) to contemplate getting the hell out of there pronto. Heh this site isn’t NOT called http://www.goodsamaritian.com for nothing.

However I ploughed on. And came upon the source of the shouting. Brightly dressed masked actors throwing themselves into a Moliere play in the Parc du Belleville, over looking THE best view of Paris.

It’s even more impressive then that from the Sacre Couer as there’s better view of the Eiffel Tower ‘scinitillating’. Isn’t that a wonderful word? It’s when all its thousands of lights sparkle and..well scintillate. What’s more you can watch the show from a bar with a glass of wine in your hand.

That’s just one of the reasons I am going to miss Paris when I go home. One just seems to happen upon the most unexpected magic moments . Another wonderful evening, also involving the scintillating Eiffel tower, was at a meet up picnic at the Champ du Mars, the green park by the famous monument. As the lights began to play, individuals ran around the many many picnicing groups urging them to their feet to sing Bon Anniversaire to their friend.

The sound of thousands of people singing happy birthday to a stranger brought tears to my eyes so the actual birthday boy must have had a breakdown!

Then tomorrow I am heading to a festival for Ganesh, the Indian Elephant God. My mother tells me he is the God of prosperity so I am going to bring bags of baguettes and pastries as bribes. But again I imagine it’ll be a day to remember.

However at least I am going home to see Aislinn and Tom my new little nephew, so maybe Cork will have magic moments in store also.

Oh boy I am in the midst of packing to go back to Ireland and oh my god am I now suffering for my vanity. I vowed not to buy any more clothes when I came here but it’s impossible not to….at least if you are needy and revel in attention like certain bloggers not too far from this computer.

In the first couple of weeks I went through a spate of buying cute new dresses. I have to admit I love the attention I get when I wear them. I’m Irish, it’s a novelty, cut me some slack. I’m not used to men glancing away from their drinks to appreciate women. No wonder French women walk with that certain something in their step. They know they are being looked at and admired and it’s a good feeling. In Ireland we’ve learnt to stomp forward with a rather determined gait in order to shoulder our way to the bar to get in our rounds.

The vintage shops have been my other downfall. There is any amount of quirky shops around the Marais and Pigalle where you can pick up a dress for less then a tenner. However I am curious to see how many of my purchases hold up back in Ireland. I wonder to what extent I am being seduced by the actual garment or by the whole notion and atmosphere of ‘vintage shopping in Paris.’ For the duration of that walk from the rail I hope Charlotte Gainsbourg isnt operating any heavy machinery becuase I am personally channelling her spirit!

I do suspect context helps. I wonder if Chloe Sevigney would look as cool in her vintage finds if she wasn’t surrounded by glossy editorial, brainwashing us into admiring her.

My pal Clare does carry off the vintage look with aplomb but then she is a tall slim English rose. I am tall, soft and by God, had there been any potatoes to dig out of the ground during the Irish famine, I would have been the ‘grand hardy peasant’ type to do it. And until I manage to uncover a secret stash of 50’s burlesque costume, Vintage doesn’t favour the fuller bust.

I’ve a sneaking suspicion the ‘super cool’ (my new euro-trash word) 70’s shirt bought at the Marche des Puces at Montrieul might look less ‘Last Tango in Paris’ and slightly more ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ when I dare to wear it back home. IF I ever wear it at all!

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