Sunday, April 26
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, Paris, 10:30
Albert was still deep asleep when I got up. I decided to go for a Sunday morning walk. I turned left along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis to see what I could see.
What I discovered was that south of Gare du Nord the shops and restaurants are almost all Turkish, Morrocan, North and central African. As soon as you cross Rue de Dunkirque and head north the road changes immediately. Almost all the shops and restaurants are Indian. There are shops selling Indian clothes, household goods, Bollywood movies, and food. I had a Sunday breakfast of very good samosas.
On the way back I stopped at Carrefour to buy cheeses and candy to take home, as well as a carton of grapefruit juice and a half bottle of wine to replace the one we drank last night.
Now I am over the road looking at the door to the apartment block. We are next to an Expert, which seems unlikely to me. It is very warm but it is also just starting to drizzle.
At 12:30 Albert will leave for the second day of his workshop. I will clean the apartment and try to work out how the dishwasher works. I will succeed at the first and fail at the second.
At 15:15 it will be time for me to leave for the Sunday films and discussions. I will check and, thankfully, the rain has stopped and the sky has cleared.
Five minutes after I leave the house it will start raining again. In fact what starts will turn out to be a long, hard rainstorm which, coupled with the driving wind, will prove blinding and miserably uncomfortable. The rain will be bouncing off the pavement, soaking my legs on the way down and then again on the way up.
I will stop at the first umbrella shop I find and buy one. By this point I will have my bag-in-a-bag on my head but the man behind the counter will not even notice it. Other people will also have plastic bags on their heads because it is the kind of rain in which looking cool rapidly becomes less important than keeping your head dry.
Somewhere in this sodden half-blind misery I will take a wrong turn and double back on myself. After a while I will realise that the fifteen minute journey has so far taken fifty minutes. I will stop at a café to dry myself and find out what is going on.
I will sit outside on a covered terrace with a café au lait, so I can look around. I will notice that I have walked north right to the end of the number 4 metro line. I will also notice that this line will take me directly to the arts centre. Nine stops and fifteen minutes later I will be there, soaked to the skin but equipped with an unnecessary umbrella.
The films will start an hour late which will mean that I am just in time to drip dry for a couple of hours in the cinema.
Afterwards everyone will go for a drink and a meal which, once again, will be in the same street as our apartment. This restaurant will be much louder and chaotic than yesterday’s. My meal will star a duck breast with a supporting cast of hand-made potato wedges.
Once I have finished eating, the ever-increasing sound and the fog of cigarette smoke will remind me that Choco might want company. I will say my goodbyes and leave immediately to test this hypothesis. Albert will arrive home fifteen minutes later.
To my extreme irritation he will walk in, switch the dishwasher on – and it will just start working. I will find my own irritation amusing and go to bed chuckling.