Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Starry Starry Night in Paris

Even the sky was different. An inky blue starry starry night. I was bedazzled, wandering the boulevards, gazing up at the Van Gogh sky, aching to be one of the exotic creatures who lived in the balconied apartments above.

I was seventeen, on my first visit to Paris. I felt I was walking through heaven. Now I know I was falling in love - with a city.

My Dad's response was succinct enough when I came home and said I wanted to live in Paris for a while before university. I'd work there, I'd...


We didn't do Gap Years back then in the West of Scotland. University was our gap experience; a bit of a skive before reality hit. I was the first in the family to go to university. My Dad got his degree the hard way, the only way open to a bright working-class boy: years of night school after work. There was no way he'd let me take some wayward path and muck up my chance to do it the easy way.

'So who gave you that idea?' he wanted to know.

I muttered something about Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde and Simone de Beauvoir. They'd all escaped to Paris to write, to find out who they really were. Two rock goddesses and the high-priestess of the Left Bank. I knew I was sunk the moment the names were out of my mouth.

'Well, you're not them,' he reminded me. 'And you're going to university.'

And that was that.

Until now.