Monday, March 19, 2012


A bit of a hiatus in the blog-writing. You can blame some of it on this. 

And some of it on this.

I didn’t dare post these until it got a bit cloudy here in Paris and the sun came out in Scotland. There has also been the small problem of getting my hands on my own laptop. Then, just as I sat down to post the blog in a handy Starbucks, a crazy French lady began screaming in my face. Apparently I was causing a public disturbance by tapping my keyboard. In a cafe. With the music blaring. And her sitting at the opposite end of the cafe. With her ipod earplugs in. 
I was quite shaken up. Then I remembered I was from Glasgow where people are hard. So I told on her to the staff and got a free coffee. 

Anyway, regarde le ciel was almost the first thing I saw as I climbed up out of the Metro into the thunder of traffic when we first arrived, and it made me smile as it seemed to sum up Paris and what this gap is all about: looking up from everyday life to snatch a pause, a rare chance to work in a new setting and live a different kind of life, just for a while.  

In Glasgow, we tend to have less lyrical graffiti. In Paris, it’s everywhere. Elegantly scripted on walls and pavements. Look at the sky. And so you do. Well, I did. I was so busy regarding the night sky where Venus and Jupiter were mimicking a Van Gogh Starry Night above the Palais Royale and the Eiffel Tower was lasering the city, impersonating a sparkly Dalek, that I stumbled into a hole in the pavement and sprained my ankle. Well, I’d done enough wandering and gazing. Now I’d have to sit still and write.

That was the plan. Until Daughter injured her knee running in the Tuileries Gardens which meant we were both grounded. Cue a daily battle over who gets the laptop... 

How many shoes can one mother and daughter squeeze into Ryanair baggage allowance for one springtime in Paris? You’d be amazed. The shoe crisis took three days to resolve but finally we managed to shut the suitcases, and even avoid the Ryanair random weigh-in and the new Ryanair Roving Box (a new form of torture to weed out passengers whose hand luggage might be classed as a weapon due to the dangerous protuberances of shoe heels).
I’ve been getting two distinct reactions from people to the idea of Gapping in Paris with my daughter - this brief, snatched pause between two chapters of my life, and hers, before she goes off on her own to Italy, then university in the autumn.
‘Wow!’ Subtext: ‘I hate you.’ (Other writers)
‘Wow... that’s er, brave.’ Subtext: ‘Are you crazy?’ (Other mothers)
One friend helpfully suggested that if it all goes wrong we can always fly home on separate planes.
Imagining the worst and working backwards is a speciality of mine. (Check out my books). So I’ve already thought that one through.
There have to be Rules. Mostly for me. The deal is that we’re here as two equals, each of us working hard on our own projects. I’m writing, she’s studying. She’s testing her wings; I’m loosening parental chords. So I’m not in charge. No one is. It’s a big step towards the future, for both of us.
Maybe that explains the shoe crisis. Just a pity both of us are now struggling to find a single pair that we can hobble about in on sprained legs. 

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