Friday, December 25, 2009
Walking with Dinosaurs is the third biggest tour in the world right now, after U2 and Coldplay, and I'm right in the guts of it. Two shows a day they sell out, all across Europe, then later in the year, Japan. Meka is, typically, adored by all, and being her guest makes me part of the family. The first day here it's name after name after name, and I give up trying to know everybody. They've been 9 months on the road, over a 100 people, techies, truckies, production staff, catering, fucking everything and everyone. What do I do at home? I sure as Hell don't travel the world making gigantic robot dinosaurs. Everyone's a character, the Drivers especially. Hard nuts from Northern England, covered in tattoos and whistling at French girls. This is not My Paris. But it's a hilarious Base from which to discover what it is I'm really looking for. That's home for me here. A small, anonymous fish, in a monstrous travelling pond. The hotel empties in the morning, and then they all come charging back about 9pm. So all day, every day, I wake up, eat a croissant, drink a coffee, then start to walk. I'm going to know this city. I promise myself that. And being alone, I am free.
The first morning I wake up dazed and confused, and leaking "Ham Sandwiches" from my nose. I can't feel my face, hairy mouth, all the Jazz that the City of Lights could dish up on one long Winter's Night. But after a blink or two as I open the curtain, my heart soars and I am ready.
It's not cold like London. There is no snow, yet. It's just grey and a casual 2 degrees. Two pair of socks and back in the Connies. The hotel is right by the river in Bercy, so we're away from the Heart, but easy to find. Not that I want to be found. I want to be lost. I hide in my jacket and put the sunglasses on. The ones she gave me when I woke in her house in London. I wear them every day. I want her to see what I see. And I want her to be close. But that's...
I carry a camera when I walk, but it's impossible to know what to snap. I'm no photographer. And every fucking street corner is a postcard, once I start drifting away from the river through Bastille and then back toward Notre Dame. I mean I could be taking photos of a tacky restaurant, which to me looks so beautiful beneath the impossibly perfect apartments. Balconies, curtains, everything is as anyone has ever imagined. And all the Parisiens, with their coats and dogs and cigarettes, deftly navigating the city streets, so I just dig my hands deep in my pockets and go with the flow, be one, be this, cross the roads hard not scared, I don't want to visit, I want to live in this place, I want to know how it feels when I surrender to the beat, when I shed my old skin, and am reborn in this sacred heart.
I walk for six and a half hours, that first day. I get to know back streets, shortcuts, dive bars, where to go and where to avoid. I see both sides of the river, and I fall in love with Isle St Louis. I walk from Bercy to the Tower and back again. I watch the buildings light up, one after the other, at dusk. I see a Golden City beneath a Golden Sky, and I have come Home. My soul knows it. It brought me here. And I let it take control.
There's only one thing missing. And she is back in Hackney.
But I have come this far on blind belief.
And I don't lose Faith, in Fate's Beautiful Plan TM.
Because as always, there is so much more.