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The call of the city

Increasingly these days I find myself on estate agents' sites looking longingly at apartments in Paris.

I flick through the various arrondissements, lingering as always on the Monopoly board equivalent of Mayfair, somehow incapable of rolling the dice and moving on.

In particular I return again and again to what is described as a pied a terre in the 7th; a two-bedroomed conversion that is calling my name.

The drawing room has the original panelling on all walls and the floors, of Versailles parquet, glide en-filade into hall and bedrooms.

The ground-to-ceiling windows open on to tiny "Paris" balconies with the gracefully curved ironwork so evocative of the city.

But then, could I hide that exquisite wood with the necessary shelving required for my beloved books? Sacrilege.

Could I off-load many of my books? Sacrilege.

Only two, maybe three of my paintings and limited editions are worthy enough to hang here. The rest, each telling a fondly remembered story of where, when and why, would be doomed to lie unseen and unloved behind forever closed doors.

My black-and-white collection could certainly line the small, though chic, kitchen and the hall, and contain the many photographs that now clutter Las Molieres.

But my country/dog-battered furniture would be shamed in that clear, searching Parisian light, and the once prized rugs would show the ravages of too many days and nights on the tiles.

As indeed would I in that cruel, penetrating city light.

So I toss and turn in La France Profonde, barricaded behind shutters that are slowly decaying and think up ways of having my books and the panelling. Having my tarte au citron and eating it.

And then, a new disturbing thought: would I find Paris too cold? The wind too biting, the rain too needle sharp for my new paper-thin, crinkly, too southern skin?

Could I ever be smart enough again to be allowed out on the rues?

Would my feet, now moulded into horrid flip-flop shapes, ever squeeze back into the heels and pointed toes banked at the back of the wardrobe? My clothes may be classic, but my body, given time and rural indulgence, is anything but these days.

My son, as he told me over Christmas, sees me in a cottage as close to him - London - as possible. He rattled off towns and villages and shires, and talked of "coming down" for Sunday lunch and me "coming up" for drinks and dinners in restaurants I once click-clicked through with money and cards in my bag.

Does he realise how my heart sinks at the thought of a Home Counties cottage; of his closer scrutiny of my determined slide into a fume/wine-filled cyber world; of becoming the duty call at the end of the line?

Let's be searingly honest here. I am never going to become an apple-cheeked granny tending to my roses in some bloody English fantasy in Villageland, having whipped up Sunday bloody lunch in the Aga.

It's a nice idea and occasionally I can play with it and maybe, in the next life, I'll have a go. But not this one.

Ah, Paris … that truly is my France. The France I dreamed of when playing Jacques Brel (yes, OK, a Belgian) and first properly discovered, in mini-skirts and white tights, while being propositioned every two steps swanning down the Avenue Foch.

The France of my twenties, thirties and forties, with weekends/weeks in sophisticated hotels with midnight walks always looking up and always, or so it now seems, smiling. Mainly laughing.

And the France of my childhood - tumbled out of sleep into the Gare du Nord into an overwhelming, intoxicating blend of Gauloises, garlic, coffee and drains; saturnine men with coats draped on their shoulders who ruined me for ever for uptight gentlemen who held their coats over their arms.

How seriously odd is it that I should be here, in France, and still be nostalgic for France?

A colleague of mine once memorably quit with the words: "Man, I'm in the wrong movie." It's true. I'm in the wrong movie but not necessarily in the wrong genre.

I'm just in the wrong place and this coming year I have to resolve this. Finally.

I think, think I'm in the right place - ie France - for a number of reasons about which, of course, I will agonise over the next few months.

Yet, I left Glasgow because I knew I could no longer work or live in a city and afford it. I didn't want to downgrade; incapable of somehow changing without making a dramatic gesture. Perhaps another dramatic gesture is required.

I have another look at that apartment, work out the measurements for table and chairs, imagine myself entering through the concierged front door.

I see myself sauntering beside the Seine, the Eiffel Tower in my sight line day and shining night. I'll quickly shake the clay from my feet, and one good cut and colour hides a multitude of other sins.

I recheck the asking price. Buggeration - still €2.5 million.

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