Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wheels Keep Turning

I’m alive!

And why shouldn’t I be? You may be asking. Did she have a near death experience?

Well the answer is no, although I could be accused of having suicidal tendencies.

See it started like this. In my neglected blog inbox I found a series of e mails which started very politely and dare I say complimentary and ended up somewhere along the lines of: ‘Are you reading my bloody e mails or what?’ I decided that truth was the best answer and replied that I had actually forgotten that I had the blog email, but I would put everything else aside and get on with the proposed task. Part I of the task did not involve a great deal of effort as I was sitting in the right place to do it. Part II involved taking pictures in 5 different locations around the city. Now normally this would not be a problem to one equipped with a navigo pass (like an oyster pass in the UK apart from one small difference) except it’s the holidays and it’s not charged up. Also, after my last venture on the metro these holidays I was a wee bit frightened. Before even getting on the metro the pongiest guy ever sat down next to me. I loitered as the train pulled in then rushed into the next carriage. BAM! It was like walking into a furnace. Mopping my brow, I happily got off to change metros and was pleasantly surprised when the next train was neither packed nor stifling. At the next stop I felt all the hairs in my nostrils curl up and try to retreat backwards as the cheesiest smell ever attacked me. As I turned to my right I spotted the offending feet in a pair of cheap rubber sandals. If it had been a French guy or English speaking tourist, I was so offended I may have told them the best thing they could do with those sandals was throw them away.

Anyway back to the point, so five locations, no charged up metro card, what could I do? And then in a flash of madness it came to me: Velib. Like I say it was a flash of madness, by the time I met Colleen yesterday evening for an aperitif after my afternoon constitutional I was already having second thoughts. I started: “I’ve been thinking about this Velib thing, I’ve looked at the map and to get from Concorde to St. Paul you have to go along the Quai (three lanes of traffic to you), there’s no other direct route.” The thing is there was a mad kind of zeal in Colleen’s eyes and I knew there was no way I was convincing her otherwise, she was going to do Velib tomorrow even if it killed me.

After many hours on spent on Mappy and staring at my Paris Pratique I realised that it’s absolutely impossible to drive around Paris (according to Mappy a bicycle is not a vehicle). I realised I didn’t know the road code (or whatever it’s called) and I remembered very clearly the terror of the last time I had ridden a bike.

When my alarm went off this morning (I was already awake), I sent Colleen a text telling her I was too young to die (even if Adrian Mole has decided that I am middle aged – bastard!) Unfortunately Colleen didn’t get it until she was already on the metro with the bike helmet attached to her bag.

I took the first set of pictures and the dreaded moment arrived. I decided to go first up seeing as to be honest I didn’t even know if I could still ride a bike, but in the end it turns out it’s like sex, you don’t forget. One of the waiters in the restaurant by the bike stand even came out and said I looked charming on the bicycle. So I made damn sure that after I had cycled round the block he didn’t see me slamming the bloody hulk of a thing back into its holder.

There is no way I am ever going to cycle around Paris. Colleen met me at Odeon after I had walked a bit then got over my temporary fear of metros. She said cycling was fine and the biggest danger was pedestrians. I think I tripped over at that point.

Anyway, I’ve done it, I’ve tried it. The bikes are easy to hire, easy to ride, but ... I’m a pedestrian and proud of it.

So other news on the bloggernet is that I can’t leave comments because Blogger is playing up and Jason Evans over at The Clarity of Night has just opened his 6th Short Fiction Contest. Right, where’s the wine?

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