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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

TP goes to Paris. A travelogue.

It’s long, if you don’t have the time, skip the text and just check out the pictures.

Day miuns 1
I finished work early, because it was my last day and I could. At 8 I drove to Coventry with Him, where we stayed over with the friends we were going to Paris with, lets call them Gem and Jam.

He went to bed early, because he loves sleep and was preparing himself for the 3:30am start the next day. I went to bed shortly after him because I was preparing myself for the 3:30am start the next day. Gem and Jam are vampires and like to stay up late. They went to after 12, at least that’s what I think.

In the night we were visited by Gem and Jam’s cat – although I slept right through it.

Day 1 – getting there

Meep meep!!!!
The alarm went off at an ungodly hour. We didn’t bother to close the curtains because we were getting up so early it would be dark anyway. The cats came and investigated the voices they heard, and invaded the bed. I dragged Him out of bed – at this point he would’ve slept right through the holiday if he could.

Gem and Jam had showers! They are bonkers, it’s 3:30 in the morning! There’s no breakfast for me because I don’t eat milk and there’s no bread – so we all resolve to eat at the airport.

Bleary eyed Him, Gem, Jam and I load the car and set off to the airport. We go into the wrong carpark. When we try to leave it tells them us we have to pay £6. The carparking machine is having a joke. Jam presses the buzzer and admit to our blunder. We find the right car park, park and unload our stuff. I am carrying by far the biggest bag because I am vain and think Paris will be my own personal fashion show. As is always the case this vanity backfires later on.

We find our departure terminal and join a queue for the departure desk – except it is for Amsterdam not Paris. We would probably have been in the wrong queue until we reached the front if I wasn’t such a nosey parkers as to listen to other people’s conversations.

Sans bags (already using my French!) we go up the escalator, through passport control (I think?) and through security. At which point I’m stopped. I’m always getting searched. I must look shifty, like a drug dealer. Either that or it was the studded belt I was wearing.

Breakfast was terrible and overpriced. I do not recommend departures at Birmingham airport for meals.

Arriving in Paris
Excited, we filed off the plane, onto a bus and to the airport, where they were successfully allowed into the country. All our bags arrived too, that is, except mine. Frustrated, but resigned to my fate, I asked an airport woman where my bag was in terribly phrased, broken French. The airport woman took pity on me and replied in perfect English for me to follow her.

The bag, the biggest bag of them all, a monument to my madness, was lost. Airport woman did not know where it was. I described my bag and left. Somehow loosing my favourite scarf at the same time – and not even noticing until I was on the Rossibus to the centre of Paris.

Luckily I had packed the Time Out guide to Paris in my hand luggage, so we were able to find our way to their hotel with relative ease and only a few cross words all before the rooms were available. I say rooms, but on arrival at the hotel, only Gem and Jam’s room was booked, not my room. So far it was not going well.

The man on reception at the hotel understood my pseudo-French and found a room for us, which even had a balcony. Bags were dropped off, except mine, which was somewhere in the ether, and the ‘gang’ set off into town. Most probably to find food.

There was a bakery just down the street from the hotel – this provided daily nourishment, fortifying us before we left to explore the city.

Day 1 – after arrival
Day 1 is a bit of a blur – I was missing my bag, this preoccupied my mind. Through looking through photos, I can piece together the following.

We walked down rue Saint-Michel to the Seine. It was raining a bit. We then walked the ‘wrong way’ down the Seine and came to a homeless encampment. There were a lot of tents here, under the numerous bridges the cross the Seine. We did not stay long – it was raining more.

We wandered along some more, crossing the river and heading towards the Bastille. After a LOT of walking, we found it – it’s not there anymore. It’s an opera house, and an ugly one at that. There’s a statue – but it commemorates something else. So we had coffee. Except I had tea and Gem had hot chocolate and He had nothing.

Tea cup egg

It was still raining, but I had an umbrella, and the metro was just outside the cafĂ© – so we pushed onward. We had dinner. Again someone took pity on my poor attempt at French. The sink rocked.

the sink

Next, on Andygrrl’s recommendation, we went to Shakespeare and Co., a little English language bookshop right opposite Notre Dame. Crammed to the rafters. and with books in every nook and cranny, Shakespeare and Co. did not disappoint – in fact we wanted to move in and live on the beds tucked away among books in the reading rooms upstairs. The mirror of love was mesmerizing.


Advice in Shakespeare & Co.

Mirror of love

Now dead on our feet, we mooched about the outside of Notre Dame, then got the metro back to our hotel, where we tried to drink very cheap French wine, and I tried to call the airport in an attempt to locate my missing bag.

As I settled down to a night in travel tired clothes with dirty teeth and smudged eye make up, accepting the fact I would look a shocking sight the next day in borrowed clothes from Him I got a call from reception – my bag had arrived! It had been missing for about 14 hours.

Day 2 – the world’s longest day

Much to our confusion we woke at 10, but it was really 11, and then later it was actually 12. We went to rue Mouffetard (muff tard!) to see the market. Gem and Jam have better pics – mine sucks.

rue Mouffetard

Quintessentially French looking people were dancing to karaoke outside the market. The gang then walked up rue Descartes, and to a large building that none of us could name. So we took some pictures, of it and the surrounding buildings, Frenchness oozed from them. There were yellow ribbons tied to everything – from what we could figure there was a fundraising event for cancer going on. It turns out it was the Pantheon.


French appartments

This is the first time we saw the Eiffel Tower.

View of the Effel Tower from the Pantheon

We couldn’t go down the road we wanted because it was closed off – due to protests and riots that had taken place the day before. The French prime minister wants to introduce an English initiative to reduce the 23% unemployment among French youth (under 26s) [tangent]which means I am still a ‘youth’, as such I should be out causing trouble not typing a million word travelogue that no one will read all the way through [/tangent]. The law, designed to make ‘youth’ more attractive to employers will mean employer’s can fire anyone under 26 within 2 months of employing them without having to give reason. This sounds pretty wank, but apparently this is the ‘probationary’ period we have in the UK.

After eating (the search for food was a key feature of this holiday) we went to Notre Dame. Inline skaters were turning tricks for cash outside.

From the top of Notre Dame looking down at rollerbladers

The tower tour was worth the queue, and the view was fantastic. We even saw the famous chimera (which was in Scooby-doo this afternoon, they were in Paris – I recognised all the sights!) and the bell. No hunchback though.

Stained glass window, Notre Dame

Chimera, Notre Dame

View of Paris from Notre Dame

Bell tower, Notre Dame

From the top of the tower we could hear saxophone, and through my monocular (a leaving gift from work) I spied a band playing on a bridge from the island over to the right bank. This is where we headed next.

They were a jazz/blues band and they were taking turns to perform with a guy and bicycle, while one was performing the other was having a break.

Blues band


Next we headed to the Louvre, passing theses ingenious ‘shops’ on the way – boxes attached to the walls along the Seine.


We didn’t go in the Lourve, we just checked prices, tried to find food, and in the end headed back to the hotel, agreeing to go see the Tower in the dark, before getting some dinner and going to a jazz club (ooh la la).

The Eiffel Tower was fantastic. Heavily guarded by armed soldiers, but fantastic. Brilliantly lit, amazing views, bats flying past us, little tiny birds, fascinating structures and workings (for me, I’m a geek) and hardly any people. The hourly light show was on while we were up there.




from the top of the tower

inner workings

Along the seine from the tower

Arc du Triomphe from the Eiffel Tower

I don’t know how long we stayed, though it was about to close when we finally left at what must have been about 11:30. We rushed to the station, the metro closed at 12:30, and took the train to Notre Dame for dinner.
We sat down, to our salads in bread bowls, at about 1 am. Washed down with a Chardonnay and a game of cards, we didn’t make it to the jazz club in the end – it had already closed.

Late dinner

Because the metro had stopped running we knew it was going to be a long walk home to the 13th arr.

Day 3

Our feet were pounding by now, mine throbbed. Resolving to do less walking, and take the metro more we set off around the Maraias. Walking.

After getting a bit sidetracked, we located the main street and were aghast at the prices. I have no pictures :o(.
Next we were off to the Eiffel Tower again, this time to the top floor. Gale force winds, I swear. Three helicopters flew past.

Eiffel Tower by day, through trees

From the top of the tower

The whole length of it, oooh!

We had crepes, banana and chocolate for me, before walking to the Arc du Triomphe. To be honest, it was a bit disappointing, as was the Champs Elyeese – though I did get two cds after going against Andy’s advice and going into Virgin megastore. My excuse is they’re French, and chanson no less.

Aru du Triomphe

After walking all the way down the Champs Elyeese (remember, we weren’t supposed to be doing much walking today) we tried to go to the Louvre.

Maintaining our anonymity

View of the Arc du Triomphe down the Champe Elyesee

We missed out though, because it closed at 5:30, just as we were arriving (we were oblivious to time for the entire holiday). I took some pictures of the pyramid though.

Louvre pyramid

Glass pyramid of the Louvre

Ducks on the pyramid

Exhausted, we headed back to arr. 13 for dinner. After soaking aching feet we planned to find a chanson bar recommended in the guide as being the smallest venue in Paris and having over 2000 instruments on the walls. It was neither of these things – though it was worth the walk. It was called La folie un tete; the bar man laughed at my French.

La folie un tete

Street ahead

Here am I, after ½ a bottle of wine and a Kronenbourg. Rockin’ the leopard print.


Day 4
For the past 3 days we’d heard news reports about riots and protests planned to take place throughout France, and particularly in Paris on the 28th, the day we were scheduled to leave. Our hotel had recommended we book a shuttle to the airport, tourist information had told us public transport was likely to be off, CNN reported it was gong to be severely affected. We took our chances though.

The metro was running a reduced service – but out line was not hit (phew!). We got to the central station where we could catch Rossirail, the bus we caught from the airport was not running at all due to the strikes. Gar du Nord, the main station, was a warren of platforms and tunnels. The signs were all in French, and the pace was so fast my GCSE French just couldn’t cope. We were totally perplexed – and we looked it. Lucky for us, a young French woman noticed, and advised us twice where to go. We tried, but we were none the wiser. She spotted us looking lost again, and because she was some kind of wonderful woman, guided us through the station right to our train. A train we would never have found if not for her.

Despite what you might hear, everyone we met was nice, friendly and helpful, especially this woman. Don’t believe what 'they’ say about the French.


Horray! The man from NTL, not the man from Del Monte, came today and connected me to the webbynet.

I am knackered from my whirlwind tour of Paris, which was tres bien. I will write you all a nice long post about it, but now I must shower, so here's a photo from the top of the tower. You can see the Arc de Triomphe!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Tomorrow is my last day at the Trust. I've been taking all my photos down and packing away my files.

Leaving the Trust means my internet access is going to be severely restricted, for a while at least. I don't have the internet at home and I won't be able to go online so much in work because they actively monitor internet access at my new job.

I've been meaning to get the internet for months - but I haven't. I plan to ring the company tonight, if I remember.

Reading blogs is like a full time job, which is ok now as my full time job's not like a full time job - but when I start my new job on April 3rd I don't think I'm going to have the same amount of time online to blog and read blogs. I'm still struggling to get through all my bloglines from last week when I was in Scotland - there were over 200 posts to read! So, sorry if I haven't left you a comment for a while - I still want to!

As for offline life, things are busy. Subtext is taking up a lot of time and energy. I'm going to Paris on Saturday. A mechanic just installed a new exhaust pipe on my car without telling me.

I've been giddy and hyper a lot, and I'm having difficulty keeping a level head. My moods are always mixed up though, so I'm never up for long. I spent a terrible night bawling my eyes out and shaking and cursing on Tuesday. Me trying to reassure him had somehow morped into a blazing row - afterwards neither of new why. I think I was a little drunk from hyperventilation afterwards too, my partner was trying to have a conversation with me and I went from talking about working on a Ambulance to describing an escape from crocodiles and alligators, in one sentence.

So, I'm going to be M.I.A. for a while. I'll try and get online when I can. Until then, have fun x

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm leaving. End of.

I didn’t really dislike my boss until now. Sure, he’s a terrible manager, he says stupid things, he can’t pronounce words with a silent letter, he takes way too many fag breaks, and he huffs and puffs in his office all day long.

He’s turned into a complete moron though, since I handed in my resignation. Just this morning he has said, among other digs:

"I’m just borrowing your appeals folder, of course it’s not going to be your appeals folder ANYMORE!"

"I’ve just emailed you with some stuff to do, I’m going to make sure you have WORK TO DO in your last week."

Capitalisation denotes devil like evil speech.

He also keeps pronouncing that he WONT LET ME LEAVE! (again in his devil voice)

This is the same man who told a colleague that he wouldn’t bother with her yearly appraisal because she was due to go on maternity leave. Eurgh!

Well, his snarky comments are enough to ensure I do no work at all (even less than I’ve been doing for the past month).

FUCK YOU incompetent imbecile boss. You better get used to doing it yourself, because no one else will do it for you.

Monday, March 20, 2006

One night in drag

Radio 1, why oh why do I continue to listen to you? I am a fool.

This morning I heard about a new feature they’re running, One night with Laura, designed to find the perfect date for Laura the assistant on the drive time show and central protagonist of Laura’s Diary.

The name of the feature parodies both One night in Paris (Paris Hilton’s now infamous home made porno) and the song One night in heaven (which they’ve modified to create a jingle for the feature).

Radio 1 are holding ‘auditions’ at 5 locations across the UK to find eligible men to compete to spend one night with Laura (actually, it’s not the whole night, just the evening).

They’re coming to Nottingham on March 29th.
I’m thinking of going, as a drag king.

D’ya think I’ll get through?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hiding in the Highlands

I have a confession to make. I am, apparently, terrible with money.

This month I have been so good. I haven’t bought anything besides food, drink and the odd taxi fare. I thought that I was doing so well. I thought I might be able to afford to go away for the weekend before I start my new job, and that maybe I would be able to afford a new mp3 player too. I was going to go to Manchester at the start of April.

That is until I checked my bank balance. Two hundred pounds to my name. This is not good. It is two weeks until pay day.

Why? Where did all my money go? I HAVE BEEN GOOOOOOD! I don’t understand. I hyperventilated a bit when I found out. But not too dramatically because I was at work and people would’ve looked at me strangely.

You’re not meant to be constantly broke when you work full time.

So, due to the shock, I spent over £70 on impulse, catalogue shopping online. I am such a freakin moron.

I am taking a week in the Scottish Highlands to recover. Ta ta.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Action satisfaction

I would love to come up with a good post today, after all it’s International Women’s Day and Blog Against Sexism day. However I’m drawing a complete blank*

There are a fair few things I could be writing about – one is the double standards of a lot of feminist bloggers who think a woman should be granted permission to implant frozen embryos previously fertilised by her former partner and carry them to term against his will. Pro choice. It means he has the right to say no too. Yeah, sure, his ‘no’ may be taken a lot more seriously than hers, but undermining his right to say no is not going to strengthen any woman’s right to say no in the future.

Instead of this palarva, I am going to bring another plan into action. Subtext is going well my sweeties! So now that my domination of the publishing industry is well underway I am going to embark on the next phase of my plan for world domination, rock stardom.

I pledge to drag my keyboard out of the attic, dust off my bass guitar, upload my music software (when it arrives...) and become the next underground sensation. I will combine Chicks on Speed, Le Tigre, Kanye West (he is a total prick but he has good rhythms) and Subhumans whilst also channeling the limitless talents of Kathleen Hannah.

Yes, it's me against the male dominated music world. I'm fed up of waiting for him her and them to do it with me. Now is the time.

*just a little Grosse Point Blank reference for my fellow geeks.

Self harmers to be given clean blades and shown how to cut more safely.

This is pretty divergent to the studies that have shown ER staff are less likely to give good care and sufficient time to patients admitted as a result of self harming (see one of Hippie's posts on this). However, divergent in this case is a good thing.

[via Alas, via BoingBoing]

Oh Happy Day!

I have just trashed a rageathon written this morning after a terrible commute into work, the morning after a terrible argument with 'him indoors'. I was feeling a lot of anger, self hatred and also pretty sorry for myself. Instead of the rageathon I'm pleased to point you to the following...

The 10th Carnival of Feminists is up at Indian Writing and features a post by yours truly [thanks very much to the mysterioso who nominated it :o)]!

Once you're read that put your thinking caps on for the 11th Carnival of Feminists which will be held over at Angry for a Reason - visit for more info.

Happy International Women's Day everyone.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Thanks Laurelin for the tag, here's my response. Please bear in mind it is Monday morning and I left my brain at home today.

Black and White or Colour; how do you prefer your movies?
I like my movies in colour, but I like stills in black and white…

What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?
Erm, football. Talking about football. Lucky I don’t know anyone who’s actually going to talk to me about it.

MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favourite medium for prerecorded music?
I like records. If you play them too fast or too slow and it’s like having two records for the price of one and you can play them backwards. They demand your attention because you have to turn them over and if they skip you have to jump out of seat like lightning to right them. Playing them well is like a precise exercise in electronic engineering: speakers, amplifiers, careful placing of the needle. It’s a listening experience.

MP3s are good for portability and skipping through tracks though. It’s difficult to records on the train.

You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
No, I’d try and figure out a way to have both. I would plan an elaborate ruse to trick the person offering me the money. To karmically rebalance afterwards I would give a heap of dosh to charity.

Money just aint worth having if you don’t have anyone to share it with.

Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?
Climate change/destruction of our environment – no matter what else we do, achieve or whatever there’s not much point if we’re going to kill off the planet. We’ll have to move to the moon. It’s cold and dry there. That would suck.

How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue?
I would make everyone convert their cars to run on sugar, or hemp, or vegetable oil, or natural gas. I would lock up the CoE of MacDonalds and submit them to tickle torture. I would force power companies to shut down their power stations or ‘go green’ and build hydroelectric tidal energy generators and wind farms out at sea. I would put a limit on car use to make people choose when they need to use them rather than just nipping round the corner in them when it’s cold.

It’s unfair to expect me to come up with an integrated and realistic plan for the prevention of climate change off the top of my head on a Monday morning when I feel like shite. That’s just mean.

You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
I wouldn’t change anything. I try not to carry regrets around with me.

You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
I’m not sure if I would change anything in broader history either. I thought at first I would kill off Hitler, but someone else would’ve probably gone and done the same thing anyway. There were and are plenty of people who’d be capable.

A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry – Which do you choose?
The Grand Ole’ Opry sounds like more fun than the opera.

What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?
Who killed Roger Rabbit. Oh wait, didn’t someone solve that one already. Yeah, I think they made a movie about it…

One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
George Orwell. I would serve him couscous and halloumi cheese with grilled vegetables, because it’s yum.

You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
I don’t believe in God, heaven or hell, and I don’t act like a murderous jerk-off. Just because there’s no one ‘watching you’ doesn’t mean people will run wild in the streets and go all LOTF and end up eating each other. We shouldn’t need a ‘overseer’ to keep us in line.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Add your name to the petition against human trafficking during the 2006 World Cup

Prostitution is legal in Germany, the host country of the 2006 football World Cup.

Part of the preparations being made for the influx of thousands of men coming to the country to watch a match, the German authorities are setting up roadside booths (among other additional areas) in which prostitues can service potentially thousands of extra clients.

This presents a great 'business' opportunity for human traffickers, because there is likely to be much greater demand than the prostitues of Germany can fulfill.

80,000 people are trafficed across borders every year, 90% of which are women and girls. It is estimated thousands of these women and girls will be trafficed into Germany before and during the world cup to be sold into prostitution.

The Party of European Socialists are petitioning President Barroso, President of the European Commission, to take action to stop this crime. The petition will be presented on March 8th, International Womens Day.

Click here to add your name to the thousands of others that want to put a stop to this crime and abuse of women's rights.