With an hour to while away before meeting the bank manager, I decide to take a stroll down memory lane and take in some of my old haunts. The weather is, in turn, cloudy and menacing, sunny and optimistic. Wandering around my old quartier is likewise bittersweet.
There are things which make me smile knowingly – grateful for their constancy. The makeshift sign in the traiteur‘s shop – proudly boasting that once again, this year, they are the national champions “dans la fabrication du fromage de tête!”, for example. I beg you, please do not enlighten me as to what “fromage de tête” is, it’s one of those things I’d rather die not knowing. I fear it has more to do with heads than cheese, and that’s as far as I’m willing to let my mind venture.
A few paces further, nostrils teased by the pungent aroma of spit roasting chickens, I see the butcher’s assistant and note with amusement his familiar (drawn on) moustache with fanciful curlicues. He calls out a jovial “Bonjour Mademoiselle” as I pass, and I silently thank him for not saying Madame today.
Rue de la Roquette: the location of my first Parisian chez moi, crammed full of ghosts, mice and the odd cockroach. I see my younger self meandering tipsily homewards in the early hours, blissfully unaware of the existence of Guy Georges. A carefree, reckless me, buying fresh croissants at 5.30 am after a night dancing at the Rex club; pupils swollen to the size of saucers. A less jaded me, striding out into the city armed with my guidebook, determined to explore every inch of the city on foot.
I pass my laundrette (immortalised in the film Chacun cherche son chat) where girls sit flicking idly through magazines, while the warmth and hum of spin cycles lulls them into a pleasant torpor.
Glancing at my watch, I am startled out of my rêverie and hasten to retrace my steps towards the bank. I don’t have enough time to venture along rue Richard Lenoir, to the old apartment Mr Frog and I shared opposite the Gymnase Japy, where Tadpole was conceived.
But I’ll be back.