Saturday, 22 June 2013

Les Sticks and Les Flics

Like most women, I am not obsessed with my weight.
I just think about it all the time.
I don't do much about it, admittedly, but I think about it.
And, happily, being completely indifferent to fashion, the resurgence of spray-on jeans has neither sparked any desire to be a la mode nor impinged on my physical comfort.

I don't suppose you have to be stick-thin to carry off the spray-on look, but I'm sure it helps.
Paris is stick thin.
I don't think I have ever seen so many wafer-women anywhere.
I don't know how they manage to walk about - some of them on sky-scraper heels as well.
How do they do it? And in Paris of all places, where every second shop is a boulangerie, and the ones in between sell wine or cheese, or chocolate, or some other epicurean delight.

When it came to our Essential Paris List, the In-Charge and I were as one.

'Matchsticks!' said I.
'Toothpicks!' said he, but then, 'Spaghettini,' he corrected himself.

We noticed it on our first day. Sitting in a cafe, the In-Charge suddenly said: 'There isn't a pick of flesh on that.'
The last time he'd said that was when we collected SuperModelTeenQueen from her foster home (and that was after three weeks of intensive feeding), so I turned, expecting to see a starving stray.
I suppose she could have been a starving stray, but her clothes didn't fit the bill, and she certainly wasn't either canine or feline.

We got quite competitive in the end.
'Her legs are thinner than the ones you saw yesterday!'
'There go the skinniest pins in Paris!'
We were too busy gawping to record the best of the super-mince, but one or two slipped through by accident.


Anyway, you don't want to be caught snapping girls' legs every time they totter past.
You might attract the wrong kind of attention.
You might be arrested. It could happen.
Les flics were very near the top of both our EP lists. We've never seen so many in our life.

Admittedly, we were staying close to the Ile de la Cite, upon which resides - apart from Notre Dame - the Prefecture de Police, so we knew instantly if anything was going down in any quartier of the city, as fleets of vans stuffed with armed officers would go screaming out, sirens wailing, regardless of the snarled up traffic they left in their wake.

We went to Giverny one Sunday, and when we got off the train at Gare St Lazare on our return, it was to find the area around the Opera closed off, and phalanxes of cops in riot gear lining the streets, shoulder to shoulder.
Excitement, excitement!

Don't you love the irony? Or perhaps not - are they, like Irish Gards, just guardians of the peace...

I immediately ducked behind one of their riot shields to ask what was happening, and found that we had missed a massive manifestation, during which, apparently, 1,000,000 people from all over France had gathered in Paris to protest against the legalisation of gay marriage.

The French, as everyone knows, are always ready to storm the barricades, take to the streets, blockade ports with trucks or find some way of making their feelings known.
Good for the French.
And shame on us for being too apathetic for follow suit.

The police are everywhere in Paris. They are present, in van-loads, at any disturbance, they are on foot, on motorbikes, on rollerblades, on horseback. They are in mufti, they are in uniform, they are in riot gear and   you are definitely going to come off worst in any encounter with their protective clothing.
And, of course, they are armed.
But equally Paris is also full of buskers, beggars, illegal traders and more - none of whom look harassed.
Being a law-abiding tourist with no axe to grind, I don't have an opinion about either police numbers or presence, but I found myself wondering how the French feel. Secure or scrutinised?

One of the funniest moments of our holiday happened in the Tourist Office near Pyramides.
While waiting for a leaflet at the desk, I overheard an elderly American woman talking to the official at the next desk.
'Well,' she said, waving her arms expressively. 'I don't know about that. All I can say is, I'd feel much happier if there were more police on the street!'

We burst into laughter and had to leave immediately.
But for the rest of our stay, one of us only had to say: 'Well, all I can say is, I'd be happier...'

1 comment:

  1. It had to be an American, didn't it? We deserve the bad reputation we have as horrible travelers... waaahh....

    funny, anyway! <:-D


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