I hate travelling. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in new places and love exploring new cultures; new spaces; new architecture; galleries; stuff; more stuff. I bloody love it! I just hate the physical process of getting from one place to another. Teleportation can’t come quickly enough . . . probably why I was always in awe of he Tomorrow People. I wonder whether the agoraphobia is a manifestation of this dislike, or whether the dislike has exacerbated the agoraphobia. It doesn’t really matter either way because this morning, Andy and I set off for Paris. We were meant to go in April for my birthday, but real life got in the way and we ended up having to postpone. And then postpone again. And again.
But as I write this, I’m sitting on Eurostar heading towards my favourite City. Paris is the first overseas destination I remember travelling to. Although we had lived in SIngapore and Malta (spot the Forces brat!) I have only the vaguest of recollections of these places as we came back to England just after my third birthday. Fifteen years later, a college trip for the catering course I was on was announced. My classmates and I, with all the manners of a) Brits abroad, and b) teenagers on their first visit away without the parents, pretty much failed to do any of the things we were supposed to be there for. Paris was meant to be a base for certain food related cultural visits. As far as I recall the only one where everyone turned up was for the visit to the champagne region where, it was rumoured, the vineyard gave out free wine because our year head was a good friend of theirs.
This was a lie and when we discovered this, we all acted like brats, pouted a lot and took the piss out of the poor tour guide; she gave the tour in English and struggled with the word “grapes”. Sometimes it sounded like ‘craps’ sometimes ‘crabs’. Naturally when it came to the end of the tour and we all bought souvenirs, top of the list was “Crap and Crab Juice”. We thought we were so funny.
Clearly we weren’t.
I spent most of my time at college with Olwen and Dianne, and obviously, as they came too, I spent all my time with them in Paris. We stayed in – actually, Im not sure what we stayed in. I think it might have been something like a ‘Halls of Residence’. Either way the rooms had one or two beds and nothing else. Not even curtains. I shared with a room with guy called Duncan who I didn’t know. He wasn’t on our course and no one quite knew how he got on the trip, but he was a laugh, so no one really minded.
But all this reminiscing isn’t really getting us anywhere. What I’m trying to say with all this rose tinted nostalgia is that I have strong and amazing memories of Paris. It was an awful long time before I got to go there again and when I finally did return, all the places I remembered were still there. Some of them shouldn’t have been as they were fairly run down back then. Nothing had changed, really, except things were a little blacker.
So. You get the vibe. I love Paris. Going back is always a joy but this time is a bit different. This time, I’m agoraphobic and I don’t really know what that means in terms of surviving in my favourite City
Although I’m excited about going, there is this nagging tremble. Am I going to be able to make it outside? Am I going to be able to enjoy myself? Is this going to tarnish my feeling for Paris?
I’m a bundle of nerves!
Travelling in was, as expected, traumatic. It started off annoyingly in a ‘first world problems’ kind of when when I decided I as wgoing to buy myself some new shirts to go away with. Holiday clothes! I ordered them from Next with next day delivery and would you beleive it, even after the email confirming that the would be with me by 6:00pm, the courier didn’t arrive. I called and was told the “6:00pm” can mean “up to 8:00pm depending on how the courier works”. This annoyed me. Why not just say “Up to 8:00pm”? Whatever. They didn’t arrive. I phoned in the morning, explained the situation and was told that they would definitely arrive today and they would call the courier and bollock him. Ten they’d call me back and let me know what had happened. I pointed out that I wanted the shirts for my holiday and we were leaving the house at 11:00am. If he came after that, we wouldn’t be in. He didn’t show up. We’re going to a fairly swish dinner. I’m not happy that I have to go in a crappy shirt.
But again. First World Problems.
Next I had a lovely chat with the taxi driver about what Christmas means to Sikhs before being dropped off at the railway station. An uneventful journey into London and then . . . oh wait! I didn’t tell you . . . my back has been threatening to go for a couple of weeks and it finally tore last night. So I’m now in agony and hauling myself round using a walking stick and very powerful painkillers . . .
So, lurching about in the tube stations, being jostled and bumped, isn’t appreciated. When we finally go on the tube, all the seats had gone and I was clearly in pain, whenever I looked at someone as if to say “please may I sit down”, everyone looked the other way and ignored me, even those taking up the “disabled and people with walking sticks” seats.
We moved along the train and a guy stands up and says “If none of these cunts will give you a seat, you can have mine, love”. Broad Yorkshire. See? North is awesome. I said thank you and sat down, hugely grateful.
We mooched around a bit, had lunch at Yo! (INARI POCKETS!!!) and then wandered around looking for gloves and scarves as our friend Guillaume, who we’re eating out with this weekend, informed us that Paris was bloody cold at the moment. He suggested an anorak, but there are some things a man cannot bring himself to do…
More rudeness at the Eurostar terminal. One person simply backed his luggage into my walking stick without looking and then blamed me – I thank god I can’t drive otherwise I’d constantly be in court for road rage. Another, well, I was walking quite slowly, having a walking stick tends to indicate I’m having problems and I could hear this coughing. It got louder and louder until I said to Andy “Whats that coughing noise?” At which point someone barges past me, damn near knocks me flying and coughs loudly, aggressively and dramatically right in my face.
Had he said “excuse me please”, I think everyone would have been happier, but I don’t speak “cough”.
Which brings us back to Eurostar. I’m not fond of travelling. I feel sick. I don’t know whether this is excitement, fear or motion sickness.
Stayed tuned irrelevant wibblings with an accent…