View From Le Sofa – Meanwhile, in Paris

It’s a well known fact that my brain and I rarely see eye to eye. I’m always wanting to go out, meet

Graffiti in Belleville

Grafitti in Belleville

people have fun, engage with people…. my brain says “nuh-uh… you’re staying riiiiiiight here”.   I swear to God, if i could get a new brain, I would.

It does weird things.   Many, many weird things.  Like, for example, the reason this blog thread exists. It wants me to stay indoors.I don’t want to. Impasse. My brain wins.

Let’s put a different spin on things. It’s fairly well established that I don’t like the city I live in. I find it cold and aggressive. it lacks the visible display of subculture that I’m used to and, for the most part, is a cultural void.  With one or two exceptions, I’ve found the ‘arts’ community both pretentious and lacking. Some of the arts community (and again, there are exceptions) are so far up themselves, they’ve become these weird, ever rotating fleshy moebius strips.   Really that description works well in my head, not so well on paper… My attempt at gaining inroads into the community have resulted in the sum total of fuck all.   The only time I found an inroad and a project partner, was with a very good friend who, sadly, died before any of our plans came to fruition.

The point is that for a long time, I assumed my agoraphobia was a reaction to how much I disliked being in Southampton.  Of course, thinking about it, this is insane.   Of course it’s not Southampton.  It might be a contributory factor, but it’s not why I am who I am, and not why I have this stupid illness.  I can safely say that, because as I mentioned before, I had two bouts of it whilst living in the best City in the UK (that’s Sheffield, in case you are unenlightened and southern).

The thing is . . . I’m in Paris with my partner. I’ve been waiting to come back here for ages and have been very apprehensive about being here with agoraphobia.

Want to know something weird?

You do?

Okay….

In Paris, I appear to be okay.

Yeah, it’s a mystery to me too, but where I would normal be shaking and clinging on to Andy, terrified of the slightest movement . . . here I was relaxed enough for Andy to leave me in shop browsing, while he disappear to a shop across the road, or the cloakrooms in the gallery to get out bags back. We were outside, not in Portswood and I was left on my own.

Paris, not for the first time, has an amazing ability which is to completely relax me and make me feel comfortable in my own skin.  That I can’t properly communicate with the general populace is irrelevant.  And I wonder if that is the point. Tracing back to the bout of agoraphobia I had had in Sheffield, both were after periods of massive disruption and pain.

Is that what this is? Is my agoraphobia a manifestation of my inability to communicate meaningfully?   Is it about expectation? I feel that Paris expects nothing – can expect nothing – of me and I’m happy. Back home, the weight of expectation cripples me and the longer it goes on, the more I feel that expectation, maybe?   I don’t know, but then I’m not a psychiatrist.

I wonder whether it’s anything to do with my relation to the arts.  Here’s what I mean: I am an artist.  For the vast majority of my life I have work in the cultural quarter.  I’ve worked in theatre, puppet theatre, the music industry, I have books published, I’ve edit books, managed bands, I’ve work in Radio and very occasionally, TV.   Thing is, I do the arty stuff because that’s what i can do.   I enjoy and, modesty aside, I’m good at it.   The problem is that when I get really good at something, and I start getting noticed, I end up sabotaging and self-destructing.  There are a number of times when “fame” has reared it’s ugly little head and I’ve felt it necessary to retreat via the medium of self-destruction.  I don’t want fame. I don’t enjoy fame, nor it’s trappings and intrusions.  So I end the situation and move on to something else.  Is that the root of my agoraphobia problems?

I can only really mull that one over.

Funny what Paris does to you, isn’t it?

Anyway, today we went for a very, very long walk, ending up at Pere Lachaise Cemetery where we said hi to Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde; had an amazing tagine – our favourite Morraccan place has closed down, sadly, but this was almost as good; we wandered over to the D’Orsay to see an exhibition of post-Marquis De Sade art.  As one loud American said “I’ve never seen so many penises in one place . . . and I’ve been to orgies!”

It was a trifle fruity, it has to be said, but there was some fantastic art.  Well worth a look if you are in the vicinity!

We ended the day by meeting a friend whom I’d ‘met’ on one of the Kate Bush forums which was lovely. We just had a nice relaxed coffee and a good chat.  It was lovely to meet her, at last!

Onwards.  I need sleep (even though it’s only 9:00pm…. I walked for 6 hours today, my step counter is in the corner weeping!)

While I think of it, talking of sleep, the Hotel is okay and would be magnificently fashionable if this were 1972. Built above the Republique Metro station, despite being 4 floors up, we can feel every single train go through.  The breakfast room in the basement threatens to collapse every time a train passes.   Quite exciting, really. I thought this would annoy me but I had the best night’s sleep I had in about 3 years last night.  God I love Paris…

More tomorrow.

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