Sunday, 14 April 2013

Doing the lobster

You know how sometimes you put things off because you know they'll be painful? Like going to the dentist, or getting your injections, or going to bed after spending a day in the sun without so much as a hat.

This informs the title of this post. My skin has the tight, pink sheen that is normally only associated with a freshly boiled crustacean. I am now giving off heat and, I suspect, would glow like an ember were I to turn out the lights in my little room. Was it worth it? At the moment, through cracked lips, I still say yes. When I get up tomorrow and slough off half of my skin in the shower you may get a different response, but for now:

God, Paris is a gorgeous city. Even when it's so hot I can barely walk, it's beautiful. You know that in Paris you can sit by the Seine and dangle your toes in the river? You can't do that with the Thames. Common wisdom is that you'd end up with more or less toes than you started with. More or less, mind, no chance of the number remaining the same.

But in Paris, in the shadow of the French Iron Lady, you can dip a toe in the water and only worry about the current carrying you away, screaming, before being shredded by the blades of one of the many tour boats the prowl the river.

The view over the Seine is equally beautiful, although it was disturbed today by the site of a clearly highly organised gang of conmen. They were running a scam that has various names and involve a large degree of sleight of hand - "Find the lady" being the most common of its names. Being something of an amateur magician it was hard not to be impressed with the misdirection they used, but at the same time the stooges were obvious - although clearly only to those watching. I saw one Spanish tourist lose 100€ in a minute, and when she started to become visibly irate the whole gang just up and melted away into the throng on the bridge. And I mean gang; I'd not spotted the spotter (qui custodiet ipsos custodes, you know) but he moved with the whole lot of them too. If you want to know more about this particular con just type "find the lady" or "three card monte" into Youtube and look forward to hours of fun.

Although it sounds patronising I'm going to say it anyway for the benefit of people like me; that is to say people who are intelligent enough to think they can outsmart these guys. Don't try. They are far better at it, and you cannot be everywhere at once. You might win once, but one of the gang will shortly have his fingers in your pockets because you showed the world where you keep your wallet when you got it out to pocket your winnings. The house always wins, no matter if it's Caesar's palace or a sweaty guy on the Pont d'Iéna. Do the really smart thing and walk straight on.

Aside from that, I took some touristy snaps - I do love the Eiffel Tower - and then strolled my weary bones home.

Reading, as always, is my constant joy as I walk. While my HTC has access to every song I've ever bought it's also got the life of a gadfly and loses 50% of its battery if I so much as look at it, so that negates any musical distraction. However, my +Amazon.com Kindle Touch, a much appreciated gift from my mother, has the staying power of a Duracell Bunny. I literally can't remember the last time I charged it, the thing's a beast, and it boasts a lot of interesting titles - although new releases still haven't come down in price, classics are ten a penny. At the moment I'm trying to sink my teeth into Flatland by Edwin Abbott and I confess it's doing my brain an injury. It deals with a totally two-dimensional world, and just trying to imagine that is making my grey matter fold in on itself. How do they eat? How do they have houses? Or trees? Both are mentioned by the narrator in the first chapter. I look forward to seeing how it further unfolds. Or doesn't, since in 2D space there are no folds.

Mind-flattening.