Saturday, 20 April 2013

Shakespeare and Company

Well. It seem I really love books.

Today was a long day. It started at half past seven, as usual - I can't remember the last time I had a long lie in - and after ablutions and dressing (black shirt, burgundy tie, navy suit since you asked) I made my way to A's house for some more English tutoring. Having seen his syllabus, I'm going to need to brush up on some maths along with some biology, so that'll be really interesting. Evolution is up next, so there's a lot for me to read there - I'm currently reading The Science of Discworld III and it turns out almost everything I thought I knew about evolution is wrong, so I need to get refreshed.

After teaching, A's father suggested that I carry on tutoring A even when I go home, via Skype, and they'll set up a wire transfer and keep paying me. The idea is very tempting, especially as it'll mean I'll only need to work four hours a week to manage my budget, rather than the twenty I've currently got planned. However, I'm not sure how well I can tutor via the internet, so I might need to do a trial run first. If you tutor online, what programs do you use? Are there any you recommend?

After tutoring I headed home and dropped in on my friend Adeline, who's as cute as a button and as innocent as the driven snow (and almost as dangerous). She'd agreed to come with me on a journey to the centre of Paris to find Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookstore. We strolled down to the station at about 2 and caught the RER into town, popping up at Chatelet-les-Halles. From there it's a short walk south to the Seine, over the bridge, and into what could be described as the literature quarter. I didn't take my camera. I'm still kicking myself.

I failed at finding Shakespeare & Co on the first try, so instead we went to Gilbert Jeune, which is one bookstore with many different storefronts spread around the Place de Saint Michel. I confess at this point that I went back into full-on teacher mode. I spoke at length about Saint Michel and Satan, calling attention to the figures that form the fountain in the Place. I gathered a small crowd with my ramblings. The crowd dispersed when I realised they were there and became rather self-aware, and with a motion worthy of Schrödinger they disappeared. Going into the bookstore I was in my element, plucking books from every corner and gleefully exclaiming at the prices. My glee was turned all the way up to eleven when the manager told me that, if I were to spend more than x amount, he would give me a ten percent discount. Nothing makes me happier than books; nothing but books that cost even less. Let me teach Shakespeare for the rest of my life and I shall be content. Let me help students explore my language always and pay me only enough to survive and I will be content always.

After that outpouring of excitement (and an interesting flirtation with a goddess from the Egyptian pantheon called Isis) Adeline and I grabbed a seat outside Notre Dame and listened to the bells. They start off sounding like a mere cacophany, but as you listen you start to hear the tune and the counterpoint; it shifts and moves and is glorious. The bells are new and shiny and recently blessed, and while I can't speak for the blessing the newly cast tongues sing gloriously. The technical term for bellringing, by the way, is campanology.

Outside Notre Dame we met Arrash, another student at school, who told us about the concert happening at Notre Dame on Wednesday. He was going, and was kind enough to ask if we'd like to go too. Adeline and I were quick to agree; she is both musical and Christian and, while I am neither, I have a deep-seated appreciation for both in their more beautiful forms. The tickets were 20€ each; a little pricey, but I strongly suspect it's going to be worth it.

From Notre Dame, we said goodbye to Arrash and Adeline navigated us to Shakespeare and Co, where I managed to form another small crowd - not such a sensible idea in the tiny little space of the shop. I couldn't help it; we found the Shakespeare section and, since Adeline has trouble with Shakespearean English - heck, even I used to have trouble with Shakespearean English - I went through some of the more famous speeches with her. We gathered a little audience, although part of that might have just been onlookers concerned for my health when I talked about how everyone wants to just kill themselves although, as I said at the time, they weren't my words but Hamlet's. (Not Shakespeare's; ascribing an opinion to Shakespeare because he wrote it is akin to ascribing paedophilia to Nabokov because one of his characters was one. Idiotic.)

I snapped some pictures of books I'd like to add to the library. Do you agree with my choices? I've obviously missed a lot, so what would you suggest? Thoughts in the comments below or to my twitter as always please.

 Any you violently disagree with? Still let me know, although gently please. I like these books and your opinion matters to me.

After that glorious jaunt, and while I say jaunt I mean hours (we finally came out, blinking in the still-strong sunlight, at 7) and strolled about, looking for somewhere to eat. We found a gorgeous little bistro and got stuck in to soupe oignon gratinée, malgré du canard, tarte, sorbet and an excellent wine from the Alsace region.

Fuller and happier and utterly content in the company of a friend we made our way gently homeward. A gorgeous stroll through the still-warm night and we are home, and just about ready to collapse. Tomorrow there will be more tutoring and some work on my year abroad project and blog. And planning on how to spend my budget.

Life is just too great right now.