Monday, January 23, 2012

Letters from London #6 (Part 3)

Continuing on with yesterday's silliness on London "sports" - this section is probably my personal favourite from all the Letters from London that I wrote.  And whenever I go back to visit and I take the Tube, I realize that this is still as accurate now as when I wrote it - anytime you're in London, I guarantee you'll end up playing at least one of these...

Written somewhere around March/April 2001

3. Underground Games:

Body Climb - this is played when your train pulls into the station and all you can see when the doors open is hundreds of people crammed in like unhappy sardines in overcoats.  Getting onto this train seems impossible, right?  And you call yourself a Londoner?  Shame on you!  Didn't you see those two inches of space on the floor?  All you have to do is wedge your toe into that space, and then fling yourself at the crowd over and over again like a demented lemming until you finally get a hand onto a support of some kind.  Hey, now you're really in business!  You've got one foot and one hand in, never mind the fact that your arse is still hanging out in front of the other twenty people on the platform who are kicking themselves for missing the opportunity that you so cleverly spotted.  Now this is where training is very important; at this point, you might still fail in your mission.  Don’t worry, just make sure your foot and your hand are firmly planted, then grind your way in with your pelvis like you're Elvis on Viagra.  Eventually your arse will make it past the doors, and once that's in, your head and your remaining appendages will follow, I promise.

The Imaginary Shag - the object of the game is to select an object of desire among your fellow passengers, one that you fancy enough to fantasize about. And if they get off the train before you do, you have to choose a new person.  Oh, what's that?  Easy game?  Oh, but I beg to differ.  It would be an easy game in a lot of places, but London ain't one of them, kids.  Why's that, you ask?  Because some of the other games you can play on the Underground are:
Who hasn't been to the dentist since 1974?
Who's a bleary-eyed drunk at 11 a.m?
Who smokes so much they smell like the Marlboro factory?
Who's completely unacquainted with the niceties of personal hygiene? 
And there are many, many more, but you get the idea.  I play this one all the time, and consider myself to be a very advanced player, but some days it's just an impossible challenge.

Self-Control - oh, this one is fun.  You can only play this when the trains are really, really crowded (which, in London, is every rush hour, so you can play this a lot).  What you have to do is wait for some uncontrollable impulse; for example, your left eyebrow is itchy.  Oh yeah, it's itchy.  Itchyitchyitchy.  You have to scratch it, there's nothing in the world that would make you happier than to scratch it, if you had a million dollars you'd give it away if it meant you could scratch your damn eyebrow.  But you can't scratch it.  No, no, no.  That's the whole point of the game.  When you're stuffed into a train like this, the mechanics of moving any part of your body become very complicated. Your right arm is pinned firmly to your side by a fat man in a pinstriped suit.  His face is red and his breath is like that of a piranha.  You wonder if his wife lets him kiss her with that breath.  You know he has a wife, because his left hand is desperately clinging to the pole next to your head, and his wedding ring is directly in front of your left eyeball.  Your left arm is in the air, desperately clinging to the pole above your head.  There is an ugly man directly in front of you, desperately clinging to the same pole as you, but he's much taller, and therefore his elbow is jammed firmly into your right nostril.  You are only peripherally aware of these things, however, because the need to scratch your left eyebrow is becoming unbearable.  Any minute now you will either scream, or offer to sleep with the ugly man in front of you if he will just use his free hand to scratch your eyebrow.  You are opening your mouth to do one or the other, you're not sure which one yet, when you suddenly realize that the train is rocketing into a station and is about to stop, which means that you only have to hold out for another couple of seconds before you can stop desperately clinging to the pole and scratch your eyebrow at will.  And that, boys and girls, is how you play Self-Control.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letters from London #6 (Parts 1&2)

A little piece of silliness I wrote about London "sports" - it really amused me to write it, so I hope you enjoy reading it (I'll post Part 3 tomorrow as it's quite lengthy).

Written somewhere around March/April 2001

I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a bit about London sports.  You may not know this, but London is a hotbed of athletic activity and everyone has to participate, whether they want to or not...

1. Pedestrian Games:

The Scamper - what you do when the traffic lights might change at any moment but you cross the street anyway.  You don't dash, because that would be uncool, but you don't walk, either.  Therefore you scamper like a nervous bunny.  Everyone can and does play this one.

The Dash - what The Scamper turns into when the lights do change while you're in the middle of crossing the street.  When you hear 400 cars shifting into gear, you suddenly become less concerned about looking cool and much more worried about being smeared all over the front of a Jag. Not advisable for children or old people, but okay for everyone else.

The Crunch - can occur during either The Scamper or The Dash.  When two pedestrians are both jaywalking in opposite directions, both intently looking to the side in case of stray homicidal drivers, the occasional full-body Crunch does happen.  Don’t worry about this, you’ll be fine as long as you outweigh your opponent.

2. Umbrella Games:

The Spear - when it’s not actually raining and you carry your long, sturdy umbrella with the point jabbing backwards every time you swing your arms. The object of the game is to see how many unwary people you can gut while pretending not to notice the carnage you're leaving behind you. This one is not for amateurs, and you should really leave it to the native Londoners, who have spent their entire lives practicing.

The Joust - an outdoor game.  Much like the jousts of medieval times, or the automotive game of "chicken", this one involves two people with open umbrellas charging toward one another, neither one deviating from their path until finally someone loses their nerve and moves to one side to avoid an ungodly collision of umbrellas.  Of course, more often than not, the ungodly crash does occur, which is why you should invest in a large, strong umbrella, not the cheesecloth-on-a-coathanger type that I own.  I joust a great deal, being more stubborn than sensible, but since my umbrella is well on its way to being shredded, I am retiring from the sport until I upgrade my equipment.

Eyeball Spearing - ahhh, now we're getting into the blood sports.  This one is a particular favourite with Londoners and it's pretty self-explanatory, really.  The object of the game is to collect the eyeballs of your fellow pedestrians by spearing them on the spokes of your open umbrella.  Anyone can be a Spearer, but trying to avoid becoming a Spearee requires a high degree of skill, so you should really learn to jerk your head around like a spastic snake before venturing out into the rain.  Sure, laugh now, but when you're looking at Big Ben with only one eyeball, don't come crying to me.

Scalping - very similar to Eyeball Spearing, but involves somewhat less skill, as the object of the game here is simply to plough a furrow down the skull of your prey with the aforementioned umbrella spokes.  Some of the more advanced players will actually try to take your scalp right off as a trophy, but this is generally frowned upon as being dreadfully rude.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Letters from London #5

More laziness from me, so more Letters from London for you.  But the real question is: will I post #6 (about London "sports") tomorrow?  It's a particularly good one (if I do say so myself)...hmmm...we'll see...

February 2001:

1.        Penis Education: In regard to my little grammatical challenge from last month about why the plural of penis is not peni, here’s the all-time award-winning answer from my friend The Banker:  "Nope, they're definitely not peni. Merriam Webster says that the plural is pe·nes or pe·nis·es.  Personally I'd look at it another way:  We know that the plural of is happens to be are.  Therefore, it should be pen·are.  So, of course, there should be a certain pirate voice that you put on when you said it, so it's actually more like pen·AAARRRRGGGHHH!"  Hee! [Miss K from 2012: I am still laughing about that one, so thank you, Banker!]

2.        My Apartment – It belongs to an architectural style I believe is called English Eccentric – the  ceilings are about 12 feet high, there's one very long hall with right angles and steps scattered along it for no particularly good reason, walls bulge outward in a rather alarming fashion and all the rooms have windows facing both outside and inside (to the hallway).  Why?  I don’t know.  There are three quite large bedrooms, one very large kitchen/dining room, one large living room and one medium-sized bathroom with electric-green ivy on the tiles.  My room is purple, and is furnished with a mixture of old stuff that came with it, and new stuff I had to buy at Ikea.  It's an odd mixture of stuffy antiques and Swedish modern, so if you picture Mary Poppins and the mayor of Stockholm living in the same room, you'll be getting a good idea of the decor.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Letters from London #4

Well, it's been a long week and I'm tired, so here we go again with the Letters from London...

January 2001:

1.     Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the Underground
Not a creature was stirring
Except for the old drunk next to me.

We were both waiting for the same train and while there were probably visions of sugarplums (among other things) dancing through his head, he was clear on one point:  "Ten years wasted on her, ten years of my life wasted on that woman."  Well, mama always said not to talk to strangers, but hey, I'm a sucker for an unlucky-in-love story, it was Christmas Eve and he was a sad old man, so I nodded and muttered sympathetically once in a while as he rambled on about it.  Anyway, when we got on the train, he insisted on giving me one of his beers and then, before he got off at the next stop, stood up and proclaimed to the entire car what a wonderful human being I am.  I was, to put it mildly, mortified (I mean, I agree and everything, but jeez, you don't have to make a scene about it).  At the next stop, another guy got on, saw the can of beer that I had put on the seat next to me, asked if it was mine, and when I shook my head, he popped open and guzzled it there and then.  So I hope this little story serves to remind you all of the true meaning of Christmas:  free beer provided by complete strangers. 

  1. English Language: After writing about "Puppetry of the Penis", a small grammatical point occurred to me.  Since the plural of octopus is octopi, and the plural of Elvis (as everybody knows) is Elvi, why is it that the plural of penis is not peni?  Can anyone answer this for me? 

  1. Why You Should Listen To Kenny Rogers – I was thinking about having a juicy, messy, horrible romance that would fill me with angst, spite, and creative energy, but I just can't be bothered right now.  To paraphrase Kenny Rogers (who can actually be counted on for good advice in most of life's dilemmas -- he's kind of like a country 'n' western Yoda), I'm a-folding and a-running.  Thanks, Kenny!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ghost lobster

Okay, I am not entirely sure why anyone would require a large lobster knitted out of metallic silver yarn, but if you do want one, this little fella is going for the bargain price of only €80.  Don't all rush down to the store at once...  (sorry about the glare from the window, but I actually think it makes the photo cooler - doesn't it look like a ghost lobster?)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where's the love (again)?

Gentle readers, where's the love? You may not have noticed, but I have been making a huge effort to post every day (successfully so far, I might add), but today I looked at my stats and...well, my pretties, *I* have been here, where the hell are YOU?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Things you might see on the street #23 (Bastille)

Ahh, how I've enjoyed the last three posts - partly because it was a fun stroll down memory lane and partly (mostly) because I'm a lazy little sloth and it was bliss to just post things I had already written.  If you enjoyed them, you'll be happy to hear that I'll be posting more of the Letters from London at some point, but for now I should probably get back to talking about Paris.

Or, in this case, showing you photos of Paris - in this case, a complete lunatic riding a unicycle into the traffic circle at Bastille, one of the busiest roundabouts in Paris.  It looks quiet in the picture, but all those blazing lights on the left-hand side of the photo are oncoming headlights...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Letters from London #3

Okay, tomorrow I am definitely getting back to Paris-related matters, but boy, it's hard for me to resist the lure of a) reminiscing and b) being able to post just by pasting in something I already wrote.  Sorry, gentle readers, you know I love you and of course I want to put in all sorts of effort for you...but not today.  Hee!

December 2000:

  1. Housing: Obviously there was some sort of major computer malfunction at the North Pole this year, because even though I've been very naughty, Santa still brought me a great big apartment as a Christmas gift!  Yes, it's true.  In the great tradition of seasonal miracles, I was rescued from the Dickensian misery of the hostel in the Jolly Old Saint Nick of time.  The apartment is in a cool area, it's huge, in a great building with a very large garden, and it's affordable.  Of course, this probably means that my roommates (English guy, Australian girl) will turn out to be devil-worshippers who sacrifice goats and howl at the moon every second Tuesday, but as long as they don't expect me to bear Satan's child, we'll get along fine.  Yes, I did watch "Rosemary's Baby" recently, why do you ask?

  1. Theatre: Last month, in the pursuit of cultural enrichment, I attended the theatre in the company of three other refined ladies out for an evening of intellectual stimulation.  Yes, it was that masterpiece of Australian theatre: "Puppetry of the Penis".  Well, what can I say?  The ad is not misleading in any way -- there are indeed two men, there are definitely two dicks, and there are no pants whatsoever.  It's a little bit hard to describe what they do, other than to say that they manipulate their genitals to look like landmarks, animals, and objects (and there is a very large video screen so that you don't miss a single close-up detail).  The two gentlemen involved seem to possess a great deal of, er, flexibility in their parts, because the aforementioned parts were twisted, bent, wrapped, curled, stretched, and even tucked away completely (and not the way you might think) in the course of an hour and a half.  It was very strange and very amusing, indeed.  Actually, my big worry after the show was whether or not I would ever be able to look at male genitals again in real life without a) laughing hysterically, or b) asking if it does tricks. 

  1. This occurred to me the other day, and I find it mildly alarming: I have not had an alcohol-free day since I got here.  In Toronto, I used to go months and months without drinking (of course, this would usually follow an intoxicated binge where I completely disgraced myself, but that's totally not the point), but it's so much a part of the culture here to go for a few with your mates every night that you don't even think about it.  If I don't smarten up, my liver is very shortly going to be the size of my head.

  1. I leave you with this final thought -- I saw a homeless man sleeping on the street the other night.  Suddenly, a mobile phone rang.  Was it mine?  Nope, it was his. London is an odd, odd town....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Letters from London #2

Well, I was going to get back to posting about Paris today, but I'm still in a bit of a nostalgic mood for London and my early expat days.  (More importantly, I'm feeling very lazy tonight and this is already written, so this is what you're getting...)

November 2000:

1.       Hostel Highlights:
  • Imagine, if you will, a pig.  No, not some cute little oinker like the one in "Babe", I'm talking about an enormous, full-grown sow.  Now imagine this pig walks upright, has long, witchy black hair, is wearing a dress made of fishnet and boots with 4" platform heels.  Got that?  Good.  Okay, now imagine that this pig invades your dorm at 3:00 in the morning, turns on the light, stomps around, yells about her bag having been stolen, and proceeds to rummage drunkenly through your belongings.  Boy, living in a hostel is awesome.  I’m so glad I moved to London without knowing anyone, without a job and without a place to live – what a clever, clever decision.  
  • Imagine, if you will, the worst snoring you've ever heard and then multiply it by about a thousand.  This guy (who is as big as your average grizzly bear) checked into our dorm last night and I have never in my life heard anything like his snoring.  How can you describe the indescribable?  The closest I can get is to suggest that you imagine the offspring of a wild boar and a vacuum cleaner trying to have sex with an unwilling donkey, while it's playing an out-of-tune saxophone under a blanket of mucus.  
  • Imagine, if you will, four pasty, pimply Scottish boys who get up for work at 5:30am (an event which involves all four of their mobile phone alarms going off and their buddy coming to bang loudly on our dorm door) and mill about like a herd of dazed, loud-mouthed Highland cows as they get ready.  I'm now into my third day without sleep and things are about to get ugly, if not downright homicidal.  Every night, we explain to them that this is not their private dorm, and that the other four people who sleep there have paid good money for a bed and that there are a few simple rules of hostel courtesy that should be followed.  Every night, they look shamefaced, mutter "Och, aye, ye're right, sorry" and go to bed, only to repeat their actions in the morning.  So I'm not sure if they're all a) suffering from a rare form of overnight amnesia, b) as thick as pig manure, or c) sadists who would make Vlad the Impaler weep with pride.

2.        A stunning Australian guy I met at the hostel last month came back to town and stayed here just exactly long enough to stomp all over my heart, so that's great news. I was worried that I wouldn't manage to have a doomed romance in London, so I'm really glad that I've been able to check that one off my list.  In fact, I'm going to go out and look for a long black cloak with a hood so that I can mope around the city in the rain like Meryl Streep in "The French Lieutenant's Woman". (I know, "The Australian Mechanical Engineer's Woman" doesn't have quite the same poetic ring to it, but that just can't be helped.)

3.        Londoners are still fascinating me with their behaviour.  They'll line up in an orderly fashion for a mile and a half for just about anything, with the sole exception of the Underground.  As soon as they see a train coming in, they turn into a rabid, snarling, pushing, shoving pack of wolves.  The other day, I was elbowed aside by a little old lady who was a) about 80, b) no bigger than my leg, and c) a nun, of all things!  I swear I'm not making this stuff up.

4.        Despite succumbing to the all-grease, all-fat English diet (which isn't nearly as much fun as I thought it might be), I've lost an astonishing amount of weight so far by the simple expedient of only eating about once a day.  When you live in a hostel that has no kitchen facilities whatsoever, you figure out how to survive on this.  I'm sure the next time I see a vegetable, I'll run away screaming in terror because I won't know what it is.

5.        Fashion: I went to my first really pretentious London bar on the weekend, and I so do not have the right clothes for this town.  Even on the best slutty-clothing day of my life, I would look like an 1850s schoolmarm here.  When I have recovered from my sleep deprivation and my ferocious cold, and when I again resemble something that might once have been human, we'll have to see what can be done about that.

6.        In the "and you thought there were no miracles in modern times" category, here's one that will amaze you:  I, Miss K, am now the proud owner of a brand new, bright, shiny bank account!!!!  It took me a whole month and the next-to-last bank I tried basically accused me of being a money-laundering drug lord because I didn't have three years of British addresses to prove who I was.  Well, of course - money-laundering drug lords often work as temps in their spare time.  Who needs diamonds, yachts, and champagne when you could be typing, filing, and making coffee for people who a) don’t appreciate it and b) think you’re a moron?  Good times!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Letters from London #1

Okay, here goes - while I'm still in this nostalgic mood for London, I'm going to share some of my Letters from London with you from time to time.  Blogs didn't really exist when I first moved there in 2000 and I had a lot of friends who wanted to hear about my new life, so these were the mass e-mails I sent around (and I hate mass e-mails, so I tried to make sure mine were fun and colourful).  I haven't read these in years so it's funny for me to look back - ahhh,  I was such a baby expat then...

October 2000: 

  1. I had one of the single worst experiences of my life yesterday while trying to open a bank account in London: "No, Miss K, despite the fact that you have every form of identification in existence, a letter from your Canadian bank saying that your accounts are in good order and crammed full of money, and a plane ticket showing that you just arrived yesterday from Canada, we won’t open an account for you if you don't have three month’s worth of utility bills showing your address on it.”  I tried four banks and got the same attitude at all of them.  Hmph.  Great Britain, once a magnificent, globe-spanning empire, now reduced to one tiny island floating in a sea of red tape.

  1. I've figured out the reason why you don’t often see a truly obese Londoner, in spite of the all-grease diet.  It's because even if you're the laziest person who ever lived and you take the Underground absolutely everywhere, you still end up walking miles and miles and miles and then more miles of corridors to get anywhere, and don't even get me started on the number of stairs and escalators.

  1. I experienced my first London rush hour on the Underground a couple of days ago (an experience also known as "Miss K Goes To Sardinesville") and I've almost recovered from the trauma.  Just don't stand too close to me...

  1. Staying at a traveller’s hostel and sleeping in a room with seven other people from different countries can be a rewarding and entertaining cultural experience.  It can also make you wonder if murdering someone in their sleep because you can't take another second of their body odour (which could strip the paint off a Buick, I ain't lying) has any kind of justifiable defence in a court of law.

  1. More guys have tried to pick me up here in a week than in Toronto all year.  Hell, throw in last year too.  It's quite something.  It seems that I'm pretty hot stuff, in the parlance of the 18 year old lifeguard/surfer from California who tried to seduce me (without success, in case any dirty-minded folk amongst you were wondering about my moral fibre) the other night.  He was 6'6" and so gorgeous he looked like he should be carved out of marble and placed on a pedestal somewhere in Florence, but alas, I have not become that much of a degenerate.  Yet.

  1. The following is going to make you wonder if I've lost what's left of my mind, but I swear it's true.  There is a show at a theatre not far from Trafalgar Square called (wait for it.....are you ready?....I don't think you'd better sit down.....are you sitting down?.....I don't believe you.....just sit the hell down......okay, fine, when you fall over, you'll only have yourself to blame) "Puppetry of the Penis".  The line above the title is "Two men.  Two dicks.  No pants." The line below the title is "The ancient Australian art of genital origami".  Now pick yourself up off the floor and don't look at me like that, I told you to sit down.  Anyway, not one word of this is a lie, and it leads me to three inescapable conclusions:  a) I will be visiting this theatre with my camera in order to capture this sign for posterity. b) I will be visiting this theatre in order to see the damn show, I don't care what it costs, are you kidding?  Aren't you dying of curiosity? and c) I will most certainly be visiting Australia in the none-too-distant future.  Any country that involves genitalia in their ancient arts is well worth a visit…

  1. Men - if you operate in the business world, I have bad news for you - the double-breasted suit with big, bold pinstripes is all the rage here.  Al Capone would be so proud; London looks like Chicago during Prohibition (well, aside from the insane amount of drinking here, of course). Ladies - the colour of the moment is gold. If you go out at night and you don't resemble a chandelier at the Ritz, forget about it. 

  1. Hostel Highlights:
  a) Smelly Guy #1 departed our room (alive, I swear), only to be replaced with Smelly Guy #2, an American who had to be in his late fifties but still thought he could get away with being a punk.  You know, I'm not one to judge people.  I'm famed for my fair-mindedness and reluctance to leap to conclusions about my fellow human beings (shush now, it’s true!), but I just have to say this: men who are old enough to be my father really shouldn't be walking around wearing more chains than the ghost of Jacob Marley, and if you've already lost most of your hair, you shouldn't be shaving what's left into weird shapes and dying it purple.  I'm just saying...

  b) The latest comment-worthy denizens of my den are two American girls from, like, the sovereign state of, like, California, who make the cast of Baywatch seem like the Nobel Prize selection panel.  Sigh.  The charm of meeting new people is starting to lose its shiny gleam.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I miss London

Yes, it's true - I do sometimes miss it.  In many ways, London drove me crazy when I lived there, but still, I was there for nine years and now when I visit, I get to enjoy all the great aspects (friends, nostalgia, pubs, free museums, English humour, etc) without having to worry about all of the annoying things that used to bug me when I lived there (don't even get me started on that list, because it's a loooong one.  And yes, you bastards at British Gas who hounded me for a year about a bill I didn't even owe, you are definitely on that list.  But I digress...)   Don't get me wrong, the annoying things still exist, but they don't really bug me because I don't have to put up with them long-term anymore.  The first year I lived in Paris, I went back to London four times for nice long visits of a week or more, but last year, I didn't go back until the end of September, and then it was only for a two-day work trip, followed by one in October and another one in December, so I did get to go, but only very briefly, and it really made me miss the city and my friends there.

So I was thinking that from time to time I might put some of my London photos and stories on here.  I know that this is a blog about Paris, but occasionally it's about me, and since London was a big part of my life, it should get a little shout-out once in a while.  (Besides, it's my damn blog so I'll do as I please anyway - hee!)

During these recent trips, I had occasion to spend some time at my company's rather splendid new building, in which my boss has a to-die-for office.  I have no idea how he's ever going to get any work done in there, because these are the views from his floor-to-ceiling windows:

I believe that's the Lloyd's building right in the middle of a double rainbow.  Lloyd's, I think I've just found your next advertising image - call me if you want to buy the photo!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inflatable dogs

Gentle readers, I promised you inflatable dogs a few days ago, and here they are in all their...umm...glory.  This is from a window display in the Maje shop in the Marais - I believe the outfits on the mannequins were very nice, but I was too distracted by the inflatable dogs to really notice... (and also, is it weird that I kind of want one?)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things you might see on a menu

One of the great amusements for expats in Paris (or maybe just me, I'm easily amused) is the bad translation from French to English found on many restaurant menus.  Waiters will often give you the English version (if they have one), even if you've asked for it in French, so you might as well enjoy it. I'm quite vexed that I forgot to take a photo on the occasion when I saw "rat potatoes" on a menu, but this one is also a particular favourite of mine...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Totally crap outfit of the week #24

So there I was on the Metro, innocently disembarking from my train and getting on the escalator, when I glanced up at the person in front of me, only to see a whole coatful of these creeeeeeeeepy little faces leering back at me - gahhh!  Why?  Whyyyyyyyy?!?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Inflatable chicken

Ahhh, Paris.  Home to the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre...and the giant inflatable chicken.  What?  You didn't know about that one?  Well, now you do.  Just wait until I show you the inflatable dogs...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More penis bread

Gentle readers, isn't January a depressing month?  The festive season is over and a long gloomy winter lies ahead.  Today it was particularly grey and grim and windy and rainy in Paris and I'm attempting a (much-needed) month-long detox.  Sigh.  So you can see how I need to be cheered up, but never fear, because......penis bread to the rescue!!!  You may recall that I used to live in the Marais and my old neighbourhood bakery there sells this rather delightful item, which I have posted about in the past (Penis bread).  But it seems that they have expanded their repertoire, and I feel I must share this awesomeness with you.

Firstly, the penis baguette - please note that it comes in both poppy and sesame seed to delight your gourmet tastebuds, which is very important, I'm sure you'll agree:

Then we have the chocolate-chip penis brioche.  I'll admit that it looks slightly dodgy, but I assure you that it's delicious:

And finally, quite possibly the greatest thing in the world: the penis tarte aux framboises:

Gentle readers, the tarte aux framboises is already my favourite thing in any bakery, but shaped like this?  How much temptation can one little blogger resist??  I haven't actually bought one of these yet, but that's only because it's about twelve inches long (make your own jokes here, you cheeky little monkeys) and should probably be shared (okay, that's enough smut from you - honestly, what kind of a blog do you think this is?  Get your minds out of the gutter...because I'd like to be alone down there.  Hee!  Tip your waitresses, I'm here all week!).  Anyway, the point is that I was going to wait for the proper occasion to buy one of these, but with this being January, I'm sort of thinking the proper occasion might be any damn time I feel like it?  I'll let you know when I succumb...

NB - should you find yourself in Paris and then find yourself in the Marais, Legay Choc bakery can be found on the rue St Croix de la Bretonnerie, at the corner of rue du Temple.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things you might see on the Metro

Miss K spent a couple of years as a platinum blonde and let me tell you - bleaching your roots can be a bit on the painful side, so I give full credit to this gentleman for his commitment to the rather stylish stars he has bleached into his skull stubble. I can't even imagine the hassle of the upkeep on this hairdo, but sir, I salute you!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feeding the animals

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a party with my Australian friend Mr Sydney.  We had to stop at a supermarket along the way to pick up some booze and I must give credit where it's due - Mr Sydney was the one who spotted this rather amusing sign.  In case you can't see the photo clearly, the "animal food" section is entirely stocked with beer... 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Sneer

Well, my pretties, the holidays are over - I hope you all had a lovely break and spent some quality time with your family and friends.  In my case, I had originally planned to ignore the whole thing, but then I decided that it would be far more fun to sulk my way through it and really embrace my inner Scrooge - and here I quote the fabulous Charles Dickens:

"Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

Hee!  So I laid my Grinchy little plans accordingly - to stay home, cook up a festive feast for myself on the 23rd (so that I could eat leftovers and not have to lift a finger for the 24th and 25th), watch lots of Christmas movies (but skip all the endings with their festive, life-affirming crap), and drink a ridiculous amount of wine.  And you know what?  That's exactly what I did and it was awesome.  It was made even more awesome because two of my lovely friends back in Toronto sent me a surprise care package of chocolates and champagne, which arrived on Christmas Eve morning (and was therefore my breakfast - well, obviously).

Seriously, this was probably the most relaxed Christmas I've ever had - didn't go anywhere, so no travel stress; didn't buy a single present, so no shopping stress (all right, being totally broke is kinda stressful, but I'm used to that by now); didn't have guests over, so no entertaining stress.  I didn't even bother to get any form of Christmas tree - I thought I might throw some tinsel at my ficus ("throw some tinsel at my ficus?" Well, there's a nifty phrase - it sounds vaguely filthy, doesn't it?) but I couldn't even be bothered to do that.  I ate and drank and watched exactly what I wanted, I skyped and socialized with a few people so that I wasn't a total hermit and generally had a terrific time.  But it's all about perspective - about fifteen years ago, I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital having a big needle shoved into my spine, followed by a week of headaches so severe that the pain kept making me vomit.  So, for me, any Christmas not involving a spinal tap is a damn festive one...