Last tangles in Paris
One Friday morning…
A. laughs when the concierge leaps over his counter to tell the children to be quiet. He is already marked as a curiosity: at breakfast, the attendant told him off for being barefoot in the room. We have had shopkeepers hand us cloth and window cleaning fluid when Ruby touched the bakery glass in excitement, or ordered her to put down an ornament she was examining at a counter. Another went off in a huff when Ruby took a bit of time over choosing a macaroon. Either there is an issue with children per se…or just with the way that children become so titillated with excitement that they disorder time, space and sound.
Our families walk together towards the Pompidou. As we pass Notre Dame, with its limestone saints casting their benevolence and the daemons threatening caution, A. relates seeing a smart car execute a 50-point park in a quarter-size space, its bumper smacking the cars in front and behind each manouvre. Jacques Tati alive and well in Paris. A woman just ahead of us steps out onto a pedestrian crossing against a red light, right in front of a policeman on his bike. I wonder if I see a smirk on the policeman’s face, just visible beneath his helmet.
As we continue to talk about our favourite Tati films, a little smart car smashes into the side of a very big tourist bus. Or possibly [more probably], the other way ‘round. The car is like a crumpled ball glued to the side of an oblong. The man wedged in the car is furious, pummeling his horn. I dont’ think the driver of the bus even sees him for a few minutes.
A narrow street gives a glimpse of the Centre Pompidou, pushing its plumbing over the eaves of the streetscape. We walk up its side path, which opens to a vast concrete court. A fountain dedicated to
Stravinsky holds about a dozen wild sculptures and moveables which turn and spout like old babushka
dolls gone mad. A whip elevator takes one to the top level, which affords one of the great views of the Parisian skyline. Standing on the new, a panorama of the old spread before us.