Saturday, 11 August 2007

Swap options

Going to Stockholm was organised well before the horrors of the trans-Atlantic flight back from Boston. If I’d known way back then what I know now, I wouldn't have even entertained the notion of flying to Stockholm with the boy.

But it was agreed. Mathilda and Joakim would have use of the flat in Paris between August 6 and 19 and we would stay at their place.

Through various life complications such as work and not being able to take two weeks off after spending virtually a month in America, I had to be in Paris while the Stockholmers were in the apartment.

No problem said my mate Eric, you can stay with us in our new big apartment. Well that was a beautiful offer but the reality snagged somewhat.

Eric and Eleanor's move was delayed and so I've been staying with them in their soon to be old apartment amid the boxes and the late night packing.

The great thing about me, as I've come to self-actualise these past few days, is that I really don't get in the way. It's Paul the Obscure.

True it has been easy at Eric and Eleanor's place because so many boxes have blocked any clear lines of vision when they've emerged from watching Jack Bauer in his 24 hour mission to save the universe as we know and understand it.

But given a key, a room, a laptop and a few Seinfeld (rather than 24) DVDs, I am a perfectly discreet guest.

Or rather at this stage of my life I know how to behave. Maybe that's it.

I haven’t been a nuisance since my arrival back in Paris on Tuesday because I've been out with friends. Firstly to catch up and, more importantly, so as not to get in the way. The one night when I planned to go and see a film, I realised the swimming, cycling and work had got to me and I went to bed.

A quick drink last night with a friend was followed by fun on the Eurostar website booking tickets for mid-September when we have to go to Brighton for a wedding reception.

The removal men were scheduled to arrive at 7am this morning. So the door bell went at 8am. There followed some wrangling over the fact that there were more boxes than they had been told by their office.

Eric's partner is French so there's no way that there'd be a problem over comprehension. When this kind of thing happens to me I instantly assume my French isn't good enough. Perhaps when I say vingt, the French firm hears mille.

Whatever. I left. Mainly because there was nothing I could do to help. And sitting around asking: "Can I help?" would eventually get dull.

So I repaired to a cafe to write some cards to thank people for their hospitality during the America trip and also to wait for the Stockholmers to wake up so I could deposit a few bags in my apartment before heading into the radio station.

The journey to work has been joyous of late. I've been taking in the Piscine Pontoise in the 5th arrondissement. It was made famous by Juliette Binoche in Three Colours Blue. In the film I seem to remember the 33 metre pool being a hazy blue basin of liquid tranquility.

And during the August lull it really is. Come la rentrée in a few weeks, the violence will return.

The problem is that one of the public sessions at the pool is between 1230 and 1.30pm. And it's something of a mad dash to notch up the lengths.

I circumnavigate the atrocities by giving myself lots of time to do my 20 or so lengths and by also keeping in mind that it's free thanks to having three children.

But because we haven't had a crèche place for the past year, neither of us have been able to take full advantage of this benefit.

From September the boy will be at a halte-garderie for four mornings a week, so while he's there we might be able to take a dip at this or one of the other 20 odd municipal pools.

But then again we'll be splashing out on child care costs. It's seven years that I've been here in Paris and life really is swims and roundabouts.