The bright lights of Paris
Paris and all its Wonders
The thing about Paris is that it's so dark.
What I mean is, like any city, when the sun ambles off to the other side of the earth, a darkness tends to fall upon it.
Well, all right, it's not that. It's the cinemas there - they're just so bloomin' dark.
A word about cinemas at this point - or rather, a word about cinemas in Paris, or better still a word about Paris and then a word about cinemas - can't say fairer than that.
So, Paris - it's the most romantic city in the world is it?
Not for me it isn't.
For me, it's the place where I spent my days off when I was working at Disneyland, my only lasting memory of Paris is of endless dreary McDonalds (in the days before I stamped it out of my soul) and endless cinema.
Now, it may be because of my experience in Paris, but going to the cinema in any city, for me, is an act of desperation and means there's either nothing else to do there or every other activity is too expensive.
That's not to say that going to the cinema is a bad experience, in fact, whilst in Paris I found an undiscovered side to the old cinema outing - no longer was it a group or couple activity - I went to the cinema all on my own.
Ah, for me there is no joy like it in the world - you can watch whichever film you want, you can crunch on your crisps as loudly as you like, you can even blub at the sad parts and not have to explain anything to anyone - and in Paris, a city where practically everyone is a stranger to you, you're not even going to look like Norman-no-mates! It's an all-win situation!
Yes, if Paris gets a prize it's for the top city for going to the cinema on your own. If anyone reading is considering a trip to the most romantic city in the world I strongly recommend they dump their other half in the hotel room and get off down the cinema with a giant packet of crisps. It'll be an unforgettable outing.
There is one thing to consider though - as I mentioned before cinemas are dark and I'm convinced that in Paris they're even darker than anywhere else on the planet. So, those of you heading off to Paris, remember to pack two things in your suitcase - a torch and a watch.
Should I ever become a grandmother I might file those words amongst my snippets of wisdom - when going to the cinema in Paris, always take a torch and a watch with you, my child. I learnt from experience, you see.
That evening I bought my cinema ticket a couple of hours before the film started and went off for a mosey along the Champs Elysees to pass the time in between. Having no watch I had to keep an eye on the time but I worked out I could pop into the music shop and indulge in one of my favourite pastimes of listening to the albums on the headphones left on display.
The thing about those huge music stores is that they suck you in - especially if there are albums to be listened to for free.
I completely lost track of time that day and after - who knows how long - came round with a jump to find myself listening to Rod Stewart's Greatest Hits - it's frightening what you might do when left to your own devices in Paris.
I was going to miss my film!
Perhaps it was the trauma of Rod Stewart that brought on my confusion but I didn't waste time finding out the time and sprinted off to the cinema.
My heart sank when I got there - all was quiet, no one was even waiting, I hadn't just cut it a bit fine - I was really late!
I hunted down the room where my film was - a barrier rope had been plonked ominously outside the door - this was my punishment for listening to Rod Stewart.
I admit I was put off at this point - a small barrier succeeds in bringing out an uncomfortable fear in the best of us, however innocuous it may be but I'd paid for my ticket and this was a Catherine Deneuve film - I'm sure she would have done the same for me - I was going in. I stumbled over the barrier, half of it wrapped itself round my leg, and in I went.
This was the point when I realised just how dark cinemas are.
I flailed my arms before me, hoping to find a seat and blend in unnoticed as quickly as possible. I could hear the film in the distance but I was stuck right at the back and some bright spark had decided to put in a small flight of fiddly stairs that led up to the seats just to make life even more difficult for anyone arriving late. It was pretty awkward going up those steps in the pitch black, trying to make as little noise as possible but I did quite a good job. The audience's enjoyment was only slightly jeopardised at that point, with only an occasional 'uuuh!' and 'aaah!' accompanied by small thuds, drifting to their ears from my direction - quite possibly they confused it with Catherine Deneuve's voice, or, at most, believed someone to be wrestling with the ice-cream seller.
Somehow I got up those steps and once in the gangway, I was nearly home and dry. I just had to plonk myself down, get out my crisps and start munching. I had already missed a big chunk of the film by the look of it.
I groped around in the dark and felt the edge of a seat - yep, that was a seat! It would do. I sank into it.
"Hoo là là!!!" a lady squawked.
I sprung up, mumbling apologies and hoping I hadn't crushed her popcorn in the process.
Better to check if the seat was occupied this time - yes, that was a good idea. All I had to do was pat the seat first, there was bound to be a free place. I went up the aisle checking each seat.
"Aaaagh!" No - that had a nose.
"Eeeeeh!" That one had hair.
"Aiii!" An ear. I hope.
My plan to go unnoticed was backfiring and people were starting to tut and sniff in a scary way. Luckily I made out a free seat as I got nearer the screen and flopped into it. The man next to me gave me a look of complete astonishment but I took no notice - no, I was going to enjoy my film. I had my crisps, I had my old fashioned lemonade - let the film begin.
This wasn't quite right - I was only on my second handful of crisps.
People coughed, shuffled and began gathering up their things as I munched on my crisps trying to look nonchalent. The lights came up and everyone cleared out. Well, there was no point in hanging around; I followed them out.
When I got into the foyer I looked at the clock. It was half seven.
The film I was booked into was starting at eight o'clock. I have to say it's the only time in my life I really kicked myself for never wearing a watch.
It all turned out well though - I was back in the screening room ten minutes afterwards, ready to watch my film. Again. Catherine Deneuve was on form but I was a little disappointed in the film because I already knew the ending. And I'd eaten all my crisps in the foyer. That was the price you paid for listening to Rod Stewart though. And it had all been his doing - he had somehow dragged me into a musical time warp, what had seemed like hours of listening was actually only ten minutes - perhaps a normal occurence with Rod Stewart.
But what of it? you may say. You were in Paris! And everyone knows Paris is beautiful.
Ah yes, and that, perhaps, is the true beauty of Paris. It's the city of art, of romance and of sitting on people at the cinema.