I'm walking along Rue Richelieu and am swept up with a vocal demonstration by CGT-Culture against various Sarkozian reforms. Despite my dislike of the CGT, I am wiping a tear from my eye by the time I get to La Comédie Française as that's way them old songs operate. Anything but "Here we go, here we go...". Wasn't the building stormed in 1968 by demonstrators for them to exit in a variety of period costumes? Possibly file under situationist mythologising.
I'm wiping a tear again later as I'm having a cup of coffee with a friend I last saw fourteen years ago. A woman I passed over, indeed vanished from entirely, during the start of the Substance D period. There's barely time to catch up, too many holes to fill and she's still never known why I did and I'm don't think I have any idea either. I'm not sure I manage to explain. She bears no malice. Time's up. "I'm off to Japan next month" "Why?"... "My boyfriend has cancer" "What?!".
Back to church. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Rue Daru. I could head over the road for dinner after at Petrograd. Catherine Deneuve ate there. So did Aznavour. Nope, I walk again, back towards the hotel and have dinner at Takara which has been in operation since 1958. Homemade potato korokke, a taste of home. Wonderful. It doesn't impress the dinner next to me. "La croquette?", "Aucun intérêt" he comments to his girlfriend on tasting.
In the hotel room, the last few minutes of some film [Bertolucci's The Dreamers] plays out. More '68 nostalgia. I am not a solitary traveller, I say on the phone. Not this time. I am alone in this room, but there's someone else here. A train south to Marseille, groups and individuals gathered around the doors to say goodbye: waves, thumbs up, tears, jiggles, sign language. You don't see this in England. No ticket, no platform entry. No standing there for minutes, the gap between the closing of doors and the movement of the train. Drop them off in the car park. Keep moving, sunshine, nothing to see. You used to be able to say goodbye this way. Policy changed, no one protested, the incrimental theft of poetry from daily life.
It is raining in Marseille.