Death Wish

40° today. I’ve mentioned this before, sorry to repeat. 42° tomorrow. Yesterday I left the apartment, which presently looks like a segment from a police crime scene documentary – all the windows open, all curtains closed, at least one fan running in each room, people walking around in their underpants in a daze. It feels like a ‘meths’ lab for teetotallers. I was heading to the supermarket to buy my dinner. And I saw something I have never seen before in my life – it reminded me of the end of time.

Pigeons are to Paris what dog shit is to its pavements. If you were to head out for a pleasant amble and didn’t see dog shit everywhere, you would think you’d been rendered in some C.I.A. blacks ops scandal, and woken up in Singapore. There could be no other explanation. If you don’t see a thousand filthy legless limping pigeons stumbling around looking for anything to eat, then something is seriously amiss. On my dinner amble, I passed a half eaten baguette, resting in what I can only imagine in pigeon parlance, as a prime location. Not a crumb or two, but half a baguette stuffed with all things good and healthy. And there was not a pigeon to be seen. Anywhere. It looked as though it had lain there for hours. Please trawl through the recesses of your brain and try and recall a time when a soiled sandwich on a city street wasn’t immediately hoovered up.

Now, I’ve seen pigeons throw themselves under buses for a Dorito. I once watched two, in London, die quick, but squishy deaths chasing a peanut. I observed the confused look of their mother as she tried to make sense of her misshapen progeny. Before, seconds later, dying herself chasing the same nut.

It’s got to be some ‘hot’ for a pigeon to regard the meal of a lifetime, and go, ‘nah, I’m staying right here next to the a/c.’

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved

The Tropics

They don’t tell you when you move to Paris, that come the summer, you might as well be living in the Philippines. Today it’s 39°, tomorrow the same. Thursday will be 42°. Imagine that, 42° in a city with absolutely no air circulation, narrow boulevards, six story buildings and no air conditioning. I remember learning that your whole body renews itself every seven years; that there are none of your original cells left. Better still, those cells that once held childhood memories have long since been dispatched. Do those cells still hold those memories now, I ponder, and where are they? I could do with them. And how come I can still hold those memories without the original cells? And does this explain why all women can read my mind? But I digress.

When summer hits Paris and the temperature builds and builds, you start to evaporate. I haven’t seen my new French wife’s daughter for weeks. She was quite small to start with; I think she’s gone. I popped to the bathroom this morning and there was a small puddle on the floor. I said my goodbyes. Your best hope is to run a cold bath and sit in it between May and October, or to leave the country. I’ve tried everything else.

If you walk the boulevards of Paris in July, you frequently see queues that go on for miles and miles, snaking from the Arc de Triomphe all the way up to Sacré Coeur. Justin Bieber must be in town you wrongly surmise. In fact, a rumour circulated that Fnac’s Opera store had the last three remaining electric fans this side of Portugal, and a couple of million people have rushed in the hope of bagging one.

So, if you find yourself in Paris next year, with the sun beating down, tripping over rotting corpses on the metro, and you come across just such a queue, here’s a fun thing to do: shout, “I’ve just been to D’Arty in Madeleine, and they had shit loads of fans in their shop”, and watch as thousands of Parisians evaporate in the stampede. You won’t regret.

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved