Tuesday, December 16, 2008

deck the halls

It's very nice to be chaperoned around a foreign city; I'm in Paris this week attending a work conference, and my friends Sam and Laura, who moved here a few months ago, have been keen and dedicated hosts, filling me to the brim with wine and food and ushering me around Montmartre like the seasoned Parisians they are fast becoming. Seeing them settled into the heart of the city provokes a mixture of feelings; mostly real pleasure in seeing them happy, but also everything from non-specific nostalgia for any number of past events that we shared, and envy that their new life has brought them such adventure.

Paris, for its part, is a welcoming set; cold and brisk in the background, scented for Christmas but vivid and warm where my hosts carve me inroads - their family and friends have been around providing good-hearted chat and kindness. The landmarks lose none of their charm with repeat viewings; Gallerie Lafayette is sumptuous (but increasingly expensive!), the Sacre-Coeur magical on its raised perch. Right now, however, I'm sat in a conference centre, a thin head-ache getting slowly cooked by the artificial lights, and I've got toothache, too.

That aside, all is well, and I'm even feeling quite festive.

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