For our tenth wedding anniversary the Lawyer whisked me off (sans enfants) to Paris for a long weekend. I suppose it shows how we have gone up in the world – we had our honeymoon in Dorset and we got there in his Nova, the chariot of the newly-qualified solicitor. On the other hand, we got up late every morning and walked for miles, hand-in-hand on the beaches, and were happy eating ice cream in the rain.
Now, conditioned by years of parenthood, we are at breakfast by eight and on the streets by nine, leaving behind those beautifully ironed sheets and hospital corners, every foot of smooth white cotton costing us an arm and a leg, which is about the only interplay of limbs I saw all weekend, I can tell you.
We now walk for miles between museums and galleries, bickering about whether we should buy a bus pass. The Lawyer decided on the afternoon “drop in” at the firm’s Paris offices. This liberated me from the relentless pursuit of culture to go and blow a hole the size of the sixteenth arrondissement through my credit card, and I managed to sneak all the boxes and bags back to the hotel before meeting the Lawyer for coffee (ice creams in the rain, alas, being a thing of the past).
He informed me, to my horror, that the MD of the Paris office, a cold and sneering man who obtained the position merely because of an elegant shrug he can call upon at any moment, has invited us back chez lui for dinner. This means holding my tummy in and refusing pudding, because his wife is the perfect example of what no children and a full-time beauty regime can do for you.
I, of course, suffer from the Englishwoman’s confusion when on the Continent, where everyone knows by instinct how to dress. I am stuck at thinking that smart equates to wearing a dark suit, which means people in hotels come up and try to leave their luggage with you.
Anyway, I had been looking forward to a big box of popcorn and American Beauty in version originale on the Champs Elysees that night – it was my only chance to see an adult film, because it is back to the chaste delights of Beauty and the Beast this week.
The Lawyer is just relieved he will not have to foot the bill this evening. He blindly chose a restaurant the night before that had prices on the gentleman’s menu, but not the lady’s. In his heart he longs for the old Nova, fish and chips on the dashboard days, and this sort of establishment brings him out in a hot flush.
Hovering waiters stopped him hissing “Do you know how much that costs?” too loudly at me, and I sailed through the meal selecting anything that said truffles, lobster, saffron or amaretto.
“Don’t you dare order the pasta!” I hissed back at him. “Notre anniversaire de noces,” I simpered at the maitre d, who beamed in a knowing Gallic way and immediately turned the wine list to the page of champagnes.
Challenged by this small man from a race he generally despises, the Lawyer suddenly worked out how he can claim some of this weekend back on expenses, and ordered the krug. Hence the trip to the office the next day, for the sole purpose of ringing his boss at home. At least it proved the Lawyer was working, and on his weekend off, too.