I am staying on Rue Marcadet it could be said to be la belle quartier, it starts from Rue Caulaincourt like St Germaine and ends on Rue Clignancourt the veritable ghetto.
I am typing from a Parisian brasserie it is not as seedy as I have discovered as women frequent La Royale Custine. Although of an undiscerning taste, myself included, I went to another more disreputable establishment late last night. Les tabacs close at 8pm sharp and I was looking to buy a packet late night from an épicerie arabe late night. I knew being on Rue Clignancourt nearing the Metro Château Rouge I was sure one of my Middle Eastern brothers would sell me a packet of Marlborough Rouge. The kind they hide under the counter selling it like contraband.
Packet securely in my handbag making my way back on Rue Clignancourt a young man Imed I know that frequents La Royale Custine called out to me from across the street. He wanted to, ‘offrir une verre’ at the brasserie Le Voltigeur. As I soon realised this was a brasserie where only the real hardened of Paris’ proliterati gather in seedy watering hole, where the only women who enter are from a house of ill-repute. Trust me to know one of them who keeps the hours inside.
Embarrassed to say that when I entered I found I was the only women there and all eyes were on me. There was an older woman who worked as a barmaid, but I now think this deliberate other discerning females would ever venture inside such an establishment. A man came over and started to talk to me and Imed, my casual acquanitance became enraged because this other man had not spoken to him in a year. Imed became protective of me and felt insulted and he started to refer to me as his femme! They started le bagard, they were shouting and started to touch each other, I told my friend to calm down. The proprietor came over to part the two. I should have left immediately but I hadn’t finished my drink, a kir, a black currant sirop with white wine, the seedier the brasserie the better, I say, and that one was exquisite.
I told you my mother always warned me one day I would start a revolution, however she meant with my words not with my meagre presence. Why not a WAR! I hope for at least a flash riot, a burnt out car if anything just a broken window. I though it may start last night, the barricades on Rue Clignancourt et alors, Vive La Revolution!
My Parisian friend Renaud told me it was getting tight, and that is why he departed and lives like a king in Bangkok. I told him of la misère that I have seen and felt in the streets. He agreed and one of the many reasons he has left. On Rue Marcadet, my street and near Renaud’s rented out apartment a young French girl approached me as I walked out of the supermarket and asked me if I could give her some food. I gave her a packet of le petit écolier biscuits I did not know what else to do.
Your postcard is rather fitting of the times it is an old print of the crosses of the buried unknown French soldiers of WWI perhaps WWII, Lt FRANÇAIS INCONNU (Unknown French Lieutenants) put together rather crudely underneath a bridge underpass. A thought of tales to come, a big dark war, the sun has truly set here in Paris. My old brasserie La Triomphe on the corner of Rue Maubeuge and Rue Rodier in the 9th arrondissement has gone out of business. The mangled remains of the brown and beige awnings sit inside the empty interior.
The proprietor Nordine, packed up his business and family and left for his homeland of Tunisia. I would have loved to sit au terrasse on the big womanly curved maroon velvety chairs sipping a rosé from Provence and Azzadine the barman lighting my cigarette. To see Nordine and his shady brother Amoor, and all the regulars, all the men from La Maghreb like Sebastian, Hassan and Manue. A boulanger told me you cannot live for yesterday, that there is only today and the hope for happy days ahead of what tomorrow will bring. I think to Italy the land where Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
See you on the barricade.