February 27th, 1990

February 27th, 1990

At  home

Had it not been for a certain someone spoiling my night, I’d have said this was one of my better birthdays.

Jojo came over and surprised me early this morning, with baby Hannah, who is, by far, the sweetest, most beautiful baby ever. I’d have been happy cuddling her all day, chatting to Jojo, who makes motherhood look like the most natural thing in the world. I can’t imagine there’ll come a time in my life when things will fall into place in such a way but who knows.

In between chatting to mum and dad, opening cards, presents and eating cake (yum) I spent a lot of time on the phone:

Lorna – “You need to get yourself over here to Holland, missy and get your claws in one or more of these Dutch hunks!” She also sent, as only Lorna would, a birthday telegram.

Annabel – “I left you a little something in your mail slot at work.” When I asked what, she replied, “It’s cashmere darling, that’s all I’m willing to say.” Oh, how I miss Annabel.

Pamsy – “We’re the same age! Well, for another few months ‘til I turn twenty-four.”

Laney – “I can’t believe you went to Paris not once, but twice and didn’t bother telling me. You had better not go back and see that little creep.”

Stephen – “Happy birthday! Now get your flamenco frock on and dance the night away!”

David – He rang tonight while I was out. What a shame I missed him but the two, sweet, kiss filled birthday cards he sent arrived in the morning post. “Presents when you come to LA!” he wrote. Oh goodie!

Jon – “In honour of your birthday McGarr, I’m coming over to take you out for drinks and either a late lunch or a ridiculously early dinner.” I appreciated him making such an effort to come all this way for just a couple of hours and I have to say, it was lovely catching up with him. As always, he looks great and we had a lot of laughs.

A few minutes after Jon dropped me off, Ben rang. I stupidly agreed to go pick him up and with no plans in place, I drove around aimlessly for about an hour before deciding to go to our favourite Indian restaurant in Stony Stratford.

Ben asked what I’d been doing all day so I started filling him in. After I mentioned Jon, he became very quiet and wouldn’t look at me. Not surprisingly, the onion bhaji’s (usually my favourite) tasted awful.

The silence continued until I could no longer stand it.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

Hoping for at least some semblance of a conversation, I continued. “What have you been doing recently?”

“I’ve been applying for different jobs,” he said, surprising me.

“With the same company?”

“Nah,” he shrugged. “My days as a holiday rep are over. It’s time for a change.”

“Good for you. What sort of jobs have you been applying for?”

“Airline stuff.”

“Like ground staff?” I asked.

“No, definitely not that,” he said, in a defiant tone.

“Then what?”

“Crew. I’m applying to British Airways to be long haul cabin crew.”

Shit.

February 26th, 1990

February 26th, 1990
At home

Spent my last night as a twenty-two year old, drinking wine with Florence, having a good old natter about Paris, wondering just how many girls might have a key to Jean Jacques flat.

“What a scallywag,” she uttered, more than once.

Indeed.

 

February 25th, 1990

February 25th, 1990

At home

“Right, where were we?” mum said, settling back on the couch after making us tea.

“I was at the bit when I heard the key in the door.”

“Oh aye,” she nodded, stuffing half a club biscuit in her mouth.

“Naturally, I thought it was Jean Jacques, so I got up and stopped dead in my tracks when a girl about my age I thought I recognized, appeared. Who are you? I sputtered. And who are you? she asked, with a toss of her long hair.”
“Was she French?”

“Yes, mum, hence the reason I just said it in a French accent.”

“Less of yer cheek, missy,” she said, gesturing for me to continue.

“I told her my name and she told me hers was Veronique.”

“Oh what a lovely name,” mum sighed. “Especially when you say it like that.”

“What are you doing here? I asked. I am a very good friend of Jean Jacques, she replied in sort of a haughty tone, floating around the living room. So, obviously, I explained to her that Jean Jacques got a call from work and had to go to LA. Ah, she cooed, the city of angels, it is wonderful, yes? Ugh, I could’ve screamed, I mean is it just me or does it seem like everybody I know has already been to LA. All except me of course. Honestly, it seems really unfair that…”

“Stick to the story,” mum urged.

“Oh yeah, sorry. Anyway, we got chatting and she was actually really lovely. Then out of the blue, she asked if I had posed for Jean Jacques.”

“What did she mean by that?”

“Wait, I’m getting there. She made her way to the guest room and I didn’t know why she was going in there so of course I followed her.”

“Why’d she do that?”

“Stop interrupting and I’ll tell you,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Hurry up,” mum urged. “I cannae wait to hear the rest and don’t forget about your tea, it’s getting cold.”

“Oh yeah, thanks,” I said, picking up the mug. “So, where was I?”

“Guest room.”

“Oh yeah, so she gestured like this with her lovely long fingers to the pictures on the wall and that’s when I realized why I thought I’d seen her before.”

Mum covered her mouth. “Oh, don’t tell me she was one of the nudie lassies in the photos.”

“Yes!”

“Oh, bejesus! What did you say?”

“I felt a bit embarrassed so I said something really stupid like that’s a lovely picture…”

“Of your arse,” mum shouted.

Barely able to contain my laughter, I said, “No mum, that’s not what I said!”

“So she meant had you posed for a nudie picture?”

I took a gulp of tea. “Obviously.”

“And that slimey wee worm, told you it was his pal who was the photographer.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at mum’s expression. “Yup. And I believed him.”

“Live and learn hen,” she sighed. “Live and learn. Besides, he was too auld for you anyway.”

“That’s true but..”

“But what?”

“I still have his key.”

“Aye but there’s no way you’re going back there, no way. And if your Father gets wind of this, he’ll go to Paris and wring that wee worm’s neck. Ye better no utter a word. About any of it.”

“Of course I won’t but you’re missing what I’m trying to say.”

“What’s that?”

“I have a key to a lovely flat in Paris owned by a man who travels for work a lot of the time.”

“I don’t care,” she stated. “Yer no going back there.”

We’ll see about that.

 

February 24th, 1990

February 24th, 1990

Flight from CDG – LHR

On the flight home from what ended up being a very interesting time in Paris!

Flight time is too short to jot everything down so I’ll have to wait ‘til I get home.

Au revoir to the city of light and love!

February 23rd, 1990

February 23rd, 1990
Montmartre, Paris

“Ecossais, wake up,”  I heard Jean Jacques whisper.
“Mmmmm,” I murmured, rolling over in the hope of continuing my slumber.
“Ecossais.” No longer a whisper.
“What time is it?” I asked, peeling my eyes open.
“It is early.”
“How early?”
“It is not yet five o’clock.”
“Why are you waking me up?”
He answered with a grin.
“No way, I said,” rolling away from him. “Come back later.”
He laughed. “Oh, Ecossais,” he sighed. “I am not here later.”
“What?” I asked, turning to face him again.
“I have to go to work.”
“You go to work at five in the morning? That’s mental.”
“Non, non, you do not understand, I am leaving.”
“Jean Jacques”, I said, sitting up. “What are you talking about?”
“I have received telephone call for work. I have to take avion from Charles de Gaulle.”
“A quelle heure?”
“Seven thirty.”
“You had better hurry up. Shit, I mean, merde, do I need to leave now too?”
“Non,” he laughed. “You are staying here if you like.”
“Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
“Non, I am sorry I have to leave.”
“When will you be back?”
“I do not know. Perhaps un semaine.”
“A week?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe more but I give you key and you go when you want and you stay when you want.”
“As lovely as that sounds, I should probably leave with you.”
“Non, non,” he said, stroking my arm. “You must stay in my city as long as you want.”
“If you insist,” I grinned.
“I in cyst,” he said, kissing my forehead. “So, I see you again?”
“Gosh I hope so,” I laughed.
“Ok,” he said, getting up. “I leave key here for you.” I heard the key clink when it hit the glass on the night table.
“Merci et bon voyage,” I said, easing my way back under the duvet. “Oh, Jean Jacques?”
He turned and smiled. “Oui, Ecossais?”
“Where are you going?”
“To the city of angels.”

Arghhhhhh!!!

February 22nd, 1990

February 22nd, 1990

Montmartre, Paris

I figured the best thing for me to do would be to “get outta Dodge,” as they say, so here I am, in Paris!

When I spotted Jean Jacques at Charles de Gaulle, my first thought was that he looked old, but when he came towards me with his infectious smile, that thought quickly disappeared.

“Ecossais!” He exclaimed, with a series of cheek kisses. “You are better?”

“Better?”

“You have been sick.”

“Oh yes, yes,” I stuttered, recalling the excuse I used for showing up two days late.

“And now you are looking hell fee.”

“Thank you,” I chuckled. “You look healthy too.”

 

We made our way into the city just as the sun was beginning to set.

“Ah, par ee,” Jean Jacques sighed, weaving in and out of some of worst traffic I’ve ever seen. “The city of love is very beautiful at this time, yes?”

“I thought it was the city of light.”

“Light, love, it is paree, all of the things is possible. You are ok, Ecossais?” he asked, reaching for my hand.

“Yes, very ok, thank you,” I smiled.

“You like to see more of my city?”

“Right now?”

“Oui,” he nodded.

“That’d be great.”

“Ok so for this we need the mistress of France.”

“Sorry, what?” I asked, as he began fiddling with the cassette player, just as we were about to circle the Arc de Triomphe.

“Eh, can I help you with that?” I asked, my heart in my mouth at the sight of the mayhem ahead of us.

“Non,” he stated, revving the engine of the ancient Citroen to overtake a gleaming black Mercedes.

“Bloody hell!” I shrieked, just as the music started.

 

Feeling ecstatic at having survived the Arc de Triomphe I joined Jean Jacques and Edith Piaf and sang at the top of my lungs;

“Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien. Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait, ni le mal. Tout ca m’est bien egal.”

No, no regrets

No, I will have no regrets

All the things that went wrong

For at last, I have learned to be strong.

 

February 21, 1990

February 21st, 1990

At home

I hate the way it feels when there’s something hanging in the air between you and someone you love, which is exactly how it feels with mum at the moment. I have no doubt she’d like to throttle me for going out with Ben yesterday instead of going to Paris but she hasn’t said a word about it and in some ways, that makes it worse. It might be better to just have a big blow out and go on from there. Not that that’s what I want to happen, it really isn’t but it might at least clear the air.

It’s time I found a place of my own.

 

February 20th, 1990

February 20th, 1990

At home

Mum is pretty upset with me, which in itself feels bad enough but if she decides to tell dad then I’ll really be in trouble.

“Who was that on the phone?” mum asked, as she came downstairs this morning.

“Ben.”

She rolled her eyes and made a tutting sound. “What did he want?”

“He has the day off work.”

“Of course he does. Too bad for him you’re off to the city of love.”

“Light.”

“What?”

“Paris is the city of light.”

“Speak for yourself,” she laughed. “Whatever it’s called, you’ll be there later!”

“Actually,” I uttered, tentatively. “I’m not going.”

“Why not?”

“Jean Jacques was supposed to ring and arrange a time to meet me and he didn’t.”

“And you couldnae have phoned him?”

“Absolutely not!”

“Oh, bejesus, I cannae keep track of all this nonsense.”

“It’s not nonsense. He said he would ring and he didn’t so I’m not prepared to go all the way to Paris for someone who can’t be bothered to let me know what the plan is.”

“Fair enough but…”

Just then the phone rang.

“Are you going to answer that, young lady?”

“No.”

“Well then I will and if it’s you know who, God help him.”

 

“Please don’t let it be Ben,” I muttereed as mum made her way into the hall. Through the glass wall, I watched her pick-up and listened.

“Oh hello there, this is Liz, Karen’s mum.” She was all smiles. “Yes, she is, let me just get her for you.”

Mum knocked on the glass wall and gestured to the phone.

“No,” I mouthed, shaking my head like a petulant child.

“Just a wee minute please,” she said into the receiver before covering it with her hand. The way she banged on the glass told me I had better get up and take the call.

 

When I told Jean Jacques I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it, he sounded extremely disappointed.

“Per apps you come tomorrow?”

“I’ll see how I feel.”

“Ok, Ecossaise, I am hoping for tomorrow. And I am sorry for not telephoning.”

I didn’t respond.

“The flight I take from Berlin,” he continued, “It was en retard many hours. And we are sitting on the l’avion for a long time.”

“No problem,” I said in much too cheerful of a tone for a sick person.

“So, I call demain and hope you are coming then?”

“Oui,” I said, quickly hanging up.

 

I grabbed my coat off the hook under the stairs and patted my pocket to make sure my car key was still there.
“I’m going out, mum,” I shouted, sounding much bolder than I felt. “I won’t be home ‘til much later tonight.”

Before mum had a chance to catch up with me, I bolted out the door and let my heart lead me to the one guy I truly love.