Walking in Paris 3

I have had a lifelong fascination with time and infinity, I can remember as a very young child asking myself a question that as an adult I would phrase as “if the Universe is not infinite, what is it contained in?” and the answer to this question of course is Time.

Time contains us, one and all
Contains the very Universe, infinite edged though it may be
Time just opens wider, and swallows it whole
At the feast in the fourth hall


Carlos Castaneda vigorously asserts in his works that the Universe is composed of filaments of energy that are self-aware and that these filaments and their awareness are expressions of Time.

Thomas Bearden has expanded upon the work of Einstein’s famous formula ‘Energy equals Mass multiplied by the speed of light squared’ and proposes that Energy, Time and Mass are essentially interchangeable with each other.

The great modern god Commerce maintains that time is a unit by which to measure the output and productivity of workers.

I define a wristwatch as half a handcuff you wear in the street.

The speed at which the girl ran after the thief who had lifted the mass of her handbag was equaled only by the timely response of the three police who appeared from nowhere on pushbikes and intercepted them both within thirty seconds of the event occurring as Pam and I sat in the shade beside the Bassin Octogonal, an eight sided lake ringed by metal seats containing sunbaking tourists at the start of the Jardin de Touleries.

All the tourist traps in Paris warn of thieves and pickpockets and we had just witnessed our first crime.

Pam is innately wise and already well-travelled. I am rapidly coming to appreciate her insistence on walking as the central tenet of andtheywalked.com. Had we been speeding by one of the many open air tour buses or even rolling past on the ‘Paris by Segway’ tour I had enviously eyed as they passed by, we would never had happened upon that exact intersection of space and time that enabled us to witness the action at hand.

Mechanized travel enables the rapid arrival at many single destinations.

Walking makes the journey one long destination, where time dilates and contracts as the modern world rushes by.

With time on our side we walk towards the Louvre along the graceful Tuileries Garden pathway. Gardens and sculptures grace both left and right. To our left we see a large dark mass with outstretched limbs and we meander over.

The sculpture is called ‘Standing Figure’ by Willem de Kooning and the plaque beside it states that Willem has poured fifteen years of his life, 1969 – 1984, into the creation of this unsettling work.

The crowd queuing at the Louvre is disheartening long. Prior to leaving Australia the one destination in Paris I knew I wanted to see was the Louvre and we are planning to tour inside tomorrow. We will have to rise with the sun to break fast and walk here again. For the moment we admire the glass pyramid that so divides the opinion of the Parisian natives and head back toward the Seine.

We turn left at the Seine heading for the Pont des Arts. This bridge is festooned in locks placed there in what Pam has read is a symbol that seals true love forever. The two loves write their names on the locks and then fasten the lock to the mesh on each side of the bridge, the key then is tossed into the Seine. A love so sealed can only be broken by recovering the key from the bottom of the Seine and opening the lock.

Scuba gear is not provided.

Pam is keen to participate in this ritual, apparently swearing fealty until death do us part is not enough for her.

As we approach the bridge a swarm of teenagers rush by us waving pages in the air. I see a symbol on the top left of each page that shows a wheelchair and make the assumption that this happy flock is a protest of some sort to encourage Paris to become more wheelchair friendly. We continue towards the Pont de
Arts and turn right to cross the Seine.

I have only taken a few steps when my right hand is clasped by a dark skinned fellow with a hat at a jaunty angle and a fresh lit cigarette hanging from his lips. He says ‘Hello, point your middle finger’, which I do. He rapidly snares my finger in strands of coloured string which he beings to wind one about the other. A machine gun volley of friendly questions and assertations follow that jerk the cigarette wildly between his lips.

‘Where you from?’

‘Australia’ I reply

‘Ah Australie’ he says, ‘go Wallabies rugby team’ ‘beautiful kangaroo’ ‘You are here with your lover?’ looking towards Pam.

‘My wife’ I say

‘Ahh your wife is beautiful, I am African artist and magician. I will make a special bracelet for you, African Viagra magic, your wife will love your power, boom boom all night long’

All the while his hands spin the strings in patterns as he skilfully weaves a bracelet about my right wrist, his patter incessant and the cigarette bouncing on his lips.

It has only taken seconds from his first touch on my hand for him to weave the bracelet and by now I am deep under his spell. He adroitly takes a pair of nail clippers from his pocket and as he goes to cut tidy the string remnants asks me to make a wish.

These are classic distraction tactics. Make your target internalise and then strike.

I never know what to think when someone tells me to make a wish. Do I wish for world peace? For the end of war? For human beings to begin functioning from a perspective of humility rather than self importance and arrogance, and stop killing the planet that supports them?

The choices are so large and there are so many of them. I never know what to do.

The magician asks me ‘have you made your wish?’ I lie and say ‘yes’.

‘For you special price to make your wish come true, 20 Euro’.

‘Too much too soon’ I think shaking my head and breaking the spell. ’20 Euro no way’ I say, ‘I have no money’

This part is true because Pam is carrying our precious documentation and money in her Pacsafe bag.

’10 Euro’ he fires back, ‘you made wish, I make African Viagra magic bracelet for you, your wife will love you’

‘My wife already loves me, 2 Euro’ I reply.

‘You must give me money for your wish to come true and for my magic to work’

Pam who had tried to stop me falling under his spell in the first place and has been looking on amused presses some coins (but absolutely no 50 cents) into his hand and we walk on. The magician tries for a couple of more seconds to drain us for more before turning to his next target.

‘Hello, hold out your finger’

’20 Euro for a few pieces of string, you are an idiot for being scammed’ my darling wife tells me despite my mumbling protests that we only gave the magician a couple of Euro.

We leave the Pont des Arts and turn left heading for the first of the two Islands between the banks of the Seine.

Simultaneously Pam and I are accosted by two girls who wave a page in front of us, I recognise the wheelchair symbol and think ‘yeah, I am all for making Paris more wheelchair friendly’. The girl showing me the form is young and beautiful and has a mournful expression with pleading eyes. I ask her what the form is about and she points a pencil towards the top of the page where I read in English, Deaf and Dumb, ‘ahhh she cannot speak, how sad’, and I begin to sign the form. She points to the part for name, country of origin, skips a column to where I am to sign and then last of all to the area where I am to nominate the number of Euro I am willing to donate to the cause. The previous entries in this column show amounts 20 Euro, 30 Euro and so on.

Classic distraction tactics, make your target empathise and then strike.

20 Euro for signing my name on a page and I don’t even get a piece of string, what a scam.

I say ‘no, no money, I have no money’, the beautiful young girl looks at me with pleading eyes and points to my signature with her pencil, she says nothing, points to her throat then to my signature.

Pam has actually paid some money to the other sad faced girl and sweeps me onwards saying ‘damn they got me’. ‘That is one scam each within 100 metres’.

At least this time it is Pam who was scammed for money, if it had been twice in a row for me she would have kicked my behind.

Within the next 100 metres more teenagers appear waving their forms, however forewarned is forearmed, and we pass by unscathed.

‘That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure played a mean pinball’ I sing. From now on Pam and I call them the Pinball Wizards and find them lurking at every busy tourist destination.

We turn left onto the Pont Neuf that takes us to the tip of the Ile de la Cite and turn right into a beautiful gravelled courtyard (Place Dauphine) that forms a triangle between the terrace houses. We sight an older couple making out like teenagers on a park bench and Pam pokes out her tongue ‘Gross’. Up the far end we pass a group of twenty or more Tai Chi practitioners gently swaying.

The Ile de la Cite houses the justice courts where we turn left and then right along the bank of the Seine walking by the largest and most grand police station I will probably ever see.

Turning right again after this imposing stone keep takes us to the Cathedral Notre Dame where we sit on the wooden amphitheatre in front of the massive Cathedral. The queue to go in is long and slow moving and we have seen many representations of my good mate Jesus already, so after basking in the glory of the marvellous external sculpture work adorning the Notre Dame walls, we decide to move on and have some lunch.

The waiter who has served us makes correct change for the French speaking couple sitting beside us however scams us for one Euro fifty cents and rapidly vanishes when we pay.

I realise I do have a wish to make with my newly acquired African Ju Ju Viagra bracelet.

I wish out loud that my bracelet will be like Wonder Woman’s gold bracelets, deflecting scams rather than bullets.

So far it is working well.

His magic is strong.



2 thoughts on “Walking in Paris 3

  1. “The magician asks me ‘have you made your wish?’ I lie and say ‘yes’.” I can relate to this so much. The overwhelming stress of sorting through desire and outcome. Sad state of affairs when you struggle to wish though, isn’t it?

    I can also relate to not wanting to see old people make out. Young attractive couples only please haha.


  2. Also, Mick, I was actually thinking about time and time travel, or about time as a moveable fabric. I was in a somewhat dull conundrum, waiting for a tram to get home after school, with the next one due in 10 minutes. Deciding it was a beautiful night and I was happy to walk to the next stop, I thought about whether I would walk to the next stop or the previous stop. Walking forward would elongate time, and I would end up waiting longer, or walking backwards would compress time and I would meet it front on. These were obviously physical point of conversion, but the principle still applies that time is a construct that can be bent.

    I reminded of this, one of my favourite quotes. x

    “The thing I like most about time is that it’s not real. It’s all in the head. Sure, it’s a useful trick if you wanna meet someone at a specific place in the universe to have tea or coffee. But that’s all it is, a trick. There’s no such thing as the past, it exists only in the memory. There’s no such thing as the future, it exists only in our imagination. If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say is now.”
    — Damien Echols

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