After flicking through my iPhone to get to my calendar, I notice that I’ve got a fortnight until I’m meant to be in the queue to get through passport control at St. Pancras for my departure on the Eurostar to Paris. If it wasn’t for all the grand debacle surrounding the tests required, I’d be a little more excited about the prospect. However, international travel regulations aside, I’m really rather quite keen to get going. I’m charging up my Freewrite Traveler which I suspect will be getting a good hammering at some point on the actual journey as opposed to ye olde plume and parchment.
There has been talk of an extended stay in Paris. What it will mean is simply working Wednesday and Thursday and grabbing an extra day of annual leave on Friday. I can have a squiz around the shops with another scholar who has a conference to attend for a few days. This may not come to fruition as they need to check with their educational employment establishment if they are permitted to attend. If it all gets the green light, then I simply need to increase my stay at the hotel I’m currently booked in and extend the date of my Eurostar return ticket – thankfully it’s on a flexible rate. I may opt to change my annual leave to only the Friday rather than the Tuesday and Friday or alter the two days off to be Thursday and Friday. I’m not fully decided on this aspect yet. It relies on a lot of workplace details that aren’t ironed out yet.
I may decide to keep my stay at les Deux Gares, as is. I would then need to add the additional evenings to my scholastic peer’s accommodation so as we can socialise easier (their daytime activities are taking place at the Sorbonne). It’ll make things quicker for the evenings and the Friday when I get to show them around and even maybe grab an expensive chocolate éclair. But this is all reliant on permission being granted by their boss.
And their negative Covid test after a week in Tenerife.
This leads me back to the testing side of things. I don’t need anything to go to France except my NHS app showing that I’m double-jabbed (which I am). This, and a bit of paper saying I’m fine, is all France need; England have been doing things, despite everyone laughing at us in the beginning. In order to return on the Eurostar, I need to take a non-NHS Covid test three days before departure. As I’m leaving on the Sunday, and (in one possible scenario) returning on Tuesday, time isn’t really on my side. If I take a test on Saturday, in theory, it would cover me under the day zero rule. However, because of the postal system and working week, the labs may get the (non-NHS, privately bought) PCR test on Monday which leaves a short timeframe to process the test and get me a (negative) result returned for my return. If I do it on Sunday, under the day one rule, I’ll be covered. However, because of the postal system and working week, the labs may get the (non-NHS, privately bought) PCR test on Tuesday which leaves an ever-shorter timeframe to process the test and get me a (negative) result returned for my return. This now leaves two options. Both are in France.
The first is a test on the Sunday and the second is a test on Monday. It would be either a postal or an in-house test. I have no real clue where to get either option or indeed which is the best. Obviously, a Monday in-house test is the best but the cost and availability of such luxury may not be suitable for me. I also need to arrange a day two test for once I’m safely home. I’m sure Boris is going to make another announcement tomorrow. I’m constantly keeping one eye on the UK Government website and the other eye on the Connexion website (who constantly gives updates form the French side of things).
What one must realise is, with all the commotion and pandemonium going on, not only will it be August Bank Holiday on the Monday (no postal service) but these PCR tests need only be a quick scratch and sniff test – that’s how I refer to the Lateral Flow Tests that are done at home in much the same way as the lab tests are done. I’d be happy to discuss the differences with anybody that wishes to step up to this, incidentally. I have a handful of questions that still need answering.
I made a sneaky purchase, t’other evening. I treated myself to a Paris notebook. It’s a little black book containing lined, plain and even some tracing paper. It also has a fairly detailed map of the French capital. But for me, the best thing about it, aside from the little sleeve that allows for receipts to be stored, is that it is manufactured by Moleskin. A thousand and one years ago, I had a Moleskin notebook. I don’t recall whether it was lined or plain but I do know I didn’t use too many pages – I never did in those days. I have another one that is lined and holds the beginnings of my card magic career. However, as with most things, it fell by the wayside. This whole project surrounding An Englishman in Paris has held quite fast, thankfully. I know doing the Master’s has definitely helped and I also know Instagram has slowed but the writing has been fairly consistently constant in between assignments. Which has helped with the EMA, the progress and developmental stages of the book, plus my mental health.
Anyway, according to the folded yellow paper contained within the 9x14cm “guidebook that you write yourself”, both Van Gogh and Hemingway used this brand. It continues with a brief history of how the manufacturer went out of business in 1986 and the owner of the stationary shop where Bruce Chatwin used to buy his notebooks sort of said ‘le vrai moleskin n’est plus’. He bought up all of their stock before heading to Australia. This can be found in his his book The Songlines; I haven’t added this to my reading list – I suspect it’ll be there before my next entry. Quite possibly before the end of this paragraph. In 1997, after the resurrection by a Milanese publisher, Moleskin notebooks yet again became the notebook of choice for quite a lot of people in the world of creative arts. This little multi-lingual pamphlet gives a heck of a marketing speech. But needless to say, there is something inherently amazing about using one. And I look forward to filling my City Notebook with ideas, memories, notes and facts about my travels. Whether that be in one visit, the two planned for this year or a continuation of my annual trips in order to finish my book and write beyond that, remains to be seen.
And to let you know, Chatwin’s travels across Australia in search of the historical facts of the mystical songline pathways is now on my wish list at Amazon.
It’s at this stage of my EMA planning that I start to realise that with all of my dancing around the event I actually have no real clue as to what I’m writing about. And that last sentence was 34 words long. I had been planning on knowing my writing plans and points of interest to visit for this planned visit coming up. However, truth be told – this is nonfiction, after all – I’ve nothing lined up except my trusty Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel Guide to Paris. It’s over 400 pages and there’s a whole huge historical city to explore. I know it needs to be narrowed down to Hemingway related sights and venues. Yet, I also want to factor eating in Au Pére Tranquille. Plus, I want to make sure I grab a load of photos of non-touristic Paris. I’ll therefore be focussing on the next few writing moments to planning locations and plotting routes. On a positive side note, I ran over thirteen miles before work a few days back. That’s proof that I can complete the half-marathon on Sunday week. All that will remain is training for the full London Marathon in October to take up my spare time. I’ll need to think about packing for Paris next week. Phone charges and cables, notebooks, fountain pens and subsequent inks. Blue-lensed Ray-Bans and my Parisian bought C&A hat. A couple of nice shirts, a pair of slacks and comfortable shoes – not those big old blister builders I wore back in ’17. I still need to update Instagram; my 115 followers expect a little something every now and then.
This is the fourth entry in this new journal; An Englishman in Paris – A Master in Mastering My Master’s. Each entry has been written by a different fountain pen with a different coloured ink. I have discovered that mastering my Master’s now really doesn’t sell the condition of my grade. A more appropriate title would be An Englishman in Paris – Surviving the Shitstorm Surrounding my Scholarly Study.
At least once my most recent purchase arrives, made literally minutes ago during a depressed state of mind, I can read about the singing Aborigines when this is all finished.