I am writing this on a weirdly letter-spread out keyboard at the Le Clos, Notre Dam hotel, Paris, on a fine Sunday morning. Emily is asleep upstairs. After a tres joli walk thro’ Paris we shall be returning to Edinburgh tonight! I feel refreshed & revitalized… Paris is a sensational & serene city – the kind of place folk would build if they actually gave a fuck!
On Wednesday morning, we arrived early in Rome from Edinburgh, & partook a swift walk to the Protestant Cemetery. As I showed Ems the graves of Shelley & Keats & couldn’t help picturing myself in the same spot as a 21-year old at the dawn of my career… now I’m 40 & I’ve outlived them both – & Byron – a strange sensation.
From Rome we idled up the coast to Castiglione by train, a lovely spot with a medieval burgo looking out over the island-dotted Mediterranean. We were met by Dario, an Air B&B guy, who gave us the top room in his lovely house on the outskirts of Castiglione for £50 a night. I got obsessed with his upper terrace floor. After spilling a bit of tuna oil, which I thought I’d clean it up & thus made more stains! This incident began our Bonnie & Clyde style rampage thro’ Europe, leaving a trail of minor breakages & spillages in our wake. Thursday was spent all day on the beach – Ems really needed it, & I got the vibe that this was the Italian Goa. I’ll be back. I also filmed a couple of cantos of A&A in the locality, which was a swell thing to do.
Next day we set off again, calling in Pisa en route for more Damological pilgrimages. I showed Ems scenes from my busking domicile in the Pisa, & wrote a few stanzas for my Honeymoon poem, the finale to the Silver Rose sequence. That evening we arrived, via Lucca, in Pistoia. A lovely medieval-hearted place ran by the lovely Giovanni, in which we took rooms in an amazing room in an ornately antiquated house. We dined out for the first & only time on the tour – delicisoso Tuscan cooking – & reveled in the funky Pistoian ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ vibe. Our rooms were above the city’s main, narrow artery, so Saturday night was echoing til morning. This, & the wine bubbled us up into a romantic glow, & suffice to say our lovemaking was sweet.
The next morning we rose early, breakfasted, then took two trains to Bologona, thro’ extremely pretty & hilly countryside of the most luscious greens. Taking a flight to Paris, we landed 50 miles north at Beauvais, from where we caught a bus into the French capital. Dropping us off near the Arc de Triumph, we both popped our Parisian cherry by conducting an epic walk along the Champs D’Elysee, thro’ the Tuileries Gardens, past the Louvre & onto Place Saint Michael, where our hotel was to be found.
After indulging in the free champagne at the hotel, we stepped out into the Parisian night, full of euphoria & fun. After the mega-busy hustle-bustle streets of the Latin quarter, we paused in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral on the Lutetian Isle. Then, the day & the tour hit us, & we went back to our hotel for a much=needed repose. We’ve been acting like a couple of students touring Europe in their gap year, but we are, in fact, in our 40s.
This morning, before dawn, I poured out some left-over red wine & hit the streets. It was at the Pont Neuf Bridge that I found a perfect location for the final stanzas of the Honeymoon poem – & thus the Silver Rose. The idea is I leave two roses on a seat there, which will hopefully inspire future poets to do the same.
For future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine;
Upon this seated moment let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart –
A poet’s quill still feeds the hushless heart!
September 28, 2016