There is nothing open in Paris on a Sunday, if one looks for a supermarket or even a Tabac, you will not find one open passed 1 o’clock. However one shop is open on a Sunday afternoon and that is WHSmith, the English book store. I love it! I am not sure what attracts me to it, whether it is the fact that the whole store is English and so walking in there I breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have to concentrate when asking a question, or whether it is that there is so much to look at, I also think that it has become a place of comfort and the store is peaceful- it is 2 floors and has an old carpet, the walls are lined with big old wooden bookshelves which are jam-packed with things to read.
I usually enter right where the travel section is downstairs, I look over the Lonely Planet Guides and pick up a few – secretly planning trips in my mind to exotic places. I then move to the Paris section, where I look at every guide book that I do not already own, yes I own a few. I tell myself I don’t need anymore, that they all say the same thing and provide the same map – I think that deep down I am actually looking for a book that doesn’t exist, something with the title of “Friends in Paris: a list of friends that you little one, will love” or “Shopping for the poor South African: shops that you can afford and that will make you look super cool” but so far I have not found any with those titles and a certain human has said that I will not benefit from yet another Paris tour guide, I know that that the human is right so I move on. I then walk up the creaky old staircase and into the stationery section. Why do I get such pleasure out of looking at cards and stationery I don’t know, but I look for ages at the different pens and notebooks and then move through to the next room which is children’s books, allowing you to escape to a fantasy world. The next room in this shop holds the fashion books and we all know I can spend hours there, I gently page through the massive hard cover books, admiring the dresses and the photos. Around the corner, through the philosophy section (I give that a skip), is the language room and it is in here where I sit down. I put my bag down, cross my legs and stare blankly at the shelves covered with “learning French” books. Again the same Human says that I could not possibly need another book but I still look, “making verbs easier”, “learn french in 15 minutes a day” or “your guide to the language” all jump out at me but there is still not the one I’m looking for. It’s a bit like the Paris guide, there is no book thats title is “Speak french immediately little one”! I pick up my things and go downstairs again.
I then do the dreaded and enter the magazine room where every magazine is stacked neatly on the shelves, I stand there and look, then, much to my parents’ dismay, I pick up a trashy magazine, such as US Weekly, Heat or Hello and read them… why does this give me such joy?
But today was different .. .today I had a moment of genius and read the equivalent of Heat in French. Well started to and I did understand a bit. I have realised that, YES I can finally be back in touch with celeb gossip by only spending 1 Euro a week and I add all sorts of interesting words (some good, some bad) to my vocab. My reading is slow but in a way this is a good thing. Now it will take me a week to read one magazine which means that just as I finish there will be a new one out which ultimately means, I could read this trashy magazine continuously.
Suddenly, as I write this, I am not sure that this is such a good idea and whether I can in fact call this moment genius. I suppose at least I will stop getting the beady eye from the French shop keeper at WH Smith.