Keeping up appearances



The makings of our trip to Paris began about two years prior. I had read an article about Christian spirituality finding its way into mainstream music, which inevitably led me to a review of Mumford & Sons’ debut album ‘Sigh No More’. I downloaded the album on a whim and there, sitting on the number 26 bus on the way home from work one night, I listened to the title track and instantly fell in love. Not since my first encounter with Dave Matthews Band had I felt so attached to a band and so compelled to ‘spread the word’ about their music as if it was the Gospel itself.

Love; it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you

It will set you free, be more like the man you were made to be.

There is a design, an alignment to cry of my heart to see

The beauty of love as it was made to be. 

What does this have to do with Paris? I missed Mumford & Sons three times in Scotland – first in Edinburgh, then in Glasgow, then in Glasgow again (by this time, they were playing big stadium gigs). Each time the tickets had sold out before I’d had a chance to stake my claim. Determined, I signed up for their mailing list and thus caught wind of a European Tour in Spring 2013, opening night at Le Trianon in Paris, 27th March. Mon Dieu! C’est Parfait! It seemed only fitting to combine the romance of Paris with a Mumford gig which to attend, I’d heard, can resemble something of a religious experience.

We’d been looking forward to the trip for ages… David because he’d finally get to ride the Eurostar! And eat snacks on the Eurostar! Me, I had planned to become MUCH more acquainted with my camera so that I could snap art-y photos, stroll the boulevards in my trendy Wayfarer sunglasses before stopping for an espresso in a too-good-to-be-true Parisian cafe…

I don’t even own Wayfarers. And I don’t even like espresso. But you get the idea – we (especially I) had lofty ideals about how the trip would pan out, based on abstract moments that kept playing through my head like an old film reel.

Here’s the thing – it wasn’t a great trip. It was a good trip, just not a great one. The train was crowded and noisy, David somehow misplaced one of our tickets so we had to fork over an additional £152 to a grumpy conductor, the Metro was dirty and unfriendly, despite our best efforts we never did find the perfect pain au chocolat and to top it off the weather was cold and grey the whole stinkin time. And I might have fallen out of love with Mumford & Sons – something about that gig… I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it. So, needlesstosay, Paris didn’t feature much on my Instagram or Facebook feed – I didn’t post a bunch of pictures with quirky only-funny-to-me captions. I wasn’t even going to bother blogging about it.

Then I came across this quote from an article, aptly titled ‘Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life’.

When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special.

But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.

There has been a lot of chat lately, in the cyber world especially, about the responsibility of the originator versus the recipient of online material. I find it fascinating – if not a little scary – the fact that we are all journalists and photographers now thanks to the internet. We are wading into unchartered territory when it comes to how we communicate and form relationships through social media. Is it my responsibility to post the bad/gross/mundane details as opposed to (or in addition to) the good/delicious/interesting ones just so you don’t feel bad about yourself? Or should you be wise enough to know the difference between my sporadic Facebook quips and real life?

Do I look at other people’s’ photos or comments with envy? Sometimes. Do I post things myself because I am trying to compete? Maybe… I think it’s more from a desire to let people in, but maybe.

So here we are – I don’t have any photos of us standing under the Eiffel Tower on a glorious sunny morning, or kissing on the Lovers Bridge. We walked over the Lovers Bridge but didn’t pause for a photo as I was mid-tantrum following an unbearably long walk in search of breakfast. There were good things – like the unbelievable dinner we had the first night (soup a l’oignon, duck a l’orange…come on they’re a (quint)essential element of any debut trip to Paris), strolling up the Champs Elysee amidst the only 20 minutes of sunshine we saw the whole 3 days… It doesn’t mean I won’t go back. I am still kicking myself for not getting a picture of those gorgeous macarons in every colour at Laduree…. but I saw them, I savoured them, and I don’t need an Instagram to prove it.

And I trust that you out there would have taken some momentary delight in a photo of such cheerful, whimsical tea-time cookies without examining my ulterior motives, especially now that they are tempered with a vision of me stomping down Rue de Lafayette following the now infamous pain au chocolate search which culminated in my scarfing a paltry, rather soggy bun that I paid approximately 7 euros for…

Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is grand.

Center image credit:

All other images are my own.


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