And they say January isn't depressing...
Here's a link to my playlist.
Yes, she does let me use the cashpoint. And, back at the Premier Inn, no, My American Friend does not kill me. We even have a quite nice coffee with the John Betjeman guy in the "tavern". I must be catching up on my sleep.
At 9.05am, the taxi drops me and My American Friend outside a long grey Victorian building in Saint Germans. It could be a railway station. Then again, it could be a nursery school, or a village hall. We peer through the windows. There is no ticket office and no sign of rails. At the corner is a door with an official looking sign. We approach it. It says, TOILETS.
We look up and down the road. We can see for about half a mile in either direction. There is no train station. We have no idea where we are.
From the opposite side of the road we see the taxi returning with a new fare. We run towards it, MAF banging on its windows. I stand in front of the taxi until it stops. It nearly doesn't.
You dropped us in the wrong place! (MAF) Do you actually know where the train station is?
They said to drop you over there. They just said it was a green building.
That's not a train station, I bellow, loud enough for the passengers and most of passers-by to hear.It's a public lavatory!
For a split second this gives me immense satisfaction. But we have less than ten minutes to catch our train. We grab a passing dog walker who says the station is five minutes up that way. After thirty seconds, we realise he is walking much faster than us. We run up the hill, dragging tents, rucksacks, bags, wellies, swearing in French and English.
But we get there. We're ok. There are people we have met at the festival waiting on the platform. We fall into easy conversation. Did any of that stuff last night happen at all?
We board the train with people wearing fairy wings, rabbit masks and bison headdresses. My American Friend stays on the train for elsewhere. I change trains and change again until I'm the only traveller slumped in the corner of a carriage wearing round yellow sunglasses, muddy wellies and an oversized backpack.
When I get out, I'm met. By people who sleep in beds and have easy access to a change of clothes, but not such easy access to magic. I wonder that, in an inverse Rip Van Winkle effect, they're not five years older. For the last few days nothing has seemed to exist outside Port Eliot. And I seem to have been there for a very long time.
I feel stoned, exhausted and vaguely dirty. I feel great. Isn't that how you're meant to feel after a festival?
Goodbye Port Eliot. See you next year...
I wake up, sharply, to the alarm clock the fat guy gave me. It's 8.20am. The night before I booked a taxi for 8.40am. I have to dress fast. And I do. Almost as fast as I did at 2 that morning.
I get to reception in time. I feel good. Then bad. My American Friend isn't there. S/he will miss the taxi. Is that good - or bad? I'm not sure. I do feel a little contrite. Well not too contrite. Who knows how long or how loudly MAF would have gone on talking in his/her sleep? Maybe s/he should miss the taxi...
I have spent so long thinking about it that it's now 8.45am.
Is the taxi here yet? I ask the (new, female) receptionist.
You booked it for 8.40?
But it's only 7.40.
I look at the lobby clock. She's right.
I look at the alarm clock the fat guy lent me. It's one of the ones with minimal hands. You can tell where six and nine are, but seven and eight are unmarked and could be one and the same. Who set the alarm last night? Who set it wrong? I decide it must have been the fat guy.
Outside the Premier Inn the grass is grey and wet. I begin to feel a little more contrite.
I decide that the best amends to MAF would be to wait for him/her and to pay for the taxi so that we can both go back to Saint Germans station together. Trouble is, I have no cash and I know s/he hasn't either.
I return to the hotel reception to try to address the cash problem.I ask the (new, female) receptionist.
Is there a cashpoint here?
It's in the "tavern".
I find the "tavern" which smells of tomato ketchup and something fried. I find the cashpoint. It doesn't work. I return to reception.
I think there's one in Morrisson's.
I walk down the long wet Premier carpark to the nearest thing South Cornwall has to a motorway. I dodge early traffic across two roundabouts, past the Homebase shed-island to the Morrisson's shed-island. There are no pavements, only grass verge covered with morning dew.
I do a circuit of Morrisons. Nothing.
Do you have a cashpoint? I ask a man holding a dustpan, with careful politeness.
Yes, says the man
But it's inside, says the other man, who is holding a brush.
And we don't open 'til 9, says the third man, who is holding nothing and seems to be supervising the operation.
I follow an early employee, who is travelling on a golf buggy, into the shop through the doors marked EXIT and say to her, trying to sound neither criminal nor lunatic, I'm staying at the Premier Inn and their cashpoint's broken and I have to get to Saint Germans by nine-twenty two to get a train and our taxi leaves at eight-forty.
She reverses the golf buggy and looks at me for a long time.
Too painful to go on with this right now. More tomorrow. Instead here are some photos of the Port Eliot Flower show.
Entitled to the priviledges of the performers' bathroom, I found myself queuing behind Flower Show judge, Grayson Perry. Last month at the Shakespeare and Company festival it was Jeanette Winterson. Oh the glamour.
Mr Perry presented the prizes dressed as a 1950s toddler (he arrived on a pink motorbike with a backseat shrine to his teddybear). Here are a few photos of the exhibits. This one's the 'Patrick Suskind's Perfume' entry in the Novel category:
...and this is literary luminary, Simon Prosser's 'The Tin Drum'.
(To read what happened first, look here)
It's 1am. We're dropped at the Liskegard Premier Inn, situated between the nearest thing South Cornwall has to a motorway, and a business park containing Homebase and Morrissons.
The Premier Inn is good. It really is premier. It has a shower and beds and the beds have sheets on them. I haven't seen these for some time. I love it. I lie on the bed and laugh. It's better than The Crillon.
I fall asleep immediately.
I wake up about an hour later.
MAF (My American Friend) is talking in his/her sleep. Quite distinctly, and at schoolroom volume.
Go to sleep, I say.
So do I.
But half an hour later s/he's doing it again.
S/he stops and I try to sleep again but I can't. I have been woken up one time too many. I lie for about twenty minutes wondering what to do.
Eventually I know the answer. The answer is definitely to get up and try to get out of our bedroom without putting the light on.
MAF wakes up
What's the matter?
You were talking in your sleep.
I open our door and, in the light from the corridor, I begin to put on my clothes.
What? What are you doing?
I don't know. I can't go back to sleep. I haven't had enough sleep this weekend and now I've been woken up twice and I just can't go back to sleep again.
This is where things begin to get transatlantic. The more s/he seeks to explore the inner reasons for my behaviour, the more clipped and British I get in a lurching attempt to keep it together.
MAF: Is it something I've done?
Is it because I was late for the taxi?
No. Don't be silly.
But. Wait. What are you going to do?
I don't know. I can't sleep. I have to go for a walk. Maybe I'll go to Saint Germans and wait for the train.
But it doesn't come for four hours!
I still just have to go.
Are you being passive-aggressive?
No - No! I'm. Just. Tired.
Stop! Can't we talk about it?
I think about this one. It's tempting. I'm so tired I could blame MAF for anything, including stuff that happened when I was two.
You don't want to talk about it? You'd rather go wait on a cold train station for four hours than have it out with me?
Thank f*ck I choose the right answer.
As soon as I get out of the door I go straight to the front desk, dragging my tent on a trolley, rucksack plus other stuff.
What time is it? I say at the obese bearded night-clerk. Do you have another festival room? You see the person I'm sharing with, (I wheedle), I don't know him/her very well (a big lie) - talks in his/her sleep...
The nice big guy gives me new room keys and an alarm clock. After some time, I sleep until about 7am.
This is (unfortunately) not the end. More tomorrow. It gets worse.
In the meantime, here's a pic of Tom Hodgkinson and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (who winked at me during the festival party - but maybe he does that to everyone) double-acting over some wet fish...
The Port Eliot Festival this year is brilliant - brilliant!
But I've worked out by now that most of the time I spend at festivals, especially if I'm in any way participating, is refracted through a muddy lens of mild to medium exhaustion. I don't sleep. Not for long enough, anyway. I'm camping and I'm woken, about every half an hour, by the cold, the hard ground, the snores, the 'other' noises and, eventually, by the dawn chorus and then the light. I am not getting any REM.
After three days I think I'm getting used to it. But that's all part of the illusion. Hyped by alternate servings of coffee (mornings) and alcohol (evenings) I feel fine until get to the middle of each day when neither chemical is functioning in my system and I have to lie down on the ground for a while and pretend to die.
This story begins on Monday morning. This morning, though it feels like another time zone. It begins first thing this morning. As in 12.07am. I'm sitting in a taxi outside the festival, headed for a non-camping night of luxury at the Liskeard Premier Inn, waiting for My American friend (M.A.F.). S/he (I won't even reveal the gender of the other half of this sorry tale) is already seven minutes late. That doesn't sound much but, festival-tired, I've already been waiting since twenty-five-to,
I am not in a good mood.In fact I am getting madder and madder. In both the British and the American senses of the word.
When some people get mad they get loud and shouty. I get quieter, more precise and more polite. If I were in a movie I'd be the really nasty villain who talks in a whisper and probably experiments on animals in his spare time.
MAF gets in. Sorry I'm late.
Oh that's ok, I reply.
Your last night at the festival? Where are you off to tomorrow? asks the fellow festival performer sharing our cab.
Ah. I know Oxford. Oh yes. "And is there honey still for tea?" Betjeman, you know...
I wait for a moment deciding whether to say it.
That's Rupert Brooke.
And he was talking about Cambridge.
I think this is the moment things start take a turn for the worse.
More tomorrow. Right now I have to go and lie down.
In the meantime, here's a pic I did for a 'design your own cover for a blank-jacketed Penguin classic' event at the festival on Sunday (was that really yesterday?).
I wanted to give this copy away on Badaude but I'm going to send it over to Saint Germans to go into the archive along with designs by Ged Wells and Simon Prosser. Instead, have a look at my Shakespeare & Company giveaway - still open til the end of the month.
So, hey, it's only a month away.
And to make things easier, I've drawn you a map...
This drawing appeared in the New York Review of Books.
Did I mistype that?
OK, I meant, Paris Palge. If you don't already know about it, it's a beach-based installation that occurs along the banks of the Seine every July and August. Sometimes, as I walk along the Right Bank, I look down from the traffic-choked Quais onto the top of people's heads. There are crowds of them down there at all times of day. What are they doing? So far this year, I haven't gone down there to find out.
But, late one August night, I have to get back from Rivoli to somewhere near Bastille. I could take the steaming, sweating metro, or I could walk along the lamplit Quai de Voltaire, dodging the cars that stream by in a neon blur. Or I could go down to Paris Plage and walk.
On a night like this, with outdoors as hot as a room with closed windows and the city's heat trapped under its greenhouse-gas roof shutting out the stars, there's no competition.
So I make my way down one of the staircases that lead down to the Quais of the Seine.
People are still dressed for day, in short sleeved shirts and shorts, although it's 10.30pm. In the centre of the city they really are dressed for the beach. But their faces are greenish in the lamplight, eerily underlit by reflections from the river. The effect is kind of, Tour-group of the Living Dead.
They are milling backwards and forwards in both directions. Which stream should I follow? I join the thick flow of the constant foule* wandering toward the the Ile Saint-Louis. I wonder whether I'm going to come across a happening of some sort: some music, a reading or an art installation. I don't. Maybe I've chosen the wrong time of night. I walk for ten minutes; longer, for half an hour, but it's like a gigantic, aimless passagiata.
I start to watch for patterns in the crowd; trying to make sense of what's going on. I notice a group of teenage boys, dodging between the plagistes with a Galleries Lafayette trolley full of bottled water. One of them detatches from the trolley and opens a little electrician's door at the base of a cast-iron lamp post. He takes out a half-empty bottle; a packet of pills. What are they?
I look back at the crowd. They haven't noticed him. They're looking out for something else, hopefully, expectantly.
There's nothing actually happening.
I remember last year's Paris Plage when I spent one sweltering afternoon at Bassin de la Villette. Like tonight, it was crowded. I missed the baby dragon monster; I missed the Guinguette*. I walked up and down the Bassin, through crowds of Parisians who, always seeming to know better, walked always in the opposite direction.
Back to tonight. All the watching I've been doing has changed the nature of what I'm seeing. There's a feeling of tension, of expectation. Perhaps it's mine.
As a female on my own in a crowd, I'm used to feeling like this. Like most women, I've been trained to look out for a bag-snatch, an assault, an indecent proposal, an incident of any kind. What's going to happen? I look at other walkers, their cameras dangling casually from their shoulders, rucksacks gaping open, and feel smug. I'm armoured in my jacket (albeit light cotton) my purse slung across my body. If there's an easy target, it's not me. But I am the only lone female walker I can see. Where am I expecting the incident to come from? Is the crowd the threat or the mark?
I'm unprepared when it happens. A middle-aged, thin, ratty-looking guy with a guitar over his shoulder grabs me by the arm. What does he want? He pulls me towards him.
In a few seconds which seem like forever, the following thoughts go through my head:
He looks scruffy. Also arty.
I don't want to be prejudiced toward scruffy people I don't want him to think that I'm prejudiced toward scruffy people. Or artists (maybe he's part of the entertainment and I should actually be extra-nice to him). I smile.
A bit. Frozenly. He might, after all, be a purse-snatcher or a serial rapist.
After all, he grabbed my arm. That's a bit inappropriate, huh? It lends weight to the purse-snatcher theory. But he looks a bit Latin. Maybe grabbing is ok if you're Latin. Maybe he's just being tactile. I don't want to be uptight. And I don't want to be prejudiced against Latins.
I turn toward him. The effect of my smile and my not-smile must look somewhat grotesque.
He asks, politely,"Tu veux m'accompanier au..?"
OK. So he wants a date. It always comes from the unexpected angle. When you're expecting an iron bar, a feather can topple you.
I start to reply. But how do you gently reject a man you just assumed was trying to rob you?
Furthermore, I have forgotten that, when I'm flustered, I can no longer speak French. Instead, I make a kind of face which expresses relief, gratitude, polite regret and friendly interest. It's not really one face but several different faces fighting for self-expression over the same set of features.
He get's the point. I'm a tourist. I don't understand. He claps me on the shoulder:"A demain! A la meme heure, hein?"
And I'm left, still floundering in his wake, as the vedette* sails off into the night to find a more likely copine*.
Click on the illustration to see it bigger; click again to enlarge it further.
*foule - crowd
*guignette - informal traditional ball
*vedette - small boat; also star, celebrity
*copine - friend/girlfriend (I've always found this one a bit ambiguous)
"I like having hangovers."
"No you can't mean it!"
"But I do. First you feel so bad that your brain stops working. You can't think about anything for a while. So you don't worry about any of the things you'd normally worry about. You reach a kind of Zen state. Then when you stop feeling bad you are happy to have survived. It's like a brain reboot."
These were some words I spoke somewhat rashly a couple of evenings ago.
I thought I was being clever. I also thought I meant it.
Yesterday I woke up on day two of really the worst hangover of my life.
I think I might have changed my opinion.
I should have seen it coming, when I fake-tanned my legs.
You see, four days ago, I bought a very fine dress in the soldes d'été at Isabel Marant. The dress is made from grey sweatshirt material which makes my pale legs look the colour of the belly of an uncooked fish. It is a fine dress. It just needs bronzed Mediterranean legs, like the legs of the dark heroines in Eric Rohmer movies. So I stop in at Le Bon Marché, buy some fake tan and dye my legs, failing to recall how the pain of a hangover is so frequently accompanied by the cooked-biscuit smell of chemical bronzer.
It had something to do with hope. And something to do with pride.
You see, I fake-tanned my legs to wear with the dress to meet a friend I hadn't seen for some time. He's a college friend. I see him maybe every five years. I want to impress him. With my dress, with my legs. I know I probably won't see him for another five years but I'm instantly at home with him - just as I was when I shared a house with him all those years ago. And we're having dinner at home in my apartment.
For some reason, I drink more at home than I do when I'm out. In a bar or a restaurant, I have my limit sussed. There's something in my subconscious which doesn't allow me to drink to excess. I am particularly proud of this skill. It has, after all, taken me years to develop. But at home, wedged between the wall and a collapsible table, my subconscious has an entirely different intent. It is occasionally impossible to fool it into ignoring the fact that my bed is really not very far away and I have no need to stay sober enough to stay upright on the metro.
My friend is here with his wife, whom I have met once, briefly, and their two children, the older of whom I last saw in a pram. He is a Labour candidate in a no-hope borough in the rural South West of England. I google him as I cook duck legs on a bed of carrots before he arrives. His face beams shinily from his party's website.
Is it true that everyone looks ten pounds heavier in photos?
About 10.30pm his wife takes the children back to their hotel. She is tired, she say's. She doesn't mind going to bed early. She doesn't return. We sit. And talk. And drink. Until when? I don't know.
The next morning. I wake up to find him sitting at my table drinking coffee out of a wineglass.
He looks at home. His upper torso is bare, white and plump. He used to be thin. I stare at it, fascinated. Each half is an unnaturally symmetrical mirror-image of itself, and it is unnaturally wide. It is so pale and wide and shining. It's all I can see. It spreads out before me, horrifyingly large, like the vast white wall of a n electro-hydraulic dam. It is making me dizzy.
This is when I realise I am fantastically hung-over.
I get up temporarily to make breakfast, but find that the action of sawing bread makes me nauseous.
Then it occurs to me to wonder why he is still here. I ask,
"Did you sleep on the sofa"
"Some of the time."
I put a hand up to my ear.
"I lost an earring."
"That was probably when you fell off the bed. You see, after you took all your clothes off and I'd tied your wrists onto your ankles, would insist on still moving. And then you rolled to one side and just fell off the bed. Plop."
I take a serious reality check.
"You are... joking, aren't you?"
"OK. So why did you stay?"
"Well, when you get drunk when you're younger you still have the energy to do something outrageous. But when you're older, you just go to sleep. I just went to sleep. At the table. Then I moved onto the sofa at, maybe, 4am, I think. It was getting light. Do you want some coffee?"
I can't drink anything out of a wineglass. Or maybe, I just can't drink anything.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I really just have to go back to bed."
My friend returns in the afternoon with his family. I remember that last night I had volunteered to take his children to see a movie.
How much did you drink? asks the eight year old.
"I don't know."
It's better that he doesn't. And, in any case, I'm not sure.
But he persists:
"One glass? Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine?"
He continues without any apparent idea of stopping. I can see the glasses lined up, the wine inside them queasily swaying. I have to stop their relentless multiplication.
"Oh - um, definitely not more than six."
I have no idea whether this is true. But I don't want to give too bad an impression.
"You should only drink one glass of wine every day," say the five-year-old, sternly. "That's what my daddy says."
I take the children to see Prince Caspian. I find two hours plus of mythological beings beating the crap out of one another oddly refreshing. I eat most of the children's salted popcorn. I go home and immediately go back to sleep.
The next morning, I find I can get out of bed. I feel like I have a hangover. I no longer feel that something indefinable has happened to me which has shifted reality by a crucial 5 centimetres. It feels like day one of a hangover I might have had fifteen years ago in the days when a hangover lasted a maximum of twelve hours.
I look through the apartment for my earring and don't find it. I find a prescription bottle of Propecia, left by my friend. I Google it. It is a treatment for hairloss. I put it in the bathroom beside my bottle of fake tan.
I go out with a friend for coffee, which I find I can now drink. I notice I am trembling slightly as one poison replaces another in my system. I tell her about the evening before the evening before.
"It's ok. You only see this guy, what, every five years?"
But I can see the rings of damage spreading like circles of water from a dropped stone.
"You don't understand. These are my friends from college. There are loads more of them back in the UK. And they all know each other. Like family. And they all see each other like, every five years too. But if he tells one of them then, within around six months, they'll all know. And I only see most of them once every five years. I'll have the reputation of being a drunken slapper until I can personally disprove it to every one of my college friends. Which, mathematically speaking, could take," (I realise with horror as I calculate), "the next fifty years."
Will I still be around in fifty years, making my rounds of penance? I'm not young any more. Not young enough to drink like that. And maybe too old to live down the consequences.
"But didn't you say you drank a lot at college?"
I remember afternoons in the pub, matching the boys pint for pint. And worse nights when, for example, dressed in a scarlet turban, I attended a cocktail party and, after many glasses of something made from peach schnapps, ended up howling loudly in a bathroom several staircases away.
"But that's not me. I'm not like that any more. I haven't been for years. I didn't mean to get drunk. I hardly ever get drunk."
"OK, it may be better to look at it this way. You're reputation has not been damaged. It has just been... preserved."
As if in alcohol.
Click on the illustration to open it in a bigger window, then click again to resize it.
I was coming out of La Grande Epicerie, loaded down with Christmas shopping when a little bit of Paris got in my eye.
It must have been a speck, tiny as the Snow Queen's sliver of ice, and it hurt just as much, cutting right accross my eyeball.
I blinked a bit. It would go away. Specks always did.
But it didn't. So I held my hand over my closed eye, pressing against my eyeball. That felt better, but it probably wasn't doing anything useful.
I tried pulling my eyelid down over my eye, as a certain man had done in a similar situation. He stood very close to me, stretching my eyelid uncomfortably over my bottom lashes and holding it there so that, after a while, I began to wonder whether the discomfort was worth the erotic charge.
After he'd finished, I could see again. But I hadn't seen him for some time.
The trick had worked before but now - nothing. I tipped my head to one side and shook it so that whatever it was could fall into that little red resevoir in the inner corner of the eye which I sometimes use to check how hungover I am (the redder the more so).
I needed advice. I needed one of those know-all people who come up to you and say, It's easy. All you have to do is... And then everything's OK.
I was still standing on the pavement on the corner of the rue de Sèvres. People were milling past me. Then I realised that, in the Christmas shopping rush, NO-ONE was going to help. NO-ONE had EVEN NOTICED ME.
My eye still hurt. But I was going to have to start moving.
Maybe if I looked more pitiable? I walked slowly and unsteadily with one hand over my eye. No effect. But, wait a minute, this really did hurt. What if something really was wrong? I'm an illustrator. Illustrators don't like strange things happening to their eyes. Particularly when they have no insurance.
I went from pretending to be worried to really starting to worry; from pretending not to be able to see exactly where I was going to realising that, actually, I really couldn't. Where did hypochondria stop and real pain begin? I did a quick mental and physical check. It definitely hurt, but the one state didn't seem to inhibit the other. I could do both simultaneously.
So I sat down on the pavement for maximum effect.
A solidly built mamie stopped in front of me. She looked just like the sort of person who'd know all about everything.
You have hurt your eye? Let me look (gratifying ocular examination). But you are touching it. You shouldn't touch it. If you want the truc to come out, you should leave it alone!
Then she was gone, leaving her conflicting advice. So much for mamie knows best.
I got to the bus stop on the Boulevard Raspail with tears rolling out of one eye and down my face. I tried to take the mamie's advice. I got on, composted my ticket and stood swaying down towards Alesia, trying to make out my stop through a blur. I staggered out at the crossroads with the late-night chemist. Maybe they would be able to fix it. The pharmacie was bright with big fake jars of coloured medicin eand yellow lights bouncing off glass and white surfaces. There was a blonde in a dazzling white coat. She didn't look in my eye. "But we have something that will help."
She spent about five minutes in the back room, the came back with a largeish cardboard box about the size of a Persona machine. It was full of little plastic vials.
For contact lenses, she said. 35 Euros.
I may be a hypochondriac, but I'm also spectacularly mean.
I just want you to have a look at it and tell me what's wrong! Don't you have some cotton wool or something?
A French shrug.
I decide to go to see my friend Sarah who lives round the corner. I'm almost certain she wears contacts. She's married to a Frenchman and has a 2-year-old son, so I'm pretty sure she has cotton wool too.
When I get there, she's putting Albert to bed. She looks into my eye as he streaks naked around the apartment (Albert is her son, not her husband).
I'm a maman, so I'm used to this kind of thing. And I can tell you that if there was something still in your eye, it would be all red and puffed up by now. Whatever it is has come out and left a cut. Yes, I do have some saline solution. Try it.
The saline solution stings and doesn't seem to improve things much. But I feel better. Finally the reassurance I really needed. If Sarah says it's ok, it must be...
Her husband arrives and, after an Franglish apero of kirs and salt-and-vinegar Hula Hoops, Sarah and I go out to dinner. I wonder about French men and French women.
I don't see French women going out together for dinner like this, without men. More often I see French men alone together. Do you think French women have close female friendships like British women?.
Then late at night, with my eye still weeping, I'm catching the last metro when another mamie on the platform catches me by the arm. What does she want? I don't know whether I can stand any more advice.
Pleure pas! Ce salopard! Il ne vaut pas la peine!
Sarah is wrong! Here is an example of French female solidarity.
(Don't cry - the bastard's not worth it!)
But maybe he is.
So I call his mobile number. The man who'd taught me the eyelid trick.
What is it? I'm asleep. Who is it?
It's me. It's nothing. It's just my eye hurts. I'd just got out of La Grande-
-Did you try pulling your eyelid down over-
-Yes, but it didn't do any good... Wait a minute. Oh Sorry. You're in Japan. I'd forgotten... It must be 4am there.
Something like that.
That night, I go to sleep lying on my back with a bag of ice balanced on my face.
The next day, as Sarah predicted, I'm fine. It was a cut, not a blockage. It hadn't been an actual problem. Just the residue of one.
And he called me back.
So has it gone? What was it?
Oh, nothing, I said. Just a little bit of Paris.