On 3rd February 2015 I returned to Paris with my violin but as I'd predicted, it was too cold to play much - even on the Métro, but I went to some fabulous free classical concerts and art and photography exhibitions.
Chez Adel, Paris - 4th February 2015
As usual, café owner, Adel, gave me a warm welcome at Chez Adel where I've been playing both as a soloist and with bands since the spring of 2011. I played some of my newly learnt Irish folk fiddle tunes to Adel's helper who I'd never seen before. A smiley man with droopy eyes then came through the door and asked me if I knew Polish violinist, Peter, who died in 2012 because my Irish tunes (which, he reflected, all sound very similar), reminded him of the material that Peter used to play.
I said that yes, I did indeed know Peter (whose portrait hangs guardian-like above the piano in Chez Adel): Peter and I were musical soulmates who used to play jazz standards and world folk music together (Peter on violin and myself on double bass) in this bar and on the terraces of Montmartre. I took up violin again (playing Irish tunes from a book of Peter's that his partner, Nuna gave me) as a means of coming to terms with his tragic death.
The droopy-eyed man thanked me very much after every tune I performed (I guess that Peter does live on through my music because this grateful man heard it), and Adel gave me a bowl of his famed lentil soup as payment for playing.
Place des Abbesses, Montmartre, Paris - 8th February 2015
The area was teeming with English tourists who showed no enthusiasm at all for what I was playing on violin, but I felt ecstatic; playing Irish and Scottish tunes with everything I had, directly into the warm setting sunshine. Maybe my violinist friend, Peter, had been shining down on me, keeping me warm?
A balding Frenchman who spoke some English stood facing me 'smoking' a stick of lip balm. He asked me where I come from, took my business card, and asked how much money I'd charge from playing for an hour at his house. I politely wriggled out of this request and he lingered, taking notes, then departed.
Pesky French kids chased pigeons and took the piss by standing next to me and imitating me playing the violin until their mother dragged them away.
Having observed me for some time from the bus stop nearby a couple gave me two euros, then another Frenchman with beer on his breath asked me where in London I'm from and gave me 50 cents which he said wasn't a lot but that he was giving it to me "with heart." As I was packing away this guy passed by again, saw my violin in its case, and patted it lovingly.
I was about to go to dinner at my friend, Juanita's, who lives in what used to be the artist, Degas' studio on rue Pierre Fontaine in the 9th arrondissement. As a 'thank you for your hospitality' present I bought her a teabag holder with a butterfly on it with the money I'd just earned.
Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris - 9th February 2015
The weather was nippy to say the least again today.
I met Nuna Kurek - my Polish concert pianist friend and partner of my musical soulmate, Peter, at Gare Saint-Lazare where we bought flowers to lay on Peter's grave in Cimetière de Montmartre.
While Nuna arranged and cleaned Peter's grave, I played for Peter some of the Irish tunes on fiddle out of one of his books of Irish music that Nuna gave me nearly two years ago. As I played, a ginger and white cat looked on.
This cat was sitting in the same location as it had been when I'd visited a number of days before, and Nuna and I both thought that he/she could have been Peter listening to my performance. I did hope - if he could've somehow heard me, that he'd approved, and before we left I heard (in my head) Peter checking that I hadn't forgotten my rosin as he always used to after we'd played together in Montmartre.