Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Meeting with Nabil in Montmartre, Paris - 20th May 2016

Square Jehan-Rictus, Place des Abbesses, Paris 

Foxgloves inside Square Jehan-Rictus, Montmartre.
The bells of Église Saint-Jean-l'Évangéliste began to toll not long after I pitched up outside Square Jehan-Rictus with my fiddle, and I felt ecstatically free performing Scottish and Irish folk tunes in the open air of Montmartre (my spiritual home): For the first time, I'd had to have my violin case and its contents security checked at Kings Cross St. Pancras before bording the Eurostar, but it'd been worth going through that mild trauma just to be here with an audience of locals and tourists on the benches opposite, listening to my music.
A dark-haired man who was smoking and chatting to his friend and his muscle-bound, rust-coloured dog, was sat there for ages, and a Japanese bride in a traditional white wedding dress showed up with her groom for photographs. The heady scent of croque-monsieur tantalized my nosebuds as I recieved compliments which impelled me to play the Charles Trenet song, 'I Wish You Love' and jazz standard, 'I'm In The Mood For Love.'
Nabil, who I've known by sight around these parts since about 2011 appeared and invited me to have a drink with him at the bar he works at after my session. I decided to finish just before a jazz band featuring a virtuosic violinist rocked up and began belting out their set in Place des Abbesses, making it impossible for any other buskers to play in the surrounding area. 
There was a baby sparrow scampering along a low wall next to me as I folded away the 'fox' scarf I use to protect the inside of my case from grubby coins, and I thought of my dear departed violinist friend, Peter, who taught me to "busk like a fox" around these cobbled streets.

Nabil outside Bistrot des Martyrs, rue des Martyrs, Montmartre.
I joined Nabil (who plays guitar in his spare time) for 'un crème' on the terrace of Bistrot des Martyrs. He suggested that during the day instead of busking, I should run guided tours in English for tourists to make more money (no thanks), and I was taken aback by his comment that Parisians had "already forgotten" about the terror attacks of 13th November 2015 that devastated their city.

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