Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Economy Of Time (4th Extract)

 That night, it took us three and a half hours of walking to get to Clichy. We walked along the Boulevard du Montparnasse, and I let her lead the way, using the Tower as a guide.

As we meandered I thought about my arrival in Paris, and how determined I had been to ignore the Eiffel Tower. It was a symbol of tourism and bourgeois sightseeing that held no interest for me in my quest to be a native.

All that changed though when I first began to explore the city. It was like a vast electro-magnet, pulling me towards it, and arrogantly looking down at me, knowing I had no resistance to it. I remember the shivers running down my spine when I first stood at the foot of it and looked skywards, a feeling that this mass of iron had taken on something much bigger than its structure disclosed.

It had lived longer than any man, and it had bore aloft the dreams of vast generations, from a time before World Wars had hardened us, spanning to the years after globalisation had softened us. When I was in it’s presence it became the antennae for my thoughts, and it became my intimate ally and confidante. It didn’t belong to Hollywood, or to cheap magazines and game show prize reels, nor was it a symbol of power or governance, or spirituality and religion. If nothing else, it served as a reminder that I was in Paris, and that was where I wanted to be.

 In a perverse way it also reminded me of England, and of Blackpool Tower, the more authentic and original tower as far as my childheart was concerned. Even though it was a poor mans replica, Blackpool Tower always struck me as the more beautiful structure. A symbol of a crumbling working class dreamland, the funfair graveyard in which recreation surpassed creation. The visible corrosion was reflected across the whole town, but still it survived.

“You know, when they built Blackpool Tower, they engineered it so that should it ever collapse, most of it would fall into the sea. The French don’t possess that kind of humility. Only an Englishman could attempt such a grandiose project with that much pessimism.”

“You think one day that might happen?” she enquired with mock horror.

“I hope so. I think that would be a fitting tribute, if it just collapsed into the sea the way its master intended. Better that than they scrap it and sell it as souvenirs” I responded.

©2011 Copyright Daniel J. Fiasco

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