A grim, grey afternoon, I didn't care, I knew the 15th would come through for me, as it always does.
First thing I went looking for was some of the sneaky little ruelles that hide out in the 15th arrondissement. Now I come to think of it, I had been considering calling this series of postings something like 'Poking Around the Back Passages of Paris' but I realise now that would have been factitious as they're not passages at all but more like little alleys or lanes. Which also happens to be why I impressively used the French word 'ruelle' above, in italics, like what I've seen really soffisticated writers do.
Funnily enough, my 'big dico', as we expats like to call our weighty word tomes, gives two other meanings for this item. The first is 'the space between the bed and the wall' and the second is '(part of) room used by ladies to hold salons in the 17th century'. Which seems curious to say the least, because if the two senses are linked, which evidently they must be, this suggests that at least some 17th century ladies held their salons 'between the bed and the wall'. This must surely have led to unfortunate incidents where a false step would precipitate a decidedly compromising situation with a tipsy guest landing slap bang on top of the hostess, flailing amongst the sheets, bolstered bossoms flapping all over the place, probably much to the amusement of all. Ahh, those licentious Libertines, eh! We're living in the wrong era, my friends, we're living in the wrong era.
Well, I'm digressing as usual, when I should really be telling you all about the first pic, now way above these words, probably, which is a juicy little street, well, ruelle corner, so typical of this quartier (I'm getting good at this pretentious italics kick...). Well, in this case I see now that it actually is called a passage, the Passage de Sécurité so that rather dampens all my drolleries above, but never mind.
It's nice to see some typically Parisian elements in this shot: the café awning; the beautiful blue and white enamelled street and workshop signs; and the omnipresent millions of scruffy little notes advertising everything from rock groups to full body massages. You even see the odd English teacher touting their distasteful trade, but here it looks more like would-be artists have taken over.
This next shot is the same dodgy passage I believe, cunningly manipulated to make it look much more like a, well, dodgy passage, than it really is. Love the white pigeon on dark grey and the black one on light. One of those happy coincidences that you sometimes see only after you've taken the picture and got back home. And sometimes, just sometimes, something you prayed and begged and waited about 15 minutes with the camera glued to your eye like an idiot to happen.
Another pleasing aspect of this pic is that the left 50% of the shot is entirely monotonous grey, only punctuated by that violent splash of blood red, while all the detail and real action, well ok, the pigeons, is taking place on the right. I found this snazzy thing on the computer, to give away all my secrets, to drag out the foreground, throw the background WAY back, and at the same time reduce the impact of a really ugly, graffiti covered van, which didn't add anything to the shot and just distracted the eye from the aforementioned hot scene taking place on the ground
My, hasn't he got a long one (still got big dicos on my mind I'm afraid)! An interesting street scene then caught my attention - a flipping great crane stuck right in the middle of the road with the guy driving doing his best not to dump his hook onto the overhead power lines. I'm always intrigued by people who do strange things like this which make you stop and take note.
I suppose in the end his job is no more remarkable than anyone else's. But at the same time, it's not everyone who's got about 40 metres of rock solid extension potential at his fingertips. Other people I've often mused about in a similar vein are Eurostar train drivers and street sweepers, but my pearls of weighty wisdom on those subjects will have to wait for another day.
So there he is, the big yellow truck man, swinging his hook and crane-ing his neck... (I thank you, I thank you) to make sure it doesn't do too much damage to surrounding property or Parisians. Big responsibility. Wonder if he feels 'big'.
And just to finish off this part of the ramble still on an industrial theme, take a look at what the people living in this exclusive little cul-de-sac have the pleasure of looking out on and negotiating each day...
He he! I don't know why I'm laughing, it isn't funny. Well, not for them anyway. Their entire street has been converted into an enormous building site, with piles of sand and rubble and earth and goodness knows what all over the place. The sound of the pneumatic drills digging up the street reverberating around that glorified base drum must be quite something. Bleeding ears cursing bloody builders must abound, I'll be bound.
Know why we say 'I'll be bound' do you? Hmm, hmm? No, neither do I, but I bet I could find out if I wanted to. I can tell you though that cul-de-sac, as we Brits use it to signify a dead-end road, makes the French laugh mightily. Because it literally means 'the arse-end of a bag', which is quite funny.
That's all folks, I'm going to bed pretty soon. Tune in shortly for the next exciting episode of Poking Around the Back Pass... sorry, I mean Une Fresque Photographique. Thanks for listening.
All images & words copyright © Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2005