Romance in Paris

The excitement begins at the airport. You know deep down that in that bag is a ring, a big diamond one that shoots doves at unhappy people, a ring that turns heads in the street. On the plane you feel yourself getting closer; you go for the bag but he says no, he smiles and reads his paper – he has the Financial Times because he has a powerful job that will secure you for life. In Paris you do the sightseeing thing, you go up and down Notre Dame, up and down the Arc de Triumph and up and down the Champs-Élysées. You know his left the Eiffel Tower until after dinner at the most expensive restaurant in Paris because that’s when it lights up, that’s where the romance blossoms. He is still holding his little bag and you’re carrying your new Louis Vuitton and that’s when he asks, slowly, calmly, you can see his nervous before he says it but that just makes everything a little sweeter.

“Is it alright if I meet up with Pierre and go to the game?”

You knew going to Paris on a Tuesday was weird, you should’ve paid attention to Sky Sports News – it’s Champions League night. You say yes obviously, as you’ve been planning to all day. He gets his shirt out of his bag and says he’ll see you back at the hotel. You get a cab back, seeing the couples walk past one on their phone the other taking in the sights alone and wonder, is romance dead?

Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Scarlet Pimpernel all come into your mind as you travel slowly through the streets, stuck in traffic behind a rubbish collection truck. Today’s tales of romance come in the obvious of Mills and Boon, the white horse sweeping away the fair maiden. You know now this isn’t real, you know that women aren’t wooed like they used to be and that the world has changed, every one is trying to cram as much in as they can – forgetting those around them. It takes the journey back to the hotel to realise that romance can come in different ways. That girl texting as her boyfriend looks up is still sharing something. It seems still that every book has a love story. Richard Milward writes tales of love that span up and down a tower block in Ten Storey Love Song. Alright it’s not a typical love story but what is these days? There are ‘girly’ books obviously. Sophie Kinsella writes vigorously about typical women in every day situations stumbling into full blown relationships and back out again.

You smile awkwardly at the guard. He has a huge grin on his face, probably because he knows what you’ve just found out. The lift is out of order so you’re walking six flights of stairs. On the walk you think about all the books you’ve read over the last year and how romance plays apart in so much of these. Fair enough you read books about gay gangsters and drug addicts, but they all have that element of romance, they all have a character longing for that someone who’ll appear on the next page. Romance is a bit more creative these days, romance isn’t a trip to Paris and a sparkling Eiffel Tower, romance to you is wanting to be with that person through thick and thin and sharing Sunday morning scrambled eggs with them. You reach your door and slip in quietly, smiling as you see the Eiffel Tower glisten in the distance from your window. He’s there, he beat you back and there are rose petals everywhere.

“Will you marry me?” He laughs.

“Very original.” You say, waiting for the horse.

Keith Hodges

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