Friday, 23 November 2012

It was twilight as I walked through the Parc Monceau on a literary quest before catching my train home. 

And I thought of how Charles Ephrussi must have walked along these same allées, twirling his cane (or would that be vulgar?) and feeling pleased about the latest painting in his collection.

I turn up Rue de Monceau, looking for the very grand hôtel Ephrussi and a lady comes out of the house opposite. She says it has been demolished, and I say I don't think so ...
And she says you're the second English person who has asked me ...
And I stand there wondering whether I can really make out E for Ephrussi in the cast-iron window grilles or if it's just my imagination.
Then a girl comes of the house I'm looking at and I bound across the road, thinking if ask nicely maybe she'll ask me in ...
Only she has never heard of Charles Ephrussi.
And I say haven't you read the book? Only I can't remember the word for hare, so I say well, it's like a big rabbit, only it's not really a rabbit, with amber eyes ...
And she shakes her head.
(And in all honesty, would you invite this English person into your very grand house?)
And then I rummage in my coat pocket for the bit of paper and realise that I am outside 81 Rue de Monceau and that the hare/rabbit with amber eyes lived at 82. Which is quite some way down the road and I've already walked past it.
The lights are on and I stand on tiptoe and see people inside having a meeting. It is now an insurance office.
 I linger for a moment and think about Charles who appears in this painting.
And realise that if I am quick, there is time for one last glass of Kir before the train.


scrumptious days said...

A wonderful book. I'm just re-reading for my book club, did you hear desert island discs?

mary said...

I didn't, Jude - I must catch up. I read it twice, too, and was just as good second time round.