My court date was a long way off, but I couldn’t escape a nauseous cocktail of guilt and self-loathing. I felt like a condemned man living under house arrest at my Poodleland flat. When I ventured outside to walk Oscar and Leo, the familiar sound of droning two-tone Parisian police sirens made me panic – I wondered if they were coming for me. When I spotted a police car, I feared they would stop and handcuff me for some undisclosed crime. When standing in front of my students in lecture halls, I suspected they all knew I was up on criminal charges and facing serious porridge. When I came across the French homeless man with his aged black poodle Boulie, I almost envied his uncomplicated existence. I couldn’t shake the shame. Oscar and Leo were the main beneficiaries of
The dinner invitation from Adam announced the turning of seasons as the hot sun-blanched boredom of August gave way to the moist, cool air of the back-to-school rentrée season. It was September in Paris. “I’m having a few people over,” said Adam on the phone. “Nothing too formal. You can bring Oscar and Leo.” I’d spent most of the summer outside the city, away from the minor irritation of tourists asking for directions to the Eiffel Tower. Paris doesn’t belong to Parisians in the summer. Most decent restaurants in the city close for the entire month, posting the familiar sign, “Fermeture pour congés annuels”. Even the boulangeries and pressing cleaners are shuttered for most of August. For the denizens of Poodleland, early August is when they discreetly escape to their résidence secondaire in Brittany, in Provence, or on the Riviera.
I have decided to write about Camille. After I published Home Again in Paris, I sincerely believed it would be best if her true identity remained unknown, mainly for reasons of discretion. I have changed my mind. I want to reveal Camille’s real name. She was too important in my life to remain anonymous. Readers have asked me about Camille. I have received several notes and emails inquiring about her. Some wished to know if we were now happily together, even married. The other day I received a note on Twitter from someone who had just finished Home Again in Paris and asked for an update on Camille. Everything in my book is true, it all happened, nothing was invented. The book is a memoir. I decided before I began writing it that my narrative must be an
Saturday, on my way home from a walk in the Tuileries, the Eiffel Tower is vanishing into the mist at dusk.
- Published in Paris
I took this photo with my iPhone tonight walking home from the gym. It had been raining all afternoon and the Eiffel Tower was shrounded in fog.
- Published in Paris
The assertion that Paris is an “English” city sounds almost like a provocation – especially to Parisians. Yet in truth, the modern Paris that attracts millions of tourists who come to admire the City of Light’s grand boulevards and burnished facades owes its urban design inspiration to London. Even quintessentially Parisian aesthetic touches around the city – such as the famous Renaissance-style Wallace drinking fountains that ornament public squares – are the work of an English benefactor. The Paris that Louis XIV and his Bourbon predecessors knew no longer exists. The Sun King would scarcely recognise the French capital which in his lifetime he shunned, preferring his resplendent Versailles surroundings far from the Parisian rabble. Modern Paris is largely a Second Empire city rebuilt by Napoleon III in the latter half of the 19th century. After seizing power in a
I never thought I would find myself writing this final epilogue so soon. I believed Oscar was immortal.. Home Again in Paris ends with the death of Oscar’s little brother Leo. Oscar was the survivor in that story. Oscar was the symbol of my faith in life, my reason to carry on, my holy lamb. Which is why I ended the book on a note of hope as Oscar and I cross the Concorde bridge heading toward the Tuileries for a walk in the gardens. Oscar was my hero, my saviour Oscar saved my life twice. The first time was following the death of my wife Rebecca nearly eleven years ago. Oscar was actually Rebecca’s dog, a fact that surprised many of my friends in France who couldn’t imagine Oscar with anyone except me. My close friends from Toronto
RIP Oscar January 30, 2000 – September 23, 2013 I have some very sad news: Oscar died very suddenly at home on Monday morning. He had been feeling ill last week and I took him to a vet on Friday. Over the weekend he seemed fatigued and disoriented and I began to feel worried. I spent the entire weekend with him. On Saturday night I took him to the Champ de Mars where he gazed at the Eiffel Tower; and on Sunday night I took him to the banks of the Seine where he watched the boats pass on the river at dusk near the Pont des Invalides. That was his last walk outside, though he was so tired that I had to carry him in my arms most of the time. On Monday morning he was sleeping on a
I took this photo of Oscar on a walk in the Tuileries on Sunday afternoon. The two metal chairs were positioned in the centre of the promenade when we arrived. We stopped and Oscar took a rest in front of the chairs. The Louvre is in the background.