Having recently been described in this week’s Radio Times as “a relentlessly cheery Yorkshireman”, I bought a new coat and a pair of shades and took myself off to Paris to show that I’m in fact a cool and moody existentialist.
This disguise, modelled below in the Tuileries Gardens, certainly wouldn’t have impressed anybody in my home county. A couple of years ago I was crossing West Street in Sheffield, wearing what I thought was a pretty stylish Armani shirt without a collar, when two burly locals passed me. One nodded at me, nudged his friend and I heard him say : “ ‘Ello, bourgeois are back”.
My Paris trip, to stay with well-travelled writer and photographer Michael Katakis, also served to kick-start the travelling bug (sorry about the mixed metaphor). This summer, after finishing my stint as Molotov in The Death Of Stalin, I was to be seen at riding lessons up in Trent Park, reciting Spanish in Gospel Oak, learning lines on holiday in Majorca, and generally trying to get myself prepared to tilt at windmills.
By mid-September it was pretty clear that I wasn’t going to be getting into Don Quixote’s saddle this year. With The Man Who Killed Don Quixote postponed I was able to follow up on some documentary ideas, all of which would take me to parts of the world I’d never seen. Can’t say more at the moment but it looks as if I’ll be dusting off my boots and checking the date on my anti-diarrhea pills in spring next year.
Though I was only in Paris for 24 hours the change of scenery worked wonders. In amongst all the fuss about Hard Brexit (which sounds like something you’d complain about at a hotel reception) and the delusion that foreigners are somehow bad for us, it was a delight and pleasure to walk the streets of this most civilised city and be reminded that enjoying doing things differently is not bad, it’s essential.