I love Paris like I loved David Bowie as a teenager, mouth wide open at the sheer beauty of the place. From the dogs to the shape of the coffee cups, damn its good looking. Having lived in Belgium where commune regulations require couples to wear matching anoraks I respect any culture that insists on accessorising from birth to grave.
Flumping around a Parisian hotel lobby of a Friday night, a cluster bomb of neon, tweed and sequins, I literally lose my footing at the sight of three of the most beautiful men I have ever seen. Lurching like Bette Davis in her later years towards them I slink onto a sofa and stare, lower jaw hanging.
The three turn out to be the Best of British, organizing a fashion show. Human hangers, tick, tit tape, tick. With ipods like shields, they battle to unlock the secrets of UPS and get a hat from East London to Paris by the morning. No sweat on brow, just a tripartite model agency organizing what promises to be an orgy of design.
Then they speak.
“What city are we in?”
“Paris is a country, it’s not a city. We’re in the country of Paris”
Silence, a thought squeezing its way out? I’m on the edge of my seat – are they preparing a diplomatic intervention or drawing a detailed map of Europe on their ipads?
“And what’s our office address here in Paris?”
“Is that a name or a number?”
At which point my inner Sartre gives my inner Simone a gentle slap on the wrist for the shallow fiction that beauty is in the eyes. These extraordinarily beautiful men were now ugly.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if people became more attractive the more they know? We’d have a different aesthetic, the fourth age of 85+ would be on magazine covers and lap dance clubs would be filled with ensembles of scientists, neurologists and epi-geneticists. Librarians would be designing at Givenchy and internet porn would die out because people were too busy excitedly watching TedTalks. Authors, yum. Jane Campion would bring out her own range of lingerie, modelled by Noam Chomsky and his catwalk trademark, a sidewise glimpse of a nipple. Quelle tease. A bronze statue of Michael Douglas would go up on the 4th plinth for his heroic service towards the pleasure of women.
This is how the heart experiences beauty. So close your eyes and imagine a world where beauty isn’t anywhere near the eyes but somewhere in the mind.
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