Coffee, Paris and the blues

Parisian Sunday markets

Parisian Sunday markets

With the collar of my grey wool coat popped up against the cool fingers of autumn, I wander around the stalls displaying their purple carrots, beautifully dirty beetroots and shouting Parisians selling their wares.

Despite my shoestring budget hanging on by the thinnest of threads I purchase an espresso in a paper cup and a juicy orange that the stallkeeper lobs at me with a cheeky grin, knowing I can’t understand a word he says.

Standing on the sandstone brick edge of a garden, a foot above everyone else, I spy a lone man with a felt hat and a surly face playing the blues. He is soon joined by a double bass player and I stand listening, enjoying the weak sunlight and the caffeine buzz.

My fiver drops into the guitar case during a cigarette break, and I say bonjour.

‘We’re playing tonight’ they say and write down the address and the metro stop of a bar way out on the outskirts of the city.

At 9pm I find myself on a deserted street, a pre-Christmas market packing up, and gypsies quietly watching me trying not to look lost. A policewoman gives me directions. The warmth and music, trickling out, explodes into the wild blues as I open the door.

Spontaneous blues on a homemade banjo

Spontaneous blues on a homemade banjo

They remember me, and wave from stage as I walk in. I feel like a local, in a big city, far from home. A girl in a flower dress who has moved from Oregon with a homemade banjo and not much else, shares the back wall with me. I think she is the coolest thing. She has been busking at the Sacre Coeur and when they ask her if she wants to play a tune with them, she does.

The next night we meet again in a wine shop that has been turned in to a bar by night. And they jam together by candlelight. While I drink red wine and think about old lovers and chance meetings and the future unknown.