Saturday, 4 April 2009

Belleville, the park, that was it, no? I walked up the long street through Belleville, past clusters of Turkish cafes, fashionable shoe emporiums, halal meat sellers, Chinese supermarkets. I got to the small road market, where men and women lay out small blankets and towels and try to sell appliances without plugs, used books and tired trainers, before heading further up the hill where the traffic stalls on the steep hill and a constant unloading of goods takes place from vehicles abandoned on the narrow pavements.

Eventually I found the park, although found is an unlikely verb as I was looking for nothing. The place was packed with those deplorable athletic types wearing odd clothes and constantly out of breath. I walked slowly round the park, pausing to sit on the grass, rest on the wooden fences next to the waterfall before climbing the patient stone steps that reach Temple, a fantastical open dome on the summit of a giant rock which plunges hundreds of feet into a perfectly carved kidney-shaped lake.

Then, and here recall becomes arbitrary, I think I walked towards Republique once more, downhill certainly, and towards the canal. At the canal I watched the locks opening and closing to let a large passenger tourboat through. The sluices and gates worked in mechanical rhythm, at a pace dictated to by the river, which dropped and rose in conjunction with the boat's request like some orchestra in which a desired movement dictated rises and falls in the water.

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