Six weeks have gone by. The cowslip has grown high and lush beside the country lanes I drive to work each morning, the Sussex fields beyond the office are fast drying out enough for lunchtime running, and the sun is high in a warm blue sky. Our cold wet spring will soon become a distant memory.
And yet, it won’t – not quite.
The memory of a glorious FA Cup Final defeat does not fade so quickly.
And neither will the memory of my last nine miles in London the month before.
Pain on that scale burns deep into the soul, and I won’t forget it.
High upon the Grandes Platières ski-lift, the French resort of Flaine recedes quickly behind us, the colour of the concrete fading fast into the grey of the rocks, and the outlines of the Bauhaus school buildings blending with the cliff faces just as architect Marcel Breuer had hoped that they would.
It was two Swiss friends who discovered the delights of the Flaine bowl whilst ski-touring in 1954, eventually recounting their find to geophysicist Éric Boissonnas in 1959.
And it was Boissonas who took the bold step of commissioning Breuer to design a ski station in its entirety, that brief encompassing everything from the village layout to the hotels, and even all the furniture within them.
It was a huge undertaking, which had to begin with the blasting of a switchback road out of the mountainside just to reach the site. But by the end of the sixties the resort was essentially complete, and love it or hate it, Flaine is listed as a site of architectural interest today.
Kicking down the cobblestones on a warm and sultry morning, there are just a few marble steps to climb ahead. And already, blue sky is rent by cool bronze metal, still tepid in the hazy sunshine across the river. From here at the Trocadero, the Eiffel Tower stands framed amidst the Champs de Mars. The green baize stretches far into the sun, with only the black morning menace of the Montparnasse Tower revealing the modern face of the golden city beyond.
If a million strands are bound together to make a life, then the thread of Paris runs through much of mine. Continue reading