Lovers of Ile-de-France – Pont de l’Archeveche

Lovers of Ile-de-France – Pont de l’Archeveche

Of course this type of thing is in Paris! What surprised me is that almost everything you could put a padlock on, has a padlock on it. I’m serious – a twist of metal, a free rung, a handle in … Continue reading

Jazz Go For It

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The only thing to do when confronted with long, gloomy faces bumping into you and the moping melancholy of late Jan/early Feb is to face the rainy cobbles and go to a fizzy Jazz Bar, where big hair and big bottoms rub up against you.
The only difference between a rainy London street and one in Rome, is that Romans are nonchalantly chic, immaculately dressed in moody, dark Gucci and Belstaff and – and that’s only the dogs and children.
On the other hand, in London wellies dabble about the pavements, frumpy, wobbly and out-of-place, (get a field people!) Anyway, that isn’t why I’m here.

“The only thing to do when confronted with gloomy, long faces bumping into you and the moping melancholy of late Jan…is to face the rainy cobbles and go to a fizzy Jazz Bar where big hair and big bottoms rub up against you”

A French friend, Anne-Sophie (you’ve met her before) and I went to an exceptionally sexy place called Gregory’s Jazz Club. If you are ever on Via Gregoriana 54, Rome – squeeze by shaking cleavages and shiny brogues of men and women lounging about like panthers around the doorway, find yourself a nimble stool balancing next to one of those tall mahogany tables. It is where Jessica Rabbit’s and bottle-necked politicians fight for bar space. I was wearing a simple, black dress, but my friend had this long, glossy number on, (it may have even been monogrammed if I remember correctly,) ridiculously exposing one long leg, (Angelina Jolie would have turned in her LA king-size bed.)

“Do you ‘fink tis too much?”

Think low, ambient lighting and by a mere, mute hand wave, order one of those transparent cocktails that look like liquified jellyfish with ice from a waiter with a twinkly eyes and slicked back hair. Once the tuba man bounds to his feet and the music starts, you will forget where and who you are and your troubles will pump out of your brain.

It was one of those Wednesday jam sessions, which is apparently the most buoyant night of the week. The atmosphere was built to be twinned with the wild, jazz encrusted bars that sprung up around New York towards the end of the forties. Think Ben Webster and Lester Young.

“Once the tuba man bounds to his feet, you will forget where and who you are and your troubles will pump out of your brain”

It is Rome’s own personal date with live jazz.

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La jam session del mercoledi’ è l’appuntamento storico con il jazz dal vivo al Gregory’s

Do we know who Gregory is, however? A sleepy, large man who looked like a black and white Battenberg bellowed over his gloupy, fish bowl of wine. Apparently,

“He’s an aspiring musician who spent years busking on the piazza’s of Rome whilst working in his father’s empty restaurant near the Jewish quarter. Forbidden from entering these sordid, smoky joints his saxophone saved his life, represented his destiny and guided him towards escape from the mundane: he ended up wooing and marrying a young woman from a powerful Roman family. A spark of rebellion spluttered to life between them, and she encouraged Gregory (Gregorio I imagine, no one like that is a ‘Gregory’) to set up a jazz bar in what was then an abandoned cinema.”

Did we want to be backing dancers, we were cornered and questioned later on in the night? Oh! You know what?

No thanks.

Is Gregorio’s story true? Brimming as it was of a Hollywood screenwriters dream, I am pretty sure the large man with his large glass and apparently large…curiosity was just trying to nab one of us for the evening, distracting our imaginations with vintage who-ha.

If this is even vaguely your thing – get down there now. A tip? Glide around like you’re there all the time and you’ll fit in immediately.

http://www.gregorysjazz.com/prossimamente-in-concerto.asp

“If this is even vaguely your thing – get down there now. A tip? Glide around like you’re there all the time and you’ll fit in immediately”

French hostess, Dimpled Ivan, After Class Chats

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This Friday morning, I went to the Dante Alighieri language school behind Piazza Navona, for one of my once a week lessons. After dropping off the children and taking the dog for a brisk walk down the river, I gathered my things and trotted off to school. By the end of the first lesson we had learnt the basics.

Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, string of luxurious pearls that dance on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint on her face. Unsurprisingly, she got everyone stirring into conversation. The class began with quiet, embarrassed murmurs, but by the end we were all bellowing “Ciao!” and “Where do you come from?” and in Italian: “Where can I find the tram/parking space/nearest post office?” as if our lives depended on it.

        “Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, strings of luxurious pearls that danced on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint  on her face…and got everyone stirring into conversation.”

Guess what? I made more friends!

Two sexy, French ladies: Selina and Anne-Sophie: Selina works as a hostess in a posh, French restaurant where she was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business: and Anne-Sophie, an enigmatic hippy with a gap in her teeth, who reluctantly came to Rome to get away from “nosy, over-protective parents”.

“She was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business…”

There is also George from Lebanon, dazzlingly different to any friends I’ve ever had: training to be a priest and bought all our coffees and pastries as he has lots of money because “I don’t believe in materialism”. Finally there is Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming and I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me). His father had moved here under the guise of a diplomat working at the Roman Embassy, so he’d school and country hopped because of this profession.

“…Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming…I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me)”

Opposite the school entrance, there is a café constantly buzzing with perky, fashionable students and loud, multilingual greetings and high-fives. We all mainly discussed Rome, our situation and why we were here, who is single or on the pull.

Anne-Sophie and Selina are both au-pairs and are both here for a year like me. George and I had an interesting conversation over our cappuccino about boyfriends and girlfriends. He asked me whether I was single. Apparently, in his culture, a girl would only belong to one boy. The Armenian culture (I learnt) is very strict and choice is often rigidly narrow.  It was very refreshing to be with someone unconcerned by the throes of life that would ordinarily trip me up on a daily basis. All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you.

“All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you”