19 Sep 2012

The Accordionist in Paris

Isn’t it amazing how certain sounds can bring back memories of a place?  Or even how they conjure up visions of places you have yet to visit?  Places secluded in your memory for when your imagination takes leaps and bounds, perhaps drawing on some distant scene in a film you once watched or lost deep within the pages of a book you once read.  The reason I say all these things is because yesterday evening on my way back from work, I was sitting on the tube listening to the tunes of an accordionist.  The chair I was sitting on was uncomfortable; the walls of the metro covered in hostile graffiti; a coke carton lay trampled on in one corner.  But I was immediately drawn to the music.  I felt one moment like I was sat in a café, not in Paris per se, but perhaps in a little rustic retreat overlooking a beautiful bay of gently lapping water.  This café is filled with romantic, happy couples, laughing and sharing nostalgic moments over a glass of ice tea with the accordionist smiling, perched on a brick wall as he teases his audience with a wink every now and then.  The waiter trips slightly over the cobbled stones in a street filled with crooked houses with peeling paint; not run down, or deserted, but rustic and alive.  Flowers coloured with hues of the bluest periwinkle hang in sweeping garlands from balconies.  A young woman sings a childhood mantra as her mother grooms her wild tresses.

But then, somewhere on the other side of the world, women pull up the skirts of their frocks as they dance with their partners to the sound of the accordionist’s pulse as the men and children clap in time with the beat.
I looked at the man with his accordion.  His clothes were unwashed and he collected change in a long abandoned drink's carton.  But still, somewhere at the heart of all this, was a man who could stir up countless vivid images of men and women basking under an accordionist’s sweet notes.  A sombre man though he was, a heartfelt scene he thus created.  And then, while he wasn't even trying, I was reminded in a beat of Edith Piaf.  Edith Piaf, too, had been struck by the accordionist once upon a time.
Watch this space,

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