Some years ago, when I first felt the insidious caress of middle-age transforming cheek into jowl and inquisitive glance into presbyopic leer, I realized that something had to be done to mitigate the cruel ravages of time. So, my existential yearning masquerading as desire, I set out, like many another anxious man in my chronological predicament, to find solace in the feminine company of someone significantly younger than myself.
Through luck and low cunning I succeeded in my quest. The ensuing liaison involved, in fact mainly consisted of, a weekend in Paris during which I, we, found ourselves on the Pont des Arts, a footbridge that leads from the Louvre to St Germain.
Many of the grills that are fixed to the structure's railings are festooned with padlocks fastened there as declarations of undying infatuation by starry-eyed young people who congregate on the teak decking. My new friend seemed delighted with the ambience despite the difficulty crossing the bridge (it was very congested), whilst I, having seen off my existential what-ever-it-was, was keener than ever to slip down Rue de Bac and visit Deyrolle's taxidermy emporium.
It was late afternoon and we'd got the sitting around in cafés out of the way, now the path was clear for a good hour's perusal of dead animals. Suddenly, just as I was explaining the importance of Deyrolle's in the history of naturalised zoomorphia, my friend sat down on the walkway, joining the dozens of other young people lolling around the bridge in little groups. It occurred to me I should do the same, but during the time it took to lower myself into a seated position (I eschewed offers of assistance) my companion had sprung up again in order to get a closer look at a juggler (a 'juggler' in this case defined as a young man who throws three balls in the air and catches most of them). I intended to point out to my friend the shameless saltimbanque's clumsiness, but by the time I'd struggled to my feet (the lock-bedecked grills provided useful purchase) butterfingers and herself were already engaged in animated conversation liberally interspersed with guffaws. Both parties, despite my pointed coughs and watch-tapping, seemed blissfully unaware of me and my shrinking opportunity of joining the denizens of Deyrolle's in their safe haven of the perpetual present.