I popped out to phone TPR from the call box down the street from my Paris pied a terre. I got lost on the way back, distracted by the shop windows stuffed with wonderful cakes and pastries that I could never afford.
Then I remembered that my flat was above the laundrette, so I wandered up and down the street until I found it again. There it was, on the other side of a busy road. I rooted in my bag for the key as I crossed over.
I was thinking about the M and D families as I approached the building, key in hand. They lived nearby and I resolved to call in on them as soon as I had settled in. They had the same idea. Outside my building I discovered a welcoming party of M and Mme M, their twin daughters D and R, and an assortment of cousins all lined up in order of size like a set of Russian dolls.
The big news chez M was that the twins’ uncle PD was a movie star. I tried to take this in as I worked my way along the line of cousins, guessing how many kisses each one expected. I based my decisions on the look of each person: those from the town got two, those from the country four. As I approached the last couple D instructed “Don’t bother with them. They’re just stuffed toys”. Sure enough, a number of these “cousins” were simple rag dolls masquerading as M family members.