My ma had died and my girlfriend had dumped me and after a night of sleepless howling I looked at the Gabo Marquez portrait where a book’s splayed open on his head and seeing all that life in his eyes inspired me to buy a train ticket from Manchester to somewhere faraway and St Pancras next morning I remember the frost in the air while I stood apart from the crowd but still they looked at the dirty trenchcoat, the scuffed trainers, the smoke curling round my face.

I forget most of it though, just ...

Perhaps they’re watching on CCTV, I thought outside the London station.

It was cos I rummaged in my boxers to secure an eighth of marijuana strapped to my scrotum via a cock-ring and so going thru those security detectors that x-ray under your clothing my heartbeat was going pretty fast.

Things fade then till Gard Du Nord and its metallic screeches and whistles and shouts, piston noises, shit, movement, plastic casters scraping on marble as I rubbed the creases under my eyes trying to get used to the rush of people, a glass canopy letting in sunbeams and there were petrol fumes, chocolate fumes, coffee and garbage.

I found a place to change sterling into Euros and the cashier sat there cool, a slit between his top teeth.

Now was about 1pm.

On the Gare de Something eight Latino women glided by like a shoal I thought of mermaids but none registered my swerving into an HSBC doorway and then a stubbly man bumped into me and for some reason we talked and for some reason we laughed and may have been cos I mentioned Proust and he preferred Henry Miller.

When I got to the Jardins De Paris it was kind of faceless I felt and once I‘d checked in and got to my room I lay on the bed watching CNN with a spliff and I slept for three hours then woke in the dark and went back to the streets with my brain still kind of clogged from chemicals and herb and sunlight deprivation.

The night sky though had a cluster: I remember.

From Place de la Nation to the Left Bank’s crannies I strolled thru knots of people who seemed to know each other and tears flowed down my cheeks as I halted in a square where lanterns swayed on ropes lamppost to lamppost and a woman in polka-dots looked with the iciest glaze thru my eyes now swollen and raw.

An alleyway had stencils of Nick Drake and Warhol and I thought about Debord then while sat on a terrace having a crepe with honey and I read Death on Credit for a while as the crowds thinned and when I strolled again a half-moon appeared above Notre Dame.

Gargoyles hung in the shadows above.

Leaning by a slab of stone I watched the Seine and it shimmered but I was too tired to enjoy so I traipsed timidly but quickly, fearing kind of I know not what, the homeless man who jumped out yelling at me, he was mad, I was lost.

With a map, though, I found the hotel.

That's it.

Next day I was on the street by noon and chilling on a terrace with coffee, wading thru pages of Death on Credit until the brain fug cleared and I walked and I walked and I passed two policemen with truncheons and a bridge covered with thousands of padlocks left by people in love and the smokestacks stood behind me and the Notre towers stood before me and soon I found the gardens of the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle where I studied for a moment the Buffon statue and the dove upon its palm.

The plinth said: Style is the man.

And then thinking about that, I perched across the street from the Great Mosque, four women in hijabs seeing my face lift to the minaret that glowed even in the overcast and I set off again, no direction in mind, but with a skunk in my fingers I found the Arènes de Lutèce amphitheatre on whose grass-covered stand a longhaired man sat blowing a flute, doing a folk tune.

Sunlight came thru a break in the cloud.

I unbuttoned my trenchcoat and went in Shakespeare and Co and inside I squeezed between the browsing bodies and I saw a Thomas Bernhard and a Roberto Bolaño and up the wooden staircase a library itched inside my nose from all the dust and I wanted to but did not steal.

Nighttime came.

And it was a Sunday.

But you forget 99.97 per cent of everything.

The city seemed even lonelier, though, or I did when wandering the Left Bank with the smokes circling my head and there were arm-in-arm couples and a woman yanked the leash of a tartan-jacketed poodle that wanted a pee and a teenager scraped a skateboard along a concrete bench and like cocooned in doorways were men inside sleeping-bags.

I found a bistro, affluent me, the Au Beaujolais on rue Gregoire de Tour.

Among five or six diners an oldish man and an oldish woman watched me wriggle out of my trenchcoat and when I had ordered I think a steak we exchanged eye-contact and face movements but I went out then for a rollup and on my return the woman smiled and I kind of smiled and opened Death on Credit and it wasn’t long before the man looked over with a sneer under his lips and as I ate my sirloin with pepper-sauce they talked and they were from Swansea and my granddad I said was a Welsh coalminer and the guy said he worked in the steel industry.

Then in a raspy accent he said: But what’re you doing here?

Err, I said.

He’s relaxing, said the woman.

Crowfeet are ingrained in my face, I’m living too late.

Saying that would have summed it up: all the shite, my shite, their shite.

While they chatted about a Marge and some famous rabbit stew, a fly whizzed back and forth and it landed for a second on a breadbasket and then whizzed over our heads again before exploring the base of an upturned wine glass where it stopped to clean its wings with its hind legs and then typically, or thankfully, I went to the bog to build a spliff and returned to see the Welsh couple and the dung-fly had disappeared.

Mm, I thought. No edgy goodbyes.

So I wandered back in the night myself with you could say ghosts inside me.

For three hours I drifted in Left Bank solitude thinking of words like labyrinthine and mazy and Jorge Luis Borges and outside a Saint Germain café I sipped mint-tea as coppery skinned women strode by and I tried catching eyes but there was nothing out there just heads and trunks and legs and arms and hands carrying designer boutique bags and as drivers revved at traffic lights I listened invisibly to the third table to my left, an American woman sounding like she’d inhaled helium but louder than any scooter any horn or engine.

Again I was drawn to Notre Dame, the cobbles on the quay, to water.

Flowing and rippling the Seine was streaked with silver and yellow and black reflections and I walked the riverbank and it was just her and the night and I blinked my eyes at a bridge whose arches mirrored on the surface.

A man dangled from a noose in my mind.

But what now?

Did I think, Jump?

What I know is I imagined one dead poet advising another dead poet to free himself of another dead poet's influence and I kept mulling on the word reduction and I said it (or rather: reduce, reduce, reduce) over and over and I needed to write about my life and apply a kind of zero-bone style and I rambled with the wounds and the ghosts and the desert bones within and I needed to get them out somehow and drift alone with my blues and my crimes and my gum diseases and my rooms and especially my crappy jobs and especially my undead and all I remember is a kind of skeleton of mist floating over the river and that cluster no moon shone indifferently above.

The rest is flowage.