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Hemingway Adventure

Paris, France (fourth day)

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Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureYoung Monsieur Chiche shows me the moves, how to protect the face and when to throw a punch. At first he is complimentary about my deft footwork but, after a few minutes of my Ali shuffle, a certain amount of impatience shows through.

‘Hit me! Hit me now!’

I close my eyes and think of Ernest and surprise myself with a few well placed hooks.

‘Good!’ he exhorts. ‘Hit me again!’

This time I obey his orders to the letter. One jab goes through his guard and connects with his head.

I stop immediately.


He smiles and I feel a bit foolish. With one word I’ve confirmed why an Englishman can never be a Hemingway.

Eat tonight at the Closerie des Lilas, ten minutes’ walk from our hotel, and once Hemingway’s favourite Paris café. He came here to write and worked on short stories and what was to become the novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Hemingway liked the clientele at the Closerie: ‘They were all interested in each other and in their drinks or coffees, or infusions, and in the papers and periodicals which were fastened to rods, and no one was on exhibition.’

He later wrote with some disgust of the treatment of the waiter who was forced by the management to shave off his moustache when the Closerie went up-market. Though Hemingway’s name is immortalised on yet another piece of metal, attached to the bar next to the dining-room, I don’t think he himself would still be sitting there. Not at today’s prices.

On the way back to our hotel we pass 159 Boulevard du Montparnasse, formerly the Hotel Venitia where, four years after his arrival in Paris, Hemingway slept with a woman called Pauline Pfeiffer, whilst his family waited for him in Austria.

And I remember to ask Basil about Hemingway’s Chinese birth sign. It was the Year of the Pig.
Paris, France 
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Paris, France (fourth day)
  • Country/sea: France
  • Place: Paris
  • Book page no: 85

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