I thought London sales were bad enough. That was before I experienced the fray at a children's merry-go-round in Paris. I took La Fille to Buttes Chaumont, one of the city's larger parks and one which, if you are lucky, you might be allowed to walk and sit on the grass. If you are unlucky there will be signs saying the lush and verdant lawns are 'resting' (as they seem to be in many Paris parks for most of the year); like they need it more than the rest of us. At least Buttes Chaumont has grass, which is not always a given in Paris' parks.
I should have known it would be crowded on a mild April afternoon, but I had forgotten it was still the school holidays here so it was heaving. In the scheme of merry-go-rounds the one at Buttes Chaumont is pretty basic. No large gaudily-painted undulating horses or rolling carriages; just a dozen or so somewhat sad features not all of which even move, except to go round of course. Even so, when it stopped the elbows came out as parents charged forward splaying children in their wake to secure their offspring a place. It was horrible. Still, more civilised than park's previous use as the site for gallows where criminals met their end or its subsequent reincarnation as a city waste dump.
The park, which incidentally has swings that cost 1,50 euros - about £1.20 - for a five minute go, is also the only place I have actually seen a proper queue that nobody dares jump. It is for the pony rides. In my experience adults tend to mutter and grumble but let it pass if someone pushes in front of them in a queue. I once heard a very polite and elegant French woman point out to a middle-aged well-dressed British man and has two grown up sons that the end of the queue for the Eurostar was in fact some way back from where they had sneakily pushed in. The man replied: "I know." and stood where he was. His sons looked smug. You could not get away with that with kids waiting for a pony ride. You can be as smug and well-dressed as you like; there would be a mini riot.
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