I am in Paris filming for Tonight with Trevor McDonald (ITV 8pm this evening if you’re bored). As it’s the school holidays I am with my daughter Bea (aged 6) and my stepdaughter Julia (aged 12). I decided that I would introduce them to the museums of Paris (as well as the shops) so on the way up on the train I showed them the Musee d’Orsay website and a couple of Van Goghs.
“He’s not better than me,” said Bea, who is the artist in the family.
There was also much talk of the Eiffel Tower (or the Scary Tower) as Bea has nick-named it. In the taxi from the station we all tried desperately to be the first to see it. Julia won, Bea seemed unable to grasp that it was in the sky and kept asking if random bridges or buildings were it.
After a successful trip to the Bon Marche (why is it department stores in Paris are so elegant, how do they do that?) we walked up the rue du Bac to the Musee d’Orsay. I spent a lot of my childhood being dragged around museums so am a firm believer in deciding what you want to see and then going to see that. If you then want to stay on, fine. So it was to the Degas and the Van Gogh rooms we headed.
Degas passed off without incident. The girls loved the dancers and I was thrilled to be the first to show them a Degas. Then we came to van Gogh. In front of the painting of L’Eglise d’Auvers Bea started weeping.
“I’ll never be able to paint like that,” she wailed, much to the amazement of other on-lookers.
She took a lot of consoling. We even had to phone her father who told her that of course she would be able to paint like Van Gogh, it was only a matter of time. Eventually she got over it and we spent a freezing evening on the Eiffel Tower; me scared, the girls over-joyed.
As I write Bea is busy copying a reproduction of the van Gogh that sent her into such turmoil. And I have to say, she’s doing a pretty good job of it, although I’m not sure how she’s going to copy that deep blue sky with just a packet of twelve felt-tips.
Today we are going to the Louvre – heaven knows how she’ll react when she sees the Mona Lisa but I’m just going to have to risk it.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007