Football: Museum of bare-faced cheek

Andy Martin At Large In France

I WAS looking for the Museum of Erotic Art. "I'm looking for the Museum of Erotic Art," I said to the woman in the red blouse.

"You've found it," she said. "It's here."

I had just walked out of the Cafe Casablanca on the Boulevard Clichy in the Pigalle district of Paris when this woman took my arm and asked me where I was going. She seemed very keen to be helpful. The recent advertising campaign by the Mayor, exhorting Parisians to be friendlier to visitors, was clearly having an impact.

"Are you sure this is the museum?" I said.

I eyed the sign over the door doubtfully. It read: "Le Nooky". "I want the Musee de l'Erotisme. Apparently there is a special football exhibition."

"Yes, yes," she reassured me, pulling me through the door, "you're in the right place, the football show is about to come on."

I was carried inside on a solid wave of advancing Scotsmen, wearing kilts and hats with feathers in and singing a Rod Stewart song.

"My name is Sylvie," she said. "What's yours?"

"It's rather dark for a museum, isn't it?" I said. Aside from a dimly lit stage, I couldn't see a thing.

"The museum is at the back," she said. "Here, sit down. I'll get you a drink."

She brought the drink and asked for 30 francs. I gave her a 50 note and she gave me 10 francs change. "I don't see any football exhibition here."

The Scotsmen let out a cheer. A young woman in football shorts and jersey was coming on stage, accompanied by throbbing music. She was carrying a football under one arm.

"I'm here to do some research."

"Would you like to buy me a drink?"

"I've really got to find this museum," I said. "I'd really better go."

"Don't worry, I will show you the museum. It's through there." She pointed vaguely.

The woman on stage had now removed her jersey and was dancing with the ball in a way I'm sure the FA rule book declares illegal. The men in kilts were humming a tune that I associate with porridge oats and caber-tossing.

"Have a good heart and buy me a drink." Sylvie put her hand on my knee. Perhaps she had taken the Mayor's message a little too literally.

Up on the stage, the dancer was rolling about on top of the ball. All she was wearing was a referee's whistle.

Sylvie asked: "What do you think of the cabaret?"

Well, it definitely wasn't football, but I had by now come to a pretty firm conclusion that it was not erotic, either. As Roland Barthes wrote in Mythologies: "Striptease desexualizes the woman at the very moment that it undresses her."

"I've got to go," I said.

A man in a suit arrived, bearing a drink on a tray. Even in the darkness he had a swarthy look about him. I had a hunch that he was not so wholeheartedly committed to the Mayor's latest thinking as Sylvie. "Goodbye," I said.

"The bill, monsieur."

"What bill?"

"For the drink."

"I've paid for my drink."

"Sylvie's drink."

"I didn't buy her a drink."

He whispered with Sylvie. "She says you did."

"OK, OK, how much is it?"

The man switched on a torch and pointed at the bill. "Fruit juice. 700 francs (pounds 70)."

"Is that a joke?"

"Non, it is not a joke, it is the minimum."

I had a good laugh at it anyway. "I was looking for the Museum of Erotic Art."

I went to go. The man in the suit started pushing me. It is in this kind of situation where my French generally lets me down. It let me down then. So, for want of any better ideas, I started pushing him back.

"Take your hands off me," he said, in a tone of immense indignation. "You come in here, order a drink, and then refuse to pay. I am calling an agent de police."

"Fine," I said. "Let's call an agent de police."

As it turned out, nobody called an agent de police. For it was at this precise moment that the small battalion of the Tartan army that had piled into the Nooky chose to pile out again. I was swept up and expelled into the light once more.

"Thanks," I said to no-one in particular.

Sylvie was outside.

She thought I was speaking to her. "Come later," she said. "I'll show you the museum."

As I continued up the Boulevard de Clichy, still looking for the Musee de l'Erotisme, the Scots were comparing notes.

"She was something, didn't ya think?"

"Aye, she was - but, ya know, this place is terrible. It's nothing but peep-shows.

I had been thinking about asking them if they wanted to come along to the football exhibition at the Museum of Erotic Art. But I decided to let it go.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Ashdown Group: Senior Web Developer - C# / ASP.NET - London - £55K

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Web Deve...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower