European cities are home to some of the world’s most romantic, beautiful and intimate streets
A neighbour called Mary came to visit me in 1968. She asked why I was in town, and I said I was out walking my dog. She went along the street to her car, put her arm round me and said, “You seem like a pretty little New Yorker.” I walked out, took her hand and we made our way along the High Street, feeling happy and in love.
St Petersburg, Russia
In 1981 I was looking for a place to live in Moscow when I saw a large red apartment block in the city centre. On looking up I could see a large lawn filled with flower beds, fountains and fuchsias. This is where the city’s first official flower market took place in 1756.
In 2005 I found myself sitting on a freezing bench in front of the Musee de l’Homme and Queer Paris. Suddenly I recognised the queue of pigeons flying overhead. I stood there in the air for 15 minutes watching them. It was in this hour that the words “I fell in love with you” appeared on my cell phone. I was at the right place at the right time.
I was walking around Rome in the middle of the night when I saw a young woman standing alone on a street corner. She was looking in a fountain, looking lost. I approached her and told her she had the right eyesight to read the words “My loveliest is … ” on the outside of the fountain. I asked her if she would be my girlfriend, and it just happened to be her birthday that day. We had lunch together and it was love at first sight.
In 1953, I was on my way to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Liverpool when I went across Tower Bridge to listen to the water rush over the side. I looked down to the pedestrian islands on the bridge, and I saw this woman walking across the way. Her eyes were staring out of this man’s shoulder, and he was sitting on a bench, watching. I asked the police to stop us, but they had gone. I spent the evening with this woman, and we became friends.
For the last 32 years, we have been living on the Provence coast. We bought a cottage with three bougainvillea bushes growing along the driveway and a fountain in the driveway. When we go up to the cottage in the mornings, I see fresh flowers washing ashore and fishermen repairing their fishing nets. It feels like a peaceful retreat.