Euroflation Hits Europe

photo: cafe daguerre, sunday

Café, métro, a bit of sun - on a Sunday in Paris.

Like It Used To Be - the One Day Weekend

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 8. October 2001:- I really doubt if anybody cares about the weather in Paris, but in case you happen to be 'anybody' for some personal reason, the past and future news about it is not good.

Météo-France launched its 'weather-vigilance' warning service, with a real 'weather-vigilance' warning - about a lot of rain, which happened exactly as predicted, but not in Paris.

Now one has to wonder whether these warningsphoto: antique fiat 500 of the week cause rotten weather, because there has been about a 'warning' per day - with the weather to go with it. Optimism from the newspapers and the TV-weather people does no good either.

Back by popular demand - the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

If they offer, even feeble, promises of brief sunny periods, then there are none. They have even caused my apartment's heat to remain off. It has been slightly warmer outside, but you have to dress for it like a duck.

'Café Life'

Café Futures Look Bright

This morning, out to get a hint of warmer air - and breezes that were brisk - I was really looking forward to my habitual double-jolt of café in the café Le Bouquet.

I don't think the heating is on in this café yet, but if you stand in the right place it is possible to avoid most of the breezes. While I was doing this I noticed that some of the other customers were wearing scarves.

This means I can wear mine without feeling like some nervous-nellie, afraid of being called a limp wimp. Of course I can wear a scarf in the privacy of the editorial office too, but I am wary about doing this because I forget them and invariably trip over them when I stand up.

My café came and I put in its 150 grams of sugar, until the spoon was standing up nicely in it. Then, as I usually do, I fumbled in my pocket for change to pay for it, and put 13 francs 50 on the bar.

I do this because I think I am absent-minded and thinkphoto: open doors for art treehouse I might walk out of the café without paying. Most people don't pay until they are finished and leaving; This is the usual way to do it, but I think I'm absent-minded - as I think I've already written.

Yes - a black and white photo of a treehouse - but what's the green thing?

The first sip of café this morning was exceptionally good. It tasted full and round and it smelled like strong café, with a lot of sugar in it. Sometimes I wish double-cafés were twice as big.

Philippe, who starts getting my café ready when he sees me leaving the boulangerie across the street, seldom says anything. So I was somewhat startled when he deliberately stopped what he was doing - serving endless Kirs to the Spaniards beside me - leaned close with his hands on the bar and said in a low, secretive voice, "The café is 14 francs now."

I think it is the most he has ever said to me. I also think everybody in the café must of had a conference about how to break the news, and Philippe lost the toss - or he was volunteered, 'because he never speaks to me' and thus cannot cause offense.

In fact, no sooner had he uttered the words than he zipped around the corner, to the bar's other side, safely out of sight. 'Gazooks,' I thought, 'maybe it's been 14 francs for weeks.'

Euroflation

Dimitri started hammering on my door when I was at the other end of my apartment, about two kilometres away. My apartment isn't big, but it is long, and its shortcut was filled-in with a closet - which used to be big enough to walk through before it quit being a hallway and became a closet.

Dimitri 'hammers' on my door because he was the one who discovered the electric buzzer doesn't work. How long it didn't work before Dimitri showed me, I don't know. One of the utility metre-readers recently said he hadn't read my water-metre for two years.

I got to the door before plaster started to fall off the ceiling. I wanted to go out anyway to get warm, so I turned Dimitri around and suggested we go for a café - but to the La Comédia.

When we got there Dimitri said it was a good choice, because glasses of wine had gone up at Le Bouquet. In fact, he said they cost as much as a double-café now.

As a matter of economic interest, we asked the Comédia's guy if his wine and café were 14 francs yet. He said no, not yet.

There are two times when prices rise in France and these are traditionally the beginning of the year and just after the beginning of the summer holidays. October is neither of these times, but the 'euro' is on the horizon.

All sorts of big outfits - water, gas, electricity, telephone - have been putting euro amounts on their bills, and who knows - rounding things up a bit? Some big chains are advertising they will 'round' their prices down, while others say they will merely do it to the nearest five centimes.

With the euro's introduction, the five-centime piece will be minimalized out of existence, so both the 'rounder-uppers' and the 'rounder-downers' are pretty safe - if they chose 'up' more than 'down.'

On the café and glass of wine front, here is the conclusion Dimitri and I reached.

Seven francs is more than a euro and maybe a little less than a dollar, but the euro and dollar havephoto: wedding band, rue daguerre, sunday been pretty close lately. A café in a café is a staple, like a baguette in a boulangerie - and with the five-centime piece about to become ancient history, it makes sense that the minimum price for anything may become 'one euro.'

Sunday on Daguerre - with a little jazz from the 'Wedding Band.'

All of this is so immensely complicated that certain merchants - like the utility company - have decided to do their 'rounding-up' early, rather than get caught on a rush on Tuesday, 1 January 2002.

There's a word for it and it is 'euroflation.' Just saying it, made Dimitri so bitter that he stayed behind in La Comédia to drink some more wine before it gets introduced there.

About 'Au Bistro'

As winter comes on it isn't just days that are getting shorter, but they seem to be losing minutes and perhaps hours too. Whatever the reason might be, my time for doing Metropole this week has run out - leaving 'Au Bistro' undone.

Last week I was moaning about 'administrative' muck, and it was true. This week simply seems to have been shorter. I will wrap the week's newspapers around my ankles instead of a scarf, and I hop you'll take my word for it that there wasn't much in the way of crazy news in Paris last week.


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