Not Sweet, Not Short

photo: cafe bar liquoriste

Formerly called 'Vancouver,' this café attracts more
custom as Café Bar Liquoriste.

The Usual Blah-Blah

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 15. October 2001:- Lack of care about the weather produced good results last week. I forget if the predicted 'rottenness' happened to the Mediterranean coast, because it was good in Paris.

It was good enough to forget all the bad things I've been writing about the weather for weeks. Of course it is October and overnight temperatures are a bit low, and the missing part for my flat's heating apparatus is still missing - so this has allowed me to have completely different temperatures inside.

I would have gone out anyway, but going outside last week was a treat. After a turn around the block I would retreat back to the joint, and take off more winter clothes.

As I remember it, this is how it was lastphoto: fiat 500 of the week week. The future 72 hours don't look bad if I overlook their downhill aspect. I might do this, because the temperatures are supposed to be going up while clouds gather on the western horizons.

No 'Fiat 500 of the Week' is usual.

Look. This is all guesswork. The good lady on the TV-weather news keeps saying France-Météo is on strike. She never says where they are getting their weather news from. Maybe it is the same place you get yours.

'Café Life'

Rational Discussions In French

These are what one expects to get when invited to dinner, but first we had to get there. This shouldn't have been a problem but our 'leader' decided we should do it by bus, and at rush-hour - and then picked a line that has no bus-lane, no right-of-way, and had a long, round, way to go.

When I said the last time I got stuck on the same bus I was on my way to Chinese New Years I got a dirty look. I had all day to get there and it only took half of it. Last Tuesday I thought it was going to take half the night. I was counting on soup.

When we finally got to the 12th, it looked like everybody except us was home, eating soup. But out hosts were not - they were biting their fingernails, wondering where we were.

So the usual preliminaries were skipped, in favor of doing something about hunger. This was taken care of with the usual several courses in their usual order and after about an hour of it the initial pangs were taken care of, so it became possible to talk.

Depending on the circumstances, dinner conversations can take on a variety of different complexions. If you don't know the hosts or the other guests, subjects are limited to what may be known in common. This might not be much.

On the other hand, if the guests have their elbows on the table and their glasses are always half full, and everybody has been around a bit, being stilted is not likely.

Between six people we usually had three 'conversations' going. But by some trick or other, at least three of the six kept one ear free for any of the other conversations. If a different one seemed slightly more interesting, they would abandon the one they were having and jump into another one.

This might cause somebody to drop out, and switch to another partner. There were two 'quoters' too - one from Shakespeare and the other specialized in Russian, in Russian.

I think we may have touched on 23 different subjects, which included three or five fairly serious arguments. Itphoto: buffet lumieres magyares was not easy to keep track because the rule seemed to be that four people had to talk at once. At one point there was concern that the neighbors might start pounding their floor with a broom handle, but if this happened, we didn't hear it.

Starving journalists beseige buffet at expo opening.

When It was over and we were back out on the street it was just as deserted as before. It was cool and quiet. We went up to a big place where the taxi stand was on the other side, about 500 metres away.

By the time we got around to where it was, our personal Mercedes was waiting, with its heater on. Being confined made the conversation start up again and the driver added radio music. He was not a smooth driver, and I was surprised at the poor ride in the back seat of the large-sized late-model Merc.

He took the short routes through the nighttime city, and the occasional speeds of 90 or 100 did not make the trip faster. Two of us got out by the cemetery and it was peaceful again, so we went to the Penguin and had another drink and made it last a while. We did not argue at all.

The Lion Is Back

There are a lot of fairly big places in Paris and not all of them have an Arc de Triomphe in the middle. After Napoléon retired, bureaucrats were charged with filling the other big places with fountains or sculptures of various sorts.

Our own has the 'Lion of Belfort' in it, and the place is named after a guy who won some part of the war on 1870 against the Prussians, which France mainly lost.

Actually, our 'lion' is a replica of a big one at Belfort, which is out east somewhere. Ours was built by Auguste Bartholdi, but I prefer his statue of Liberty better - even its smaller model here in Paris.

Anyhow, the 'lion' got worn out from sitting around our place, and it was hauled away for repairs early last April. This made the nearly featureless place more featureless than ever. People in the neighborhood hoped it would be back for Bastille Day.

There was a tentative date for its return on Sunday, 23. September, but it didn't show up. Two or three weeks ago scaffolding was thrown around its base and we started to keep a sharper eye on it.

Saturday's Le Parisien announced the 'lions' return. If people bought their Sunday edition, they would have held the announcement over - but we don't, so we got a day's notice.

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