petite anglaise

September 26, 2004

say it with sweeties

Filed under: city of light, miam — bipolarinparis @ 2:20 pm

On the left is the calorific bouquet I had delivered to the Frog’s office on his birthday. I’m now rather popular there, as even the Frog can’t get through 50 Chupa Chups without some assistance.

The Frog adores sweets: packets of fraises tagada are always mysteriously falling from supermarket shelves into our shopping trolley when my back is turned. If he ever leaves me it will no doubt be for his dentist, with whom he is spending increasing amounts of quality time.

As our expedition last weekend to find a suitable present was unsuccessful (he is very fussy), I thought I’d better have something up my sleeve on the day to make up for it. Actually, that makes me sound much less calculating than I really am: my primary motivation was to make him feel guilty that he never surprises me on my birthday… Not that when he thanked me over the phone through a mouthful of liquorice shoelaces he could have cared less about any intended subtext…

Last night we went out for a meal at Chez Georges, the Frères Costes’ über-trendy restaurant on the top floor of the Centre Pompidou. The experience made me remember why I love Paris: there is a marvellous view of the city skyline and all the major monuments are lit up at night. Inside the restaurant the view isn’t unpleasant either. The waiters are very suave, and the beanpole waitresses look like models. There must be a clause in the girls’ contracts which specifies that at least 1m20 of skinny bare leg must be shown at all times. Their outfits would have been more appropriate in a glitzy nightclub – never have I seen so many sequins (except perhaps in Miss Selfridge).

At the end of our meal, feeling I’d overindulged on rich food and bordeaux I asked our waiter for a carafe of water with the bill: meaning tapwater, not the mineral water on the menu at €8 a bottle (which even I know is ridiculously expensive). He looked at me calculatingly and said “de l’eau municipale?” I’ve never heard tapwater called by that name before, but I concede it is a very clever use of the word ‘municipal’, a word which conjures up images of street cleaners, sewerage works and dodgy lead piping and almost made me have costly second thoughts.

Incidentally, I stuck to my guns and got my tapwater, and as you can see I’m still alive, if a little “hanged over”.

September 24, 2004

danger! low voltage

Filed under: city of light — bipolarinparis @ 1:34 pm

We had two power cuts in our appartment building yesterday.

The first at 4 am meant that we failed to get up for work in the morning – the battery in the alarm clock which is supposed to act as a safety net in such emergencies being helpfully flat. Much bleary eyed fumbling for candles and matches and colourful swearing and ensued. Neither the Frog nor I has the faintest idea how to light the pilot light in the boiler, so I was reduced to heating a pan of water on the gas stove for washing purposes and resourceful use of Huggies cottonsoft wipes. I suppose that’s how people washed (minus the Huggies) in the ‘good old days’ when our appartment building was built, as originally there were no bathrooms.

A great start to the day, all in all, arriving late to work, then praying that all would be well when I got home and that the contents of the freezer would not have to be binned. It was thankfully all sorted, so I set about setting every clock in the flat to stop them blinking at me.

Returned home tipsy later that night after a girls’ night out. Ten minutes later the power went off again. As most of our neighbours appear to be pensioners who go to bed at 8pm I doubt any one else noticed, so a drunken conversation between petite and Electricité de France followed, whereby I tried to convince the rather sceptical man on the other end of the line that the problem concerned the whole building so a technician was NOT to come hammering on my door in the middle of the night, but instead should proceed straight to the cellar where the fusebox for the building is located. Under NO circumstances was I willing to go down there in my nightie with a torch – even if it might be a question of just to tripping a switch – it’s a spooky dungeon-like place with earth floors and stone vaulted ceilings and several catacomb like corridors. I always feel like something is lurking in the shadows watching me. And I have no desire to see what nocturnal wildlife it may harbour.

*shiver*

It occurs to me that had the power gone off ten minutes earlier, knowing my luck I would have been stuck in our miniscule lift between two floors until 5am when the power finally came back on, as this does not appear to have a backup supply of any kind. It measures about 1m by 50cm and has floor to ceiling carpeting which smells of dogs and old people, so I had a very narrow escape.

My worry is that I wasn’t around to quiz the man from the EDF on either occasion and he probably just tripped a switch without caring what the cause of the problem might be. So this will probably go on happening twice a day for the foreseeable future. In the middle of my favourite tv programmes, halfway through publishing a blog post, when it’s freezing cold outside…

I’m a pessimist by nature. In case you hadn’t noticed.

September 23, 2004

Bienvenue

Filed under: misc — bipolarinparis @ 9:38 am

Welcome to the fruit of my labours. I have lost count of the hours spent fiddling with css and other things I don’t even pretend to understand, but I think it’s time to give my bloodshot eyes a rest now and just get on with the blogging.

I have tested this site in IE6 and Mozilla Firefox. If you have another browser and there are any display problems, please let me know and I will see what I can do to fix them.

Just a few things are unfinished:

  • comments will be coming in shortly from my haloscan archives
  • my July posts still need a bit of reformatting to add the images and update the links to other posts on this site
  • …and I’ll probably fiddle with the layout a bit more as I’m never satisfied

Incidentally, the photo in my header is the view of Paris from my balcony, taken with my own fair hands . It should also work as a link back to the homepage. I haven’t worked out yet how to incorporate the ‘brit eye’ image from my blogger site into the new layout, but would welcome any suggestions as it sums up what I’m about rather nicely.

September 21, 2004

for what it’s worth

Filed under: misc — bipolarinparis @ 1:37 pm

I have a problem with the euro. I’m not against the concept of it, in fact I think the UK should adopt it – if only to make it easier for me to pay off my student loan without having to make lots of expensive bank transfers. My problem is with getting my head ’round how much the things are actually worth.

The euro became legal tender in France on 1st Jan 2002, so you’d think I’d have had chance adjust to the ‘new’ currency by now. However, until recently, prices were shown both in French francs and euros. So it was possible to pay in euros, without actually thinking in euros. Yours truly carried on thinking in francs, and probably lopping off a zero for good measure and converting francs to British pounds… This strategy was fatally flawed as I left the UK a decade ago and my notion of what things cost there is approximate to say the least. Do you mean to say a Twix doesn’t cost 13p any more?

These days without the guidance of francs on the price tags I must confess I don’t have much idea how much cash I’m handing over. I tip waiters either far too much or far too little, and the total of my weekly supermarket shop is always a painful surprise. The latter is partly due to the fact that most shops saw the euro as a golden opportunity to hike up their prices and indulge in a wholesale rounding-up exercise, knowing full well that your average customer was going to take a long time to realise that euro cents are worth rather more than the old franc centimes (50c. = 34p).

This admission, coming from a mathematically-challenged person who freely admits to still counting on her fingers, probably doesn’t shock anyone. But I’d quite like to know whether I’m alone on this? Am I?

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