Every week, dozens of advertising flyers get delivered to our mailboxes, along with various propaganda magazines from the region, the city, and so on. And every week, most of us take them out and put them on top of the mailboxes and fish out any mail we might have received. Some of the guys who deliver these things, though, just leave them on the stairs in a neat pile. Now, as I write, the scene in the hall looks much worse than this. I took this picture when Jack was here last week and he'd kicked the slick paper over to one side. The stuff's slippery and he didn't want someone slipping and falling. We do have a cleaning lady who comes sometimes, and at that point all the paper disappears. But the other day I came home and found the Turkish lady who lives upstairs with her two sons coming into the house the same time I was, her youngest with her. They headed up the stairs, which were clean except for a pile of flyers and ads someone had left. Without hesitating, the kid took a swipe at this, and dozens of slick pieces of paper went down the stairs in a torrent. I made a sound, but his mother was too busy investigating a banana -- a banana! -- which lay, half-eaten a few steps above. Ascertaining that it wasn't edible, she said something to the kid and he scrambled up the stairs. Lest you think I'm just blaming her, though, Les Lunkheads, the French idiots below me, do the same thing, and they're almost certainly the source of the banana, as they are of the half-eaten kebabs and odd croissants one finds at times.
What can I say? It's a slum.
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Last year at this time, I made a horrible mistake. I thought I hadn't been paid for some work I'd done in Germany, a matter of over a thousand euros. After the client had traced the invoice, it turned out that I had, in fact, been paid. And spent it. That's what the confusion of moving will do to you. I had more coming in, though, but I had to be careful for a few days. How careful? When the city did its Festival of the Vines, in which all the wineries in the Montpellier Agglomeration set up booths for tasting, an invaluable one-stop education in the local wines, and offered a tasting glass and tickets for tastings at three wineries for €2, I couldn't afford it. I did, however, pick up flyers from as many of them as I could and studied them. I'd be ready when they did this again.
Well, this weekend they did it again. And I had €2. But this time there were two problems. First was that that flu I had a couple of weeks ago made some sort of short return, or maybe it was some other ailment. At any rate I'd been running a fever and felt whacked on Friday, and also noted that my nose -- all-important for wine tasting -- hadn't cleared up for the day like it usually does. By the evening, the very idea of drinking wine didn't appeal to me at all, so I passed. And on Saturday my nose was still dead. I'd hoped to have an appointment with the nose doctor before the thing happened, but the earliest he could do it was Monday.
The good news is, I know a lot more than I did last year. There is a cave cooperative for the very interesting St. Georges d'Orque area down in Celleneuve which I stumbled upon while looking for that old church last month, and I've been to the Château de Flaugergues for the student presentation. I also had a nice chat with Benoit Guizard of the Domaine Guizard, who make some really nice wines and whose place is easily reached on the bus, which I intend to do once the schnoz is back. But for one-stop shopping, I blew it again. Boy, do I want my sense of taste back!
* * *
There were rumors of a postal employees' strike coinciding with the wine fest on the Comédie yesterday, but I didn't see one. I did, however, note that there are dozens of little huts all the way down the Esplanade which will soon be filled with the kind of things you buy as gifts for pepole you don't really know all that well, which should be amusing. At the end of the huts, they were installing a huge artificial ice rink, and on the other side of the Esplanade there was the monthly antiquarian book flea market, at which I saw several books that were older than anything down at the Médiathèque's seminary exhibition, although to be fair a couple of them were at the table of a guy who seemed to have a fair repository of vintage erotica, which probably wouldn't have fit the bill. When I got back from that stroll, there was a demonstration, but I couldn't see postal workers dressing up as animals.
No, these were protestors showing how many tons of CO2 countries were pumping into the air, each holding a number of black balloons keyed to the output. Why the guy with the U.S. balloons is dressed like a polar bear I can't say, except maybe he's as confused about American geography as most Americans are about European geography.
At least this gal, at the other end of the Comédie where people were dressed as national stereotypes (a woman representing India had a green sari and a red dot on her forehead), attempted a cowboy hat.
And so, having been stereotyped and having not tasted a drop of wine, I slunk back to my slum, to feast on leftovers of one of the biggest culinary disasters of recent months, which occurred when I grabbed the wrong can at the store: folks, do not make pastafazool with chickpeas.
Okay, I'm going out for a minute. If the banana or the advertising flyers don't kill me, I'll be back with more soon.