Sunday, January 10, 2010

Les Miettes d'Hiver

Yes, in fact, it is cold out there. Two days in a row we've had snow, which is really unusual for this part of the world, but at least here in town, it's not sticking. Much worse was about three nights ago when a light, misty rain was falling and icing up the polished limestone of the Comédie, forcing me to sort of mince home with the groceries. I made it without managing to break my neck, though.

This is what's delayed my trip to Béziers, announced earlier. When the sun is out, as it is right now, it's because cold, dry air has blown in from the mountains, although Pic St. Loup was invisible yesterday as I went to the market. I'd like to see it (and I may go out later to do just that) because on that same trip yesterday I saw a hill -- one I must have seen a million times before, making that same trip -- which was covered with snow. It was off in the distance, but just sitting there, white, against a greyish sky, and I did several takes before I realized it wasn't a cloud or something. If the Pic is, indeed, capped with snow, I'll take a picture and post it here.

And, of course, when it's not bright and cold and incredibly windy, lowering the wind-chill factor, it's raining, since this is the season when the Languedoc gets its water, which will eventually be turned into fruits and vegetables and, oh, yes, wine. But walking around Béziers in the rain doesn't appeal, so I'm hoping to get there around the end of next week. It's only 42 minutes by train, so it's not a big deal.

* * *

The affair of the library has mushroomed since my last post. Right now, what looks like has happened is that the University, which owns the space the collection is in, took advantage of the dissolution of FOAL (Friends of the American Library, properly known as ABAM, Amis de Bibliothèque Anglophone Montpellier) gave the University an excuse to get rid of the whole thing, not considering that there would be a public outroar. Well, there was a public outroar, all right, and with it a bunch of comedy. For one thing, I got interviewed by the publisher of our local satirical weekly, l'AggloRieuse, whose name is so dense packed a pun that only a French-speaker could appreciate it. He'd read my blog post, translated it with Google Translator, and was deeply concerned about the baby horses, although he didn't know what they had to do with things. You know: foals. Then, of course, people were posting their concerns to the ABAM list-serv, and every single time that happened, a flood of "take my name off your mailing list" e-mails came in. I'm astonished at how few people know how e-mail works, even in this day and age.

Finally, I set up a Google Group for the issue, which now has 19 members, including one in Montpellier's twin city of Louisville, Kentucky, which had helped the library out in the past. The outraged citizenry will be meeting at 7:30 at Lawrence McGuire's homey used bookshop, the Globe, on Tuesday night. If anyone reading this has expertise in getting grants for library projects, or has any juice with people who do, or feel they have something to contribute to this, just send me your e-mail address as a comment, which I won't publish, and I'll send you an invitation to the group. And if you're in Montpellier or environs and want to come to the meeting, the store's at 2, rue de Carbonnerie (opposite l'Heure Bleu, up the hill from that insane toy store, corner of rue de Canneau).

Just what we'll be able to do is a good question. We've all paid dues to use the library, plus FOAL had a treasury. However much there is, it's not going to be enough if we have to rent another location and move the 30,000 books, DVDs, and so on. I foresee a lot of talking. A lot of talking. But it's just possible that something'll get done, too.

* * *

After the meeting, I may well head to the Vert Anglais for one of their Vert Anglais burgers. As I've mentioned, Nick and Sarah and Jody, who own the place, were extremely nice to me when I first moved here. A year ago today, I was still schlepping up the hill with my computer in my bag to use their wi-fi, because my phone still hadn't been turned on. The computer I'm using now, as a matter of fact, I bought on-line from the Vert Anglais. My total contribution to their coffers in the four months I sponged on their hospitality must have been, oh, a good €200. I rarely go there now, because I've got connectivity at home and I can't really afford to go out at all, but they've just been dealt a blow and I want to help out.

There was this guy who was pretty much always there, nursing a demi of awful French beer, from just after breakfast until about 6, when he went home. He was never particularly warm to me, but there's often a bit of tension between the British and the few Americans here. He also had a son and daughter, the latter with a kid, and they'd join him for lunch at least once a week, at which time he'd switch to wine, then go back on the beer when they left. Sunday mornings, he'd go to the market hall, which is open til 1 on Sudnays, and bring back a roasted chicken, some bread, some cheese, and the like for the staff and their friends.

Last week, the word went around: he'd left the country with his son, one step ahead of the law, and had decamped for Southeast Asia, where he's got a friend who's going to open a bar which he'll help run, with the kid as bouncer. He left a bar tab of €1000 at the Vert Anglais. Hell, I got nervous one morning when I woke up and realized I'd walked on a tab of €16 after a quiz night! At any rate, if you haven't tried the Vert Anglais for lunch yet, I hear wonderful things about the new menu in general, and it sure looks good. (I just don't eat that large a meal at noon, or I'd report on it). They also run the burger, which I raved about here, from 6 to 9pm. Nick, Sarah, and Jody took over the Vert Anglais on a shoestring, and they have ambitious plans to make it even better. They're good people, so drop by if you're in town. Tell 'em you read about it here!


  1. This was a real eye-opener, Ed. 30,000+ pieces. Yeow! Not exactly the tiny reading room for a handful of expats I'd envisioned. I see now why this is such a "revoltin' development." Sounds like a righteous cause. Rave on, Ed! DEW

  2. J'espère que ça ne te dérange pas que j'aie posté un paragraphe de ton post sur mon blog. Si ça pose problème, dis-le moi.

    Je vais acheter la glorieuse AggloRieuse cette semaine. Monsieur Frêche ne va pas être content.

  3. Je viens de prendre des photos du Pic (je le vois de ma chambre). Je te les envoie tout à l'heure (je ne peux pas les charger sur mon ordinateur de bureau). Il n'y a pas de neige sur le Pic ! Ou du moins je n'en ai pas vu :-))

  4. So if they close the library definitively, what do they DO with those 30,000 items? If they don't just get absorbed into general circulation at a university library, that's one hell of a jumble sale...

  5. Why has no one gone on greve because of this?


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