We tried to go to Paris this weekend and didn't get close. Taking the coach in to circumnavigate the strike - clever, no? But because the traffic had been so built up around that city due to all the car commuters, the coaches were departing from Brussels about two hours late, and we got cranky, cold and drunk waiting. Finally I insisted on a refund and a retreat, which the F-word was fine with; his motives for wanting to go to Paris this weekend were ulterior and satisfied by the 1.5 hours we spent waiting at the Gare du Nord.
Paris during a strike was alright, if you lived downtown, weren't scared of biking, and knew the city well enough to be able to plan alternate routes every time a bunch of brat civil servants demonstrated in your path; even ideal, because it cuts down on some of the crowding. The real problem was the anger. The special regime types promote themselves as a bulwark against a slippery slope - we'll nip the reforms that are geared towards making you die in the saddle in the bud, they tell France, by boldly bringing the country to a standstill with our strikes - the problem being they're doing this as a fair proportion of the French are haemmorageing money because they can't make it to their jobs where they get paid by the hour because it's too hard to get a permanent contract because there have been no successful reforms of the permanent contracts that employers shy away from giving. A bunch of fuckwit Don Joses singing about saving her right before they stab ol' Carmen to death. The consequence, of course, is a reciprocal anger, an anger I remember well from back when I was an hourly worker, and if this round of strikes lasts much longer we shall see some blood on the streets. For an ethnic group that sings about fertilizing their fields with the impure blood of the enemy in their absolutely dreadful national anthem, they've always been quick enough on the draw when it comes to attacking each other, or at least each other's cars.
Anyways, this is a shitty time of the year for confrontation and everything else, it seems. Marriages ending, seniors dying - Grandpa died a bit more than a year ago - carping, endless carping, and eternal swinging between being too hot and too cold. Can't get over how pissy EVERYONE is and of course I'm keeping up nicely. Cannot believe, no doubt because of missing summer, that there will ever be summer again; gaping at my Tevas in the disbelief that they were ever practical. SAD is a bitch. Nonetheless we had a nice weekend here, getting high, trying to shake our eternal goddamn colds and watching Terry Jones' "Barbarian" series. That man could do a documentary about reading phonebooks and I'd be into it.
I'm also blowing through Paul Theroux's magical 'The Great Railway Bazaar'. I think I have a crush on him. He makes himself sound like a bit of a dick with 'modern' and, to me, unpleasant ideas about marital fidelity, though those stay in the elliptical realm; every encounter with prostitutes he writes about is always one where he doesn't go for it, and yet he takes the trouble to point out that he didn't experience the impotency associated with Indian tummy viruses during his journey through the sub-continent. In another sense, the way he notices,, complains and enthuses about things makes me imagine his son Louis Theroux with a harder edge and some nice alcoholic angles to his face instead of the air of good natured incomprehension that helped him build his career as a documentarian. That's, to coin a phrase, hot.