It’s been two weeks since my last entry. Reason: work and springtime. Although saying that the weather has been pretty schizophrenic. Blowing hot and cold like a man standing on the edge of a cliff too scared to jump, yet too scared to turn back. Today I woke up to sheeting rain lashing my window as though somebody was cleaning it with a high pressure hose. But I knew it would rain today. Yesterday, after breaking my own 10 km record along the Rhone, I joyously said to an old man sitting on a wall, ‘Il fait beau, non?’
‘Il fait très beau,’ he replied beaming, ‘Mais,’ he added quietly, ‘Il va faire merde, demain,’ or something close: ‘Tomorrow will be shit!’
‘Really,’ I said, the smile dropping from my face. ‘Quel dommage.’
I still planned to go walking today knowing that weather forecasts are pretty vague even from wise old men. But on waking and seeing the maelstrom I abandoned my attempt to finally conquer Mt. Verdun and instead went running, missing yesterday’s record by a whole miserable minute. But of course I can blame that on the weather.
However, despite this, spring is definitely here. No doubt about it. Not late-winter, or early spring. Full on spring, complete with bees, flowers, midges, and plagues of rats. Yes, the binmen are on strike again and have been for the past two weeks, so the entire city is smelling like a gigantic French public toilet – you know the ones I mean: hole in the ground, no loo roll, no lights, broken flush facility, piss and shit streaked floor.
Outside in the yard where I put my rubbish resembles a landfill. The entire space strewn with rotting bags of half eaten pizza, nappy bags, vegetable detritus, and discarded off-cuts of meat from the Halal butcher opposite. In the recent heat, it doesn’t need me to describe the smell. I’m not sure I could.
There seems no break through in talks between the unions and the council, so our rubbish pile is simply going to get bigger and more hideous, especially when I add my selection of stinky mackerel cans and fetid milk cartons I’ve been saving. One discarded cigarette I fear will make 9/11 look like a picnic, compared to what would happen if the gases I smell wafting through my window ever ignite. I’ll keep you posted. Either from here, or from intensive care.
But whatever the dispute is about this time, I’m sure they’ll sort it out. No free biscuits on coffee breaks; an end to coffee breaks every five minutes, or worse still, having to work a full day. Then again, I can’t talk, being a man who likes his free time. I’m taking two weeks off in May and I know now it won’t be enough. Nowhere near. I won’t mind going back to work at the end, because it’s inevitable, but if somebody said, ‘Hey Oggers, fancy another week off, paid,’ I’d rip off their arms, legs and head and play football for the week with what’s left.
We have Easter in three weeks time but for a predominantly Catholic country they’re a bit stingy with the bank holidays, giving us only Monday off. Saying that, there’s always May, where we luckily get four days, three of which are bridges (if the holiday lands on a Tuesday or Thursday most French take the Monday and Friday off giving them a four day weekend.) May will comprise of three three-day weeks and one four day week. Makes me wonder why they don’t just strike May off the working calendar and say: ‘See you in June, enjoy the weather.’
Talking of weather, I saw the old guy again this morning after my run sitting on the same wall. Being English I asked him about the weather just for something to say. Just name it old man: rain, hail, sleet, blizzard, heat wave, floods, Armageddon, hurricane, cyclonic annihilation. I can take it. He looked up at the sky, smelt the air and looked back at me: ‘Il va faire beau, monsieur.’