98 – Hôtel-Dieu

Nothing much has happened in Lyon since my last entry. The combined efforts of snow, rain, hail, fog and wind have rendered expeditions to anywhere beyond the perimeter of my neighbourhood meaningless. Unless, you’re a canard, naturally.

Although saying that, I did have a laugh last week with my dieting biscuit friends in Annonay. We were talking about what we like best about the summer, when a blizzard appeared outside the classroom window. We all fell about laughing as you can imagine. OK, so you had to be there. But if you were, you would have seen a wave of happiness break over four fully grown men as laughter extinguished the gloom of a long and tortuous winter.

Of course, I ruined it moments later by volunteering to unearth the Christmas decorations from the attic, forgetting the highly superstitious nature of French culture. It felt like I’d cast a spell. The laughing abruptly stopped, pencils were sharpened and the brief period of joy we had experienced together belonged to a different time. So I hauled out some heavy grammar exercises and ploughed on further into the darkness of the English language.

The latest projection I’ve heard for the end of winter is the New Moon on Wednesday. I for one am looking forward to it, because the coat I’ve been wearing for the past few months is the same one I wore selling Christmas trees in Bristol three years ago. It was that very cold December if you remember. Sometimes reaching minus five by lunchtime. So it’s time for a change. It’s why this blog has remained fairly sparse recently. Nothing has happened in Lyon over the past month. If it was a volcano, it would be dormant. Possibly extinct.

The most exciting thing was visiting the old hospital, Hôtel-Dieu, which is being converted into a super luxurious hotel. The council giving the folk of Lyon a chance to see their famous landmark one last time before being converted into a palace for the phenomenally rich. But in truth, they shouldn’t have bothered. Being as the only rooms we were allowed to visit were full of appalling art installations (they were truly terrible), or people trying to sell real estate in St. Priest. Where? – exactly. Furthermore, I realised that wandering around a decaying old hospital on a cold damp Sunday afternoon is worse than dying.

Even a drive up to Parc Mirabelle later failed to lift the mood. There was a mini folk festival going on, but no-one was interested. It was simply too cold. Too wet. Too miserable to stand in a field and listen to an accordion. Pleasant as it was.

So I wait for Wednesday and the New Moon with bated breath. Funnily enough it’s the day I return to the UK for my cousin’s wedding. What will it be like there? I can only dread. England may no longer exist. Sunk into the ocean by the sheer weight of snow, ice, council grit and debt.

Emerging from the channel tunnel into open sea where St. Pancras station once stood. Having to evacuate by inflatable chute like on an airplane. Treading water among the discarded bowler hats and Oyster cards of old London town. The bloated corpse of Boris Johnson sailing by still singing Rule Britannia like some demented oik. The Union Flag dipping beneath the waves with a long gurgle and burp. A great country sunk by its weather, its politicians and its greed. Welcome home.


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