Labouring under my seasonal flu and trying to work up some enthusiasm for Christmas. It’s the same every year though. I always get a dose of something unpleasant just before or just after the 25th December.
Mind you, it’s my own fault. I went for a day in Paris last Thursday and spent a fair bit if time out in the rain. The first drenching occurred around 11am, as I patiently stood in a lengthy queue outside the Pompidou Centre, waiting to get into the Salvador Dali exhibition – the largest Dali exhibition in the world since 1979, featuring over 230 works, one of the « must do’s » of the moment – well it was all right, but did confirm one thing – I have never been a fervent fan of Dali and this exhibition did nothing to change my mind, though It was pleasant to see some « art on walls » and just saunter round a gallery.
My second drenching came as I walked down the Champs Elysées to take in the Christmas lights. Same as every year – long « chains » of LED lights strung Fromm tree to tree all along the avenue. Next up was the Champs Elysées Christmas market – Just as I expected, there was plenty of mulled wine and stalls flogging stuff that you hope no one will ever buy you for Christmas. What caught my eye was the number of Kebab stalls. I will defend the humble kebab, down to my last greasy onion ring and crumb of pita bread, but Kebabs are exactly traditional French festive fare.
Final stop on the Parisian pilgrimage was the Marks and Spencer’s shop on the Champs Elysées – it opend only last Christmas, and like last year, I had to wait in yet another queue to get into the food department. I fancied sausage, mince pies and a Christmas pudding. Well they had the mince pies, as for the rest though …. « We’ve sold out and won’t be resupplied before Christmas » I was told. Well that’s no bloody good to me. (Though I didn’t actually say that.)
As always, M&S was crowded with ex-pat Brits, most of who seemed to clutching armfuls of those two missing victuals I had so hoped to find. They must have known I was coming.
And now, here we are, on that strangest of days « the last Sunday before Christmas » - a kind of Twilight Zone before the final anti-climax. In my corner of small-town France, all the shops are open until 7pm today, and the locals are zealously and happily indulging in that most unfamiliar of activities – Sunday Shopping. I think days like these are a good argument to reform the French Sunday trading laws. Today, town is vibrant, next week; it will be a drab, rain-washed ghost town. It wouldn’t be bad to allow shop to open on Sundays, if only to make the small town provincial Sabbath just a little less sinister.
And so it is, that I conclude this uninspiring flu-laden post. There might be something seasonal before the big day, if I feel moved to write. I’ll leave you with a few photos of the Christmas decorations on the Champs Elysées, and of course, a very merry Christmas to all my readers.