The Grand Hotel was not far from the casino in the town called Divonne-les-Bains on the French side of the border. For the weekend I booked the best room they had on the menu, belle époque finishes and all.
And I invited a woman I know forever by now, and she wore a lemon skirt to colour in the cold grey night. A man likes to stare, and, as the song goes, “he turns his money into light to look for her”.
We had an excellent dinner at La Terrasse Fleurie and then a glass of Chablis wine at the hotel bar.
I wanted to make it to France for a weekend before the yellow vests really start a revolution. It’s been 18 weeks of protests now and they can only intensify as the warm weather comes.
For now, president Macron decided to wait it out.
Historically, if the disapproval rating of a government rises above 65%, there is a fertile ground for violence. At this time 71 percent of French have no confidence in Macron, as a poll shows. And he dropped 4 points from last month.
And its not all his fault, by all means – what we’re witnessing is the collapse of socialism. People are mad and out on the street because of declining living standards, as there is less disposable income left after taxes every year. And many say that capitalism is the problem, the big cash rich companies, but these are just the oligarchy. Government is the real problem.
And France is not alone in this – we have used every trick in the book to prolong this borrowing scheme: offshoring of jobs, negative interest rates, and massive government interventions in the markets. Capital controls are probably next.
Macron took a hard stand on Brexit, saying that another failure by the U.K. Parliament to back Theresa May’s proposed deal “will guide everyone to a hard exit.”
As if this was ever a surprise – a hard Brexit was backed-in from the beginning, there was never any other possibility. And it will cost the British the London financial center at a minimum.
But that weekend I was enjoying life and the things that make it special.
I’m an engineer but I think in scenes, it makes me a good storyteller sometimes.
Kurt Vonnegut was one too, I am not the first one trying to connect these two areas of life.
He was the writer I most enjoyed reading when I was growing up. He never got a Nobel Prize, possibly because he bankrupted a Saab dealership in New England, which he owned for a while, and the Swedes never forget.
He tells this story, which I like to no end. Here it is:
The last years of his life he was living in Manhattan.
So, he wrote a few new pages by hand and wanted to send it to the lady that types it for him for many years now. He leaves his apartment and walks down the street to buy an envelope. And his wife tells him that he can order envelopes and they will deliver them to the house, and that he is not a poor man so why go. And he says “shhh, shhh”.
And he goes out to this stand by the United Nations where an Indian lady runs the store, and she asks what’s new and he says that he just wrote a few pages. She has her hair done in a nice way, and he likes her smile, so they chat friendly for a bit, he mails the letter and he goes back home having the best of time.
The nice little things in life, don’t let them get away from you.
There is an ending to my French hotel story – after my wife read this text she said: “my skirt colour was sunflower not lemon!”
Perhaps love makes me color blind, or no guy can possibly tell the difference.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler