Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 7 November 2008

Ouf! Part Deux

Don't panic, it's an advertBarely had I got back from my jaunt to Paris in August when I received a proposal for another home exchange, from someone else in Paris, this time as far to the north-west as I was to the north-east last time.

So here I am in a sixth-floor flat in a solid 1920s block (complete with wardrobe-sized lift) at the Porte de Champerret.

Ste OdileIt's just up the road from the most extraordinary church - Ste Odile, an Art Deco frontage in vaguely Dutch-looking brick, with Byyzantine domes and a Ghormenghast tower topped with a patriotic cockerel. If my memory's correct, the 1920s was a time of conservative re-assertion in France, not least in the position and status of the Catholic Church: and it shows.

I was up at 5am to be sure of getting the train this morning, and it's starting to catch up with me. Which is why I'm in a mood to rant about coffee culture. I've been peeved for years about people taking an age to get their cappuccinos and fancy skinny frappé latte mochaccino with a caramel shot or whatever, when all I want is a plain black coffee. This afternoon, a new bugbear: a modish takeaway deli-café which handed me a cartridge (in one of those adult-proof foil wrappings) and pointed me to a sleek machine in the corner: so sleek, so beautifully designed and engineered that there was not the slightest indication of how or where to insert the cartridge. I was on the point of suggesting somewhere to the people behind the counter when they took pity and explained how to find the magic lever and which way round to put the cartridge. In which time, of course, they could probably have served an office party's worth of cappuccinos.

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