Friday, 26 September 2008

Roman holiday

Now, why did I expect Rome, the eternal city and my favourite city in the whole world, to remain exactly the same since I was here two years ago? For almost 10 years I came back here two or three times a year for a week, a weekend, and every time I arrive at Termini station, I inhale and fell re-born, refreshed, re-grounded. If I could only meet a man in Paris who makes me feel this way!

Meanwhile, it was sometime in 2006 that I was here last and oh my, there are changes. At the Roman forum, where I used to be able to just ramble through on my way from the Colosseum side of town to the Pantheon area, there is now an entrance fee - and a queue to get in! This morning at the cafe the man behind the counter asked if I wanted a cappucino con choccolati or normale - even though I asked for normale, my accent gave me away and he sprinkled chocolate powder on it anyway. But what ecstasy that coffee was, so much that when I climbed up to the Campidoglio bar/terrasse, I ordered another one. Changes there, too, now the city has installed a couple of glass elevators, at a staggering 7 euro fee. Tant mieux, it means I got the climb up the stairs to myself.

Oh, and at Piazza Navona they're renovating the Bernini fountain AGAIN. Via Nazionale is ripped up and hard to cross, there are a lot more vendors on the via that leads from the Jewish quarter to Piazza di Fiore, and what an amazing coincidence of American accents. In the end, it's the same chaotic, busy magnificent place. And hey, I finally achieved my ambition of buying something at MaxMara - walked in, confessed I needed some elegant pants that would NOT need hemming for a lunch date in 20 minutes, and walked out with a big smile in a beautiful pantalone that got me a few masculine smiles and murmured compliments along the way.

The sunshine, the people, the food and the wine, none of the best things in Rome have changed, and la vita e bella - buona compleanna a me!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

New debuts

Well, it's the Paris rentrée, a time for transforming vacation energy into new projects, new ideas, new life. And this September, special pizazz is guaranteed.

Great news, but keep it hush-hush: Yves Riquet is sneaking his speakeasy into the revered, if recently sullied, sanctum of the Slow Club this fall! Live swing music every Monday and Tuesday night, with vintage 1920s cocktails and high-calibre rye whisky. Best, Yves has got saxophonist Marc Laferrière and friends to reprise their 15-year gig (1957-1972) as the Slow Club's house band. For a preview, check out the excellent disk, "Marc Laferrière au Slow Club" or, better yet, "Jubilé", featuring his favourites, including Sidney Bechet's classic Petite Fleur, to a jazzed up Disney theme, Heigh Ho Heigh Ho.

Crossroads for me, too - how much time should I commit to this jazz adventure? Shall I cut back to a half-time bureaucrat and expand on life's fun: write articles for cash, teach more fitness, do some personal training, organise events, become a speakeasy groupie? Or shall I rather retreat into the OECD sludge of bureaucratic security with the blessings of retirement pension and paid sick leave, sign a contract for full-time handcuffs?

Ditto on the romantic scene: am I just not made for a full-time long-term commitment? Why does putting up with a man's idiosyncracies seem just as sludgy? Would the smart woman simply bite the bullet and settle with Meetic Man?

Double-digit birthday coming up, and I still identify as a Libran looking for balance and meaning. Guess this calls for a weekend of serious reflection on the beach at Cap d'Agde. Heigh ho!