Thursday, November 23, 2017


You know it's bad when you are the minds of two secondary characters in the novel that you are writing, and you are having a conversation between themselves. In a nice café in Paris, relatively early in the day, over rolls and steaming coffee. A late French breakfast: bread substances, freshly baked. With butter and preserves. A pouring vessel filled with hot milk to add to the black liquid. Plates, napkins, utensils, and a big glass ashtray.
Sun slanting in, everything bright and clean.
April or May, no rain.

The first thing is that I don't actually like those two characters, and secondly, I am not writing any novel. And I felt resentful that they were being lazy and I had to do their dialogue.

A dream just before waking.

I don't know them.

Now that I am awake I am trying to recall their faces, but can't quite see the details. One of them looks like Simenon with a turtle neck, the other resembles Charles Bronson (Charles Dennis Buchinsky).

Breakfast, from Southern Belgium all the way through France, most of Switzerland and Austria, and much of everywhere else that is Francophone or German, consists of rolls baked that morning, which you break open to add butter and jam. Washed down by hot strong coffee with warm milk.
And, back when people weren't so neurotic, cigarettes.

The Dutch usually sliced off a few pieces of bread and topped these with cheese or apple stroop, and seldom heated the milk.

I have never been a breakfast person.
Just give me the hot caffeine.
And a newspaper.

Things that are rare at breakfast nowadays: freshly baked rolls or bread at breakfast, newspapers, cigarettes, and conversation. Also large glass ashtrays. You seldom see those anymore.

I'll have to leave the house for the first pipe of the day. She's home today, so smoking is NOT permitted. Or possible. If I ever switch apartment mates, it may have to be a sailor or a drug addict.

All this clean modern living is killing me.

Even cafés are smoke-free.

At a hotel in England once I had to go enjoy my pipe out beyond the run down coach house, out of sight of the clean people on the terrace. It took forceful diplomacy to get them to allow me to take my cup of tea with me, and it started to rain while I was in that Siberia. An elderly gentleman joined me in the narrow shelter provided by an overhang.
He too had a pipe, but no tea cup.
We smoked in silence.

The ashtrays in the library were purely decorative.
Signs near each of them said "no smoking".
A creeping American effect.

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