This week has been a possible death knell for large parts of the hospitality industry in France and the UK, as both governments lash out new ‘measures’ to prevent the increased spreading of COVID 19. When I head the news on Monday that BJ had announced the shutting of pubs at 10pm, I knew it was inevitable that France should follow suit. Not only because in both countries the number of new cases are rising, but also because of that old rivalry with perfidious Albion:
“Eh bien, if Angleterre are closing their pubs at 10pm, well, we shall close them at 9.59pm!” a little Macron might have said.
This is not to mention another body blow to the bars in Paris that happens in September: after the excesses of summer, I like to stop drinking in the 9th month. And so despite the letters I receive from the Calvados Lobbies, the Joint Association of Brewers and the Venerable Vintners Club, I maintain a state of sobriety for 30 days. In effect, I become a water-drinking poet. I won’t bore you with the benefits of how much energy I have, the confidence in reminding myself that I’m not an alcoholic after all, or the fact that I can spend more money on culture outings. But know that it’s great and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
People across France (both metropolitan and outre-mer) are justifiably outraged at the measures announced by the government this week. Guadeloupe and Marseilles have been classed ‘zones maximales’ which means that their bars have to be shut completely. Many are angry with the government, who seem to be acting without much consultation and introducing crippling protocols without much warning. Elsewhere, people are exasperated by wearing masks out in public, but being able to take them off once inside (or outside) a place of consumption, as well as other minute paradoxes of protection. And, of course, this erratic, or pragmatic, style of governance will only be fuel to the conspiracists’ fire.
I, however, have my own personal reasons to be annoyed at the closing of bars in Paris at 10pm. First of all, next Thursday 1st October, is when I will allow myself to unwind with an ice cold. I was so much looking forward to it because it coincides with my first pantomime class of the new year (Oh yes it does!), which finishes at 9pm. It takes me one hour to get back into Paris. You do the maths. I will walk into a bar just as it is closing. Looks like I’ll have to tremble through one. more. day…
The second reason is that this week the weather has turned and it is rain, rain and more rain. This comes after a fabulous (though unseasonable) September, which was perfect for a petit apéro en terrasse. But no. Once again, my dower Protestant mindset has deprived me of corporeal gratification and has puritanically espoused the benefits of sobriety. And I just have to look forward to a dreary October glass of wine, and hopefully avoiding any knife attacks near Bastille.
Really, what was I thinking? It might appear that this month, of all months, was not the one to stop drinking in.