Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Le Jardin de Flici

There is a moment, just after I step out of the subway passage and just before I dive down into the metro, that I pass a flower shop, or fleuriste as the French would have it. It is an oddly designed shop. There are flowers in buckets all around it at platform level, but to complete your purchase, you have to climb some steps and present your flowers to the shop assistant. Of course, these flowers are not cheap. You feel like a sacrificial beast rising onto the podium, the lifeblood of your wallet about to be spilled into the cash register.

Normally, 'Le Jardin de Flici' is not much frequented. The odd customer now and then. But tonight, being St. Valentine's, it was mobbed. It seemed they had even brought on extra staff to cope. These were moving among the crowd, trying to help with that tricky decision making (twelve roses in a bow or a dozen roses in ribbon?) and clear the way for further sales. Probably around fifty customers, all of them men, were surging around the shop, fighting their way up the steps to get to the cash till, all just to prove their love under the most difficult circumstances possible. It looked some primordial competion for survival.

Wandering into Paris too see a poetry event at the Highlander, I noted everywhere young lovers hugging, dashing beaus calling their belles on their mobiles to let them know they had not forgotten they were expected home for a romantic dinner (as if we didn't know what they were chuckling about...) There's no denying that the French take romance seriously, as Durex's recent global sex survey attests (the French came out on top.) Even the poetry event had a romantic theme, which seemed to express itself in the fact that two out of three of the poets even burst out in song. Now there's passion.

When it was over, I made my way back home, calling in at a little Turkish deli in the Latin Quarter near Place St Michel which sells baclava, pistachio-wrapped marzipan balls, almond cracknel and turkish delight. I picked out about six different specialities and they put them in a box for me. I know how to keep my lady happy. By midnight, they were all gone.

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