This morning on the streets of Lille I was asked three times for money by three different men. They asked politely. I gave the first man a handful of centimes, all that I had left after buying my godson a bouncy ball. He said he was from Bulgaria. I had to say no to the other two men because I had no change left. My six-year-old godson, who was with me, witnessed all this. Later, when we had returned to the apartment and were playing with the bouncy ball in one of the back bedrooms, his 17 year old brother came in with a friend. “Tata Juliet,” he said, “Would you happen to have five or ten euros?”
I burst out laughing. “You’re the fourth male who has asked me for money this morning. What’s going on? Are the words “ask me for a handout” written on my forehead?”
Today, Sunday, was a heatwave all over France, 35 degrees Celsius (95F). We headed out this morning to the Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Museum) in the center of town. The interior spaces were lovely and cool, a perfect place for lingering. In France, all national museums offer free admittance on the first Sunday of every month.
We lingered over a glass of chilled apple juice at the bar. Then Soso lingered over a movie while I browsed in the adjoining gift shop. Then we went out into the searing heat and headed over to our favorite park and the Gare Saint Sauveur for lunch.
Yesterday (Saturday) was hot but tempered by a cool breeze. Two important events were taking place in towns and cities all over the country: the giant June sales, and the World Cup soccer match. You can imagine which event preoccupied my thoughts: the giant June sales, of course.
But as I meandered the streets of the Old Town popping in and out of shops, the sound of cheering crowds spilling out of bars caught my attention. Big TV screens had been installed, inside and out, and large crowds had gathered. It was 5:30 pm and the exuberance of the fans was contagious.
“Who’s playing?” I asked a group of fans. Ten heads looked at me as if I were stark raving mad, an alien from another planet. “France vs. Argentina,” was the reply. I hung around, took some photos, watched the match for ten minutes on the big screen then left. I wanted to get to Zara Home before it closed. 50% off on all items. I bought a gorgeous wool and mohair throw blanket, a Portuguese cotton bathroom rug, and some porcelain doorknobs for my new white Ikea wardrobe.
Oh, France won the soccer match 4 to 3.
More to come, but I must dash because Giant with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson (1956) is coming on the TV in 5 minutes.