Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Tram inspectors and absinthe

I love the tram. It's so romantic, especially the old ones. All narrow and rattly, much nicer than the Paris metro or the Underground (no armpit breath in tunnels) and more fun than buses. And then there's that special standing place at the back where you can lean on the rail and look out of the back window and see the world you've just left behind you...
(or the queue of furious gesticulating drivers stuck behind the bloody tram again)

The other day I was quietly sitting on the number 14 (keeping an eye out for old ladies with umbrellas, mercilessly enforcing the Polish custom of giving up your seat to someone more deserving), when a couple of burly worker-type guys with very short hair indeed got on and sat down several rows in front of us. Must be lunch break at the steelworks, I thought.
We juddered on another couple of stops and then all of a sudden the two men hopped up from their seats, donned special backstage-pass-type police ID and kicked off an impromtu ticket inspection!
Now I thought the RATP were scary (and I've only been fined once on the Paris RER), but at least they wear uniforms and badges and hunt in packs. The whole idea of plain-clothes ticket inspectors is somehow very subversive. I wonder why we don't have this in Britain. There is so much scope for it. You could have a plain-clothes waitress to name and shame non-tippers. Or plain-clothes dog walkers handing out pooper scooper bags. Even a special air-purity inspector to check for covert farting in lifts and on the tube. Who would ever suspect them?!

I had my first absinthe the other day, to celebrate finding somewhere to live. There is a marvellous bar round the corner where they serve it with a blazing lump of sugar balanced over the glass. It's very dramatic.
It's also over sixty per cent proof and not a very clever idea on a school night.

Good news: I found a copy of the Whole Count of Monte Cristo (in English) in a language teaching bookshop. Let the swashbuckling recommence...

1 comment:

The Dad said...

Foreign parts always seem so much more exciting than home. Against stories of trams, skinhead ticket inspectors and 60% proof absinthe, the daily domestic grind can seem so - banal. Who can get excited about the fact that the spaniel our correspondent is travelling without pulled another leg off her (the dog's that is) favourite fluffy cow, or that it squeaked for the first time in a long time when I kicked it (the fluffy cow that is, not the dog). Or that said fluffy cow is now nestled in amongst the bluebells in the garden - looking rather cute it must be admitted. Or the fact that the gentlemen at the Gentlemens' lunch a few days ago seem to stoop lower and lower every time we meet. Or that diet CocaCola appears to have only 1.5 cals (but maybe I misread the can).
One of the more upright of the gentlemen at the lunch did observe that Krakow is like Prague used to be before the tourists found it. I mean no offence to those who live in Prague, but I rather hope that our visit to Krakow as tourists in June will not presage the beginning of the end for a beautiful city. If you want to see it before it gets ruined by tourists, visit it before the middle of June. On second thoughts, better not because you will then be tourists with all that implies for the future of the city.