Numéro 37 Du 05/03 au 18/03/14

QCM - QUESTION DE CRISES MULTIPLES

  • 37- Quotibien

Ces questions pièges que les femmes ne peuvent s’empêcher de poser…

En tête de liste, on hésite entre «ça me grossit pas trop ?» tandis que la femme montre son dernier achat vestimentaire à son amoureux ou «Tu la trouves jolie?» tandis qu’ils découvrent la dernière petite amie aux allures de bombe du meilleur copain. Dans les deux cas, l’homme est foutu. S’il répond «non», elle lui reprochera son manque de franchise par peur de la blesser ou pour avoir la paix. S’il répond «oui», que dire…

Au moins, la question est fermée. Deux options de réponses… Et si parfois, ces questions peuvent faire naître un grand moment de solitude comme avec «J’ai les mêmes jambes qu’elle ?» quand il ne sait pas si ces jambes en question sont censées être un modèle à copier ou à éviter, il a une chance sur deux de, peut-être, s’en sortir avec un mot de trois lettres.

Ce n’est pas comme ses fameuses «Tu ne remarques rien ?» qui obligent l’homme, avec anxiété, à scanner sa bien-aimée de la tête aux pieds dans l’espoir de trouver, dans les dixièmes de secondes qui suivent, ce qu’il faut remarquer. Nouvelles chaussures ? Nouvelle coiffure ? Biiip ! Il s’agissait de la nouvelle paire de boucles d’oreille dont, pourtant, elle n’a pas arrêté de parler depuis des semaines. Si seulement il écoutait un peu ce qu’elle lui racontait…

Malgré tout, il y a des courageux. De ceux qui tentent, pensant suggérer une flatterie ou une coquinerie, des «Tu ne veux pas mettre ta petite robe à fleurs pour la soirée ?», faisant fi d’un retour violent du genre «Pourquoi ? T’as peur que je ne sois pas assez distinguée sinon ?» ou «Dis tout de suite que je ne sais pas m’habiller ?» ou encore «T’aimes pas la petite noire ? Moi qui croyais qu’elle m’allait bien… ». Il y a les innocents. Ceux qui croient encore que dire «Elle est pas mal la coupe de Florence Foresti» ne signifie pas immédiatement «Ça veut dire quoi ? Que je devrais essayer ? J’ai une coiffure de m… ! C’est ça ?». 

Enfin, il y a les téméraires : «Tu veux vraiment sortir comme ça ?»…  À moins que ce soit des inconscients. Ou des moqueurs. Non seulement pour la faire sortir comme ça, mais surtout la faire courir…

Bianca Alberti
 
Numéro 36 Du 19/02 au 04/03/13

FREEFALLING

  • 36- Quotichien

Skiing is fun, the smell of raclette, wood fires, holidays, and that’s all good. But we tend to forget the total pain it can be most of the time. We must truly suffer from collective amnesia to want to go back every year. Especially in long-distance skiing.

To start with, when renting equipment, the ski-rental guy asks the million dollar question: what do you weigh? So we dutifully answer under our breath that we’re not sure, giving a ballpark figure that is often way too vague. The horror! Once you get up on the slopes, dressed from head to toe in good intentions (and a jumpsuit of course, but we’ll get back to it) and if we’ve underestimated our weight the skis will stick to the snow. If the snow is fresh, even on a steep slope we have to use our batons (good for the biceps through). If you overestimated your weight, you’ll slide fast, way too fast, and end up head over skis that your “friends” in front will immediately photograph and upload to some social network. 

The slopes for long distance skiing are interminable so a break is called for during the day. Out of breath, bent over in pain, dying of starvation, you produce your sandwich which is as flat as your energy levels. Not even a glass of mulled wine to console you before heading back out, not easy!

Next comes the loo break. Once you finally make it back out of the toilets after a run-in with your jumpsuit, you realise that your friends (note to self: get new ones), haven’t bothered to wait. You get to a crossroads, it’s snowing so hard you don’t know where you’re going. In short, you’re lost. You start to swear to yourself that you will NEVER ski again, even under pain of death, if you make it down alive.

Just then you fall over, turn your head a little and spot miniscule rabbit paw prints in the snow. The beauty of nature, the purity of such immaculate whiteness, and especially the silence, that’s why you go back every year.
So you get up with the aid of your fighting spirit and get back on track, with a huge smile.

Chloé Danglard

 

Numéro 35 Du 05/02 au 18/02/13

BLUE VALENTINE

  • 35- Quotichien

The present is bought. The place, OK. The guy we have. This year, St. Valentine ’s Day should go like clockwork. But, from the get go you get the unpleasant impression that yet again, the day is not going to go to plan.

The alarm doesn’t go off. You slip on your new ballet pumps because you know you’ll be running. The heels will have to wait. Here you go, chasing against the clock for the 9:24 RER. The ballet pumps are too big, the hair too free, the look a bit too “just out of bed”, but you keep going, head high. You can see the train, you jump into the nearest door just as the buzzer is ringing… and lose your right shoe in the process. The doors close. S%#t! Once you sit down, you decide to send a photo of your feet to your love, looking for moral support: “Happy Valentine’s Day, mine will be barefoot in the park… it’s a long story…” Then you get a message from your boss “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that as an excuse to go buy new shoes!” Of course, you sent the message to the wrong person. S%#t! Again! 

Just then you come to the realisation that, in your precipitation, you got on the wrong train… But it’s no reason to get down: this Valentine’s Day won’t finish like last year where your man, thinking it was a good idea, decided to go all out: massage, candles, romantic music, champagne... A few minutes later the bed caught fire… Not like the previous year either when most of the ingredients for the planned dinner stayed in the supermarket trolley… 

You finally get to the office, you spot a beautiful bouquet of roses in front of your computer. Your heart leaps, you send off a rapid text message to your man, to the right person this time, then you rush into your meeting. The answer: “I wish they were from me, but they’re not.” S%#t! Number three. 

“Having said that, enjoy them because I just left your gift behind me in the cab…” In the end, tonight will be a quiet date night in with no fuss, but together, at least. What else?

C.D

 

Numéro 34 Du 22/01 au 04/02/2014

GRAVITY ISSUES

  • 34- Quotichien

8h30. You’re late for work, you press desperately on the lift button. It’s been stuck on seven for three minutes… When it stops on your floor, your neighbour’s new lover is already in there. Of course he is. Thinking it’s ok to monopolise the lift for one last kiss… You get in, the door closes making the silence feel abnormal. It’s weird feeling uneasy and not talking! But you won’t force yourself for this stranger. You keep that for your neighbours. Neighbours you are thrilled to chat with over a drink but with whom you exchange banalities going up or down a few floors. It has to be said, the one time you attempted a subject more interesting than the weather, your companion slipped out the door the second it opened leaving you in the middle of a sentence... Was he in such a hurry that he was afraid you’d go on too long? Since then you have been racked with doubt, no knowing what attitude to take the next time you meet him.

Deep in your thoughts, you finally get to the office. Luckily for you, you are not the only one with punctuality issues. Unluckily for you, everyone else is trying to make up for it. So a herd of ten people squeeze into a space made for seven. The smarter ones will tell you it’s a question of maximum weight… But does everyone then have to admit their weight? You can always refuse to get in to avoid over-packing but you took too long to decide. You should have gone for the “physical exercise” option straight away. Your second of uncertainty could be taken for disdain…

The day goes by, and it’s time for home. But your building’s lift is out of order. What a pain! Suddenly M. Forgeois appears. The same guy who walked out on your conversation the other day… “Oh, what were you saying the other day, it sounded interesting but I had to fly…” Reassuring. Until you realise you will have to talk all the way up the five flights. Anyone up for a remake of “Breathless”?

B.A.

 

Numéro 33 Du 08/01 au 21/01/14

CALL IN SICK!

  • 33- Quotichien

Imaginary invalids have not gone away. They are even quite gifted at varying the drama!

Obviously, we always have the hypochondriac. But he no longer surrounds himself with doctors to have an ailment diagnosed or treated. No, he imagines them all by himself as soon as a new illness comes to light. The tiniest little spot becomes the sign of a serious infection. Above all, he loves to surf the net to come to his own conclusions, see terrifying photos and imagine the worst…

A variant: the “true-false” sick people. To begin with, those who exaggerate everything. Men mostly. It’s a well-known fact. A slight shiver and they are on their death bed. Wrapped in a dressing gown, under the quilt, the deathly voice, the eyes half-closed, the slightly forced cough… Even asking for the remote control becomes a trial. 

Having said that, they are no worse than those, mostly women who always have an issue: from their back to their ear to their toe… With them you are sure to revise your anatomy and all the risks it runs! Did you know that the nerve located in between the third and fourth vertebra can get stuck all by itself? Without you actually moving? They are firm believers.

On the opposite end of the scale there are the “been-there, done thats”. They are fine but they’ve “already had” high fevers, sore throats, vomiting bugs… And it was “such a nightmare” that their bathroom looks like a chemist shop. When you are in their house, you have nothing to worry about. No matter what you come down with, they have the remedy.

Finally, there are those who never take care of themselves. Terrible… In comparison, the most authentic but the toughest too. They prefer to wait. Wait until they get better spontaneously and see how things pan out instead of swallowing a pile of junk. Pain is in the mind? Now that’s sick!

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 32 Du 24/12/13 au 08/01/2013

WITNESS OF DESIRE

  • 32- Quotichien

And in everyday life, what are our desires and wishes? Answers on a postcard…

“Sometimes, I wish I was the pretty woman I see in the street. With the playful air of someone who is really happy with themselves, who attracts looks from everywhere and seems bothered by nothing…” Caroline, 42.
This happens to us to… But to begin with, why don’t we straighten our shoulders and hold our heads high for a change?  Because that look suits nobody and it doesn’t help to walk any faster!

“I wish I could take all my kids and grandkids on holiday to Tuscany for a week.” Jeff, 68.
How kind! How sweet… And once you get there, some sleep in so the day-trip is delayed, stuff is left lying around everywhere… Family!

“I’m dying to make some progress in dance! After six months I seem to be at the same level!”. Sabine, 27.
And you still only go once a month?

“I would love to be able to afford designer dresses for my wife so she would be even more beautiful and feel like a princess …” Antoine, 54.
You aren’t scared she will take this for a hint that she doesn’t always dress that well? You know women…

“I wish Eric would fall in love with me…” Nina, 15.
Last week, didn’t you say the same about Remi?

“I wish I was still allowed to drive!” Janine, 88.
But do you know where you want to go?

“I wish people would speak more kindly to me.” Albin, 67.
But do you give them a chance?

“If I won Miss France, I would wish for world peace!” Véronique, 40.
You can try without becoming Miss France, we’re not sure any of them have succeeded, or even tried! 

M.V.

 

Numéro 31 Du 11/12 au 24/12/2013

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FUN

  • 31- Quotibien

No, seriously, you can’t do that to him! He was clear: video games or pocket money. But then, while you were out Christmas shopping, you found yourself in an area where your nephew has never ventured: the board-games aisle. And at the risk of appearing cheesy, you can’t resist buying him a Pictionary. Come on, at least it’s not Scrabble …

You have to admit, you were overcome with memories… That time when you tried to draw the ears of Mickey Mouse and someone shouted “Prince Charles!” Hilarity ensued! You can still see yourself as a teenager, unwillingly accepting to play snakes and ladders. But then the shocking low scores your uncle managed, while you flew ahead, the tears of laughter from your grandmother who exuded pure happiness, the excitement, the jokes, made you change your mind… 

When you were younger the game was Monopoly. You went bust quickly and ended up as the banker. You liked handling the notes. However, you never imagined that the brother you adored could be such a cheat. How often did he take advantage of your idolatry to get you to pass him money under the table!

You also remember the Boggle evenings with your parents, your brother – him again – and your sister… In the beginning, you could only manage three-letter words that the older players let you have as they were searching for longer ones. And then that fateful day when you found “smartest” all by yourself. You couldn’t believe it! As for the joy and pride in your parent’s eyes…

Then you smile when you remember what a sore loser your cousin was at Connect 4, the resignation of your other cousin who never “had any luck” at Mousetrap... You are overcome with nostalgia thinking about Operation or Cluedo. Admit it, the Pictionary is really for you, not your nephew!

M.V.

* To play, letters must touch themselves and can't be used twice for the same word. Good luck!

 
Numéro 30 Du 27/11 au 10/12/13

MY TAILLE IS RICH!

  • 30- Quotichien

When you are ugly, the teasing can get ugly! When you are small, well the reaction of others is… small-minded! Whether or not it is deliberate, some attitudes remind you how many centimetres you are missing…

We’ll just do a quick rundown of the classics: the packed metro where a woman turns her head and sends her hair flying into your eyes; trying on clothes when they are so long the word “Lilliputian” springs to mind…
What about the newer events? The simple ‘bise’, so Parisian, when you need to greet someone who smiles at you but doesn’t budge. So you have to get on tip-toe like a kid. The only other is to reach up and shake their hand!

While the solution is possible in this case, another more annoying trends is becoming common. Supermarket shelving policy that puts products that don’t sell that well at eye level in order to tempt the clients when the products that you really need are on the high shelves. Horrible… the regular sugar is inaccessible while the icing sugar is within reach. You can try to climb but having already tested the fragile base of the shelf, it is a better idea to ask for help from a taller client trying your best to phrase it so they don’t think you are flirting. Whew!

The very sugar you need to make a cake for your friend’s house-warming party. Her designer furniture is just incredible! You sit down to dinner and then… you find your chin hitting the table. Physically and morally. Have you noticed how the seats of chairs are lower and lower? Most likely to make things easier for people who are getting bigger. You wonder if you can drink someone under the table, but you’re already under the table… 

Having said that, you have learned to take this with a sense of humour, telling yourself that life is full of surprises. Above all, you also know how to count your blessings. Don’t we say “good things come in small packages?”

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 29 Du 13/11 au 27/11/13

WRONG PLACE!

  • 29- Quotibien

Legendary concert halls that make your eyes sparkle with the mere idea of going there! From the Opéra Garnier to the Olympia in Paris, not to mention the Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon, the Opéra de Marseille of the Trianon in Bordeaux… The halls are part of the show. Until… 

Of course, the first impressions are enchanting! Here, the huge neon sign announcing the show, the photos of all the stars who have tread the boards in the past, the long corridors; then, the marble staircase, mouldings and gold leaf, chandeliers; the old door, the boxes with rounded railings… One imagines the arrival of characters which in the past excited the public… You see yourself near the end of the 19th century, between the elegance of the Second Empire and the buzz of the first music halls. Happiness reigns… Then the hostess brings you to your place and things fall apart… 

One part of the sublime décor you could do without is the pillar. An old pillar that is an integral part of the place, but unfortunately located right in front of you which forces you to shift like windscreen wipers to see the actors move on the stage… Not to mention that your seat is in an angle of the hall that hides half the stage as it is! And not to mention the extremely slight slope that can never compensate for growth differences. When you measure 1m65 at the ripe old age of forty, you have no chance of competing with the 16 year-old in front of you who already measures 1m80… Your only option is to fold your overcoat discreetly and sit on it. Having said that, after about an hour you will be glad you did, the overcoat will have protected your derrière from the cold, hard seat. Your neighbours have to twist and turn constantly trying to find a comfortable position…

Despite all of this, you refuse to criticise the charm of the location. So you make do, reminding yourself that you are sitting inside a piece of history. However, the camera plonked right in front of you to film the show is the last straw. Should you complain? You don’t want to steal the limelight by making a scene, in the middle of the stalls!

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 28 Du 30/10 au 12/11/13

READY, STEADY, GO!

  • 28- Quotichien

It can be amusing to realise how notions of time or space can still be rather relative. As an experiment, nothing beats a Chronopost package!
In theory, a letter inside France arrives the next day before 1 pm (on condition that it is not posted too late the evening before, or on a Saturday, or coming up to a bank holiday). And a letter sent from or to another country takes about four working days to arrive. Sometimes this is exact. Sometimes. Anyone feel like a game of “Catch me if you can”? 

There is the classic version where the package just doesn’t get there on time. You stayed home all morning? Pity, start over tomorrow. Even plan for day three! Delivery within 24 hours must not mean “in one block” but “working hours”.
Annoying ? Not as much as the time you left the house after 1 pm, checked the post and found… a “Could not deliver” notification in your post-box! The “Chronopost” delivery person did come by but didn’t get as far as ringing your bell. 
Infuriating? Not as bad as having to pick up your package… from a neighbour you don’t know. Or that you know but wish you didn’t. Whew!
Irritating ? Not as bad as the time when, after losing all hope – even a notification -, you checked tracking on the internet. And, surprise, surprise. Not only was a delivery attempt made, but now your parcel awaits you at the post office. Except, of course when you go to collect, your parcel is not there. It’s in another post office, or worse, in a sorting centre in a neighbouring town… When you ask if it can be transferred, the postal worker looks a little guilty and says “it would be better to go in person, it’s much safer”.
Disconcerting ? Nothing like the time your package stayed in the sorting centre for 24 hours without ever venturing near your house before being returned to the sender… abroad. Not exotic enough otherwise. In theory, you have ten days to pick it up…

And despite all of this, Chronopost won the “E-commerce Award 201” for its interactive delivery. Surely some mistake? The virtual delivery award more like. 

M.V.

Ndlr : a range of real-life accounts of deliveries to be handed over in person.

 

Numéro 27 Du 16/10 au 29/10/13

CONFERENCE FOR CONFERENCE

  • 27- Quotibien 2

The Acharnœur has been online for a year now… A whole year of sharing our observations, our crushes, our annoyances, our discoveries with you… A challenge with each issue. Chosen moments.

First, let’s talk about the editorial meeting where we outline the contents. The young and the old gather around the table. From twenty to sixty, diversity is not an issue! But then again… we reflect our readership perfectly. Because you are, for the most part, aged between 24 and 65. What a gap! We are indeed proud of our range! In a little more detail, you are, according to certain statistics, 59.7% women and 37.5% men. We know, that doesn’t add up to 100% and some of you don’t seem to be complete. You are inimitable. Which doesn’t mean we haven’t copied you in the gender stakes: the team is well mixed and totally doesn’t respect parity!

The differences lead to some interesting clashes. Everyone shows up with their own ideas and determination. Talking, simmering… Often sulking… The rule? It must surprise or touch the majority of us. While certain subjects such as defending smokers or the French flag seem absolute winners straight away, the debates can go on and on for other articles: should we hit out at Louboutins in issue number one? We express a certain political fed-up-ness? Yes, but how? We are already up to here… 

The team then meet up for a reading. This time, a phrase, a word, a comma can lead to long conversations. We are committed and we will remain committed! But this meeting is one the editorial team particularly enjoys. Teasing and jokes replace the heated arguments. Finally the photographers, iconographers, artistic director and translator take over until we go to press. 

But there you go… In three hundred and sixty-five days, that makes two hundred and twenty articles, twenty-seven photo galleries, fifty four briefs and eleven postcards, read by our readers who are 90% French, as many in Paris as around the country, shared over 10 000 times with friends and taken up as subjects by other news outlets… So, let’s get back to work!

M.V.

 

Numéro 26 2/10 au 15/10/13

FOOT IN MOUTH

  • 26- Quotichien

I’ll have the risotto, but without rice please”. It’s funny how the French think it’s acceptable to make the craziest requests in restaurants –the one cited above is absolutely true! 
We are renowned for our gastronomy as much as for our tricky characters, and around a table, both are revealed. Are we too sure of our culinary exception or is there a programming fault?

Imagine… While you are enjoying your aperitif, a couple sits down at the next table. But only for a few seconds! After having disturbed everyone to get to the table –shifting chairs, moving bags, etc…– they don’t like the location: too draughty, to close to the toilets, too many waiters passing by… Musical chairs is a common pastime!

Then along comes the menu. The table of five to your left are still examining it in detail. Some appreciate it while others are already worrying about the size of the bill. Hurray for fixed price menus! Of course not counting the picky one who wakes up at the end of the table. The one that wants the set menu but with one of the à la carte options or another side dish… You can see the white hairs growing on the waiter’s head in real time.

The plates arrive at the table across from you and you can already see the grimaces on the clients’ faces. Too sweet, too salty, not cooked enough, tough as a boot, too spicy… 

Having said that, let’s get back to our own table… After three carafes of water, two bread baskets, butter, it is time to settle the bill. And to take out our calculators. And yes, believe it or not, after twenty years, the Muriel Robin bill-paying sketch is still relevant. Let’s be honest… We are unbelievable!

Having dealt with all of our eyebrow-raising requests, the waiter should ask for a Xanax with the tip!

Mégane Seure

 

Numéro 25 Du 18/09 au 01/10/13

CLOSE YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU’RE TALKING!

  • 25- Quotichien

What a joy it is to talk to someone! On condition that you manage to avoid unpleasant physical or behavioural habits. A few tableaux to perhaps reassure the timid or the taciturn…

To begin with, it’s not enough to just open your mouth to be brilliant. You also need to know when to close it. Like with the “Me me me” syndrome of the person who thinks their life and opinion on any subject should monopolise the conversation. If you don’t manage to stop them straight away you will have to listen to detailed anecdotes of no interest for hours… How can this be avoided? By saying: “Yes, and then what?” When asked with a smile and without being mean, your over-talkative companion will understand that they have perhaps “gone on a little” despite the fact that you were hanging on his or her every word. He or she will then shorten their story a little, giving you a chance to take back control of the conversation on the rebound.

Having said that, this excess of verbal enthusiasm is nothing compared to having to face someone with bad breath. However captivating the subject matter, staying concentrated and continuing to listen requires a superhuman effort. What a pity! But a little box of Tic Tacs will always come in handy. Placed discreetly on the table, it is sure to tempt the talker. If this doesn’t work, you can always take one and offer them as a polite gesture… People rarely refuse and you are given a little respite to continue the conversation.

Of course, in another style, there’s the spitter. While you can joke about it with loved ones, things are more complicated when it’s your boss. Act like nothing’s going on? Often, this fools no one. It’s better to take a few steps back. Or put your elbows on the table and your head in your hands. A little protection from the spray… A paltry solution…

Silence? A tad complicated if you want to create an ambience between friends. All the more so as others have a hard time taking it. Like in a lift. If only we could talk about something besides the weather. The meteorologist is not known for keeping his word!

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 24 04/09 au 17/09/13

LITTLE BOX OF HORRORS

  • 24- Quotichien

It’s probably a good thing that the postman now comes a little later. It means our mood isn’t ruined for the day. You have to admit: checking one’s post has become a decidedly unpleasant experience!

It could even be termed “post box anxiety”. No more news from friends, surprises like a long-lost Uncle Sam … (obviously not a regular occurrence, but we lived in hope). Today, the postman only brings bills, official letters that are rarely good news, junk mail, advertising brochures that fill the bin… The invasion is such that you sometimes need to double check that an important letter isn’t hidden in between two catalogues before throwing them out. And then there is the famous black plastic… Unmissable… You can’t pick it up without worrying if the taxman has a bad surprise in store… In September, finding out the amount due is always harrowing. But so is the declaration in May and the payment of local taxes in December… One for every season! Finally, every now and again a neighbour’s letter is slipped into your box by accident. Of course, you open it by mistake and read a few lines before you realize that the order for high-protein diet supplements isn’t for you. Then you have to decide how to get the letter back to its rightful owner… Hand it over in person while trying to explain the mistake to your unimpressed and doubting neighbor? Sliding the already opened envelope into the right box, thus leading to an atmosphere of general paranoia in the building or neighbourhood?

There’s always the resistance option… Boycotting the post on a Friday altogether for example. At least it saves the weekend in case there is a “bombshell” that you can’t deal with until Monday anyway. Or, start writing to your friends in the hopes that they will write back! Apparently, last summer, no less than 300 million postcards were sent… Maybe all is not lost! 

Bianca Alberti


Numéro 23 04/09 au 17/09/13

TIME LAPSE

  • 13- Quotibien

Issue 13 from 03/04 to 16/04/13

We all have at least one friend who is always late, whether they live twenty metres away or twenty kilometres. The trend seems to be getting worse and is transforming our dinner parties, without us really noticing. A little non-exhaustive tour of the different types of latecomer, just to get to know our friends a little better :

- The «well-mannered»; the only person who knows that it is good manners to arrive fifteen minutes after the stated time just in case the hostess has got the zip on her Zara dress stuck…
- The «snob»; basically he is doing you a huge favour by even showing up so it is perfectly normal that you wait for him like the Messiah with the red carpet (average lateness 1 ½ to 2 hours, and when he gets there he sulks as he sees everyone having a great time without him)
- The «you’ll never believe what happened»; the expert in the last minute cock-up: the babysitter took off to Acapulco with the jewellery, the youngest broke three teeth just when they were walking out the door (average lateness 2 hours, unless they don’t actually manage to make it and end up messing your seating plan with two tragic gaps.)
- The «stubborn»; despite repeated warnings on the impossibility of finding a parking space in your neighbourhood, he still comes in the car, calls from down stairs proudly to say : «See, I’m on time ! I’m just downstairs, I’ll park and be right up» (average lateness between ¾ and 1 ¼ hours, blaming you for living in such a lousy neighbourhood, pretends not to smell the persistent smell of burnt turkey that you, trusting soul that you are have already put in the oven.)
- The «not sure of himself»; he wrecks your night and his by staying downstairs waiting until everyone gets there so he can arrive «free and clear». As a result he totally misses the vibe and ends up slumped on the couch all night.

Finally, there is the «common or garden» latecomer who is never more than half an hour later, arrives with a smile, an apology and a bunch of flowers, reconciling us with all the other troublemakers who will never change anyway !

Stéphanie Norris

 

Numéro 22 Du 07/08 au 20/08/13

DEAR LEAK…

  • 22- Quotichien

You waited until I was 500km away to show up. You always know how to choose your moments. Thanks to you, my neighbour and I are now on excellent terms. All that for a washer…

Elido

Numéro 21 Du 24/07 au 5/08/13

GERMANY: MUM’S THE WORD!

  • 21- Quotibien

Nietzsche may have invented the myth of the superman, but Germany has invented that of the super mother! Blonde, muscled calves, traditional costume and huge breasts (the Big Bertha myth comes from here! A real bombshell!).

But seriously, being a mother in Germany is to truly be a “Mother Courage”! Children are neither kings nor tyrants, but they do take over. Conversations, actions, time… it must be said that bringing up children remains the “duty” of the mother in Germany. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer or engineer, you are expected to take parental leave of at least three years (per child) and swap the power suits and heels for an apron and clogs. And when the time comes to go back to the office, the race is on! As it is out of the question not to be home by lunchtime to take care of the kids after school. Those who fail to do so are referred to disparagingly as “Rabenmutter” or “Raven-mothers” which we might translate in plain old English as bad mothers. 

The average German woman is terrified of being dubbed a Rabenmutter. So without playing the victim, she starts knitting, painting, building, telling stories, making play-dough sausages, learning Latin, catechism, and onion soup all over again. Her living room becomes a playroom, her kitchen a canteen and her bed a trampoline while the term babysitter is foreign and only exists in dictionaries. 

It’s simple, kids are only happy inside the family circle. But it is true that the results are there: Germans in general are not good-for-nothing, everyone knows. They are well brought-up, well educated, cultivated, tidy, talented musicians and sports-people, precise, disciplined, and so on… To cut a long story short, they are naturally arrogant but extremely effective.

As a result, between the Germanic ideal and the reality of modern Germany, women have yet to find their balance and tend to go one way or the other: either they give up their job and career or they don’t have any kids. The thought of putting their children in a crèche breaks their hearts. Having said that, this is a good thing, there are no crèches, or not enough.

Céline Koller

 

Numéro 20 10/07 au 23/07/13

GIGANTIC !

  • 20- Quotichien

The show happens during the summer in the hypermarkets of France! When «protected» Parisians arrive with wide eyes at the start of every holiday. The locals can find it amusing.

It is true that in comparison with Monop’, Carrefour City and other neighbourhood supermarkets, the big Auchans, Leclercs and Carrefours are quite impressive. To begin with, the trolley is size XXL. The neophyte can be spotted immediately through their driving: gliding to the left, then to the right, trying to stay on track. Bumper cars for some, veritable chicken dance for others…

Once inside it’s pure ecstasy. Despite the cold from the extreme air conditioning for those in mini shorts and backless tops, while the locals are well covered. Parisians find themselves in sections of the store they would never have expected: haberdashery, home improvements… They’ve been meaning to buy a tube of grout for the bathroom. And that toaster is a real bargain… And suddenly the trolley fills up with stuff destined for the suitcases going back to Paris and not the kitchen cupboards of the summer rental. 

The tour goes on to the DVDs on promotion, the ready-to-wear section for more bargains... Next thing, they’ve been in the store an hour and still haven’t reached the food. It’s time! Unfortunately, there is no map of the store like in a theme park. Newcomers spend their time looking up for signs, blocking the alleyways… And once they get to the ice-cream aisle, they can’t move, the choice is so vast it’s like being in a toy shop!

Finally it is time to go to the checkout. The XXL trolley is full to the brim of useless stuff! Another trip will be needed soon, but a good tourist learns their lesson. Next time, a whole morning won’t be wasted buying rubbish! Before coming back, they will have probably tested all the price comparison sites. 

M.V.

 

Numéro 19 du 26/06 au 9/07/13

LORD OF THE GNATS

  • 19- Quotidien

So. Like every year at this time we have to put up with an invasion. Of fruit flies! They are small, don’t sting but still seem to be able to get our attention or ruin our lives… 

You’re in the middle of a meeting with your boss? The gnat joins your talk and starts to hover. He comes and goes, inexorably drawing away your attention. His flight path is strangely hypnotic… The problem gets worse when your boss gets distracted. Then the clapping starts in an attempt to catch it. With a little luck you manage, then you need to dispose of the body. And there you are, having to do the dirty work…

With friends, things don’t get any better. Especially at the table. Nice food, good wine, great conversation… Then here he comes again trying to nibble on whatever you’re having. You remain surprisingly calm to protect your plate. But you can’t possibly let him touch your friend’s plate. A well-meaning but poorly controlled swipe gets your neighbour’s glass instead, and his shirt…

What about at home? As long as you don’t leave out any nice fruit in the hopes of enjoying it a room temperature… Kiss the juicy taste of apricots goodbye. If you don’t keep them in the fridge, the fruit flies will get them. As for the melon/Parma ham starter, if you leave it on the table for five minutes you would think someone had over-zealously «peppered» them in the meantime.

A curse! Except perhaps when they are in a group and form a cloud… On holiday at the water’s edge. Suddenly you feel a storm, or twilight approaching, when the sun is about to disappear and the temperature drops a little. A light, a smell, an image of summer happiness that you subconsciously carry around. But don’t stay open-mouthed, you might swallow some!

B.A.
 
 
Numéro 18 Du 12 au 25 juin 2013

EASY TO OPEN

  • 18- Quotibien

7 a.m., time to get up. A quick shower to get the day started. And why not try the invigorating shower gel you got as a sample ? Ow ! Should have thought of that first. They are impossible to open with wet hands. And there is no little indentation to help you. Ah well, you can always use your teeth. Ow again ! Just a little nick on the gum. Bad luck…

A mug of coffee then? Or a cup using the capsules you just discovered at the supermarket. With nice black packaging that you try to tear open but the stuff is strong. A moment of doubt. Then you finally locate the little «open» arrow but you are keyed up enough at this stage. Your caffeine boost will have to wait until after lunch.

So, what’s on the menu for lunch? A wrapped sandwich and a homemade salad in a Tupperware box. The sandwich packet boasts « easy opening », you just have to pull the plastic at the corner. But the corner comes off and the cellophane stays well stuck on to the package. Well, you have a salad as a fall back, but why is it so hard to open? Dumb freshness system… You yank with all your might. The tub flies out of your hands scattering the salad all over the ground.

In an attempt to resist the bad vibes, you throw an impromptu pre-dinner drinks party. You’re already looking forward to the foie gras on toast. You get out the sealed jar with its rubber tongue. Good, God ! They couldn’t have made it a little smaller while they were at it ? OK, you can leave that job to your mates. Here they come. Why not put on your latest CD as background music ? More cellophane wrapping to deal with, you just know this will take three hours. «Here, let me !» : everyone has their own technique… Well, cheers everyone ! Hang on, I’m just going out for a quick smoke to calm my nerves. Strangely, there is never any problem opening a cigarette packet…

M.V.
 
Numéro 17 29/05 au 12/06

IN THE NET OF ROLAND-GARROS

  • 17- quotibien

Flashback; somewhere between the end of May and the beginning of June, you are totally stressed out because you should be revising for your exams. But all you can do is watch the French Open.

A leaden sun shines on the Central Court, not the slightest breeze, a real summer feeling. Nelson Monfort, the sports commentator has, as per, gotten sunburnt on the nose : he hasn’t changed since you were a child, the same Lacoste tee-shirt and the same beginner’s English.

The players at the time, except for John McEnroe, were disciplined enough not to make too much noise so you could have a little nap after Sunday lunch. So you dozed off to the sound of the comforting to and fro of tennis balls, like a perfectly timed metronome. Sometimes you glanced up at the umpire, just to check the score, and you could be 100% sure that the Sunday night movie wasn’t going to be delayed due to the match.

But that was before, when matches lasted four hours, tops. Unfortunately, today the unreliable weather during the tournament messes with your timetable ; a match interrupted for two hours and restarted at 20H15 means you can’t go to Gaby’s housewarming. Even worse, the final ends Monday so you pretend to have food poisoning to watch the end the next day. The problem is, three people in the office gave the same excuse, you better hope your boss is a Djokovic fan.

And, today, celebrities don’t come anymore to hide their fish-belly white complexions. They head off to St. Tropez a little earlier. Luckily we still have the fascinating sight of the spectators in the crowd, all hypnotised by the little yellow ball, like hares in headlights. We are no better, mouth open, totally absorbed by these unbelievable exchanges, screaming with fear, not daring to look at the screen when the tension is at its worst. It’s better than a thriller, it must be why we go back every year !

Stéphanie Norris

 

Numéro 16 15/05 au 28/05 /13

CHECKED!

  • 16- Quotichien

Comfortably ensconced in your couch, your taste buds are awoken by the advert for Yopla’s latest chocolate mousse. It looks creamy, the perfect consistency, and you envy the beautiful housewife who is enjoying it on your TV screen, so you decide to buy some at your corner store the next day. Right up until the threatening slogan flashes up and drags you from your cocoon of well-being: «Dans votre intérêt, ne mangez ni trop sucré, ni trop gras» (Avoid eating too much sugar or fat). 

Of course! How could we forget the warning that comes with every act, like so many others? But all the same you sigh knowing that tomorrow you will go straight for the diet range, choosing insipid, 0% yoghurts that taste like plaster. But seriously, isn’t aspartame and a total lack of fat just as bad? The radio is no better, constantly guilt-tripping you with condescending messages reminding you that for your dear health, that you obviously are neglecting, you need «to do regular exercise».

So one wonders also at what point we became our children’s children. As our little ones are conditioned since infancy by these adverts and by over-zealous teachers to reprimand you if they catch you sneaking a cigarette in the cellar (the last place you thought they’d find you). You give in when they stick their anti-smoking presentation for which they got 10 out of 10 under your nose, respect. 

As a result, you worry about their marks for their fruit and vegetable presentation. As you are pretty sure that your offspring will point out that it’s your fault that they are well below their five a day, a mission you have always found impossible to fulfil! So you are already planning the future cookbook that you will need to defend yourself to your kids. While all the while looking for somewhere to defend your free will. The attic perhaps?

S.N.

 

Numéro 15 01/05 au 14/05

DECIBEL OVERDOSE

  • 15- Quotichien

Who hasn't dreamt of living in a quiet cocoon where everyone respects the golden rule of silence? Unfortunately, our neighbours don't seem to be on board as their number one rule appears to be maximum decibels...

Monday morning, eyes still swollen from a bad night's sleep, you bump into Madame Michaud in great form. Of course she is, she's deaf as a post. In general, her day begins at six thirty with the radio as loud as it will go, following that with morning television, and as she doesn't go to bed until after the last news bulletin... And you have to live on the same floor!

Not in the mood for conversation, you come across Roger at the bus stop, your downstairs neighbour, your Sunday nightmare. He tells you about his trip to the DIY store on Saturday. You don't actually need to listen, you already know all there is to know about his new drill, screwdriver or sander. Like every Sunday, you "heard" everything especially at nap time. You might say, it's no worse than the Duponts on the 3rd floor who have decided that Pierre, their son, is a piano virtuoso and that practice makes perfect, seven days a week. In the meantime you have thrown all of your classical CDs into the bin.

The smart one is Richard, the single party boy. He understood early on that in order to have a little peace, you had to invite the whole building to the party, but the novelty wore off when he averaged 345 bashes annually…

On the way back from the office you meet Xavier who doesn't work Mondays. He has a restaurant and doesn't get in until one thirty in the morning. You liked him well enough until he bought himself a Harley Davidson that he parks downstairs. He even gets up at 4am to go to the central market at Rungis. You used to think Harleys were great.

So the minute the weekend arrives you take refuge at any opportunity at a friend's place in the country to recharge. Of course you hadn't taken into account the fact that the neighbouring cocks were suffering from jetlag (so that they crow at 2am and at 4 pm) and the dog suffering from depression. Roll on Sunday night!

S.N.

 

Numéro 14 17/04 au 30/05

METRO BOULOT DODO

  • 14- quotichien

It’s so limiting to reduce the Paris metro to rush hour and bad smells! Because in recent times it is much more, much worse… Between unsuitable modernisation and obsolete equipment, the most everyday trip becomes a nightmare. 

First of all, the new automatic doors on the platforms of certain lines. In theory they are there to protect us. Except on the driver-less lines where they don’t always take the amount of passengers into account. Especially when the carriage contains something unexpected like a school tour with fifty kids, all ready to rush in before the buzzer has gone off. And as the doors really hurt, you don’t want to go up against them. 

Another door issue. When passing through the barriers, the turnstile and door do not work together. They are often not very well «oiled». Everyone, at one time or another, has had to try to avoid getting stuck in the barrier with a leg, bag strap or jacket still stuck in the turnstile! And the low point is reached when one takes the metro with a large piece of luggage. It’s as if in Paris one was expected to travel light. Ask an agent to open the door (yet another one!) on the side that is there for such an occasion? And these entrances are always at the bottom of a stairs, and never near a ticket office… And while we’re on the subject of stairs… Of course, there are escalators and lifts. Just not everywhere. Not yet anyway. And not always working. The tourist who decides on picturesque Montmartre for his mini-break will have fond memories of his «climb» up the 104 steps at «Abesses» station.

In any case, in order to experience all of these events, one must have a «pass». A Navigo that hasn’t been deactivated, or a ticket bought from a machine that requires a master’s in engineering to understand…  And as for getting out ? We hope your shoulders are solid. The last door, of course, is the hardest. They are often blocked and you really find out what it’s like to «hit a brick wall». If your clavicle hasn’t become dislocated…

Marie Veyrier

 

Numéro 13 03/04 au 16/04/13

TIME LAPSE

  • 13- Quotibien

We all have at least one friend who is always late, whether they live twenty metres away or twenty kilometres. The trend seems to be getting worse and is transforming our dinner parties, without us really noticing. A little non-exhaustive tour of the different types of latecomer, just to get to know our friends a little better :

- The «well-mannered»; the only person who knows that it is good manners to arrive fifteen minutes after the stated time just in case the hostess has got the zip on her Zara
dress stuck…
- The «snob»; basically he is doing you a huge favour by even showing up so it is perfectly normal that you wait for him like the Messiah with the red carpet (average lateness 1 ½ to 2 hours, and when he gets there he sulks as he sees everyone having a great time without him)
- The «you’ll never believe what happened»; the expert in the last minute cock-up: the babysitter took off to Acapulco with the jewellery, the youngest broke three teeth just when they were walking out the door (average lateness 2 hours, unless they don’t actually manage to make it and end up messing your seating plan with two tragic gaps.)
- The «stubborn»; despite repeated warnings on the impossibility of finding a parking space in your neighbourhood, he still comes in the car, calls from down stairs proudly to say : «See, I’m on time ! I’m just downstairs, I’ll park and be right up» (average lateness between ¾ and 1 ¼ hours, blaming you for living in such a lousy neighbourhood, pretends not to smell the persistent smell of burnt turkey that you, trusting soul that you are have already put in the oven.)
- The «not sure of himself»; he wrecks your night and his by staying downstairs waiting until everyone gets there so he can arrive «free and clear». As a result he totally misses the vibe and ends up slumped on the couch all night.

Finally, there is the «common or garden» latecomer who is never more than half an hour later, arrives with a smile, an apology and a bunch of flowers, reconciling us with all the other troublemakers who will never change anyway !

Stéphanie Norris

 

Numéro 12 20/03 au 01/04/13

FOOLS RUSH IN !

  • 12- Quotibien

April 1st. A strange day that each year comes to tease our everyday life. Some people are completely transformed. Into clowns, daring jokers, paranoid sulkers, mistrustful grumps, or good sports…

For kids, the adventure is huge. Managing to stick a fish on their friends’ backs without getting caught. The most fun? Adult victims. Especially teachers… Of course, no bad language on the fish, we are not here to mock. Teenagers prefer to avoid the fun altogether, it’s for babies. And the jokes are so lame ! But when they reach adulthood, their inner children seem to wake up !

So, try to track down the lies. First of all in the media. Everyone is looking out for and talking about the April fool’s articles and reports. Then there are friends and family. The only thing to remember is, go big or go home! A «What are you doing here ? Your grandmother is waiting at the station ! Don’t tell me you forgot to pick her up ?» is so effective that the victim is already out the door to look for said elderly relative. 
Then the game begins. One side waiting for the jokes while the others attempt to come up with the craziest schemes. 

However, there are a few basic rules that need to be followed: no fake good news that could send the recipient into a downward spiral when they hear the truth. Not fake bad news that could cause an adrenalin rush that is hard to come down from. Don’t persevere or make the joke drag out in case you don’t get the chance to say «April Fool !» in time and the victim is already at the station looking for his granny. What a day !

This said, some collateral damage is inevitable. Colleagues who don’t take your promotion seriously, those who treat everything they hear with suspicion… And those who think the most serious news is a joke : «No, seriously honey, I dented the car…». Happy April Fool’s day !

M.V.

 

Numéro 11 06/03 au 19/03/13

THE INFERNAL TOWER

  • 11- Quotichien

La Défense. Europe’s premier business district with two million visitors each year. Well, good luck to them…

In general, you are lost the second you leave the metro. Between «Esplanade de la Défense» and «La Défense» on line 1, the newcomer tends to get off at «Esplanade» thinking understandably that this is where to find the towers. Wrong! However, at «La Défense», you are still not sure of getting where you want to go. It all depends on what district within the district you need. Degrés or Valmy district, Arche Sud area ? Coupole-Regnault or Faubourg de l'Arche district, Arche Nord area? Just a little sample… You really need to check with your rendezvous what station to get off at. And, should the answer be « La Défense », you need to know, the metro or the station ? Same name, not same place… 

You then need to find the exit. Signs are few and far between. You move forward, with no sense of certainty… After five long minutes walking with no signage, you start to think you have made a mistake. So you retrace your footsteps, going down the wrong way or taking an ill-advised shortcut. Bad move ! You find yourself at a crossroads with no markings, you go up or down a set of stairs that lead you to… an empty space or a car park. The security guy will be apologetic but unhelpful due to the lack of street names or clear numbering. But you do have walkways and a ring road… That you will follow, hoping to finally get somewhere. From the biggest business district, you are now in the middle of No man’s land. The real, the sad, the despairing… Thinking of using your phone gps? There are so many bridges, tunnels, levels that it even gets lost, unable to pinpoint where you went wrong.

Well, don’t worry. Perseverance and miles of courage pay off in the end. You get where you want to go, late, but forgiven with a smile and a much-needed glass of water. Despite everything, you made it, your rite of passage is over…

B.A.

Numéro 10 20/02 au 5/03/13

NO FIXED DATE OF BIRTH

  • 10- Quotibien

There is no February 29th this year. So that means no birthday for those born on the last day of this «quadrennial» month? Unlikely! Even for those who defy time and want to retain an Olympic form be declaring their age to be twenty when they are eighty… 

So what do they do when its not a leap year? 

The hardest thing is choosing the «replacement» date: before or after the day that has temporarily dropped of the calendar? Before is the 28th of February and some are wary of celebrating the day before in case it brings bad luck. So they go for March 1st, the following day. But the problem is it isn’t even February anymore! And some refuse to change months. There are only so many upsets one can take! The cleverest ones have found the best solution and a way of making the fun last: they celebrate their birthday on February 28th and on March 1st: «a two-day birthday!». Enough to make everyone else jealous! Having said that, its doesn’t mean twice as many presents …

What about actually changing your date of birth? Impossible! Even though certain rare doctors turn a blind eye when filling out the forms, the 29th of February is what goes down in most maternity hospitals when making the declaration. There can be no cheating, even to try to avoid this comedy!

But relax; apart from the date issue, those born on February 29th are rarely traumatised. Even though one psychoanalyst reported a child having developmental issues due to the fact that his birthday only appeared every four years, for the most part they are proud of their particularity! They stand out from other and it makes them a little «exceptional». They have «something extra», a little narcissistic boost straight out of the cradle. But above all, they are able to say «they don’t look their age».  February 29th, an elixir of youth?

Bruno Lancelot

  

Numéro 9 06/02 au 19/02/13

WINTER WALTZ!

  • 09- Quotichien

The winter break in France begins on February 16th. And for those heading off to ski, the packing headache begins ! It must be said that packing for a ski break constitutes an exercise in geometrical virtuosity. Or a complete pain in the neck, according to your skills ! On the one hand the ski gear, the sweaters, the polo-necks, the snow-boots. On the other, the still empty luggage. One glance is enough to see that there is a slight problem… So, add more bags ? Impossible ! In the boot or the train you are bound to come up against another Tetris-like problem if you give in.

Luckily, techniques develop over the years, thanks to advice. The first rule is stick to the minimum. Not always easy when a change of clothes is essential due to excessive perspiration through physical effort or soaked clothes due to unplanned falls. So the «going out» clothes are the first to be jettisoned. Winter breaks mean polar fleece. Anyway, stilettos in a ski resort are asking for trouble. 

Next comes the precise packing order. At the bottom of the case, the bulky things like ski suits and trousers. They have the advantage of being stuffed so that the more they are squashed, the «smaller» they get. So then you stuff in as many jumpers, sweatshirts and tee-shirts as possible… Finishing up with socks, boxers and underwear that fit happily into the empty spaces. A work of art ! The debate about folding as opposed to rolling rages on. Some go for the latter that helps to fit the shape of the bag better. You just need to have time to try both methods…

Whatever happens, it won’t all fit. So the travelling outfit should include the most items possible, regardless of the weather. At least three layers on top, jacket not included. And on the feet, the bulkiest footwear ! The Michelin man look is in this season ! 

What about surfboards and skis ? Bravo to those brave enough to bring their own. But otherwise a big THANK YOU to the rental shops in the resorts!

M.V.
 
 
Numéro 8 Du 23/01 au 05/02/13

FLIPPING MARVELLOUS!

  • 08- Quotibien

Feel like an evening that involves a «team effort» ? Perfect! February 2nd is the «Chandeleur» when the French eat pancakes. One day when everyone wants to make the batter, all the better for the kitchen, frying pans, sticky hands and musical chairs! Among other things…

It begins with the recipe. Nothing easier ? Not so fast, there’s the «well» you have to make in the flour for the eggs and the milk that has to be added slowly while you beat. If it goes in too fast it splashes everywhere and the flour flies around the kitchen… Too slowly and you’re sure to get lumps. 

Then comes the cooking. The first one is always a song and dance. It inevitably sticks to the pan and ends up looking like… nothing, so into the bin ! It always takes a few tries before the heat and the amount is just right to avoid making them too thick or too thin!

Then the fun starts. Everyone has their own way of filling pancakes and the person slaving over the hot stove has to work hard to keep up with the demand. There is always an empty chair at the table, that of the cook. Some keep going with the savoury when others are already on the sweet. Everything gets sticky, between melted cheese, sugar, jam…

But time flies when you’re having fun! And anything goes. Children are allowed to cook, the tradition says that the pancake is flipped by the right hand while holding a piece of gold in the left, promising prosperity all year round if the pancake lands well, the pancake that sticks to the ceiling, the one that lands on the floor, the constant movement around the table, the fat and carb-laden ingredients needed, the excitement, the laughter… No kids ? Whatever ! Find your inner one this February 2nd !

M.V.

 
 
Numéro 7 09 au 22/01/13

STRESS ATTITUDE

  • 07- Quotibien 2

Even though every season magazines bring out special editions on our daily stress levels with questionnaires and solutions as to how to deal with them, nothing works. Having said that, recommending that we «take some time off for ourselves» when there isn’t enough time in the day for work, kids, friends, shopping, cooking, they are not very realistic. The only solution: live with it ! With plenty of humour of course…

Stress is good as it prevents us from sleeping. And that’s how you get a little «me» time. Rather than fighting insomnia, you finally get to read the books people have been recommending for months, watch DVDs of films you missed when they were in the cinema, get into knitting – especially as you bought the wool and the needles ages ago -, painting or any other activity that you’ve been dying to try to reveal another facet… So stress brings out your sleeping, underlying passions.

Stress is good because it affects the appetite. The best diet ever. Without even realising it, the pounds fall off ! Well, not so much as stress can also make you eat. Well, let’s try to use it positively by finally bringing some variation to our diets by eating our five a day, seeing as how we never actually managed to fit them into our meals !

Stress prevents concentration and can create memory problems. Seriously, this might not be all bad. You have a ready-made excuse : «Sorry I missed your birthday but at the moment my head is all over the place…».

Finally and above all, stress leads to confusion in the brain. In the case of excitement, pain or orgasm, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus secrete endorphins. Among other things. The neurotransmitter is the one that creates a feeling of well-being. Have you never noticed that sometimes the physical manifestations are the same whether you are feeling stressed or happy? In the first instance you say you have «a pain in the stomach», in the second, you say you have «butterflies in the stomach».

So it’s a simple question of perception, between mood and humour.

M.V.

 
Numéro 6 26/12/12 au 08/01/13

LUNAR DAY

  • 06- quotichien

 Well. After sweating to find all the presents, you then had to tackle the fateful moment of the unwrapping. Getting all the toys, robots, board games out of their boxes and setting them up, regardless of what state the previous night’s meal left you in.

The bravest began by setting up the pirate ships or princess castles. Two hours, no more, no less, to check that all of the screws delivered in batches of fifteen and three sizes were all there, to find the instructions for the instructions, to attempt to connect all the recalcitrant pieces… transforming the living room into a battleground for those adventurous enough to walk through in their socks.
The smart ones chose the games with batteries, noticing that you’re always missing one. Despite their relief at managing to avoid the high pitched sirens of the police car, the noise of from the electronic piano or the light sabre, they quickly head off in search of the missing AAAA, R06 or RC14S, according to the manufacturer’s nomenclature, to put an end to the incessant tears and whining. Remote controls, cameras, radios : all plundered for a few minutes peace…
The traditional ones put in the time and effort to manage to get enough participants around the table, keep them concentrated long enough to explain the always complex rules involving pawns, cards, dice, egg timers, when all they really wanted to do was take a nap.

But isn’t that just what Christmas is all about ? You don’t want to get off the ship or out of the castle, wanting to stick the stickers on ourselves. You’re still playing Darth Vador and the Jedi with the grown-ups. You don’t notice the time going as there’s always «just one more game»… What about the kids? They’ve figured out that lending is the easiest option. But while you’re waiting to get your inner adult back, they are quietly playing with the ipad you got but haven’t managed to figure out yet. Adventure for all! 

M.V.

 

Numéro 5 12/12 au 25/12/12

HYGIENE ISSUES

  • 05- Quotichien

When choosing a cafe or a restaurant, the criteria are simple: the menu, the decor, the welcome, and the prices. So it goes. We have a tendency to forget one, which while it might be secondary is no less significant: the toilets. Here, we have no intention of going into the use of the location but we aim to enable everyone access a clean and pleasant place. 

Let’s start with the lighting. Most probably to keep energy costs down, owners are putting in timers on the lights. Why not. The problem is, the thirty-second time-frame is pretty tight. And it’s not easy to flap your arms around to try and get the lights back on. Then we have the toilet seat issue. Between paper covers you put on yourself, the ones that change automatically by pressing a button or DIY disinfectant, there are enough solutions available to make the place welcoming. Nevertheless, many establishments ignore the issue altogether.

As for toilet paper holders, some times there isn’t one. The lovely roll is on the floor, exposed to shoe prints and other urinary incidences. Irresistible. Then we come to hand-washing. When the only option is freezing water, it’s ideal. Not to mention that once your hands are well wet, you notice that the soap dispenser is empty and the hand dryer is out of order. Of course, in these conditions a nice-smelling candle or a hook to hang up your bag would be too much to ask.

The saddest thing of all is the certainty that these examples are familiar to everyone. And the standing of the place has nothing to do with it. We’ve all experienced unspeakable situations in the chicest of locations. And the opposite. But really what we are dealing with here is the management’s lack of care and consideration. In one instant, the client is brought back to the vicissitudes of everyday life. You wanted a break, welcome to the sewer!

B.A.

Numéro 4 28/11 au 11/12/12

DROPPINGS!

  • 04- Quotichien

Do pigeons, who love each other tenderly as la Fontaine might say, need to love us so much that they invade our space? Let’s be clear, we mean urban pigeons, not carrier pigeons that deserted the army at the end of the last World War. Please, no more invasions from gangs of Columbidae in big cities where they have become dirty scoundrels.

We’ve been trying to get rid of them for years. But the more we try, the more they resist. And the faster we run, the closer they get. They seem to be infinitely adaptable. No more grain? Whatever. They transformed themselves into «urban dumpsters», cleaning up after the street markets and swooping in on our leftovers. So pigeons now have the same diet as we do. Try to scare them? Ridiculous. Even when children play at scaring them, they move a few metres away, but stay in the game. Stuck like glue! They even cross the road at the same time as us. You’re having a drink on a terrace? They land above you like an Airbus, on a branch or a gutter and you fear the worst… As for their excretions… A little greenish sculpture that is impossible to clean until it dries, despite its corrosiveness. It’s name in French? Fiente. Even that is repulsive. Droppings, dung, even crap sounds better. 

No seriously, we don’t like these «flying rats» anymore. We only like them in a casserole, especially in a pastilla. Of course, we don’t mind the odd old woman feeding them for the tourists, they look good on postcards. And we can’t even imagine St Mark’s Square in Venice or our own Montmartre without their aerial choreography. Dilemma. Not to mention that the pigeon is man’s closest bird. We would have preferred a white dove, the one that inspired Picasso, the one we admire, the one that represents peace…on earth.

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 3 14/11 au 27/11/12

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

  • 03- Quotibien

It surprising the amount of people who declare: «Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day!». Anyone would think they are extras in the Ricoré advert from 1982, «le soleil vient de se lever, encore une belle journée…», with the beautifully set table out in the countryside.  But, seriously, the chances of recreating this idealised situation are slim when it’s still dark, when it’s cold or raining ; when you’re late, stressed or out of sorts… That is to say, pretty often if we are honest. So what makes the moment so special?

In Anglo-Saxon cultures, the breakfast or «Frühstück» table is laden down with food – a way of stocking up on calories to start the day well. Breakfast time is without a doubt a time to be enjoyed, sometimes as an advance consolation, a parenthesis before heading into the difficulties of the day. Often it can be an energy-collecting mission that gets one’s thoughts in order. Everything combines to set the right mood: the smells lift the spirits starting with that of coffee perfuming with lightness even when one isn’t a coffee drinker or the smell of toast that appeals straight to our stomachs… We only eat things we like, as if we were spoilt children. Everything is sweet.

The problem is, in reality, breakfast is a mere fantasy as it is often short-lived and doesn’t spread out before us like butter on toast. How many family scenes have we witnessed with a highly string mother frantically applying foundation in front of the mirror while screaming at her kids to «Hurry up, we’re going to be late!».

But nevertheless, breakfast remains of the utmost importance and is seen as comforting. Whatever the circumstances. We all drink something, even if we don’t eat! A cup of tea or coffee, a glass of juice. The morning drink is our magic potion, our elixir for daily strength and happiness. Roll on tomorrow morning!

Bruno Lancelot

 

Numéro 2 31/10 au 13/11

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM

  • 02- Quotichien

«Sweet dreams» is what we usually say to people on their way to bed. Why «sweet» ? Because the not sweet ones are nightmares and you wouldn’t wish them on anyone. As for dreams, without an adjective before them, they are not always better. In fact, they can ruin everything. Make you get out of the bed on the wrong side, literally and psychologically. The image is a little strange but it explains why there are some mornings when you feel like you haven’t actually slept a wink. Why is that ? We are told that the conscious mind releases everything it has recorded over the previous few days and the subconscious releases everything it has recorded over the previous few years. Even just writing it all down tires us out. 

So we end up with stories that are hard to work out. Sketches we have trouble decoding. Maze-like intrigues. But these ones have no way out, just different paths with their own adventures. Things link up without necessarily meaning anything, but we try to make sense of them nonetheless. That’s why the mind works so hard while it should be sleeping. Not only does it construct this fantastic scenario, it then tries to understand it. Exhausting. 

All of a sudden, logic takes control again. Your eyes open in the middle of the night. Between two worlds. Should we start exactly where we left off to try to work it out? Or should we sweep the whole thing out of our mind and start over? Move on to something else… Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide. We head straight back into another entanglement because our conscious/subconscious hasn’t quite finished. But this time, there is a new variant to add to the confusion: noise from outside. Birdsong, jackhammer, telephones… Even the ring from your alarm clock can join in! It blends into the tableau and the last scene becomes an incoherent muddle. It’s enough to make you happy to get back to reality. To make you happy with your own reality? Happy with your own reality? What a dream !

B.A.


Numéro 1 17/10 au 30/10

LITTLE BOXES

  • 01-Quotichien

Ah, Paris. Its glorious architecture, slate rooftops, street lamps… But Paris is tiny, space is at a premium and we often have to make ourselves paper-thin to fit. 

Sometimes the reasons are merely practical. This is often the case for lifts that have been installed in tiny spaces that were never meant for the purpose. In order to provide inhabitants with the utmost comfort, the width of the stairs is narrowed and cleverly designed if slightly utopian cages are slid into the space. In theory, two people can fit in a space that is 80cm x 47 cm. The problem comes when they both have winter coats, bags of shopping, or even just handbags. Things turn into a game of Tetris, or even Twister. 

Very often, and naturally so, the reasons for the squash and squeeze are economic. You only need to go to a restaurant to understand the whole profit and loss aspect. One couple having a romantic meal on a pretty round Parisian bistro table is tight enough. But when they put a square plank on the next table to seat four people, things get very neighbourly. Strangely, it works, it must be that old Parisian magic.

A last example? Private car-parks. Some drivers don’t even try to get past, the corners are too tight. Or, three cars are expected to fit where there is really only room for two. There seems to be a tacit agreement between drivers to stagger their parking so they can get their doors open. The passengers just sit tight until the end of manoeuvres and the concrete pillars count the points.

Part of the Capital’s inherent charm? For our provincial or foreign friends, it’s more of a joke. A scene from a comedy with the Parisians as the actors or victims? Sardines for sure!

M.V.