Montpellier II


My 7 o’clock alarm call wakes me at 0645. Close enough. The sun is bright and promises a scorcher of a day.

After breakfast I saunter the mile and a half to Dell. I must be the only person in Montpellier wearing a suit. I keep getting curious stares from other road users. I arrive at 0815. I like Eric, my contact, but I know he will not be there until 0900, and the likelihood of him having set up the classroom is remote. Montpellier, where ca va meets manana. While I sit in reception I watch the employees arrive. They seem to be about 50% women (that is, 50% of the employees appear to be 100% women). They are without exception impossibly thin and depressingly young. Oh, if only I was 20 years younger.

Well, to be honest, if I was 20 years younger, I still wouldn’t have a chance, but an old man can dream, can’t he?

Eric greets me at 0900 and shows me the classroom. There will be 1 pc per two delegates, and, surprise, he is still setting up the machines, but all will be OK by 0930. He has to leave for England today, and so he won’t see me for the rest of the week, but bon chance.

Later on I discover that the Windows 2000 servers in the domain are in fact Windows XP in a workgroup, none of the set up on the trainer’s machine has been done, and the class cannot therefore install SQL 2000 Enterprise. But they aren’t too worried. C’est la vie. By the afternoon session I have cobbled a solution together. The day seems to go OK. One of the guys is a manager. He liked my intro to RDBMSs. Could I put together a document containing my first hour? Wednesday will be fine.

So what with setting up tomorrow’s class and writing the best part of the intro it is almost 1800 when I leave. The hotel has a small outdoor pool. Bliss. It is pleasantly cold without extracting swearwords from blue lips. A few circuits of the pool and a 10 minute lounge and I am ready for the evening.

Last night I had noticed a group of Chinese restaurants off of the Place de Comedie. Bob’s rules of eating out. Don’t eat at a restaurant on a tourist thoroughfare. They can serve crap food and not worry about repeat business. Where a group of similar restaurants exist, competition will be hot. The exception to this is Won Ki’s, in London’s Chinatown. People go there just to see American tourists get wound up by the lack of service.

I settle on a Vietnamese restaurant. I explain to the waiter that I have never eaten Vietnamese, and that my French was not too good. What would he recommend? The food that arrived was gorgeous, washed down by Chinese beer. At the end of the meal he poured a gratis shot of a Schnapps-like liquer. I had barely drunk half the glass before he had topped it up. The bill please. After I had settled he poured a fresh shot for me. I wonder how long that might have gone on?

Afterwards I am full, chilled out and in that wonderful state when you are nowhere near drunk, but the edge of sobriety has just been knocked off enough that you feel in touch with creation. The Place de Comedie has an odd busker band: banjo, steel drum and skiffle bass (You know, plastic bin, broom and length of rope). An unexpectedly good combination. Off of the Place there is a long boulevard, cafes one side, park the other, which leads to a sudden drop that affords long views over the valley. Then back down Antigone, a pedestrian precint that looks like Ancient Greece a la Hollywood. Beautiful in the rosy evening light. There is another open air salsa lesson going on in the same square as last night

But it is a long walk, and my sandalled feet complain. Near the end I have 300 metres to go in one direction to my hotel, or 300 metres in another lead to the Australian bar. Andy had told me it was the law to go to the Australian bar if you were in Montpellier, so I decide to stop off for a quicky.

My ‘G’day, mate!’ is greeted with a ‘Bon soir, monsieur.’ I guess Strine in a French Ozzie bar is as common as Italian in a Pizza Hut. I have a pint of Beamish (anything rather than Fosters). Despite Monday being Foreign Night the only other foreigners I hear are 2 girls and a boy just into their 20’s. They’re English. I envy them their youth. I wish I had done the grande tour when I was their age. On the other hand, I have seen Michael Jackson when he was black, I bought a house when houses were cheap and endowment mortgages returned more than the cost of the loan, and I could have had sex when the greatest fear could be cured with a course of penecillin. (I could have. I chose not to. But I could have. Lots of times. Honest.)

On the way back to the hotel a cafe has moved all the chairs to one side and there is, yes, a salsa lesson going on. If I was thin, had a partner and had any sense of rhythm or grace, I could be tempted.


About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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