There seems to be no privacy from the glaring eye of the moon. It’s Friday, half past six and I’m sitting by the lake in the Parc De La Tete D’Or. This morning I was in my classroom at half past seven staring at the moon rising in the East above Fourvière. What a sight. It even came up in my early morning class with Monsieur Petit as I explained the difference between the definite and indefinite article . ‘The Moon – not a moon’. He seemed to get the point and we moved on.
I come here in the evening at the moment not because I’m a werewolf, but because of the ice. During the day the sun softens it and in the evening it freezes. ‘Boooo-oooppp. Booooo-neee. Noooyyyy,’ it squeals as it expands. A leviathan lurks beneath. Fissures appear at the perimeter, the ice sheet fracturing as it pushes up against the concrete banks of the lake. Mist rolls in from the nearby Rhone creating a dreamscape in which only me and the ducks on the island in the middle of the lake inhabit. It’s pretty special yet I seem to be the only person here.
Tempering it’s called. I learnt this at the chocolate factory. That shiny brittleness chocolate has, is created by slowly heating it up and cooling it down over and over again. When you bite into it you get that ‘Ukk’ noise. If the ice broke I wonder, would it sound the same.
The signs all around the lake read NE MARCHE PAS SUR LA GLACE so I start thinking about trying to walk to the island. I could if I wanted to, it’s been minus 5 for two weeks, but do I dare. Despite the cold the police are still whizzing around in their Citroens waiting to tell me off again. ‘Ah, L’Anglais, didn’t we catch you drinking beer in the park in the summer. Oh dear Monsieur, drinking beer and walking on the ice. That’s the death penalty for you m’laddo.’
Even though I want to go to the island and know this is my only opportunity, I’m not brave enough. Just the thought of slipping under the ice makes me quake. Drowning and death by air crash. It’s good to combat fear. But fear and risk are totally different concepts. Being scared to go into a restaurant is one thing, frantically scratching away under thick ice looking for a way out as your breath expires, is another. Call me a pussy, but I just don’t fancy it.
The moon is still glaring at me from above. Following my moves no doubt. Frowning, as I flick the lid of a beer. ‘It’s only my second,’ I scream at the bright globe in the sky. ‘It’s Friday. I’m single. What else am I meant to do?’
If I was a Muslim, I could go to seven o’clock prayers at the mosque across from where I live; if I was Jewish, I could look forward to the Sabbath; if I was Catholic, I could wear a crucifix and thank God I’m alive. But I’m not, I’m Phil Ogley, so I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got.
Once the monster under the ice ceases making noises, I head up to Croix Rousse for a stroll along the Boulevard with the party goers. Then I’ll have a beer in a secret bar I know. The moon will have gone by then and I can relax and let the night take its course.