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Sunday, 20 January 2013

A family business

Saturday, January 20th., 3 rue d'Aumale, Paris.

After having dined with Raphael on Thursday night, I called at the bureau de tabac opposite the Opera under the Grand Hotel to buy cigars and cigarettes. The patronne, a stoutish powdered agreeable woman of 50 or so was in charge, with a young girl, apparently her daughter. There is also a patron; quite a family affair. "J'aime beaucoup mes clients," said the patronne, and one could see that she did love not only her regular clients but the whole business. I told her that I called in nearly every night to buy a Mexican cigar, and yet she had not recognised me. "That's because I am not here at the time you call," she said, which was true. "But I'll come down earlier to see you. I shall know you in future." There was a charming air of intimateness about the whole place, despite its extremely central position and fluctuating cosmopolitan clientele, and this air I noticed for the first time.
I also noticed for the first time the immense variety of stock which the French Government offers to its customers. It appears that the manufacture of the flat Jupiter matches had recommenced, and I bought some for my flat matchbox. "We have ordered ten thousand," said the patronne.

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