aubistro21 (20k)

At Long Last, the 'Real' Holidays Can Begin

Paris:- Saturday, 13. July 1996:- My favorite tabloid 'Le Parisien' declared on Friday that this weekend is the 'real beginning of the holidays' and they are probably right. It used to be, that unlucky people got July and the French got all of August.

Times change. Now that the natives have to share their country with 60 million visitors a year, people are accommodating themselves to reality - by generally taking off from 15. July to 15. August.

Actually, a whole four weeks at once is probably more exception than rule, because there are three fairly long school holidays outside of summer - and if parents don't share some of these with their kids they will go broke paying babysitters or other minders.

The weather, kind of cool in the mornings, and not too hot in the afternoons, is nearly perfect for long-distance driving; or long-time waiting in traffic bottlenecks.

Asbestos Comes to France

Excuse my misleading headline but I couldn't help it. France is actually full of asbestos and it has even been long recognized here as dangerous stuff - but it is only in the last few months that a combination of factors has rolled together and brought the awareness of the danger of asbestos to the daily news.

As other countries have long ago discovered, the easiest and cheapest way to get rid of asbestos in buildings is usually to tear them down and rebuild. This is a bitter pill financially but it has to be taken - and it looks like this is now going to happen in France. The scope of the action necessary is monumental. For example, the entire university complex of Paris-Jussieu in the fifth arrondissement has been condemned and I think I just heard on the radio that this campus will not reopen in the fall.

jac&nelson.jpg (11k) Should Nelson Mandela have a Garage Shirt?

Although Le Parisien says that Nelson Mandela's recent visit to see the Queen in London was the first ever by a President of South Africa, I have been much more interested in press discussion of Mr. Mandela's idea of the suit.

I quite agree with him, if he has been quoted correctly, that nice shirts are more interesting to wear than suits, all the time - unless, of course, you go to the Queen's for lunch, or help President Jacques Chirac review the troops marching down the Champs-Elysées on Bastille Day. Mr. Mandela makes page one of Saturday's Libération in one of his shirts, and makes his point yet again.

Update: Mr Mandela is right. His suit did not look too good on Sunday at the parade and I have seen him on TV in a great variety of fine-looking shirts recently. I hope that somebody reading this can contact Mr. Mandela before he leaves Paris and tell him that Printemps may still have some of those ultra-cool 'Garage' shirts on sale.

churchlady.jpg (9k) The Church Ladies

I was in a towering snit last Tuesday when my office doorbell rang and I found the Church Ladies on my doorstep.

They had not been around to see me for a long time, a couple of years at least - I might have been out - and as usual they were two colors and, possibly, two nationalities. I greeted them with my customary, "Hello Church Ladies! Where have you been?" - which I learned from four ten-year old re-runs of Saturday Night Live quite some time ago and had been saving for this occasion.

Pollution was on their minds on Tuesday and I said I was paying attention to it and letting readers know about it, and they pointed out that pollution inside may be worse than outside and, although I did not invite them in - it is my 'form' with the Church Ladies - seeing if they are on their toes out in the hall, having to hit the light switch every 90 seconds or so - and I assured them my office was very polluted indeed.
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