A Big Wind Blows Through Paris and
a Little One Through Europe

The backdoor of a bar in the rue de la Colombe

Jospin Moves Europe Out of Neutral

Paris:- Saturday, 14. June 1997:- I would like to remind all readers who were in Paris last Wednesday, that the weather that day was not normal. Around 15:30 the wind got very gusty, the sky got very turbulent and full of sparks and a lot of big rain came down suddenly.

The wind caused a fair bit of damage and a couple of people were killed or injured by falling trees or parts of them. A sizeable number of trees were knocked down out at Château de Versailles' park and it was closed the following day. There were also reports of roofs lifted and a tornado in a sports stadium. Some houses were hit by lightning too, which left them full of holes. Créteil was hit by hail too.

Violent weather is unusual in the Paris region, and I did not realize how serious it was at the time because I was safe in the very old and thick-walled law courts on the Ile-de-la-Cité.

Air Show at the Salon du Bourget

This semi-annual air market was opened by President Chirac today, and the public will be allowed to visit it tomorrow as well as next weekend.

I noted this salon some time ago and intended to cover it in some way; but in fact forgot all about it. The arms merchants are showing offMIG 29 at Air Show their 2,000 kph fighter-bombers, and ordinary citizens need one of these about as much as they need a toothache. The Russians are trying to peddle a sexy MIG 29 - I think - painted a very neat green, supposedly hinting it is a naval model.

Russian Mig 29 has snazzy paint-job.

France's own Serge Dassault showed up in his private 'Rafale.' This little sportster was built without the aid of a European committee, so it costs a lot less to buy than the committee-developed 'Eurofighter,' which is heavy on wire and probably still mostly 'on paper' after several years of development.

The Americans brought one of their old F-18's and I think the TV guy said it was sexy too. What they do; they fly fairly low and slow over the field and when they think everybody is looking, the driver gives it the hammer and they take off straight up, using their afterburners and running on unleaded nitro. Wow! We just saw 50,000 francs worth of super vaporized.

What the show is really about goes on in dim corners of far-off hangers or downtown luxury hotels, as Boeing and Airbus salesmen pummel small countries into buying huge new passenger planes - just so they can show their flags at a few of the world's airports.

Since none of this is news to anybody not in the market for the latest version of a 747, remember that the air museum at Bourget is open all the time and has a fine collection of aircraft, from the original boat-like affair with paddles, right up to a low-milage Concorde.

Lionel Jospin Finishes First Full Week On the Job

The new Prime Minister was very busy during Jospin, at one of many meetings the week - mostly trying to talk France's European partners in lightening up a little about the rules for the 'Euro' currency. As he promised, he is trying to get a little headroom into the 'rules,' so there is room to ease French and European unemployment.

France's new Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin on right, lost track of number of 'Euro' meetings during the week.

Germany is thinking along these lines too; that is, everybody in Germany except Chancellor Kohl and the feared lords of the Bundesbank.

This is how it is: Germans 'believe' in the Deutsche Mark. They 'believe' in dollars and yen too, but they are a bit skeptical about the franc, the peseta, the pound and the Italian lire is right out of light-comedy. However, the German rate of unemployment is about the same as that in France, growth is as low as in France, inflation is low all over Europe, and interest rates are pretty low too.

In short, the economies of Europe's two biggest countries are in the doldrums solely in order to conform to some magic number agreed upon by all some years ago. Instead of one country being goofy about its money, 15 of them are hung-up on this issue.

Chancellor Kohl is not known for being a push-over and he is even thinking of running for an unprecedented fifth term; but I think he can safely 'give in' if he can get all 14 of Germany's partners to 'gang-up' on him. If 1920's-style inflation is the result, he can say it is not his fault; 'outsiders did it to Germany.'

On the other hand, if he doesn't 'give in,' then 350 million Europeans can thank this block-head for continued hard times while the rest of the world scoots on to or continues its prosperity.

French comment on TV about Jospin, suggested that in one short week he had at least managed to get the 'rule change' into a starting gate for discussion, after it had laid dead in the water for years.

Sports News Re-Unsuspended: Shorties -

Le Mans:- When you hear it is the weekend of the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, be sure to not leave home without an umbrella. This year was no exception, even if there wasn't actually at least a 12-hour downpour during the race.

As usual, hundreds of thousands of fans, or people who like to camp out in wet conditions near a very loud racetrack, went down to the place. Some of them saw a lot of cars start bravely off, and Crowd at 24 Hours of Le Mans some diehards may have seen about 17 cars finish the race - especially if they stayed home and watched it on TV.

A lot of fans turned out to watch annual Le Mans race, for 24 hours.

It must be one of the toughest races in the calendar. Each car has three drivers, but the car itself runs for 24 hours. The car which has run furthest at the end of the time, wins. Parts of the race are on local roads around Le Mans, and parts are on some sort of racetrack. The top cars cruise at Formula One speeds and a lot of them wear out doing this.

This year was the 65th edition of the classic race, and it had more ex-Formula One drivers than usual. The actor, Paul Neuman, was also a co-driver of a winning car some years ago: and there are a great variety of cars in the race - not just full-bore prototype racers built for this one event.

The Waiter's Race is one I've always wanted to see, but I'm not sure of my motives for doing so, as it seems to be cruel and unusual punishment to expect a bar-café waiter the annual Paris waiter's race who has been waiting on people all week or all year, to make a race of it on purpose on what might be a day off.

The waiter isn't supposed to hold the bottle - but then he shouldn't be racing on Sunday either.

Yet every year there is the waiters and waitress' race in Paris in June at this time, and they start from the Hôtel de Ville, run around town, and finish at the Hôtel de Ville. While doing this tour, they carry a typical tray with a glass and, I think, a fake bottle of cognac, and if they drop them - I don't know. If they are not disqualified, it slows them down.

I wanted to go out one year and see La Palette's - mentioned last week - Jean-François run, but if I remember correctly something happened the night before and I couldn't make it.

Mud Marathon is the only way to describe today's running of the... marathon, someplace in France; where the contestants run across a bay while the tide is out - some of it - and try to run back before it comes in. I think they said the winner does it in about 90 minutes and crosses the finish-line with dry shoes; while the slower 'runners' finish by swimming.

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