The Weather Non-News

photo: bistro la tour
If it's raining, don't buy an umbrella. Go inside instead.

Monster, Secret Strike, Tweety, Minitel
Millionaires, and Other Stories

Paris:- Sunday, 15. November 1998:- Proper November weather is here, as it should be, because we are two weeks into the month even if I still think it is October.

The forecast for tomorrow is a slight dump in morning temperatures to about two degrees in Paris. This is normal for this time of year, but at this close to freezing it could easily drop to zero at any time.

Days are very brightly sunny with cloudy periods, which sometimes become rainy. Rain is usually followed by overcast or by sun. There is not much wind, so the changes happen at a leisurely speed - which means you have to dress warmly and carry an umbrella constantly.

All of this is normal November weather. If you have been misinformed about this and arrive with nothing other than Miami shirts, go to the nearest Damart shop you can find and get yourself some thermal underwear; currently at 30 percent off. Wearing it gives your body a warm glow.

Although the weather boffins do not want tophoto: golden november comment about the possibility of the cold snap in eastern Europe reaching France, they hint that they can make general predictions for coming seasons - and then they won't say what they are. They do claim accuracy for past weather though.

Proof of a 'brightly sunny' - period - of a day: 11. November 1998.

You think I'm joking? Here is what they do: they take tomorrow's prediction, for example, and examine its lines on the map. They are compared to the lines of past weather and if they coincide, then the prediction is 'high quality.' If there is too much difference, then the prediction is 'low quality.'

Another boffin once told me that local weathers predictions are accurate to plus-minus 500 kilometres. This sort of pin-pointing could put snow in Cannes for Christmas, after a balmy day had been predicted there.

The coldest recent day in France was on 17. January 1985 when the temperature in Mouthe, in the Doubs, was recorded as minus 41 degrees, centigrade. This is in France's well-known 'Siberia.'

The Secret Strike

Last Thursday's Le Parisien 'La Vie à Paris' centre section had a small note concerning a strike by museum workers at the Orsay, which apparently began on Tuesday.

Success is at the root of this: too many visitors are crowding into the museum to see the Millet-Van Gogh exhibition and the staff want more money for the extra work involved. So far, 200,000 have crowded in to see the show. Maybe I should quit boosting it in Metropole.

Le Dernier Monstre Sacré

Famous cinema actor Jean Marais died last Sunday, aged 84, and France's fairly large world of entertainment went into non-stop homage, followed by mourning at the weekend.

By 'non-stop' homage, I mean France TV simply chucked out their program for Tuesday evening and substituted it with a couple of Marais' films. This puts the TV-guide in second place after the weather people, for accuracy. A small quibble, but I did want very much to see a rip-roaring no-brainer of a film called 'Bad Boys.'

'L'Epervier' was Jean Marais' firstphoto: coal barge in seine film and it came out in 1933. Starting in 1937, Marais began a series of stage collaborations with Jean Cocteau, and their first film together was 'L'Eternal Rétour,' directed by Jean Delannoy in 1943. A year later, Marais went along for the liberation of Strasbourg with the French 2nd Armored Division. In 1945, he was back making movies with Cocteau.

A load of coal for Paris' coming winter arrives on time.

In 1964 he played 'Fantômas' for the first time, together with Louis de Funés; and this was followed by two further movies featuring the same character. Marais first appeared on the little box in 1968, made his last film in 1995 with Bernardo Bertolucci, and last appeared on stage in 'L'Arlésienne' in 1997.

Angry Pig Farmers

I won't say the French like to eat a lot of fat or a lot of pork mainly because I have never been particularly aware of it. There is foie gras of course, but it is not made of pork.

For some weeks now, France's pig farmers have been really annoyed. It costs them about three francs a kilo more to raise hogs than they get by selling them. On this kind of a deal, a farmer can get poor pretty quickly.

In fact, one was reported to be feeding his dog pork roasts because he couldn't afford to buy canned dog food. The government announced an aid package for the farmers of 150 million francs, but this will only cover a week's worth of pork loses.

I have no idea whether this is a lack-of-demand, oversupply situation, but I suspect it has something to do with the usual administrative meddling in the markets - either at a national level or a European level, but most likely both.

Luckily for Parisians, the pig farmers are so busy looking after their animals that they haven't had time to come to the capital to protest; perhaps by dumping a few loads of 'déjections' where they will be impossible to ignore.

The only brightness on the horizon is the possibility of unloading 100,000 tons of pork on the Russians. European over-prodction is supposed to amount to 800,000 tons annually.

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