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Roofers, who already had full order books because of a recent tax reduction, are tackling emergency roof damage, but do not know when they will be able tophoto: grenelle frite return to do a proper re-roofing job.

As a result of the storm overwhelming service professionals, there are freelancers underway with their chainsaws - carrying away cheques and leaving insurance agents to explain why they will not cover 10,000-franc bills for cutting up a few branches.

Individual Paris fast-food places have their own characters.

In the Ile-de-France area, there are only about 30 legitimate firms competent to take care of trees. Their daily rates are about 5000 francs for an team of two and their equipment. Heavy-lifting equipment can cost 15,000 francs extra, per day.

For roofing estimates amounting to more than 30,000 francs an expert for the insurance company must okay the work, and these experts will not be available for inspections until mid-February or March.

Some building supply shops are reported to be making a bit too much of a good thing. Ordinary roof tiles costing 45 francs each, can now cost 150 francs. One repair contractor was quoted, "We're choosing our clients."

Where electricity is still out, one franc candles were reported to be selling for 30 francs.

The Disaster In Paris

Many of the closed city parks and gardens reopened during the week. But the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes were particularly uprooted.

Last week Paris Mayor Jean Tiberi toured the storm damage, and let it be known that one of Paris racetracks is going to go.

Vincennes in the east will be kept for the trotting races, but the fates of the flat-racing track of Longchamp or the hurdles at Auteuil are up in the air.

With the Bois de Boulogne so damaged, the city wants one of the tracks for conversion into a park or public garden.

At the edge of Paris, Auteuil's 33 hectares are attractive, but not quite so attractive as western Longchamp's 57 hectares. The city is going to talk to the concessionaire, France-Galop, about it.

Apparently talks were already going on because the concession at Longchamp expired in 1998. France-Galop cannot covert Auteuil to flat racing, but could make Longchamp do double-duty.

France-Galop would also like to add a mall to it - and a gambling casino.

Have You Given This Year?

Don't give New Years' gifts - les étrennes - to just anybody, says Le Parisien. Ten percent of a month's rent is fair for concierges or gardiennes - say, from 200 to 500 francs.

The postman, or postlady, should get about 50 francs. Be ready with another 10 to 30 francs for the firemen. Finally, be ready to dig out from 10 to 100 francs for the guys that haul away the garbage.

At one time, concierges received no salary and their only income was from these 'étrennes.' Some buildings' concierges or gardiennes now even get a '13th month' salary, but they provide a variety of small services all year long and their salaries are not great.

The people who deliver the mail - often to the gardienne, who in turn distributes it within a building - are civil servants and therefore salaried. La Poste tolerates their 'étrennes' - for which they exchange a calendar.

For both the gardienne and the people from La Poste, the tax-collectors look the other way. La Poste's management only checks the calendars to make sure they are not offensive.

When the pompiers arrive - with their calendars - they must be in uniform. What you give them goes to charities. In Paris, the garbagemen are not allowed to make their annual visit, so you can buy yourself a double-café.

This means I should have 300 francs of cash on hand, just in case anybody knocks on my door. Out in the suburbs, the mail, firemen and garbage people used to turn up before Christmas - to add to the feeling of money flowing away fast.

In some years I have used the Poste's calendar, in others the firemen's. The garbagemens' version was always too small.

Late in December, I bought a professional 'Ed's' calendar because they were sold out by the time I remembered I needed one last year. It cost 28 francs.

The 'Morning-After Pill' Goes To School

The country that made the 'morning-after pill' available without a prescription last June, has now made it available to students in public high schools.

This step was taken, according to the lady Minister of Education Ségolène Royal, to combat an average of 10,000 'accidental' pregnancies annually.

School nurses will distribute the controversial pill 'on demand,' without seeking parental permission or even necessarily informing parents.

The measure was announced last November, which launched a 'for' and 'against' debate in France. An opinion poll done in December produced a score of 66 percent 'for.'

One parents' organization, the 'PEEP,' is against the schools distributing the pill. They think the problem should be discussed within the family.

The larger and more liberal parent's association, the 'FCPE,' insists that the distributionphoto: metro overpass of the pill be only for emergencies - and that it be accompanied by increased instruction of contraception in schools.

The school nurses see another problem. There are only 6000 of them while there are 7500 schools.

On certain week days, many street marchés are found under the métro tracks.

Some teachers worry that the measure proves once more that instead of schools being centres of education, they are becoming more like ordinary places of daily life. Teachers are required to be social assistants rather than teachers.

However the measure does not concern teachers - who can be distressed with the predicament of students' unwanted pregnancies and all of the consequences.

Some female students think that boys may take advantage of this 'fail-safe' measure. The boys themselves, favor the measure but are less well-informed than the girls.

But in general, girls think parents should be reassured. Anybody can buy the 'morning-after pill' over the counter in any pharmacy; but students think it is better to have the free and confidential consul of school nurses.

The measure is designed to prevent pregnancies, abortions and teenage mothers. Many girl students, for one reason or another, cannot discuss these issues with their families - and the few who can't even discuss it with the school nurse, keep 55 francs handy, for emergencies.

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