World's Worst Violins?

photo: l->r, marion, m ferrat, stephen

From left to right: Marion Nowak, 'Waiter of the Week' M. Ferrat and Stephen Pierce; with two more members to come.

May Be On the RER's 'B' Line

Paris:- Thursday, 4. May 2000:- No days are ever as good as May Day even when May Day is flush with rain - which it wasn't last Monday - but today is not May Day and even though it is not flush with rain either, I am still looking forward to going to the club.

I start doing this at five this morning. About this time the birds are trying out their bells and whistles, but they are not as loud as they used to be out in the village. Nor are there as many of them. I think they may be hoarse from Paris' air. While thinking about this I fall asleep until the noon news. The Bourse is down 0.2 percent.

Until it's time to go to the club I do yesterday's photos. For once, there are more than enough posters. And I found a new café, full of entire racing cars. You can drink and watch speeding on TV until you fall off one of the bar stools. It's an interesting idea.

The métro runs down to Châtelet without hiccups or alarms. The métro paper, 'Railsphoto: marion, overexposed Under Paris' is sold out, even if it is free. Maybe the RATP is printing fewer of them because they are so popular.

On Rivoli, little cars full of cops are racing westward, running all bells, flashers and whistles; followed by medium-sized vans full of more cops. The lead car almost clips a Renault convertible that thought it had a green light coming out of Rue de l'Amiral Coligny.

The club's lighting allows overexposure for Marion, and the club's camera delivers it.

I cross over to the Louvre side of Amiral Coligny, to see if there are any 'Fiat 500's of the Week' around; and find a good-enough poster instead.

At the Quai du Louvre, traffic is clogged nearly solid. Past the café there is a caravan of CRS police trucks heading east. After taking a couple of shots of the chaos, the camera's battery-icon starts blinking. It did this exactly two weeks ago on the same spot. This is why I woke up at five this morning.

La Corona's management tells me the dates for the movie shoot. The club meeting after next Thursday's, will be on a Friday. The actual date is below and I will repeat the details on Monday's 'news' page.

The club's section of the café is empty of everything except tables, chairs and bright red Coca-Colaphoto: alan, overexposed parasols. After writing down the date in the club report booklet, I continue copying highlights from the crêpes menu: crêpe Antillaise with banana, rhum, chantilly; only 50 francs.

Marion Nowak comes in, wearing a Zorro hat. She's sweet - she's brought me Monday's edition of Der Spiegel. I ask her how anybody can read 274 pages of news in a week.

"Don't read the ads," she says. We argue a bit about whether ads ever contain information. But this is moot because she doesn't read them. Maybe no information, but sometimes snappy headlines, I think.

Democratically, the club's camera overexposes Alan too.

I am trying to talk German. Even when I'm doing it as well as I can, it still sounds like I'm only trying. Now it's worse, because French words keep slipping in because I haven't unhooked from it.

But we are doing pretty well when Stephen Pierce turns up. He says the Louvre's restaurant people are on strike; occupying the Place du Carrousel - which is a tidy explanation for the traffic chaos outside; probably backed up to Lyon and Lille about now.

As club secretary, I introduce Marion as being from Bamberg. She adds that she lived there for 10 whole days after she was born there. Nevertheless, Bamberg becomes the 'City of the Week' - because Paris is disqualified on account of being the club's hometown.

Stephen, who lives in Paris, is also wearing a real suit. This is a great 'first' for your club in Paris. Readers who have looked at all the past club photos might not remember that most members - excepting some of the ladies! - are usually appropriately dressed for washing cars.

photo: carmel photogenicEven this is somewhat spiffier than what most Paris journalists wear. The only Paris journalists I know who wear suits are the ones who do the TV-news; the rest of us dress as if it's a war zone.

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