Crocodile Nigel's Biannual Visit

photo: cafe le select, montparnasse

"The Sancerre wasn't as good as two years ago" -
said Nigel, about Le Select.

'Sandwich' Weather?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 5. November 2001:- Last night, after the TV-news, the weather guy made a funny face and said the coming week's weather was going to be a 'sandwich.' For those really unfamiliar with French, the French word for 'sandwich' is 'sandwich,' and means approximately the same thing.

Here is how this item of food looked last night - the past weekend's nice weather gradually getting worse, with Thursday being the real black pit - lots of clouds dropping lots of rain - and then the weather will get much better for the coming weekend.

Already today, the outlook is no longer as sunny as it was yesterday. Maybe Thursday's weather - the 'inside-the-sandwich' part - will be sooner than forecast. Maybe the 'sandwich' will not have its second slice of bread - meaning, last night's outlook for next weekend is all baloney.

The forecast could by wrong, I could be wrong, but I hope the forecast is right. If not, you can expect an extended pause - perhaps for years - for 'Indian Summer' in Paris.

Whatever happens, temperatures will definitely stay below 15 degrees - which is less than 59 degrees if you are not in the Celsius zone of the world like we are here.

'Café Life'

This sort of life was more active than usual last week, but the 'administration' business, mentioned here in last week's issue, was perky too.

Plus, as most readers probably know, your online magazine about Paris is not showing up online nice and regular - so this problem was high on a list of 'things to do, yesterday.'

For none of the reasons above, this issue is a small one because of a great deal of 'Café Life' with -

Crocodile Nigel

It is probably hard to imagine how long it takes to get to Paris from Sydney in Oz, if the traveller stops off for a week in Washington DC and for five days in the UK before arriving at Roissy.

For this reason, Nigel arriving an hour late didn't bother me too much. There was no problem at Roissy, the RER wasn't on strike, so I ignored the excuses Nigel didn't bother to make.

I also didn't pay any attention to the news that he had to get train tickets arranged to go to Cahors and maybephoto: evening rush hour, rue montmartre Spain or Nice, because he did all of this two tears ago. The only difference now is, the SNCF has a boutique right on the avenue and it is not necessary to go the couple of blocks to Montparnasse.

Rush-hour traffic jamming into the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.

In the past two years, I have come across good eating cafés close to where I live by hearing about them from 'Café Life' people like Dimitri, so we didn't have to walk far to really have a lot of it.

Time goes by fast when you are having fun, so we didn't actually go to any of the hundreds of cultural attractions that are playing now. We just sort of walked aimlessly around where I normally walk around aimlessly.

Since all of these 'aimless' places have been recently featured here, I got no stories out of this - other than the one about the fondness crocodiles in Oz have for eating outboard motors - and the tin skiffs they are attached to.

Nigel told me what the local residents say about this when it happens. "Just another day in paradise."

The ones who say this are not the same ones who were in the tin skiffs - who belatedly learned that these cannot outrun a hungry crocodile on the scent of a delicious outboard motor.

Wednesday was the day chosen for the big souvenir shopping expedition, which we decided to begin at about 15:00 because the weather was so good. Our first stop was to get the free map at Printemps on the Boulevard Haussmann. Nigel says these are the best free maps in the world.

We also looked at a lot of next-to-nothing in the ladies undergarment department, but it is like being in a warehouse full of filmy elastic bands. It is hard to get a handle on it. It's like learning rocket-science in 30 minutes and you don't want to do this if it is a sunny day outside.

Outside included going into Galeries Lafayette and taking the souvenir look at its big dome for a whole 90 seconds. No Paris visit is complete without doing this.

"Where can I buy some old franc notes?" summed up Nigel's real shopping ambitions. These can be found, if you don't want to look all over Paris, in the Rue Vivienne where there are a lot of gold, coin and currency dealers.

Nigel decided on a 10-franc note that had the cryptic letters of 'N.F.' on it, and it only cost him 30 francs because it was a bit tattered, and not new-fangled at all.

I noticed this shop also had Afghanis for sale. Five francs for a five-Afghani note, or ten francs for a 500-Afghani note. So I asked for the 500, but they were sold out. I wanted one to replace the Iraqi 250-Dinar note I'd given away the evening before.

Nigel picked Thursday to get his train tickets. The SNCF boutique was closed for the public holiday of Toussaint, so he had to go the Montparnasse after all. This explains why he got to the club meeting 30 minutes after it was over.

This kind of evened-up my failing to note him as club member four-plus. This is between four and five. For administrative reasons, the club's secretary has decided that Nigel's membership number is '4x.'

As a bona-fide member then, the photo of him looking at the flying broom in the café Rendez-Vous was included in the meeting's 'report,' because his intentions were good. After some dithering on Friday morning, Nigel left to go to Cahors or someplace, and I haven't seen him since.

If you want to hear this club member's crocodile stories in person, make a date to attend a Café Metropole Club meeting - about two years from now.

Essays Of No Importance

I thought I was doing pretty good with my relations with the 'administration' last week, when my papersphoto: sunday colors in 14th were judged to be complete and acceptable. The little essay I was asked to include turned out to be a bit too impressive though.

This I had written and had had translated. Then I put in its accents, formatted it and printed out a clean copy. The administration lady said it was great.

Then, somewhat as an afterthought I think, she asked me to write another essay, entitled 'How I Live' - by hand, on the spot.

Sunday colors in the 14th arrondissement.

The subject of 'How I Live' is not a simple one. It is difficult to explain without drifting into the region of Orwellian fiction, so I asked for a weekend's time to compose it, and this was granted.

Doing this prevented me from writing any true stories about Paris this week. At this moment in time, I don't know what other parts of this issue of Metropole may be absent too.

The Buffalo Grass Is Coming!

In the café Le Bouquet on Friday night, Dennis was in fine form. "The buffalo grass is coming," he said, "It was posted from Kiev ten days ago. It'll be here on time for Saturday night."

To this news, Dimitri looked glum. Dennis thinks Dimitri is going to have his birthday party in his atelier next Saturday, and the buffalo grass is necessary for making the vodka authentic. Of course, Ukrainian buffalo grass is the most authentic of all.

A couple of hours ago, Dimitri looked even glummer - harassed even. If he has his way, there won't be any party - certainly not in his atelier at least. He has too much urgent work to do, and no available time to clean the place up.

I don't know what will happen. The buffalo grass could arrive any day now. I guess Dennis can put it in some vodka and let it simmer for a couple of months, or until Dimitri's birthday next year. It will be very authentic by then.

Are We Live? Are We Online?

Several readers have been writing to ask about the status of this magazine. They have, and I have, been having difficulty in accessing the latest issues.

All of the contents of all of Metropole's most recent and long past issues are on the server. However, it seemsphoto: place dauphine as if some key pages are not where they are supposed to be in the server's file structure. This has resulted is erratic access, and in some cases, no access at all.

In the Place Dauphine, with its muted colors and trees.

With the guidance and help of the server-lady, Linda Thalman, a great deal of the mess has been cleared away. I hesitate to say that all of the problems have been solved, because I won't know how true this is until this issue goes online - later today or early tomorrow morning.

What I can say is that we've taken a major step forward towards getting everything shipshape again. Certain tests have been carried out over the weekend and they look promising.

So much so that Metropole could become even 'more live' in the future, and stay this way. If you have been inconvenienced, you have my apologies.

Your Emails

In addition to worried readers enquiring about the status of Metropole, and its 'Ed,' other correspondents have not been getting the swift replies to their emails as promised in the 'service guarantee' contained on the 'About Metropole' page.

Today's column of 'Café Life' pretty well sums up what has been and is going on around here. The only item missing is any mention of the continuing search for a sponsor for this magazine. This goes on at some level all the time.

If you have written and have not received a reply, you can expect to get one even if it seems to be somewhat tardy. The magazine's policy is quick replies, and if this is impossible, then delayed replies.

Even people who write to tell me that they think this magazine is a piece of total junk will get a respectful reply. But only one, once. Spammers get no replies, ever.

Ladies' Poster Week

Except for the poster with the ad for an Eau de Toilette for dogs called 'Dog,' all five of this week's other posters contain images of female members of humankind.

photo: club member looks at 'oh my dog' posterParis' posterweek featured many ladies for some reason last week, and all the ones shown in this issue do not include all of the ones seen on the streets here.

The café brand Lavazza even had another poster showing a lady rollerskating on a street in Hollywood, with a blown-up thimble-sized cup and saucer on her head. Its headline was 'Express Yourself' too. I don't know what it was supposed to mean.

A club member treats a stange poster to a dubious sniff.

Because of this rare effort of editorial continuity, do not imagine that other subjects of posters were absent. If you come to Paris and do not like looking at poster ladies, there are plenty of others to see.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Metropole's ability to get itself and its weekly club 'report' online in a timely fashion is expected to radically improve because everybody involved has decided to quit fooling around and stop using primitive tools like popsicle sticks. Instead we are going to use some snazzy software.

You can catch up with last week's unusual club subjects - about 'changes of scenes' for example - by reading this meeting's digest of a 'report,' which also contains some important information that I've already been repeating endlessly here.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 8. November, but not at the café La Corona. See the 'Change -Location Alert' below.

This day will be another ordinary Thursday-type day called Saint-Geoffroy because it is the day of this saint's name in France.

Metropole readers and those intending to become club members can learn scads more about this free club by looking at the 'About the Club' page which explains how to join it, its meeting time and so on, and other true facts such as being free. This page also contains a location map for the club's regular café, La Corona.

Café Metropole Club Change-Location Alert

The coming meeting, on Thursday, 8. November, will be held at Le Café Lodi. Other weekly club meetings will be held at this café on the Thursdays of 15, 22, and 29. November and on 6. and 13. December too.

Le Café Lodi is located at 24. Quai du Louvre. It is about 60 metres away from La Corona, towards the Pont Neuf, next to the pet shop. See the map on the special club page in a recent issue or take a look at last week's club 'report,' which also contains a map showing the location of Le Café Lodi.

La Corona's renovation is scheduled to be completed on Friday, 14. December. The first meeting scheduled to be held in the renovated Café La Corona will be on Thursday, 20. December.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to you and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offers and make your choice long before your arrival in France. Or, if all the other hotel booking services are 'sold out,' try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' as well as travel insurance for potential Paris visitors. If you've signed up for these services before you need them suddenly you will benefit from them. I hope won't be the case, but 'Things Happen.'

'Petanque America' imports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you the effort of carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. Nearly everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere, nearly anytime.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.45 - 6. Nov 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'The 'Week of the Photo' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'France's Flying No Smoking Zone.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Jim Morrison Isn't Here.' The program for the 'Month of the Photo' also appeared in this issue. This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 9. November became the 'Election of the Week' Report. The week's 'Scene' columnphoto: sign, avenue des champs elysees was titled 'Holding Pattern,' due to laziness. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Family Portrait.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.45 - 8. Nov. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Life Stays On the Rails.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'French Losers Win Big Party.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Real Autumn Tracked Down In Belleville Park.' The Café Metropole Club's new news was titled, 'Membership Cards Issued.' This was accompanied by the club's 5th 'report,' which was summed up with Heather says, "Non-Members." The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Events Become Surreal,' with '2000 In Paris - The 'Fête du Millénium.' Finally, Metropole 'Got Some Emails.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were joined by Ric's Cartoon of the Week with the short caption of 'Lost the Match?'

The 'Count-Down' - Euro-day Minus Eight Weeks

There are 56 days remaining in this year. This means there is less and less time remaining until the 'euro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01. Radio news reported today that a third of all Germans are unaware of this, or have decided to pretend to be.

'Euromania' and 'Eurogaga,' with its companionsphoto: sign, no parking, jouret nuit of 'Euroflation' and 'No Change,' is in full tilt in Europe. This paragraph is now no more than these four catch-words, because they are being over-used and under-understood.

In France, for the remainder of this year you can safely use whatever money you have, after it has been changed into francs.

Next year, if it seems that all Europeans have not resorted to the barter system, it will be safe to use whatever you have for money, after it has been changed into euros. What could be more simple?.

Until then, if you have some insane desire to learn more about the new European-style money, take a look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the arrival of the euro slightly less than only two months from now.
signature, regards, ric

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