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 lace Dauphine, with its muted colors and trees.
Continued on page 2...
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