Flat Hunting, Part 44

photo: cafe rue de buci

A Quartier Latin café in the Rue de Buci.

Save the Library!

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. June 2002:- At your first glance at the double-issue numbers this week it may seem as if I've decided to take an impromptu holiday without giving anybody any warning. Let me say, first, that I haven't taken any holiday and, second, as much as I feel like doing it sometimes.

On Sunday morning an impromptu computer malfunction destroyed all of the week's photos and what had already been written for the issue. Five hours of trying everything in my suitcase full of tricks couldn't restore the lost files, nor restore the time lost while trying all the 'tricks.'

If you ever ask me, I will always tell you, 'back everything up!' I do this too - at least two times - but usually after the issue is finished. Losing all of the current files is a dubious 'first' - the first time it has happened in seven years.

I won't say it won't happen again. I can only say it is less likely to, because it is easy to do backups - so long as it becomes routine to do them.

I'm mostly sorry the photos have gone. They were nothing special but some of them were ones that it was onlyphoto: morris possible to get once. Missing the 50th 'Fiat 500 of the Week' may not seem like a tragedy, but it was one I only have in memory now and you may never see, ever.

This week then - two new posters, a new cartoon, a bit of news in 'Au Bistro,' and this page.

In Case You Are Interested - the Weather

For this I have two versions - this morning's Le Parisien and this evening's TV-weather news. Frankly, Le Parisien's is much better, with a great deal of semi-sunshine predicted from Wednesday to Friday.

Temperatures are fairly flat, with highs running from tomorrow's 20 - today's was less - up to 22 for Friday. In fact it has been cool and rainy since I took the photos, so I am really looking forward to some brighter skies so I can show you Paris in its best but rare light.

In contrast, tonight's TV-weather news prediction showed much more dismal times for tomorrow and Wednesday, with a high of 19 for midweek. But, aha! - the TV people have promised a beautiful day for Thursday, with a high of 24 - almost 'normal for this time of year.' Probably 'normal' for Norway.

I guess Friday is just predicted to be so-so, because my notes only say, 'Friday.' But Le Parisien is very optimistic for brightness on Friday, even if their temperature isn't too elevated.

On the whole this isn't the cleverest weather report I've done. The best I can say about it is, it probably isn't any more inaccurate than any of the others. In a way I'm glad I have no credentials for doing these weather reports.

No matter what time of year it is, the weather in Paris is always 'normal for this time of year.' No matter what the weather is actually like, it is always 'normal for Paris.'

Café Life

Scraps of Paper and Notebooks

I get a lot of paper coming in to the office and when it passes its 'good until' date I throw it on the floor. Most of it is only printed on one side, so if I take a sheet of it before going out, I fold it twice and I have four small pages for note-taking.

I either do this or carry a pocket-sized notebook. The notebook is better, because if I need to, I canphoto: world cup awning, la comedia easily look back at past notes. The scraps of paper tend to lie around here in piles, but they are harder to keep track of.

Many Paris cafés are decorated for the World Cup, including Jean's La Comedia.

During some weeks I use both methods - the scraps of paper and the notebook. Usually when I do this, and I'm writing this, I forget I've made any notes - or I can't find them because they are in one place or the other.

As a backup, I use my memory. If that 'disk error' hadn't blown all the photos to virtuality yesterday, I might have been able to remember all of the 'Café Life' items I can no longer recall.

The Flat Hunt

Last Tuesday I got up at the crack of dawn - which is when I went to bed - the birdies were tweeting up outside - to meet an apartment agent to look at a flat.

It wasn't in mint condition. I was told to overlook the disintegrating fake beams made out of styrofoam. These were like car seat-covers, so they could be overlooked - but, ugh, who would want them, even restored?

So I looked at the wiring. It was definitely flaky low-grade 1930-model stuff, which isn't too surprising to find in a postwar building here. The main problem with it is you have to retro-fit all the plugs to plug anything in, and then you have to refit the proper ones if you ever move any place else.

The place was fitted with the TV-cable, but didn't have one grounded electrical outlet anywhere. It was the kind of place where you don't want to live on the seventh floor because the elevator might have the same wiring as the apartment.

As far as I could find out, there was no rent reduction for living dangerously. But to show I was willing the play the game, I went be the agency's office and picked up the tenant's application form.

This turned out to be a four-page questionnaire. It seemed to me that I couldn't put much more than my name on it, so it would have gotten a failing grade - so I thought, why bother?

On the way back I went by the agency that got me into this apartment, and their questionnaire managed to be fit onto one page. This is within the realm of possibility, so it made my day - except that they didn't have, haven't had any apartments to rent, for months.

Now that I think of it, I haven't noticed anybody moving in or out in my street for some time now. It used to happen on a weekly basis - when did it stop?

Today I went around to look at a suspiciously cheap fifth-floor walkup two room flat, but the agency lady said she didn't have the keys yet. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday.

The last time I lived in a walkup, it was up six floors, it was in Hamburg, and I last saw it in 1976. It was cheap though and had a good view of the rooftops that the British bombers flattened in the summer of 1943.

Another Library Needs Saving

The British Council Library in Paris has probably been around since the time of William the Conqueror, but I do not know anything about its history, or even where it is located. It isn't just threatened with being closed on Friday, 28. June - it is already being dismantled.

Its 45,000 books are to be donated to French libraries - which will probably be happy to get them. Another section, the Teacher's Resource Centre, an invaluable collection of manuals, was transferred to Bordeaux. Only ten or 12 of these books ever arrived there. The rest are 'unfound.'

Apparently, as a 'cost-cutting' measure, the library is to be transformed into a bookless 'computer library' with the aid of a grant of 1.7 million - dollars? euros? pounds?

The appeal to 'do something' comes a bit late because as early as 1997 the library began reducing its services to its users. But who knows? If you think kids should be able to put their hands on real books, why not write to say so? Here is the address:-

Sir John Holmes,
Her Britannic Majesty's Embassy,
35. Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré,
75008 Paris, France

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

If you were too distracted by tennis or other sports to read last Thursday's club meeting 'report' you can catch up now with club news by hitting this link to the "Something Pulled Us Here" report.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 13. June. The club's 'Saint's Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Antoine de Padque's day. I wonder how this is pronounced.

Readers who have a desire to become real club members can scan the few minor details concerning this free club inphoto: bike taxi 14 seconds by reading the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page and maybe clipping the virtual membership card off the screen.

Paris' 'Vélo-Taxis' have been highly recommended by the server-lady.

Joining is really easy. Do it by simply being here! Being here on a Thursday is even better and every week in a year has at least one of these. Keeping up with club 'news' is a snap too, because the reports about it go online right after the meetings, after I finish writing them, and you can read them in this magazine, which is online too.

Save 'Metropole Paris' as one of your favorite bookmarks to avoid mistyping its overly-long name every time you feel like reading a club report, or a regular edition like this one.

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This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.24 - 11. June 2001 - This issue began, as usual, with the Café Metropole column, titled 'Free Champagne & Street Eats.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Take the TGV-Med.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Fête In Les Frigos - Art On Ice.' Two emails filled out the week, titled, 'The Flying Rhino' from Charles Fremont and 'The Politics of Orangina' from Al Riley. This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 14. June was called the 'When In Paris' Report. Thephoto: sign, passage tenaille week's 'Scene' column was not present. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Mole Art.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.24 - 12. June 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Exclusive Art Discovery.' The 'Au Bistro' column was hypermega with 'Mega Johnny Lights Mega Fire.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Peep! "Hey! Move it! Hey!" Peep!' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 15. June, was titled the 'What Happened?' report. A club page announced 'A Cavalcade of 'Firsts.' The 'Scene' column was titled the 'Varoom-varooooom Weekend.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' showed up and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Johnny Sells Out.'

Countdown To Friday, 21. June, Again

Despite the several important upcoming dates that could be suitable 'countdown' candidates - only two of them are here this week, for cultural reasons.

As of today, there are only 204 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 161 days now - more than five whole months! - long enough for everybody to figure it out.

This week's first countdown is to Thursday, 13. June, which I'll admit is only three days off. This is the day when hundreds of thousands of students in France will begin their philosophy exams, which start out the annual round of BAC tests. Wish them lots of luck.

The second countdown runs slightly longer, until Friday, 21 June, which is 11 days off. This is official 'Eté' day - of the same saint's name by the way - which means that summer is officially here and the weather is so fine that you can skip the weather 'reports' that begin this column.

While not bothering to worry about this, try and sooth yourself with the idea that Friday, 21 June is also the date of the Fête de la Musique in Paris and in France. Just think, 24 hours of mostly free music!

If you forgot to feed your canary before leaving home two weeks ago, forget I brought it up.
signature, regards, ric

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