Martinique's One Season

photo: group, from left, pamela, muriel, karen, pondi

Today's new members, from left - Pamela, Muriel,
Karen and Pondi.

Is Better Than Either of Paris'

Paris:- Thursday, 4. July 2002:- I should know better than to be philosophical about the weather. If Paris was 'unfair' to Dublin last week by having four degrees more warmth, then the perfectly natural effect of my philosophy was to lower Paris' temperature to Dublin's level. This is what has happened. I'm sorry I caused it.

But, hey, it looks like it is getting better. This will be after tomorrow's muck-weather flowing over Paris from the west, with temperatures maybe rising from 14 to 20, while the over-all quality drops from semi-good in the morning to rotten in the afternoon.

TV's weather-news tonight says this will stall during Friday and then on Saturday there willphoto: art squat, rue de rivoli be a tremendous improvement to partly sunny, with a high of 22. Compared to tomorrow this will be significant for July, because it will be the first day in the month comparable to a so-so day in April.

Rivoli's 'art squat' - rescued by the city, but still open every afternoon except on Sundays.

Imagine though, that readers are already writing to ask about what sort of weather they can expect this coming October. My reply has been that October can be finer than July - so can February! - but they needn't bring arctic clothing unless they tend to be pessimistic.

Regardless of all this there are some people going around Paris dressed as if the weather was fine for July in Spain, and some of them are sitting on La Corona's terraces when I arrive at the club's café today. They do not look blue.

There are more of these sturdy souls parked on the two terraces than there are in the café's grande salle, although there are a half-dozen inside too.

I am not expecting a big turnout of club members today because it is a day of celebration in the United States, commemorating the date in 1776 of Thursday, 4. July when a congress sitting in the British colonies of North America declared that they were no longer part of the British Empire.

This event was caused, in part, by cheap French rum from the Caribbean and the tax the 'Yankees' didn't feel like paying on it, and a pamphlet written by a new colonist who was an ex-corset-maker, failed excise collector, and something of a free-thinker.

Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' was read by all who could, and read out to all who couldn't. Who wouldn't have jumped at the chance to, "Begin the world over again?"

A third of the colonists who were not directly involved with the rum business and the taxes not paid on it, were outnumbered by the two-thirds who were. This then, was also first working model of modern democracy in action.

And, as an example of extreme 'lèse majesté,' Paine also said that George III was the 'royal brute of Britain,' which would have been considered treason if most of the colonialists weren't busily writing the Declaration of Independence, which amounted to collective treason.

The result of all this ill-behavior was finally settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, whichphoto: graffiti, le roi est mort, 1789 accorded Canada and Gilbralter to Britain as consolation prizes. It also set the stage for Parisians to attack the Bastille in 1789, and this will be celebrated here in ten days even though Louis XIV's tax collection system is still intact.

A bit of coincidental graffiti across the street from La Corona.

On account of all this, and just 'in case' - I purposely wear my genuine New York Yellow Cab tie today, out of respect for history's brave traitors. Once I have it safely afixed around my neck, I forget it.

Karen Lefort says 'hello,' popping the soap-bubble of a memory I'm in, causing me to literally hop a metre off the red banquette I'm sitting on.

When she says she is from Key West in Florida do I recall that Spain got to keep Florida? Nossir, I do not. It is all completely gone, replaced by 2002 - the year that is right even when it is backwards.

Karen also wants Pondi, her small black 'caniche' - poodle - to be inscribed as a club member, and he is, as Pondi Lefort. Even though the fountain of youth is in Florida somewhere, Karen has gotten tired of listening to Radio Martí there and is now living in Paris.

If I understand her correctly, Key West is a wonderful place pretty close to Cuba and its only faults are that it has 300 sunny days a year, too much cable-TV, and too many tourists who come to see its Hemingway look- alikes, and a bunch of panhandlers too lazy to sell fake watches..

A half-hour of chit-chat has gone by when Muriel Joseph arrives. Although she has lived in Paris for most of her life, she is proud to say that her home town is Fort de France on Martinique, which makes it the 'City of the Week' without question - because this is where the rum that the Yankees wouldn't pay taxes on, came from.

Muriel is very concerned about all the people in the world who don't have enough to eat. She is planning to go to New York to do something about this, and it makes my heart warm to know that this club has members who are willing to forgo its meetings in order to help mankind.

Then it is Pamela Milman's turn to arrive. She has sent an email earlier today saying she wants to spend the fourth of July with Americans, after being in France for two months, but doubts tha the club's secretary is one because I didn't mention anything about Independence Day in the blurb for today's meeting.


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