A Bungle of a 'First'

photo: gaspard looking at commuters from cafe bouquet

In the Café Bouquet, it is the time of day for watching
passing commuters.

But a 'First' All the Same

Paris:- Thursday, 11. July 2002:- Today's weather hasn't started out well, but it gets better - better than its prediction - which is about how it always seems to turn out here.

The TV-news weather animations look very grim, and then the following day actually turns out better than expected. This seems to be happening every day and I think it is giving people here a lift unless they don't watch pessimistic weather forecasts.

You might be in this category, so tonight's TV-weather is forecasting 23 degrees tomorrow for Paris, and this is a couple of points more than Biarritz is supposed to get.

The real interest is for the upcoming Fête de la Bastille weekend. For this the TV-weatherposter: hugo illumine paris, 14 juillet forecast is grim. For Saturday the expected high is only 19 degrees, and the outlook for the heavens is total gloom.

Sunday's morning parade on the Champs-Elysées might have an extra degree and come off dry, but later it is supposed to get worse than Saturday, in time for the fireworks at the Tour Eiffel, scheduled for 22:30. Victor Hugo is supposed to attend in the form of light and sound - so let's all hope the weather forecast is worse than the reality - as it often is.

Why does Victor look so glum about it?

This morning my day starts off by my turning up two days too late to seriously bid for an apartment I looked at on Monday - it has been good and rented to some poor souls who are going to have to get used to never getting any sunlight in their windows. Other than this, it was a fine place.

The rest of the morning seems to go normally until I arrive at my summer-substitute boulangerie to find it closed. How am I supposed to remember it is closed on Thursdays? Why is it closed on Thursdays?

Despite all of this I get off for the club okay and the métro is running normally so I leave it at Odéon so that I can pick up another, fresh source of ads for apartments to rent. There are many, for weeks, or short months, but few for years - and none that are unfurnished.

It is a quick walk through the Quartier Latin to the Seine, and then the sky is mostly bluephoto: albert, bud, mcdaniel and all over, above the Pont Neuf when I cross it. There seems to be a lot of camera-toting people around, but it is the centre of Paris and not the suburbs of Montrouge.

At the club's café La Corona there is a scattering of humanity on the terrace and more in the café's bar area but the 'grande salle' is almost empty. It is nice enough outside to have eaten lunch early and have gone off to see the afternoon's sights.

'Bud' McDaniel is today's new club member, and Dennis' uncle.

First things first involve getting the club's booklets into order for today's meeting, which is number 143. I make some minor notes about the day, and then decide to just get one photo of those folks who seem so comfortably installed on the café's terrace.

The club secretary's official reporter-type black bag is empty. There is no camera in it. I zip it closed and then zip it open again. There is still no Café Metropole Club camera in the bag. Its resting spot is not supporting anything except empty space.

Here it is, only 15:05, and we have a true club 'first' with no members present to witness it. I heft the bag. Does it feel like it holds a camera? I look inside it again. There is no place it could be hiding.

This then, no matter what else happens, is the first club 'report' with no photos of the meeting in the club's café. It is not, I think, a great 'first.'

Thereafter I spin off 35 minutes trying to read the very small print of the classified 'apartments for rent' ads. One stands out for four reasons. It is unfurnished, it is 55 square metres, its rent is less than 1000 euros, and it is located in my arrondissement. Another possible 'first!'

As I blearily finish reading the last ad, club member Dennis Moyer arrives with his uncle, Albert 'Bud' McDaniel. They have just come from having an unobstructed 360-degree looksee from the tippy-top Samaritaine observation platform.

Dennis' news is that there is a teenager up there, collecting two-euro pieces from anybody who wants to go up the little extra bit from the café terrace to the lookout. This toll-taker, according to Dennis, is making the view unobstructed by Paris-gazers - which it was when he and Bud were up there.

Bud is from San Pablo, California, and is on his first visit to Paris. But the reason San Pablo becomes the 'City of the Week' is because it is another 'first.'

He tells me that if you take Route 80 north from Berkeley, you will see an 'Entering San Pablo' signphoto: dennis moyer and two blocks later you will see a 'Come Again Sometime' sign.

Bud tells me some things about some other, longer trips he used to take as a flight engineer on a B-29, number Z11, doing round non-stop flights to Japan and back.

Dennis thinks the most amazing aspect of these flights were that B-29s didn't have any gas gauges - possibly as a wartime economy measure.

Club member Dennis is also Bud's nephew, and guide to Paris.

The flights also didn't have stewardesses to tell the passengers to do up their safety belts, so some passengers would fall out sometims if something made their turrets pop off.

Continued on page 2...
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