'Vat 19' - the 'Drink of the Week'

photo: group, sally, donna, scrumpy, dinny, lucky

Sally on the left again, Donna, Scrumpy, Dinny and Lucky.

The 'Country of the Week' - Trinidad

Paris:- Thursday, 1. August 2002:- By anybody's calculation it is the middle of summer, but it is not as fine today as it was 88 years ago when the First World War had its sorry debut on the world's stage.

Luckily, since then we have not only changed centuries but millenniums too, it stands to reason that the weather does not match that of 1914. It does not come close to even matching this year's earlier three-day heat wave, which has, of course, come and gone.

Tonight's weather news has temperatures flirting with the low 20s but this is a lot better than predicting hail like it did last week. No hail fell in Paris though and everything was better than forecast and I expect it will continue being better than predicted, but I am no expert.

Today's sky has been half full of smallish fluffy white clouds and this left travelling patches of bright blue sky beyond them, so it is sunny about half the time. Even though I am not an expert, I think this means the weather is nicer than being mostly crummy.

Calling on my memory, which doesn't quite include August 1914, I think it is pretty average for Paris. It is a lucky thing that the world's biggest picnic wasn't scheduled for today because this would have guaranteed chaos.

The notions about climate expressed above are only valid until Friday, 2. August, which is tomorrow, and are without any warrantee.

Coming down to the club I pass throughphoto: drinks of the week the Luxembourg gardens for no other reason than it is on the way, and there are not the hordes of baskers that there were a few weeks ago. All very tidy and sleepy, typical for August's first day.

None of these are the 'Drink of the Week' because La Corona doesn't have any calypso-type rum.

Arriving at the club's café La Corona I am slightly late but there are no eager club members anxiously waiting for the club's secretary. There are not many other people in the café either, awake or asleep.

Member Lucky Checkley arrives about five minutes later, so I don't have a chance to fall asleep either. We chat for a whole 20 minutes without one note being taken. Maybe I am asleep.

An unhurried Sally Dilgart shows up at the end of the 20 minutes, followed closely by new member Donna Apgar from Charlotte, North Carolina - who kind of excuses this lapse because she emigrated there from New Orleans.

The other two members, having read all of the club's no-longer existing 'rules,' say the Charlotte should be 'City of the Week' and the secretary agrees, because he mixes it up with Goldsboro. This is the town that reader Chris Lawson thinks all Paris' taxi drivers should move to because they are so disgusted here.

This reminds Sally of trying to get from the Madeleine to Bastille in a hurry in a taxi, and abandoning the attempt because of the traffic jam on the quays caused by the 'Paris Plage.' Her suggestion, tell the taxi driver to avoid the beach.

Donna is pleased to be able to confirm that the club's secretary is really real, and tells us that she is herding a dozen language students to Annency for French lessons, on behalf of the Central Piedmont Community College.

This is when Sally notices Donna's midget whistle. Donna demonstrates it and it emits a midget 'peep.' Lucky says, "It is almost enough to whet our whistles," and finishes off the last of his Pelforth.

If I have this right, she also saw bike racer Lance Armstrong pass through Haute Savoie, and by saying this she unleashes Sally's story of frying in the sun on Rivoli for two hours in order to see Lance and the Tour de France - and Lucky's story is about not getting to photograph it as well as usual from his favorite spot at Rond-Point.

But this is after Sally has told us about spending two days in the Carnavalet museum where she saw the 'first carrier pigeon feather' and learned about how snails were tried out for carrying messages during the Franco-Prussian war, which is the origin of the term 'snail mail.'

The sad part is that it was a short war, getting itself over before urgent messages could arrive in time to do any good, but the phrase 'l'Escargot Sympa' came out of it and continues to this day.

Sally feels like grumbling about all the movies being filmed in Paris during the summer. She tells us she has waitedphoto: donna apgar five years to get a chance to see the modest shrine containing the ashes of Louis XVI in a forgotten corner of the 8th arrondissement, but couldn't get in to see anything because of the movie making.

"I'll have to come back next year," she says, even though she's probably planned to this anyway. After so much time in Carnavalet, she says she wandered around just 'seeing Paris' - for 'nearly the first time.'

Donna thinks Charlotte is 'a bit like Dorothy's Oz.'

Normally she sticks to her 'must see' list. Not on this list was the balloon ride at the Parc André Citroën, and she took a trial flight on it. "It went up and down in ten minutes. It didn't go sideways at all," she says.

Frequently apearing member Dinny Moyer arrives with less frequently appearing member Scrumpy. Nobody thinks having dogs as members is unusual, except for Sally saying something about the club and surrealism.

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