"It Might Have Been In
British English"

photo: cafe la corona terrace

Café terrassians enjoying summer version of Paris
driving skills.

Or It Might Have Simply Been 'Lardoons'

Paris:- Thursday, 15. August 2002:- If the last meeting report two weeks ago began with the remark that it was the 'middle of summer,' it was slightly erroneous. Today is the exact dead-centre of summer, what with it being the 15th of August and a nice, warm day too.

Some might say being 30 degrees or a bit over is hotter than merely warm, but I am giving it the lesser characteristic because it needs to be added to August's average - which will be lucky to better April's.

Plus it is a holiday, plus the government and a lot of Parisians are out of town, plus a real lot of shops and other stuff are closed - my 14th arrondissement looks like ghost town - so the few millions of people who are still around, are around Paris' beach, which means on the quays overlooking it and the café terraces behind it.

Luckily the métro is still running and brings me down here to the centre of the city to see signs of human life again. It seems, even if the beach itself is not a big money-maker, that the bouquinistes along the quays must be having much more pass-by traffic than usual.

Oh, it all seems so much more - um, Parisian. Just like you might imagine it. Instead of narrowingphoto: full bottles your focus to exclude the normally empty spaces, you can look anywhere and it looks like it is stuffed with visitors - with their cameras, baseball caps, sunglasses, short pants and the various sorts of sacks even Parisians need for carrying their water these days.

'Drink of the Week' turns out to be an assortment of waters.

In case I am overdoing this, just remember I'm excited because it is such a contrast with the 'deepest 14th,' where the sun is also blazing merrily away, and the few open café terraces are littered with dazed snoozers.

But I usually start these 'reports' with the weather outlook, so here it is. Today matches the two-day heatwave of July, and like that one, goes downhill from here.

If you want to catch 'Paris Plage' in its best form, do not wait until closing day this coming Sunday. Get to it tomorrow or Saturday if you want a memory of it worth remembering. Around sundown might be a good time to do it.

The club's café La Corona has a nearly full terrace when I arrive and a huge clot of ice cream fanciers are milling around in its bar area, while waiters hustle adroitly about them with trays full of drink, never spilling a drop.

The café's 'grande salle' is just emptying out its luncheon clients and some clever soul has actually opened some of its windows, leaving a club table right beside one. It is the first time the club's table has been nearly on the terrace - and since it is mid-August, the quay's traffic is thinner and quieter than usual, and carefree visitors are skipping across it in reckless abandon.

For a rare once then, it is like what you might imagine Paris to be like in summer. It is so good I can't imagine any members bothering to turn up for today's meeting. But members are unaccountably loyal or something, and I'm wrong.

Member Dinny Moyer appears at 15:10 with to-be member Ramona Femenias, who is from Arlington, Virginia. They went to Washington-Lee High School together - oh, not all that long ago.

Arlington has either been featured as the 'City of the Week' before, or I think it has been because so many members have claimed it as their hometown - so, without chancing a repeat, I suggest that Washington-Lee be recorded as the 'High School of the Week' instead.

Talk quickly glides around to the 'Hammurabi Code' after we have ordered a considerable amount of water. I think - my notes are never clear after all - that Ramona has been impressed with this 'oldest law' because she saw it in the Louvre, cast in basalt or something.

Most other laws written on paper around 1800 BC are no longer with us, so Hammurabi wins the prize for his. But he isn't a club member so his 'law' is not a 'first' - mainly because the club's only rule is 'no rules' and Ramona couldn't read Babylonian.

Just as well, because talk shifts to 'concept stores.' One in the Rue Saint-Honoré named 'Colette' is described to me as having a lot of designer water, more security gorillas than clients, and an item described by both Ramona and Dinny as 'giraffe pants.'

Apparently these are quite fashionable if you happen to have thin legs as long as a giraffe's. Otherwise, they say, this 'concept store' has nothing else for sale.

Readers and members should realize by now that I believe everything that members tell me,photo: dinny, ramona but don't necessarily think everything is true. This said, I did visit a water shop in the same street once - actually, it might have been the same place now that I think of it.

Even Paris' water is intoxicating for Dinny and Ramona - or was it the 'lardoons?'

I was impressed that there was a wide selection of waters available and you could order any kind you wanted so long as you were willing to pay five bucks a glass for it. I don't remember the 'giraffe pants' though. These could be this year's 'new thing.'


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