...Continued from page 1

Yeah, with about two millimetres on the side of 'right' to spare. Then tacka-tacka-tacka with the stapler. Like all installers, he ran out of staples and had to go downstairs and outside to his truck to get more.

By this time 'Joe' had turned into Raymond, with a non-stop account of the sorry times of France Télécom - which is so interested in going partly 'public,' and the mobile phone business and buying other mobile operators in the UK, Germany and Transylvania, and off-loading some of its specialized staff on independent contractors - so much of all this that its fixed-line operation is like a minor sideline.

I lent Raymond a Bic pen so he could fill out the installation sheet, and let him use my phone to call somebody at France Télécom to find out my new number, because I couldn't find the paper from the first time.

In the mid-'70s when I arrived in France, the state telephone operator was just entering the 20th century, with a massive crash upgrade. The Minitel came along a couple of years later, and with it France Télécom was one of the world's leading operators for quality of equipment and service.

Now it is trapped in its own 'Dot-Com' dream of a nightmare and it is slowly killing its cash-cow - the subscription-paying, fixed-line users. Except for the few guys like Raymond left - and they are only a few - you can get anything you want from France Télécom except simple telephone service.

Raymond didn't tell me all this - he merely confirmed what I suspected. If my apartment hadn't been made out of half of a bigger one with mine ending up with an orphaned telephone line, the 'new' installation would have cost a big bundle. And there's no free extension lines anymore. Raymond offered me one, but I gave him a beer instead.

This was the least I could do. The telephone company lost so much on my new line that it sold its headquarters building. Goldman Sachs bought part of it and leased it back. Next to go will be the employees, then it can cease the lease.

The 'Mois de la Photo' Page

This was planned to be in the last issue, and it did show up on Tuesday. There's more to add to this program. It will appear one of these days.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Clink this link to the 'Five Buck Water' report, even if you are not interested in expensive water and would prefer to drink 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc.'

Readers who want to become truly real club members can skim the meager details concerning this freephoto: free beef, sunday, montparnasse club in fourteen seconds or less by looking at the fine-sized large-print on the 'About the Club' page, and maybe clawing the virtual membership card right off the screen.

On Sunday at Montparnasse, where there was free beef for all comers.

Joining this club - your own club after all! - is almost as easy. All you have to do is be in Paris on a Thursday. Next Thursday will be especially appropriate.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 24. October. The club's 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint- Florentin. This coming meeting will also be the first in the club's 4th year of existence.

The club's over-optimistic secretary expects readers to show up to join in droves, and club members to show up in throngs. If there are neither droves nor throngs, the fête will be spolied, and make the club 'report' a lot harder to do because it will have to be fiction.

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

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to you and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has extended their reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their wider offers and make your choice long before your arrival in France. Try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' for Paris as well as travel insurance. If you have signed up for these services before you need them suddenly, you will benefit from them. I hope won't be the case, but 'Things Happen.'

'Petanque America' exports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you the effort of carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. Everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere - such as on any vacant lot covered with suitable dirt.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.43 - 22. Oct 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'Hello, Goodbye - Indian Summer.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was "Put an End To the Beginning!" This issue had one feature titled 'Maybe Not the Last Day of Fall.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 25. October was called the 'A Rare 'Calm' Meeting' report because that's what it was. The week's 'Scene' column was missing. Instead there was an 'Important Clubphoto: sign, place sartre, beauvoir Alert - 'No Trick, No Treat, No Fooling.' The week's new four 'Posters of the Week' were on view again. Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Euro-Alert for Robbers.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.43 - 23. Oct 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Plans Scrubbed by Photos.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Traffic Jam of the Week.' There was one feature, titled 'Looking for Autumn.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 26. October, was called the 'Was Ist Plop?' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Family of the Future.' Four brand new 'Posters of the Week' were featured as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Stuck for Weeks!'

Seriously 'Real' Count-Down

To resume the regular program of serious count-downs the number of days left to go until we get a new year, which for the purposes of this 'count-down' will be 2003, is 71.

The recent 'count-down' contest winner, John Motta, who sent in the closest guess for the number of days for the last silly count-down, is still waiting for his prize because I haven't found a free box to put it in yet. Don't give up hope, John!

photo: sign, square vermenouze In uncertain times, similar to these 'times' I have every Monday when I'm writing this, reader and club member Jim Auman nearly always sends in a timely new count-down subject to save my bacon.

Jim says he has found out that Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied and reburied in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. At first, my magic 4000-year BC-AD calendar said this was 197 days off, but now it has agreed to admit to 41.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is now, he will be dug up and spend a Friday night at his Château de Monte-Cristo on the edge of Marly-le-Roi, before being hauled off to the Panthéon on Saturday, where many fine speeches will be pronounced in impeccable French.

This goes to show that in France it is possible to be dead and famous for a long time before getting planted in the official home of dead famous people, later rather than sooner.
signature, regards, ric

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