"Something Must Be Wrong!"

photo: group, don, linda, shirley, walter, stephan, marion

You see - Beaujolais Nouveau is good stuff even if it
tastes like strawberries.

On Beaujolais Nouveau Day?

Paris:- Thursday, 21. November 2002:- The problem with tomorrow's weather is that France-2 TV is on strike today, again. Actually it is 'still' because it has been eight days now. For several of them, it was completely grey and nothing changed at all, as if the weather is run by its TV-news.

The strikers are brave and there is a minimum service, so there is a sketchy minimum forecast, which is about this same as I put here anyway. The club's secretary is not a 'scab' weatherman too.

My notes read, 'Friday, chaotic, partly sunny, 13 degrees. Then Saturday, ditto, ditto, 10 degrees. Sunday, ditto, ditto with 'less sunny' in brackets, and 12 degrees.' There were the usual warnings about areas outside the Ile-de-France, but these weren't serious because I didn't pay them any attention.

Now for the 'strikes of the day.' Mainstream farmers are acting up because they are only getting 20 percent of the retail hypermarché prices. In areas outside of the Ile-de-Francephoto: marion, leo malet, les rats de montsouris watch out for farmers sacking supermarkets. This can be entertaining if you've ever felt like doing it yourself.

Long-haul truckers will be voting about striking tomorrow. If there's a majority for this and nobody offers them anything good, they will begin barricading routes with very big trucks at 22:00 on Sunday evening.

Marion has brought her personal copy of Leo Malet's 'Les Rats de Montsouris.'

Now for a bit of 'sports news.' Ellen MacArthur is in the lead of the Route du Rhum sailboat race, which is from somewhere in France to someplace in the Americas. She is driving a single-hull sailboat named 'Kingfisher' single-handed - but may be using two hands for this - and she pointed out by radio that she got a 24-hour headstart over the multi-hulled sailboats.

Most of these very speedy boats, if you have been following this race, have fallen apart because the Atlantic is full of lumpy winter conditions for which they were under-designed.

I understand that 'rule' changes are contemplated - so that the trimaran guys will race for the 'rum' from Marseille to Cairo over the softer Mediterranean next year, leaving the rough stuff to Ellen MacArthur.

Some freak of nature caused me to sleep through half of Beaujolais Nouveau Day today. In Lyon, the taps were opened at midnight and 300 litres were poured by one café there before I even turned over.

TV-reports said the usual about it, except for a lack of audio from Tokyo. Jolly people in Lyon said this years' Beaujolais Nouveau tasted like bananas and prunes, somewhat disguised as 'strawberries.' One forthright lady said it was right smack in the middle of 'moyen,' where it usually is.

These bonus 'reports' allow me to skip the usual boring filler words I usually put here about riding downtown to the club meeting in the métro, although I do do this today.

In the club's café, in La Corona's 'grande salle,' the server-lady Linda Thalman is waitingphoto: beaujolais nouveau for me. Although she has a mobile phone in her hand she says she is not telephoning anybody. She says whatever she wants to do with it, she has forgotten how. I cannot help her.

Ah - the essence of the day. In France, 'essence' also refers to gasoline.

Within a minute or two, we are joined by Claire Guillaume of Paris and Glenn Cooper, who claims Oyster Bay on Long Island as a hometown. Glenn runs 'Cooper Paris Flats' in case you are looking for a place to stay bigger than a tiny hotel room while you are here.

Marion Nowak comes in while I'm explaining about the club and Claire is telling me she has, "Une paire de garçons et une paire de filles," and Marion interprets this as a 'sympathy attack!' I don't know what this means - but it is here in my notes and it looks like my handwriting.

Oh, I see. She is saying that when she is standing on a street corner in front of the Opéra looking for the Opéra on her map, all sorts of helpful Parisians immediately stop what they are doing and help her read the map.

She says when she lived here for two years nobody ever did this. "Something must be wrong!" she says.

Before I have time to guess that a lot of Parisians have been taking Paris map-reading courses at night school, Claire and Glenn leave - which means that Stephan Nowak arrives, closely followed by Shirley and Walter Pappas.

For some reason Linda says she taught school for a few years in Germany - ah - I don't really know how this starts, but suddenly we are all talking in German - including Walter - but not Shirley.

"Das erste Deutschsprachige club treffen!" Linda says. Marion corrects my spelling of this. The café is full of a smell of lasagna and one of the club's sparrows flies in from the front of thephoto: group 2 café to look for baguette crumbs in the club's area - and suddenly the sun breaks through the thick clouds and lights up the interior of the 'grande salle' like a Hollywood opening night.

Just to show you that the sun shines on Beaujolais Nouveau Day in Paris - sometimes.

About here, before Shirley gets too bored - Marion has brought me a copy of Der Spiegel that is all about Rudolf Augstein's recent death - on Thursday, 7. November. The German weekly newsmagazine of reference was begun by Augstein in January of 1947 - I have a facsimile copy f it - this issue Marion has brought has 242 pages.

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