"Je ne suis pas content!"

photo: cafe tabac la corona

Standing in for the 'Group of the Week,' the club's
every week café.

Says 'Waiter of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 3. April 2003:- Last week's good weather - 'better than average for May' - lasted until Tuesday morning when friends arrived from late-summer Sydney, and then it took a crash dive. They were partly prepared for it because it had been snowing in Washington DC when they passed through there for a day on the way here.

Yesterday on the Champs-Elysées we were pelted with hard rain or soft hail, and buffeted by a stiff wind from Greenland. It made the Tourist Office's 'most famous avenue in the world' feel absolutely normal, with temperatures preparing for Easter's snow - which it was already trying itself out on some higher Alps.

Today's prediction was slightly better. The slightly sunny periods were around periodically, but the temperature has a struggle to get up to ten degrees. The breezes from the northwest were persisting.

This is all perfectly okay because we are not supposed to get any summer in March. We are lucky to get summer in summer, so I hope we can remember we nearly had some for about two weeks in March and not whine too much. I mean, I shouldn't whine too much even if I feel like doing it months before summer is supposed to arrive.

According to tonight's TV-weather news we are supposed to expect some fairly sunny periods for the next fewphoto: a nous a paris, le parisien, cafe days - including next Monday - and we were promised that temperatures should get off ten, and maybe go up to 14 degrees. Today's Le Parisien says 15 or 16, but what do they know?

Single- photo photo-montage showing the secretary's papers and café all in one photo.

I switched the contents of my pockets from my summer jacket back to my winter jacket on Tuesday, so all I had to add today before setting out for the club was a scarf. In a daredevil mood I left my hat behind.

The 'Strike of the Week' in France was scheduled for today and it started in time for early commuters this morning. I left my place figuring I had a 50-percent chance of walking to the club - against the wind - and maybe walking back from it.

At the Raspail métro station a lady in front of me couldn't understand why the ticket turnstile wouldn't accept her ticket. It was turned off and the exit door beside it was open. Downstairs on the quay, the loudspeakers popped into life and announced 20 minutes between trains, if we were lucky. The normal interval is five minutes, maximum.

At Châtelet there was no line at a ticket booth when I came out so I took the opportunity to ask for a carnet of ten tickets. The fellow manning the booth looked up from his newspaper and told me to come back on Friday.

When I asked him if he was looking for an apartment to rent in the classified ads, he said he was looking for a used car. Like many RATP employees he probably lives in some outer suburb.

On Rivoli there isn't the horrible traffic snarl I've been expecting - it seems quiet and subdued. This could be on account of the strikers marching from République to Saint-Augustin - more or less stopping right-bank traffic.

On the Quai du Louvre nobody is sitting outside on the café terraces. The wind makes it quite cool. At the club's café, La Corona, there is not much custom. None of either terrace, three people in the bar, and three booths with two people each in the 'grande salle.'

"Je ne suis pas content," says Patrick, today's 'Waiter of the Week.' This is a problem caused by unseasonal good weather last week, and seasonally rotten weather this week. Folks are hiding in heated museums or cinemas.

I am early so I have the meeting's details entered into both club booklets before 15:00. I look around and see no members. Aha!

Finally! I get a chance to read a newspaper at a club meeting. I have both Le Parisien and the strikingphoto: our lady of the cafe RATP's 'A Nous Paris.' I read both front pages. I look around again. It is 15:05 and there still aren't any club members.

I read about how the Prime Minister is facing the 'grogne.' Since he is planning to 'reform' pension rules so that métro drivers have to work a couple of extra years before they are entitled to a full pension, I would call it more than grumbling.

The club's patroness Sainte-Nerjita keeps proceedings polite if there are any.

According to the Parisien, 74 percent of the French think he is 'courageous' but only 48 percent of those polled think he can 'reform' France. As far as listening to the French, only 44 percent think he does.

Around 15 minutes before the hour I look around again and still don't see any club members. This isn't normal. But neither is a serious public transport strike day.

A bit further on in the paper I read that Presidents Bush and Chirac are not not talking to each other. The US Ambassador to France, Howard Leach, is quoted as saying that the telephone line connecting the two leaders is operational, but nobody is using it.

The rest of the news is kind of humdrum until I get to the city section, where a page is devoted to next Sunday's marathon. Apparently there's a psycho barrier at the 35 to 37 kilometre distance. To find out more about this you can go to Paris-Expo where there is a mini-salon devoted to the marathon, and maybe get carried away and sign up to run in Berlin - which is supposed to be very fast.

Even though civilians have settled in the club's area after 16:00 and Patrick is less 'uncontent' than before, he does remember to bring me my café, which I might otherwise forget.

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