''I Need Help from an Expert''

photo: group, lauren, doug, marion, don

From left, the 'Rendez-Vous des Amis of the Week'
with Lauren, Doug, Marion and Don.

One Who is More than Half Right

Paris:- Thursday, 22. May 2003:- Due to yesterday's arrival of the cable-Internet guy in my household I cannot remember what the weather was like other than it was not raining when I returned from buying the essential part required for the cable connection - an Ethernet slot, with a whole computer attached to it.

Therefore, I assume today's weather has been the same. It has been mostly cloudy but warm and humid, with no sunny periods that I actually saw.

Tomorrow's weather may even be more humid and will likely top the week's - maybe the month's - record for high temperatures, with 25 degrees predicted by both Le Parisien and tonight's TV-weather news. There may even be sunny periods.

Thus ends the good news. Read no further if you normally find the other kind less than compelling.

Saturday is expected to be ghastly. You don't want the details. No sunny periods are expected. Unless you plan to dophoto: marion gellatly some shopping for an umbrella, it will not be a good shopping day. The other bad news about Saturday is that is it likely to be cool - to match the rain? - maybe somewhere in the region of 17 degrees.

Marion, in a typical club activitiy - talking.

For Sunday, tonight's TV-weather news diverges from this morning's Le Parisien prediction. Mom's Day in Paris will not be partly sunny. It won't be partly anything except mostly raining. It will also be cold, with probably not more than 16 degrees as the high.

Even though Le Parisien's weather map looks optimistic, it says the day will be the 'fête des grenouilles.' With street demos planned by most unions for the day throughout the country, plus some sort of strike by Air France. Sunday could be pretty interesting, if wet.

Such a relief, then, to change the subject to today's meeting of the Café Metropole Club, which is a sunny occasion no matter what the weather or the state of the current 'Crise Sociale.' This is an item not on the agenda the club doesn't have.

So good - the relief - in fact, that I leave much earlier than usual to get to it. My métro ride from Denfert to Châtelet is even fairly peaceful between stations when the wagon doors aren't open. Then I can hardly hear the brass band playing in the wagon in front of mine.

After taking a lot of photos of Paris around Châtelet when the sun isn't shining I finally arrive at the café La Corona to find Monsieur Ferrat behind the bar busily twiddling his fingers. When I ask him what he is doing he says he is busily twiddling his fingers because there aren't enough customers in the café.

I am, therefore, very glad that I have brought today's Le Parisien to read. I have fallen behind with the news on account of the Radio-France strike yesterday which had radio France-Info broadcasting music from Brazil instead of news.

I thought my radio had de-tuned itself overnight, and this was partly confirmed by my hot water tank only delivering warmed-over water instead of the usual ultra-hot stuff. I will try to remember the day named after Saint-Constantin may not be under one of my lucky stars.

Anyway, I am reading the pictograms about the coming demos, manifestations and strikes, between now and Thursday, 12. June - another club day! Ooh! It is on the disasterphoto: doug gellatly calendar because it is the day that the BAC exams start.

As I said, anyway, this is a far as I get - page three, after skipping page two entirely - before Marion and Doug Gellatly arrive. This couple from Port Hope, Ontario, were responsible for one of last week's 'Cities of the Week' and the 'Quote of the Week.' They immediately ask me about the strikes. We glumly look at the newspaper's pictograms together.

Doug, also in a typical club activity - talking.

Doug tells me about accidently leaving his camera at FNAC's Bastille outlet and going back there and finding a security guard who had put it under lock and key for him. I guess the moral of this story is if you are going to accidently leave your camera someplace, it should be at FNAC-Bastille.

Doug also has a wonderful 'Quote of the Week.' I think it was Marion who uttered last week's unforgettable quote, so it is in the same family, but not in the same week, and since there are no 'rules' anyway, it can be allowed.

"You are only half right," he says, to me, the club's secretary.

Unfortunately my secretary's notes do not include any context for this quote other than its text. But I think it may have something to do with UNIX and the Gellaltys taking millions of photos on their trips, and turning them into slide shows set to music, that they burn onto DVDs and give to their friends who love watching 80 photos of, say, Paris, as a musical slide show lasting three minutes.

This certainly beats tossing the prints into a shoebox labelled 1976 and putting them in a closet forever. Imagine it! Ordinary folks producing their own photographic musical shows and publishing them on DVDs. I'm glad somebody is actually using the nifty gear they've made for us.

"Ooh, it's hot out today!" is the first thing Lauren Camera-Murray says when she breezes in from the Quai du Louvre and pulls up a club chair. With this, I begin page two in club notes booklet number six.

Lauren's news is that she and Stephen have found a new apartment to rent. She says it has two art-nouveau fireplaces, but that neither of them work. She also says the apartment is not a split-level 'jewel.' I guess this means the fireplaces are a substitute for semi-levels.

Because Stephen works on 'California time' he can't always come to meetings. On days when there aren't any meetings, Laurenphoto: lauren camera murray often goes to the American Library near the Champ de Mars to borrow books to read - and soon, to read beside her new art-nouveau fireplaces!

Doug tells me that young and pretty girls are always talking to him - in Budapest - and recently in Paris on the métro, because they want to try out their English. Marion does not deny this.

Lauren, in the other club activity - listening.

The trick is, I think, is to be as handsome as Doug and wear a Canadian flag pin. Having one of these is like the sign of a secret society whose members are safe to talk to in English - or French! - because Canada is a bilingual country like, um, like Canada. Other countries like France are nominally mono-lingual, while Switzerland is stoutly quadri-lingual.

This is when Don Smith arrives. He says he has not been coming to many meetings lately because his métro station has been closed for renovations since January. He is underimpressed with my assertion that it is possible to walk to meetings - especially in strike days, when many stations are open even if there are no trains.

Lauren then states that the plantlife at Bercy includes white wisteria. Even though I am the club secretary and am supposed to be capable of producing these notes, I do not know if 'wisteria' is singular or plural - on account of having demolished my apartment for the cable-Internet guy - but, apparently, white wisteria are rare.

In return for this 'Tip of the Week' I suggest where Lauren may be able to locate small cardboard boxes so that she can ship French teddy bears to her nieces in the United States.

Actually, the real reason I give her these tips is because she begins her question with, "I need help from an expert."

As a bonus, I tell her the secret phrase to use in French to get nearly anything anybody wants in Paris. Parisians use it all the time, but anybody else can do it too, even if they only speak mainly Hungarian.

As you may have guessed from these notes I am not in true form today so the 'Group Photo of the Week' isphoto: don smith a less ambitious production than usual - although Lauren suggests it should be called the 'Rendez-Vous des Amis.'

Once the photo is in the box it is time to pay the notes. This is when Doug decides it is appropriate to remind us all that it is the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

In a third club acitivity, here's Don - smiling.

I am not surprised. Club member Jim Auman just wrote to say we forgot to have a countdown for Paul Gauguin's birthday at the beginning of the month. I don't know where he got this 'we forgot' stuff - it was his subscription to the 'France-Amerique' weekly newsmagazine that didn't get delivered on time. But, in principle, members are always right.

The Tilly Hat Story

"Guaranteed for Life, Insured Against Loss" is the inspiring opening statement inside Doug's hat. The rest is no less wonderful.

"The finest lightweight hat in the world. Handcrafted with Canadian persnicketiness. It floats, ties on (front and/or back), repels rain, blocks UV rays and won't shrink. It comes with eightphoto: the tilly hat "Brag Tags" in the security pocket plus a four-page owner's manual. Made of Tilly Nylantrum - a durable, waterproof, breathable, easily-cleaned, self-sealing nylon; Hydrofil - for superb anti-sweat comfort, and the best of British brass hardware. Machine wash warm. Unsure? Check manual. Please print or place your name and phone number inside hat. Fait au Canada."

Nearly a 'first' - the Tilly 'Hat of the Week.'

The 'Call for Your Favorite Restaurants' subject used to be here. With the weather we are having it seems appropriate to update your knowledge about the latest high-tech headgear from nasty- weather land, Canada. Its 'security pocket' may also be used for the batteries, which are, alas, not supplied. Doug could not show me the original 'Brag Tags' normally found inside the 'security pocket' because he had used them all up.

About the 'Café Metropole Club' About Page

Being a member of thisphoto: cafe, bill, 10 euros club is pretty low-stress, I think. If you read the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page it will tell you a bit about the club and how informal it is. Being free and having neat members are its other plus-points. If you require more information, I suggest that you read the 'About the Club' page again.

Two more club activities - having a café and paying the bill.

Give this 'About' page a pass if its lack of needless details are bothersome. You don't really need to know more than the one fact that you can become a lifetime member of this online magazine's live, free and real club by being at any one or more of its meetings in Paris, in person.

Why Not, Who, When, Where, How, What?

The club's meetings begin - contrary to Paris usual 'exceptions' - about 15:00 on Thursdays and continue until 17:00, in Europe's only Zone of Mythical Time - which is really 'CET' for short and not 'ZMT' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm in rare yards-and-half-pounder areas of the planet, even though club meetings are nearly exclusively only held in the Paris part of it.

Bringing any 'Quote of the Week' or concocting any other 'Things of the Week' are not 'rules.' True 'firsts' are always welcome too, with 'first' scoring far higher than 'true.' The club secretary's own 'firsts' are ignored even if 'true.' This is a general rule of members' behavior rather than a club ex-'rule' or informal 'exception.'

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, or 'out-out-opted,' please tell the club's secretary before hegraphic: club location map makes you famous. 'No rules' have ceased being an 'exception' or a 'rule' a long time ago. There are some other 'exceptions,' but really, hardly any exceptional ones.

Whatever you say will be sincerely appreciated by the other members present if they are listening, which they really do sometimes - even jetlagged - and by all readers of this online magazine - even métro-lagged, if it should happen to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraph is unchanged since last week on account of the club's secretary having forgotten why the dickens he needs cable-Internet. It is pretty clear he should have signed up for the semaphore.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini