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The 2OOth Meeting!

photo: group photo of the week

Never have so many been so happy with so little cake!

''Where's the Dern Cake?''

Paris:- Thursday, 28. August 2003:- Last week, and even yesterday, we left the weather in its slipping-out-of-summer-into-fall mode, which was pretty good. The sun was shining most of the time, it was warm, there were little breezes, and it was really comfortable. There were no grounds for complaint, except possibly, to whine about how short this period was likely to be.

The whining can stop now. Today has been bright with high overcast-type clouds, causing a raised humidity - most notably in the Métro - and this is nowhere as nice as it has been and it can mean only one thing.

A storm warning has been posted for eastern France, from east of the Ile-de-France to the bridge over the Rhine at Kehl, and from Luxembourg to the Mediterranean. If you are in this area tonight and tomorrow, hold on to your hat and be sure to take it indoors. Everything else no one likes about weather is on the menu.

According to tonight's TV-weather news, this storm will not affect the Ile-de-France region that surrounds Paris. However, we all know that the typical forecast's margin for error is 500 kilometres, so maybe ships at sea will need to batten their hatches too tonight.

This warning is to be taken seriously because tomorrow's local forecast calls for rain-laden clouds to cross overhead in rapid passage from west to east. Summer ends unofficially on Sunday, but a sub-20 high of 19 degrees is predicted for here tomorrow, three days early.

Note! - Torrential downpour starts at 00:17 Friday morning in Paris. First bolt of lightning at 00:19:23 and second at 00:19:47.

Another reason for taking this seriously is the lack of any TV-weather news forecast for Saturday and Sunday. This could mean the weather will be more unspeakable than on Friday, or it might mean that TV-commercials bumped the weather off the air, because the dire-weather warning took too much air-time.

Take heart! This morning's Le Parisien predicted partly cloudy-sunny for Sunday, with rain bombarding the Luxembourg area of Europe, but with a high of 20 C here. Who knows? It may turn out to be true. Partly figs, partly grapes, as the French would say.

Today's Club Meeting

For people here who miss warm and humid weather the Métro is conserving it as long as possible.photo: two cafes This is not especially noticeable between Denfert and Montparnasse, but at the Montparnasse station a huge bunch of backpackers get on the train, raising the temperature in my wagon by several degrees.

Club members get royally sloshed on giant cafés.

What I don't understand are backpackers who are toting sacks on their backs about the size of portable coffins, plus they are carrying wheelie suitcases big enough to haul a year's supply of socks to the Arctic Circle. Where do they come from, where are they going?

Luckily Châtelet arrives before I can think of more than three possibilities, and then I am confounded by finding its tunnels full of backpackers too. They are standing around in groups of a dozen, arguing about which way to go. Getting past them is not pretty or polite.

Once out in the open air I decide to pass up the dubious delights of dodging indecisive shoppers on the Rue de Rivoli. In normal times Parisians are adroit sidewalk travellers with everybody using their radars to beetle through crowds without head-on collisions. I noticed in New York that pedestrians there had no such radar, and walking was never in zooms, but all in zags and zigs.

Even though I am early, I am the first to arrive at the café La Corona for today's club meeting. In fact, the totally empty 'Grande Salle' has no one in it, as Monsieur Ferrat outside on the terrace laments. Mistake. The 'Grande Salle' contains Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' who is half standing, half asleep.

The club's tables are clean and tidy, lined up as if for inspection. There is not one pomme frite or grain of salt in sight. And so it should be, for this is the Café Metropole Club's 200th meeting.

Since I am not carrying a cake I have obviously forgotten this vital fact. Whack on the crack of 15:00 Ednaphoto: ajata mona moy and Bob Bradley arrive from Costa Mesa in California and say, "We are going to Italy." The reason for doing this has nothing to do with their cat-sitter not showing up. They have had to leave their loved one in a plush hotel for cats.

Ajata, the club's first known dentist-at-liberty, fills in some of the club's questionaire.

Laurel Avery and Barry Wright arrive, from someplace where it is possible to buy large containers for transporting small dogs. As often happens at club meetings when members meet each other for the first time, Barry tells the Bradleys he has lived in Orange Country too, and can find funny things to say about 'South Coast Plaza' - which, if I understand it correctly, started out as a modest orange grove and now includes 97 percent of Costa Mesa and part of northern Mexico.

As if on cue, just as we are hearing about wonderful highway 405, Scoop Maginniss arrives from a racetrack near Aldie, Virginia. Barry, who is meeting Scoop for the first time, asks, "Have you seen Seabiscuit yet?"

"We saw it the first day," Scoop says. Laurel asks, "Isn't this meeting the 200th?" - which proves some members read these reports even if it isn't the secretary, who writes them.

"Are we going to have a club pin?" Edna asks, the wrong person - the club's secretary, whophoto: angelika only writes these notes - and Barry says that there are directories somewhere with little ads offering free club pins as come-ons for ordering millions of the things.

Edna is showing us Fodor's neat pin, which was available for all-comers, once, for about five minutes. Scoop says the club's secretary should get Philippe Starck to design one for the club, so they could be sold to members for more than peanuts.

All members benefit from Angelika's explanation of 'Slab-of-beer.'

The club's secretary doesn't quite see how a free club can do this. But if Barry wants to give it a try, the secretary may be able to get 'Ed' to desig one, for free - since he already has the logo handy.

Continued on page 2...
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