horz line

Annual Frango Time

photo: group, audrey, bruce poole

The whole 'Group of the Week,' from left to right – Bruce
and Audrey, without Tomoko.

'Province of the Week?'

Paris:– Thursday, 27. May 2004:– So much for big, high, wide anticyclones bringing lots of bright weather. What we've had instead is a small, low, narrow, weak fake of an 'anticyclone' that has produced weather less fine – almost worse than last week.

But not quite. The temperatures have managed to climb above 20 degrees and would have gone higher if not for the breezes. Bright mornings with warm blue skies have given way to mushy afternoons of no distinction. Carp, carp, carp.

Today's weather map looks like the original plan for the invasion of Normandy. Swoopy lines here, wiggly lines there, with little sun balls pasted on top of gray clouds. Wrong way around! The clouds should be pasted on top of the little sun balls.

Toss out the optimistic weather maps. Rain is supposed to push inland from the west and the best we can hope for is a line of sun balls from the northern border down through the centre of France to the Mediterranean. The temperature prediction remains at 22 degrees.

Same thing for Saturday, followed by rain replacing the line of sun balls through the centre of the country on Sunday. Then, hah,photo: corona, traffic back to Saturday's outlook on Monday, but with the nasties leaning on France from the Channel. Result – mostly cloudy, but maybe a tad better than Sunday's mostly rainy. Mind you, this is the optimistic forecast, and I do not give it much credit.

Today's traffic situation.

If you think I'm am taking this a bit too personally, you are right. We've had a pretty good winter and a good spring to remember, and I don't know why it can't keep on being good. Nobody minds a few cool and overcast days, but if nobody demands that the weather returns to fine and good, it won't. Do your part.

The 'Club Report of the Week'

Before going to the club I do something dumb. There is another meeting after it, so I write down the names of the people involved so I will appear really cool and on top of things. I forget that I outsmarted myself two weeks ago by 'making sure' I had the bumper–sticker contest winner's prize, when I had no such thing.

But I don't remember that fiasco, and set off for the club feeling that everything is under control. Then on the Métro, I begin to dither about where to leave it. At Cité? No, I did that last week. At Odéon? Time might be a bit short for it. Ah, I'll get off at Saint–Germain. Even if I see nothing, it's a quiet walk from there.

So, outside the Saint–Germain Métro exit there are ten thousand disgruntled electricity and gas workers walking west from Odéon, and another ten thousand swinging left into the Rue de Rennes. They don't want the minister of finance to sell the state power monopoly to the blood–sucking capitalists. He says – this is Sarkozy of course – that Brussels is forcing him to do it.

On the other hand, the prices of electricity and gas are supposed to be going up soon. The French aren't shy about overcharging their captive customers as long as they have a monopoly.

The back streets of the Quartier Latinphoto: cafe of the week are as quiet as I've imagined they'd be. More quiet in fact, on account of no car or truck traffic getting through. I am on the alert for crazed scooter jockeys though. These guys get into serious anarchy when they get held up for 30 seconds.

Today's jumbo café situation.

All is fine until I get to a tremendous traffic jam on the right bank side of the Pont des Arts. The green man comes on and cars, trucks and buses keep creeping into the crosswalk. Motorcycle lunatics are taking to the sidewalks.

In front of the club's café La Corona it is hellish. After I snake through the tin and glass to the other side, I see a police bus parked sideways across the Quai du Louvre, forcing all traffic into the Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny. Why, I wonder.

The interior of the 'grande salle' is nearly empty. I tidy up the order of the club's tables, write the meeting particulars into the reports booklet, and then notice the police bus disengage itself and speed off before anybody can see that it's been doing nothing except scrambling traffic.

The new 'Waiter of the Week' comes by and accepts my news that I won't be wanting anything until 16:00 with aplomb.

Since I am without any members present, I write some other notes. I really get deep into this and am getting caught up in schemes for Metropole improvements when my concentration is shattered by a big "Hello!" I jump 30 centimetres, or a 'foot,' whichever is more.

I have, the club has, Audrey and Bruce Poole, here to join the club. The couple come from Fredericton, New Brunswick, which becomes the 'City of the Week.' New Brunswick could even be the 'Province of the Week,' except for having been mentioned before in connection with Moosehead Beer, which is not available at club meetings like La Corona is.

Bruce tells me that he knows all about the club, and he assures Audrey that it is on the up–and–up. Bruce says he has read a lot of Metropole in the last couple of months. I feel flattered and wonder what's in it.

This is Audrey's first time in Paris. So naturally I want to know all about New Brunswick. There is not much air conditioning in Paris I tell Audrey when she asks. There isn't muchphoto: canada button in New Brunswick either she says. There aren't even many people there, except in fall when they show up as 'busloads of tree peepers.'

Apparently the colored leaf show in New Brunswick doesn't take a back seat to anyplace – it's just a bit further to go, and when you get there, there's no place else to go except back.

Today's modest button situation.

Bruce tells me New Brunswick and everything in it is owned by two families, the Irvings and the McCains. The latter are famous for 'frites,' that can even be bought in France if you shop in frozen food joints. Bruce says, "It all started with a two–pump gas station in Florenceville." Or maybe it was the Irving family.

Bruce wants to know where all the famous members are – people like Tomoko and the Server–Lady. The true fact is that club meetings aren't like late–night TV talk–shows, with regular 'buddies' and sponsors, and a crazed producer, and commercials every five minutes. No, club meetings are like that without all that stuff.

Continued on page 2...
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