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Hairy Marmalade

photo, cafe royal opera

Café near the new Tourist Office.

Some New Stuff

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 13. December 2004:– It seems to me that several years have passed since we've had really miserable winter weather in winter, or the December part of it. The TV weather–lady has been saying we've got a high pressure system sitting on top of wet clouds, squishing them down on top of us.

So it isn't raining but the sky looks as heavy as lead, and it's damp. It feels colder than it is and if a bit of a breeze is running around it isn't long before noses start to dribble. As each day goes by, the high temperature ratchets down a notch.

In the midst of this we are supposed to believe that tomorrow is going to be a missing link to this chain. Maybe it will be a bit bright in the morning and more bright in the afternoon, but whatever happens it's not supposed to get higher than 3 degrees, after a overnight low of zero.

Then on Wednesday, with a southwest wind rippling up the Channel, we are supposed to expect a return to the leaden skies, but with a huge temperature jump to 8 degrees. Thursday is foreseen as being even cloudier, with the same winds, but with a slight dip to 7 degrees.

Monsieur TV–weather news didn't do Friday. Le Parisien thinks it will be cloudy too. Before you say 'bah' just consider that the paper is promoting a temperature of 10 degrees, which wouldn't be too shabby from this perspective.

Café Life

A reader wrote to say that I am not alone in losing the notes I make so that I won't forget anything. This makes me think that there are two of us, but it doesn't answer the question of whether I should write notes saying where I left the notes. I should just do it and not worry about losing them. They might come in handy a couple of years from now.

Clip Job of the Week

My hair was getting darn shaggy and I was beginning to look like a Yukon trapper after a long weekendphoto, popcorn st germain looking for lost notes in the snow. Without warning some money turned up in my hand so I dropped what I was doing – hibernating – and dropped into Claudio's trim salon without a rendez–vous.

Year–round but festive popcorn kiosque at Saint–Germain.

As usual Claude was staring out his decorated window, wistfully wishing that he'd learned to play the guitar in Italy instead of coming to France where his teacher rapped his knuckles because he said 'confiture' Italian–style.

"Say 'confiture," he urged. I said 'confiture.' "You see, 'confiture,' 'confiture,' there's nothing to it!" he exclaimed. I had to agree with him. It sounded like 'confiture' to me.

It was a rare afternoon in the hairdressing salon. There was nobody else there. Usually there's a half–dozen neighborhood types hanging out, having a chat, or reading the magazines. I don't know where he gets them but most of them are fairly new.

Without anybody to wait for, we went to the sinks in the rear for the shampoo. As usual he forgot to dry off and the usual water ran down my neck. Luckily nobody else was there because he usually forgets to start cutting too, and it dries all spiky before he gets to it.

A monsieur came in and then went out again, to the café across the street for a drink. For a change Claude was bustling along. We were talking and I got careless and quit listening and started talking too. I was out of practice of account of the hibernation. It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The monsieur came back, announcing his return as if the café was a very difficult place to get out of, or the hairdressing salon was some kind of haven from cafés.

Also as usual, Claude seemed to get a bit hot when I didn't use enough extravagant Italian phrases, to praise the clip job he'd given me. Or maybe he didn't like how I casually brushed off about a half–kilo of loose hair onto his floor when I stood up.

"Say' confiture,'" he said to me. I said 'confiture.' He turned to the monsieur and said, "He's been a customer here for five years and he still says 'confiture' like 'confiture.' It's unbelievable!"

I couldn't believe it either. I thought we'd agreed that the French were altogether too fussy about words for jam. We had agreed that everybody in France should say 'marmalade' instead. Marmalade is kind of a universal word that even the French can say.

I can just imagine him stewing about it, and sometime when I have money again in 2009 and walk into his shop for a clip he is going to ask me to say 'confiture' again. But marmalade is burned into my memory now and I am going to remember it even without the note I'll lose.

Winter Folies

Hibernation has also been keeping me from my little rounds. At this time of year I try to get around a lot so therephoto, chocolate bombs are a fair selection of photos that show the season. But because the weather can be a bit stiff it's better to do it in small lots, and gradually arrive at a full set.

Holiday chocolate bombas.

I made a special trip to the Bon Marché weeks ago, but it didn't have its windows done yet. Samaritaine's windows have been done for a long time but don't look especially like it. I decided to skip the Tour Eiffel's ice rink because it's the only subject in that part of town, and paying 3€ to walk up for the photo isn't in the editorial budget.

On Saturday there was no putting it off. I jumped in the Métro and rode to Saint–Lazare, and then back to Madeleine on another line. High–end mobs surrounded Fauchon and Hediard and were thick on the sidewalks leading up to Haussmann.

There were so many families and other shoppers trying to see the windows of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette that the street should have been closed. Strollers banged my ankles and parcels crashed against my elbows.

In the Tourist Office in the Rue Scribe a couple there wanted to know what all the fuss was about. They thought it was some sort of Parisian riot. But I noticed that Capucines was almost deserted and there were only a few in the Place Vendôme wondering about the big reflecto balls.

The yellow lights came on as the sky eased from dark blue to black, and the Rue Saint–Honoré was only a bit less deserted than Capucines. On Pyramides I swung left and found the new HQ of the Tourist Office to be open.

It is a clean, well–lit space, sleek and practically empty. There's no souvenirs, and it seemsphoto, rue castiglione like the main business is turning up hotels for visitors. The hotel reservations in the old office were in a dim ghetto in the back somewhere, while the front used to be like the lobby of the world.

The Rue Castiglione just after the lights come on.

I guess the best thing that can be said for it is location. The new Tourist Office is on the way between the Opéra and the Louvre. If you are between neither, then it might seem a bit offside. Maybe it'll pep up the Avenue de l'Opéra a bit.

At Palais Royal I crossed to the Louvre. It was the first time I've ever seen it at night. Amazing how many people were about, in the semi–dark. I crossed back and squeezed on a full Métro for the ride to the Hôtel de Ville.

It has some Disney–like light effects on its face, and powerful lights keeping the skating rink bright. Off to one side there's a smaller rink for the small folks. The big rink seems bigger this year, and a small crowd were skating around free as birds. Looked like fun if you like ice.

The flower market seemed like somebody had planted it with a portable forest of Christmas trees and there were a few astute shoppers looking the trees over. How odd to walk past all the dark green pines, none of them smelling like anything I noticed.

The Métro for Montparnasse was crowded too. Everybody ordinary is doing their patriotic duty by shopping. Several department store patrons have been on TV news saying that they do a quarter of a year's worth of business in these last few weeks. They say this so often I suspect that they do five quarters' worth a year.

The score – 85 photos. After tossing out the duds and duplicates there are 70 left and it was after midnight. Next year I'll do them a bit at a time.

No One Has Seen Our Bomb

Last week I mentioned the explosive that gendarmes on a training exercise placed in the baggage of an unwary passenger, and then lost. Unless it was mentioned in a newspaper I didn't see, nobody has reported finding the explosive.

It went out on any one of 80–odd flights and apparently wasn't detected. No passenger turned himself into authorities to protest finding any stowaway explosives. Security authorities here are perplexed, embarrassed, and they have put the gendarmes concerned in a corner and told them to stay there until they learn to behave.

Museum List Online

As a service feature, there is now a list of most Paris museums and monuments in Metropole, featuring many fresh links to the various sites. The link to it is at the bottom of many pages.

Books Online Too

It has taken 1000 years, and never might be better than late, but now there is a book page in Metropole called 'La Librairie.' If you know of titles that you think would interest other readers, pass them on and I'll add them to the page.

Lost Anything?

Take a minute and try out the newphoto, cafe comedie francaisesearch and site map page when you get bored with this issue. The link to it can be accessed from the navigation line at the top and bottom of some pages.

The café of the Comedie Française.

Headline of the Week

Monday's Le Parisien wins yet again, with "L'affrontment" Our Prime Minister outlined how the 35–hour work week is to be whittled away, for the good of us all, and especially for the 200,000 inexperienced kids that will be guaranteed 'call–service' jobs so long as they're willing to work on Sundays. Loosening the rules for the 35–hour week will keep jobs in France according to the Prime Minister. The unions, the leftist parties, and half the French do not agree, of course.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The recent club meeting's 'We Get Blitzed' club report is still bright and online. There weren't enough members present for the traditional 'Group of the Week' photo, but Don and I toughed if out somehow.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is on a Thursday just like normal. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Sainte–Adélaïde, or Alice. This Burgundian saint, widow of the King of Italy, was the mother of Otton II and grandmother of Otton III. After all this she died at 68 in Seltz, in 999, on Monday, 16. December, after a rich life.

Other, somewhat simple facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The impressionistic graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks better online than printed, but who will ever notice? The club membership itself is absolutely free too, even if walking to meetings takes longer than swimming.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.51/52 – 15/22. Dec 2003 – for this double issue the Café Metropole column began with, 'Driverless Métro Line Goes Further.' The following week's 'Life' column had 'Have Breakfast, Or Else!' There were two features, titled 'The Passages of Time are the Grandfathers of Malls' and 'Trying Out Troyes – 21st Century Mediaeval.' The first Paris Life column by Laurel Avery concerned ''Somewhere Like Mars' and the second was 'Not Making Headlines.' This issue had repeats of the three Scène columns. The Café Metropole Club update for 18. December was titled as the "I Will Bring You a Blow–Fish" report. There were fourphoto, sign, maison de la truffe new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was, 'Up, Down with Noël.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.51/52 – 16/25. Dec 2002 – this issue's Café Life column led off with 'Wednesday, 25. December' and was followed by the Café Metropole column's 'A Small Issue, For Real.' Wine News was back with with 'Tools of the Trades.' The Café Metropole Club update for 19. December was titled the 'The Amsterdam, Oh, Amsterdam!' report. There were six regular Paris type 'Posters of the Week' plus another page of Xmas posters, and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Turkey Pizza!"

'Countdowns' Off the Wall

The antique feature 'Quote of the Week' is back again for the seventh time in modern history. Here's a smasher – "A rumor without a leg to stand on will find some other way to get around.." This is attributed to John Tudor, but I don't know if he is any relation.

The Only Urgent, Real, Actual, 'Countdown'

Five or six weeks ago, approximately,photo, caviar tin writing from then snow–bound New Jersey Jim Auman wrote, "The local weekly French newspaper announced the upcoming 100th anniversary of the death of Jules Verne. A trip to the Encyclopedia Britannica revealed that Monsieur Verne died on March 24, 1905 – not exactly a close, upcoming event."

Possibly not for New Jersey, no longer snowbound, but for Paris this major anniversary is still a mere 102 days from now.

One Anniversary Today Is More than Enough

On this day, only weeks afterphoto, xmas bunny of the week Albania's only National Day, it is with great pleasure that I announce the anniversary of the retirement of Pope Celestin V in 1294, after only five months on office. He was the first and last Pope to quit. A Benedictine hermit, Celestin was elevated against his wishes but managed to be canonized after he died a year later, at 80. A later Pope, Paul III, chose the same day in 1545 to open the Council of Trent

Today's Other Extra 'Important Dates of the Week'

There are only 18 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1560 when Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully was born at Rosny. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 348 days, the same number that 1928 had when 'Un américain à Paris' opened in Carnegie Hall in New York. George Gershwin wrote 'An American in Paris' during a long stay here.
signature, regards, ric

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