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photo, group of the week ric and don

Today's 'Group of the Week' is the secretary, and Don,
and his hat.

What In Translation?

Paris:– Thursday, 16. December 2004:– I could swear it was really gray outside this morning because it looked really gray outside. I should have taken a close look – hey! the Tour Montparnasse is disappearing – but I didn't, and was therefore quite surprised to find it was raining cats and dogs when I went out to get my daily bread.

Right sopping it was. A short time later when I left for the club meeting it was the same and it was the same after the club meeting, when a flic stopped me from crossing the Pont des Arts. Closed on account of rain?

The street outside is not wet now and although the sky is inky, I can see ghostly clouds flitting about. This is probably only a pause because tonight's TV–weather news has been quite categoric – there will be rains tomorrow.

There are to be winds too, buffering the west coasts at 60 or 70 kph, and in the afternoon ripping through here at 90 kph. 90? Did I write this right? Seems high. Windy, alors. Make sure your umbrella has had its winter overhaul. Meanwhile, on the temperature side it is supposed to be way up to 12 degrees tomorrow, 50 percent more than today. And, finally, if you are in the east expect snow to fall on everything over 800 metres.

Hardly believable, but some sunshine is predicted for Saturday. Maybe it's another mistake like the 90 kph winds. Along with the beams expect a high temperature of 10 degrees. On Sunday the Channel areas are supposed to be sunny again, but the same for here is somewhat doubtful. We have been advised to expect the solid clouds, maybe rain, the humidity, and a low high of 8 degrees.

The 'Fab Two' At It Again Report

By the time I leave for the club meeting today I know it is raining and I dress appropriately but get pretty wet by the time I reach the Métro. So much for the fiction of a Métro station every three blocks – all of mine are 3.5 blocks away, and the rain is pelting down.

Therefore I am not surprised to see other soggy passengers. I let the train roll all the way to Châtelet, andphoto, 10 cents of the week then fail to get a copy of Le Parisien there. The Rue de Rivoli is sodden and water is lying around everywhere and falling down, trickling into collars – oh, it is all a big slosh. I get a paper at the kiosque in front of Samaritaine. It's the last one and it looks used.

Forty–five of these required for one secretary's café.

More slosh slosh along the dark Quai du Louvre to the club's café. Drivers' lights are glittering on the sidewalk's stone slabs. It looks like waterworld, maybe the canal du Louvre. Inside the café, in its bar, there is a gent under a black hat. It is member Don Smith having a pre–drink café, for a standup un–club price.

The café's 'grande salle' is four people short of empty. One lady has her head on a table and appears to be asleep. Her companion seems to be waiting patiently for the next thing to happen. It reminds me that I haven't seen Willy the Bird for several weeks.

But I have seen member Don Smith recently, like last week, when he alone with his camera was the 'Group of the Week.' Don sits down. I take off my cap, coat, scarf, gloves, and sit down too. I get out the club's booklets and write in Don's name, and the meeting number. Then we look at each other. Now what?

Don is okay. He tells me he used to have a '69 Saab, 'with a flywheel.' I think, maybe all cars, not just Saab's, have flywheels. Joes used to race them across Canada. One guy I knew slightly, sold his after five races, as 'never raced or rallyed.' I would say, 'never buy an unraced Saab from a Canadian,' except I think he was Hungarian.

Anyway, back to Don's story. The car was used as a driving school and it ran into trees. If there was one tree in a vast mall parking lot the Saab would try to knock it over. Maybe it was a flywheel thing. The solution, for Don, has been to go to driving school in France. I dunno. There are trees here too and lots of cars, even French ones, have flywheels.

The next is a balloon story. I like this better because the club has members who do go on balloon flights. Don tellsphoto, mucky cafe of the week me balloons fly further, or higher, or wider, the closer they are flown to the North Pole. It has something to do with it being colder up there. Or maybe there's less gravity on account of the ozone.

Easy come, sloppy go.

Anyhow, Don's guy decided to ride on the top of the balloon instead of in the basket. He laid up there like he was in a big feather bed, although a bit chilly, and that would have been the end of it except that he blabbed in a bar about the feat, and some scumbag snitched him off to the FAA.

They, according to Don, looked in their rule book and couldn't find any rule against riding on the top of a balloon. They couldn't even take away the guy's license because he didn't have a license for riding on the tops of balloons. I bet all balloon people know this story, even through Don has sworn me to secrecy.

You might think this is pure nonsense, but Don decided to tell the story on account of the one I tell him about the guy who has been driving here for 45 years without a license. He got caught, andphoto, patrick waiter of the week fined, but didn't get his license lifted because he hasn't got one. Now he's going to driving school – to 'earn' how to drive – and he's passed the written exam, and if everything goes okay he'll try and pass the driving test in three months.

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