horz line

48 Hours to Christmas

photo, group, don, sarah, judi, josef, scoop, sharon, berta, elliot, julien, bruce

Today's 'Group of the Week' here and now, once and only.

And Not a Peep to Tweet

Paris:– Thursday, 23. December 2004:– Everybody who wasn't here the last couple of days missed being really cold except for those who like being really cold but are reluctant to place their lives at risk on an Alp. Us frigid flatlanders shuffled around with nosewipes in hand, looking for shelter.

But that was then, briefly, and now is now. Just like the weather forecast for Paris is brief and if your attention wanders you'll miss it. According to the way it's done, the only important weather in France is on the Riviera, where it's sunny a lot.

For Friday we are to have a wind of 70 kph racking up the Channel. This will result in it being mostly cloudy and partly sunny, only briefly, in the morning and very gray in the afternoon, which will also be brief. The heatwave will continue with the expectation of a high of 11 degrees.

On Saturday the wind will switch around to blow at Paris from the northwest. On the coast the force of it will be 70 kph, while here it will merely be chilly, with the high pushed down to 6 degrees.

As soon as Christmas is over, on Sunday, there might not be any wind but the temperature will be reeling from the treatment of Saturday and will not climb above 2 degrees. Before you say, ho ho, I can handle it, just remember that it will be variously cloudy all day and especially cloudy in the afternoon, which will be brief but gloomy, again.

The 'Fab Ten' Pull Out the Stops Report

When I get on the Métro at Raspail there are a lot of people riding in the downtown direction. I expectphoto, scoop they are going shopping a day before the last minute on account of this year's poor planning that has placed Christmas on a weekend, spoiling all chances for one last really huge Saturday of frenzied shopping.

Scoop, relecting on Berta in the Samaritaine.

My head fills with humbug so I get off at Odéon. Even the Quartier Latin is decorated with nifty tinsel, but the narrow sidewalks are not overfull of shoppers with large bags. In fact I don't see anybody with a large bag. Even small bags are rare. Is it a humbug quarter?

Glancing at the Seine as I cross the Pont Neuf I see that the river seems high. Snow must be melting upstream. Hold on – I think TV–news has reported that alpine resorts are open even if they are using fake snow machines. What hasn't fallen yet can't be melting.

At the club's café La Corona Monsieur Ferrat tells me business is lousy. People who are shopping don't have time to sit around and pass the time eating and drinking. I wonder if Monsieur Ferrat is a Scrooge.

Patrick, last week's 'Waiter of the Week,' seems to be in a distracted mood. Maybe he's caught whatever is bothering Monsieur Ferrat.

In the café's 'grande salle' there are more people eating and drinking than I've seen the past couple of weeks. They could have snuck in the side door when Monsieur Ferrat was looking the other way.

I don't see any club members so I get out today's Le Parisien and give the returned hostage stories a glance. The news business in France is overjoyed to have a big happy story like this. The news radio has been going on non–stop about it for two days now, and television isn't far behind.

The psycho story, 'Is there a Noêl after divorce?' has caught my eye when Scoop Maginnis glides up and sits down. He says Berta is in Samaritaine giving it a workout. This morning they saw Véronèse Profane at the Luxembourg – not crowded, and they took in the Pharaoh exhibit at the Institut du Monde Arabe – packed to the rafters. A show, "Right off the boat from Egypt," according to Scoop.

Then he accuses me of not having any members at the club. Before I can tell any lies there are members all over the place. I guess they've been waiting outside for Scoop to put me on the spot.

New members are Judi Sui and Bruce Bernhard from Berkeley, California. Their friends Sharon and Elliot Medrich, from San Francisco, arrive a few minutes later. Don Smithphoto, cafe of the week and his hat wander in. Berta Maginniss, carrying a sack full of loot, arrives from a devastated Samaritaine.

Everybody introduces themselves to each other, hand–shakes all around. Patrick, today's 'Waiter of the Week' again, takes orders and delivers goods, and the party reels on.

The café 'Lake of the Week.'

Scoop fondly remembers apartments with no elevators. When you first come to Paris you get high floors, and you come down as the years go by. "It only hurts the day you arrive with all the luggage," Scoop says, adding "I don't use the elevator any more."

Berta notes that several members aren't at the meeting yet. They might not even be in France. Somebody asks about Christmas concerts and Bruce passes around a program with Notre Dame's schedule. Judi has a well–thumbed 'Pariscope,' and Berta says, "I'll remember it's on page 63."

"From our bedroom window I see the balloon go up and down again," Berta says. This is about thephoto, group two of the week tethered balloon in the Parc André Citroën, which has changed its name but is still there. Scoop says he rides it often ecause it's a good lookout. He finds historical buildings that are secret from it.

Alternate view of partial 'Group of the Week.'
Continued on page 2...
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