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''Mushy On the Inside''

photo, group, 6x heather's eyes

One member provides six eyes for the 'Group of the Week.'

Special Easter Meeting

Paris:– Thursday, 24. March 2005:– To find out if it's raining I look out the window and down into the street to see if the windshield wipers are wiping. Some drivers are shifty and they are driving around with rain in their faces without wiping it off, as I find out as soon as I step out of my door and big drops fall squarely, coldly down my neck.

You could see it raining here today and you could see on tonight's TV–news too. What we did not see on TV was any explanation for why the 25 ambulances were jamming the Quai Voltaire, with sirens howling and blue lights twirling, tonight. Are we on strike again? Other than the SNCF at Gare du Nord, who knows?

One thing certain is that the weather is not the crown jewel that it was last week. I caught the moon againphoto, rainbow, montparnasse last night – over Val du Grace – but all there was in the sky this morning was water. Tomorrow is supposed to be semi–sunny in the morning and somewhat more in the afternoon, maybe with a high of 16 degrees.

Then the weather will become confused. From Brittany to the Alps there will be glop on Saturday. North of some diagonal line it will be semi–sunny, and if this includes Paris it will be with a high of 17 degrees. If you are around the Channel there will be a wind blowing towards Ireland.

Today, not Easter.

This year, for a change, it does not seem as if we will have snow at Easter, on Sunday. The TV–weather lady seemed to think this day would be especially confused, and her animated map showed hundreds of little black clouds superimposed on top of little sunbeams, with the whole lot drifting to the east. High for the Easter egg day is expected to be a fresh 15 degrees.

Should you put off celebrating Easter until Monday, this day is expected to be unstable as well as confused, and colder.

The Member Number One Report of the Week

In spite of the rain I leave for the club meeting without a hat, even though I gave one of my fedoras a good brush–off last week. It needed it after sitting in a hatbox for 12 years. It's a hat that was popular in the east Texas oilfields around 1947, long before everybody went Hollywood.

Actually, I forgot it. Before I get to the club I remember a couple of other things I forgot too – like a memory card for the camera. Luckily I always carry a spare in case I run into a freak forest fire or a whale beached in the Seine – I could make a fortune off a lucky news photo.

As far as Paris is concerned there isn't much new to report. The usual crowds of Easter pilgrims seem to bephoto, frites of the week in town. These are the ones who are 'doing Rome' on the cheap. If they can stand up on Sunday, they go to Notre Dame and stand around there waiting for miracles. It's been a few years since the last one, but there's always hope.

The Corona's 'Frites of Champions.'

Sitting in the café's 'grande salle' I see some of them riding past on the upper decks of the sightseeing buses, seemingly oblivious of the rain. I hope they are happy it isn't nearly snowing. In the café, some more of them are polishing off bowls of onion soup, before traipsing off with soggy umbrellas.

There is a new 'Waiter of the Week.' He is busy cleaning up the messes the pilgrims have left behind so I don't bother not ordering anything. I pull out my copy of Le Parisien and read about how I can pay my income taxes without paying 'un euro de trop.'

Inside the paper the lead story is actually about how the French are living to great old age. The average life expectancy has now climbed over 80 years, putting France in second place after Japan. The paper says there are 15,000 residents over 100, but none of them are club members.

I am in the midst of political news, on page six, when Heather Stimmler–Hall interrupts. I put away the paper immediately for the club's number one member because she asks me where the other members are. I wonder too, now glad that there are two of us to wonder together.

Heather tells me about her new apartment. Actually, she doesn't say anything about it, but she does complain about the clock that dings on the Mairie at the Place d'Italie. "It's inconsistent, it doesn't ring on the hour," she says.

She was moving in a couple of weeks ago and happened to see the big all–union march that started there. "They didn't go anywhere for three hours – they just kept arriving!"

Heather mentions the mess left behind one of these huge events – all the handbills and tracts, the foodphoto, cafe of the week trash from the portable barbeques, the empty water bottles and pop cans, and confetti of course. I think, all we need is to know somebody living near Bastille and République, and then we'll have all the major demo places covered.

Your Ed's 'Café of the Week.'

For the moment, with no other members present, we can discuss shop talk. A reader wants to know how hotels get three stars, and Heather is currently the club's hotel expert. "Three stars – can be a dump," she thinks, out loud. This is like – 'three stars' – compared to what?

Compared not to other Paris hotels and certainly not to American hotels, but rated according to some minimum standards that they must meet. Some three star hotels greatly exceed the standards, and so do some two star hotels, according to Heather.

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