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20 Questions

photo, group, richard, david, bonnie, daniel, ann, bill

The 'Group of Six,' Richard, David, Bonnie, Daniel, Ann and Bill.

No Multiple Choices

Paris:– Thursday, 7. April 2005:– You should have seen the TV–news weather maps. The ones in today's Le Parisien are just as horrific. There are curvy lines like waves washing over France from the northwest to the southeast and they are pushing along herds of ugly.

There is a vast finger of cool air hanging down from the Norwegian Sea or the Greenland Sea, and it is acting like a funnel to bring Arctic air to this green and pleasant land. But this is surely not news. It is Easter time after all. Yes, the Easter time when it gets damp and cold, and maybe there's sleet and even snow – regular as clockwork.

The blonde TV weather–lady used words like chaotic, terrible, unstable and below normal, and she was only talking about Friday, which might even have a few winks of sun in the morning – but with a day's high no more than 9 degrees.

I forgot the northwesterly wind of 70 kph. On Saturday this will only be 50 kph, but by then the temperature will be struggling to match 8 degrees. On Sunday the worst might be over, or passing on to harass the rest of France, but the wind here will be whistling through at 60 kph, and maybe the temperature will be 10 degrees somehow but I don't know why.

On all these days there may be rain or its variants, such as 'gresil,' 'giboulées,' or plain 'gouttes' in buckets. But if you think this sounds bad, Le Parisien is predicting a Monday with 'nébulo–frisquets.' Not a day to leave dogs outside.

The '20 Questions' Report of the Week

Resolving to turn over a new leaf, ah, get on the way to the club meeting earlier so that I can walk awayphoto, bonnie's notebook from any Métro strike or other unforseen surprise, comes to nothing as usual. I don't know what happens every week about 14:00 except that the clocks speed up or click off the minutes two at a time.

Time to cringe – Bonnie's notebook full of questions.

At least it's not raining. Waiting for the Métro at Raspail the sign says it will arrive in two minutes, but it takes four. It's within its margin for error and I guess I am too because I leave it at Odéon and walk the rest of the way.

Crossing the Pont Neuf I notice sirens howling all over the place. The cops must be returning after their lunches. The Quai du Louvre is absolutely jammed with every kind of traffic, and I see the blue lights flickering with impatience. Is it civil war? Where's the fire?

In the 'grande salle' of the club's café there are a fair number of civilians polishing off their lunches. Even though club members eat but rarely during meetings all these others prove that it's possible, maybe even affordable, and possibly tasty.

Pretty soon there isn't anything left except crumbs. With the particulars inscribed in the club's official notebooks, I turn to the day's news. Prince Rainier has become the 'end of a legend,' on the front page and following six pages. For France, Jacques will touch base in Monaco on his way back from Rome.

But I don't get time to absorb the entire Grimaldi legend because member Bonnie Blythe is before me, with Daniel Heakin, both from Portland, Maine, and Bonnie is reminding me of every detail concerning her first meeting, in May of 2001. It is not, I must say, as clear as yesterday, and even mentioning member Ed Hawco from Montréal doesn't help.

But it is perfectly good enough for Portland to become the 'City of the Week' – right at the beginning of a meeting, in compensation for all the other time that Portland, Oregon has been mentioned.

Before this train can be followed, Ann Barner shows up with Bill Nichols, right from the airport right after a very long flight from southern California, from Roseville and Folsom. Ann says that Bill is anphoto, wine of the week 'American skeptic,' meaning that he is somewhat skeptical about this club and its Ed.

In fact Ann and Bill got to the café for today's club meeting at 14:00, when Ed was still in Montparnasse trying to get the lead out, so they immediately had some doubts.

Luckily Bonnie and Daniel were in a nearby booth and overheard their worries, and reassured them that they were in the right place at the wrong time, but not seriously wrong.

The 'Wine of the Week' is not Beaujolais.

Bonnie says she has questions. While she gets organized, finds her notebook, Daniel tells me about the hazards of Maine. These are mainly moose, "Several fatalities, people killed by a dead moose," he says. A police car goes by with its siren howling full blast.

I learn that the moose aren't the ones in hunting season who are outnumbered by hunters, but 'free' moose in other seasons who don't know who has the right–of–way. On account of the siren, another one, we are then on the subject of the Pope.

Bonnie says, "The day the Pope died, we moved from Notre Dame to Saint–Germain." Ann says, "It's better than the book I was reading on the airplane." This would be a goodphoto, broken tv remote quote if I had added the name of the better book, and was sure that Ann said it.

About this I am certain – Ann wants to know if the police sirens mean hat they are changing shifts. The truth is, I don't know, but the central courts are nearby, on the Ile de la Cité, and for all I know the cops are trucking in tardy wits.

Find a replacement for this TV remote control – where?
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