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''No New Meat!''

photo, group, adrienne, ron, heather, rita

This week's 'Group of 4,' Adrienne, Ron, Heather and Rita.

Red Dirt Returns

Paris:– Thursday, 14. April 2005:– Visitors arriving for spring, for 'April in Paris' of all things – are acting surprised when they learn that we've had 'spring' in March and now we're having 'Easter' weather, which is quite similar to February weather, or would be if February weather was truly dreary.

In a nutshell it means that waves of wet clouds are crossing France from the Atlantic to the Alps, and fingers of Arctic air are poking at Paris, although the TV–weather news people will only say that temperatures are a 'bit below normal for the time of year.'

In fact, around Easter, temperatures are usually a 'bit below normal for the time of year' so often thatphoto, scarf of the week you'd think they are perfectly 'normal,' but it must be offensive or something to the weather experts. A 'bit below normal' for the next three days will be 14, 13 and 14 degrees, and I think it's insulting.

A fraction of the secretary's new scarf.

Beyond this it may not be too bad. For the Friday the wet wave is supposed to have passed – it's passing now as I write this – and it will lash wet upon eastern France far from the green and pleasant part right around here. In the wake of the waves, partly cloudy and partly sunny, with maybe more sunny than cloudy.

This will be ditto for Saturday and ditto again for Sunday, with maybe the next wave cruising in from Brittany late on Sunday. Ah, who knows? Maybe it'll be earlier on Sunday. Le Parisien thinks it will certainly be here on Monday, with gouttes everywhere except in lower Normandy and down on the Côte d'Azur.

The 'Stuff To Eat' Report of the Week

The sky is not very high and the clouds look like they are carrying some freight of water, but it is not raining when I leave for the club. It was the bread that got wet when I went out earlier to get some. After getting the Métro at Raspail and leaving it at Odéon I notice that there seems to be a lot of students around.

There are troops of them on the Pont Neuf and small groups of stragglers on the Quai du Louvre. The students have been demonstrating against government reforms almost daily lately, and they are shownphoto, bowl cafe of the week on TV–news in the evenings getting pushed around by the anti–riot police. If the government can wait long enough, the students will give up and go and write their exams.

The bathtub of 'Café of the Week.'

Sailors from around France were in Paris today, also demonstrating. They are trying to get the government's attention on account of high gas prices, and for another reason. Some ports are blocked while they do this. Radio France is having some sort of strike, so we aren't getting much new news concerning 19 other groups that are grumbling or demonstrating, or both.

Tonight Jacques Chirac, the Président, is on TV to launch his part of the official campaign to promote a 'yes' vote in the referendum about the European constitution. If it weren't for all the grumblers the outcome wouldn't be in such doubt. But there it is – a 'no' vote will be more a vote against the government than a vote against Europe.

The 'grande salle' of the club's café is a quarter full when I arrive but the club's area is cleared and ready for members. The club administration takes its customary 90 seconds and then I turn to today's paper. Before I can turn to page 14 to read about Bernard Tapie's fortunes – he's going to 'settle accounts' – Rita Martinson arrives.

"I've been cathedral–hopping," she says as she takes a chair across from me. She's been to see a dozen cathedrals before her Eurail Pass expires – Reims, Soissons, Royan, to name a few.

Somewhat before I can absorb another half–dozen names, she asks, "Where's thephoto, coke of the week red Café Metropole mugs?" Gazooks, I think, I need to send the designs to Berta and Scoop Maginniss! I write a note on my hand, with a 'PS' not to wash it.

After Rita says, "It's a cold day in April," she asks if she can give me a gift. It's a long time since Christmas so I welcome this sort of club activity just so long as it isn't a heavy book. In an orange plastic wrapper there is a white and black kafiya, the very item to keep a neck warm on these damp days. I will treasure it.

What's left of the 'Coke of the Week.'

We are on a wide–ranging tour of other subjects on the horizon – "Always carry a dime" – "Umbrellas are an old custom" – when Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives, looking like the wind has blown her in to the café, but there's no wind.

At first I think Heather has forgotten her make–up, but she says she's wearing her contacts. She's working, not so busily, on the update to her book, the ' Adventure Guide to Paris, Etc.' Some places mentioned in it as open, were closed when it hit the shelves, but now they're open again.

The 'Waiter of the Week,' Patrick says, "Grande crème chérie, no problem!" Rita sas, "I'm not going to eat at the Plaza–Athénée." Whatever this is about, Heather says, "I just ate there."


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