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''Where are the Gypsies?''

photo, group, carlyn, mark, robert, dan, olga, nancy, fred, linda, bob

The 'Group of the Week' includes Carlyn, Mark, Robert,
Dan, Olga, Nancy, Fred, Linda and Bob.'

One Member Noos'd

Paris:– Thursday, 12. May 2005:– The TV–news weather lady comes out and swallows bravely before saying there's a change in the air and things are going to get unstable. This is compared to how they are, which has been nice and bright but a bit windy. In fact it has felt very spring–like with a sparkly blue sky and all this fresh air whooshing around like a glass of tonic in the face. Cool in the mornings but who wants to complain?

Now that you are all relaxed, here's the bad news. My weather map for tomorrow has so many dark clouds, red bolts of lightening, torrential rain lines and sunballs either in front of or behind clouds that I can hardly make out the up–to–the–minute scribbles I've scrawled on top.

It's over the top, out to lunch! Obviously it's not going to be all that bad, just confusing, unstable if you will – that I fall back on my notes which merely say, 'cloud cover, yuk.' The high for the day may be 18 degrees, if the wind along the Channel from the northeast doesn't get a lot above 60 kph.

Intense analysis of Saturday's mess of lines leads me to predict a semi–sunny day, with a high of 16 degrees. You don't need to know the details, just cross your fingers.

Sunday is even more complicated because it will be fairly bright in eastern France and reasonably bright in far–out western France, but in the middle there will be a band of glop, stretching from the Channel to the Pyrenees, sweeping across the country like a giant windshield wiper. The weather lady called it a 'new front' but I say it is a disgrace, with a high of only 16 degrees to boot.

Not that I have details but Monday looks like it might be sinister. It looks like a crossword puzzle with all the boxes filled in with clouds, both white and black. This is, by the way, our former holiday of Pentecôte, and it is probable that France will be celebrating it by having a national schmozzle.

The 'Where are the Gypsies?' Report of the Week

I don't think today is the Queen's birthday. All I know for certain is that the Queen's birthday isn't celebratedphoto, wine of the week on the Queen's birthday, possibly for some technical reason along the lines of Queen Victoria was around so long that nobody could ever imagine having a Queen's birthday on some other day because it would be confusing.

Now that I know I won't be celebrating I put my only Métro ticket in my pocket and set out to walk to the club. I was going to set out earlier but throwing emails in the trash slowed me down. In compensation I decide to pass through the Luxembourg so that I can check on the state of its palm trees.

Back by acclaim, the 'Pot of the Week.'

Some Joes in Hollywood have belittled Paris' palms, claiming that they are hothouse shrubs, little more than overgrown skunk cabbages. We are going to have a beauty contest. Their Sunset Boulevard palms will be wearing skimpy bikinis. They don't know yet that Paris' palms are going to be nudists.

In the Luxembourg the first palm I see is in the shade and it looks ill. The second has some yellow ball–things up at the top of its trunk where the leaves, fronds, start. This isn't a good show. How did they get like this?

Anyhow, I get through the Quartier Latin with time running out, and cross the Pont Neuf without falling off it. I don't get clipped by a racing taxi crossing the Quai du Louvre and I have to hardly rabbit–punch any sightseers further on, clogging up the passage.

At the café Patrick says, "Il y a du monde." By the time I enter the café's 'grande salle' du monde is merely two people, who have come to join the club. Two new members are not so rare these days, but I take off my coat all the same and sit down and start the meeting, bang on 15:00.

We have Carlyn and Robert Alpert from Woodland Hills in California. This is a modest town with average palms that are no threat to Paris palms. They could be cousins, get together and sneer at Hollywood. Carlyn says Woodland Hills is rustic.

Robert tells me he went to school in Portland or Oregon, and used to "Yo–yo between Vancouvers." The very idea leaves me speechless for 30 seconds until I am interrupted by Carlyn who wants to know who jumped into the Seine last Friday night, causing a horde of rescue operations. I seem to remember seeing this in a movie on TV last week, made in 1932.

Luckily Robert has a positive tip about where to change money. He says the Samaritaine gives much better rates than banks or change places.

In fact the Alperts are often visitors in Paris and they are able to compare their present experiences withphoto, secretary's office past ones. Today they are happy with Samaritaine but it wasn't always this way. Then they were over by the Tour Eiffel the other day when a flic guarding it told Carlyn she wasn't supposed to photograph him.

Imagine – six million visitors show up to photograph the Tour Eiffel and there's this cop standing in front of it. What are they supposed to do? Come back when he's off duty?

The club secretary's little office.

Olga and Dan Ciupitu arrive and take over a table in the club's area, but far away by the back wall. I wonder if they have a chill. Except for two old French ladies, who decline to join the club, we have the whole place to ourselves.

Carlyn is telling me about the time she was at the junk sales at Vanves, wearing overalls, and two plainclothes cops demanded her papers, which she didn't have. They let her go because she smiled at them. I wonder if it works with the California Highway Patrol too.


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