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''This Is Irreal?''

photo, group, walter, dan, susanne, bruce, olga, audrey, shirley, tomoko

The only 'Group of Eight Photo of the Week.'

Put On Another Prawn

Paris:– Thursday, 9. June 2005:– This weather is way too good. Here it is June and it's not freezing or nearly snowing, it doesn't feel like March and the end of winter, spring has actually happened and here it is sliding up to feeling like summer. What is this? The 'impossible' year? Some fantasy out of a textbook?

One thing for sure is 'normal' weather sure doesn't seem 'normal.' The sun is shining, the breezes are playing around with the air, the sky is a total pale blue – no, mid–blue – and if we were going to complain it would be about the rather low temperature. But for some people, maybe a majority, this is a plus too.

Tonight's TV–weather Joe didn't bother us with details like the big picture 'mass of air' or the blue and red temperature animation. He just launched into the outlook for Friday, very uncomplicated, with one big sunball and a few scattered itty bitty little clouds caressing the north, which is a fair way off from here. Add a low of 11 and a high of 22 degrees and there you have it.

The rest of the show wasphoto, red wine full short, for the outlook for Saturday is for more of the same, but with the itty bitty clouds knocking around near the Alps or bumping into them. Over Montmartre, just blue skies. Ah, the temperature won't be blazing with a high of 18 degrees though.

On Sunday while maybe more little clouds gather over to the east, harassing the Alps, the show should stay the same here, with the same temperature. It won't be perfect for sitting on the grass and having a picnic but if you keep moving you are unlikely to get overheated. For once I can say it looks good, so be sure to carry a concealed umbrella on Sunday.

If I'm wrong you can't say you weren't warned.

The 'Put On Another Prawn' Report of the Week

Apparently there has been a huge demonstration by angry industrial workers, but tonight's TV–news treats this like a 'ps' to their story about the prime minister's offensive against unemployment. A bit of a scan reveals that retired people have been marching today too, and the Métro had a partial strike on some lines. The effect of this on the line four at Raspail is less waiting time than usual – one minute.

The station Saint–Placide is open again so the train stops in it. It means one more station full of posters to look at, but none of the posters are wonderful this week so I'm just as content to rise to the surface again at Odéon and swing down Dauphine to the Pont Neuf, where the traffic lights are on strike.

A couple of cool lady flics are controlling traffic like lion tamers and I put my life in their hands without a qualm, and gain the bridge where I immediately jaywalk to the western side. This is a number one sport in Paris but I've heard that the parking–ticket brigade can hand out tickets for this. I can't imagine them doing it if the jaywalker does not do anything silly – like falling asleep in the middle of a street.

The usual flics controlling the traffic flow at the Samaritaine are nowhere to be seen so I wait for the green man and when he lights up I risk my life to cross. The lady who runs the newspaper kiosk has ended her strike, today at least, and she sells me a paper.

Further along the Quai du Louvre I see that visitors have taken to seats on some of the terraces with a front–row perch for watching the antics of drivers getting enraged while waiting for the traffic lights to give them the old green dot. Or, maybe they are watching for seagulls.

When I get to the club's café I go around the corner to look in the cake shop window, to see if there'sphoto, 2 coronas anything cute to photograph. Member Susanne Chaney is coming along and asks what I think I'm doing. My watch, which is fast, says it's ten minutes until the meeting time. There is nothing in the window to shoot so I turn around and go to the café.

A pair of 'Coronas of the Week.'

Its clock says there are 12 minutes left before the hour. I think it's slow. The club's area is empty, except for a couple of place mats and cutlery. Susanne Chaney arrives, eating an ice cream cone, and asks me if I'm going to order something to eat.

The 'Waiter of the Week' arrives a minute later and clears away the place mat while saying he remembers the club from last year, but I do not remember him – one of several dozen one–time 'Waiters of the Week.'

Susanne tells me about the street demonstration of industrial workers, and the warning about today's Métro strike that she found yesterday posted in buses. In the middle Olga and Dan Ciupitu arrive and Dan hands me a leaflet that the demonstrators gave him. It complains about measures that the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, announced yesterday.

"Summer is coming," Dan says. You might not think such an observation is remarkable, but it is a rare one to make here, in this climate where summer some times does not arrive in summer or any other season.

Olga and Dan were on Montmartre yesterday, by coincidence, in the same place where I began a '50–cent tour' for a couple of visitors. A '50–cent tour' starting on the Right Bank that doesn't include the Left Bank, is half of the 'dollar tour.'

"I didn't get my portrait done," Dan says, about the portrait artists up on the Butte. Beforephoto, carafe water, glasses I can explain the geopolitical situation of Montmartre's portrait artists Susanne, Olga and Dan are locked into a fascinating discussion of train fares between Amsterdam and Gare du Nord. Obviously, just finding the right track at Gare du Nord is worth whatever it costs.

The hardly noteworthy 'Waters of the Week.'

Next I have some guy standing opposite, until I figure out it is Walter Pappas with a haircut. "I fell asleep in the barber's chair," he says, not a bit embarrassed. "I can recommend him!" He scans the club's area, all four of us, and says, "Where's Shirley?"

Since I don't know he continues. "They have a way of smelling bargains outside a store," he says, "They have a bargain hunting sensor, and their pocketbooks vibrate," he insists.

He must be thinking of having no 'bargain hunting sensor,' which allows him to be in this caf&eacte;, where his wallet isn't vibrating. "It can't be better than this," he says, pausing for a big gulp of breezy air, "But we're not aware of the reality of it."


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