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Tijuana! and Ballarat!

photo, group, jennie, bob, priscilla, dennis, lily, caitie

Today's 'Group of the Week,' Jennie, Bob, Priscilla,
Dennis, Lily and Caitie.

Combo 'Cities of the Week'

Paris:– Thursday, 7. July 2005:– Just like a somber hangover from the bad old days a gray sky lurked over the city this morning and it was no better at noon and didn't promise anything different for the rest of the day. The temperature was somewhere below 20 and if it were going anywhere it certainly wasn't up.

According to tonight's TV–weather news this average July weather is going to continue for a few days, especially for Friday and Saturday. By 'average' it means that the skies will stay gray, they will spit some drops of rain, winds will blow it in your face and keeping warm outside won't be enhanced by sitting in a park.

This stuff will be coming over in waves tomorrow in a confused order of march, enough so that I hesitatephoto, champagne to predict that there will be any sunny periods, but if there are they will be fleeting. If you find yourself outside do not expect to find temperatures higher than 19 degrees.

For Saturday the word is unstable. Actually tonight's TV's weather map looked somewhat more optimistic – compared to Friday – so maybe you can count on an extra two degrees of warmth.

Rare 'Champagne of the Week' may be a 'first.'

By Sunday better weather will be trying to penetrate the continent from the west, and if it advances enough the gray may shift eastward and leave it partly nice here. Another sign of improvement is a predicted high temperature of 24 degrees which will not be too shabby if it happens.

The 'Combo Cities of the Week' Report of the Week

Instead of stories of wretched excess and jubilation some alarming news is coming from London this morning. This is hardly the way to start the day on either side of the Channel. The morning headline in Le Parisien, written for another subject, can be recycled for Friday's edition – "Tristesse et colère."

My wonderful breakfast turned to ash. Gray clouds slid across my living room window, bowled along by a ragged breeze. Here it is July and supposed to be summertime for many, and the beginning of the event of the decade for our offshore neighbors, and it gets burnt to cinders.

Still, it is club day, so there isphoto, cafe something to do besides sit around and wonder. Wonder, for example, if the Métro is running and if it is, is it full of commandos with machine guns? If not today then by tomorrow probably.

The secretary's 'Café of the Week.'

The road that cuts through the cemetery parts is suitably gloomy and it is raining just enough to make the umbrella I've brought seems like a good idea. It is either the first or second time I've remembered to bring one this year.

The city posters promoting the Olympic games that were still around yesterday, have today been replaced by new ones saying that 'Paris likes sports anyway, and congratulations to the city that will host the games in 2012.' These must have been ready to go 'in case of' because I see several of them.

On the walk from Odéon to the Pont Neuf the Quartier Latin seems subdued but it could be the weather. Traffic is as insane as always, being especially clogged on both sides of the Seine. The old lady is still holding out in the paper kiosk in front of Samaritaine, and today she manages a 'bonjour.'

There is nobody sitting on the café's terrace even with the awning stretched out to ward off rain. It is an onion soup day if I ever saw one. Almost the kind of day to invite the ducks inside and feed them some frites.

But in the café's 'grande salle,' in the club's area, there is Uncle Den–Den and three mademoiselles. "You are late," he says, attempting to rattle me. Hah! Any secretary who has arrived for 297 club meetings knows how to do it on time, as slick as water off a duck's back.

What we have here is Uncle Den–Den's niece – I think – Lily Lewis, who lives inphoto, pastis Tijuana, Mexico, and classmates from the Alliance Française, Caitie Paxton from London and Jennie Boin from Melbourne.

As you can imagine this is pretty cozy. Better yet Lily provides a wonderful 'City of the Week.' She says it is not the most dangerous city in Mexico. At first I was under the impression that Lily lived in Los Angeles, so deep probing turned up that Jennie's hometown is really Ballarat, in western Victoria about a 100 kms from Melbourne. So how's that – two 'Cities of the Week?' Tijuana and Ballarat.

Extra rare, yellow 'Pastis of the Week.'

The Alliance Française is about learning French so Dennis tells us his method. He explains that he was always required to read the 11th sentence so he concentrated on it, and of course he got it all wrong because he was concentrating on it and ignoring everything else. Can he remember the 11th sentence today? Not likely!

Jennie observes that Dutch is only spoken by the Dutch because nobody else can speak it, and the Dutch want to keep it that way so they can talk to each other and nobody else will know what they're saying. If the Dutch don't care about being overheard, they speak in English, French or German.

Then Jennie is telling us about how Ballarat was a famous town for gold rushes a while ago when members Priscilla Pointer and Bob Symonds arrive and drop themselves into vacant chairs and order drinks, with Priscilla opting for Champagne on account of them returning to Santa Monica soon. Bob makes do with vin rouge.

It is bound to come up, so when the bombs in London do, they are shocking news to Caitie. She hauls out her portable phone and calls for an update and after about 20 minutes of redialing she gets through and everything is okay.

Once this worry is out of the way the mademoiselles all do the club's questionnaire one by one. Caitie notes that rain in Paris is what she likes least. This is not compared to London, but to a myth about Paris always being sunny. This is one I have never heard before. Maybe it has something to do with the photos.

Many new members don't do the questionnaire, especially since the 'rules' were abandoned without pity. I see that Lily doesn't like the weather much either, but Jennie's number one peeve is big and unfriendly hostels, which could be improved with 'better' ones.

None of the three mademoiselles has any suggestion for improving Metropole, partly because they never heardphoto, wine of it before seeing it mentioned on the questionnaire. I guess member Dennis must be given a point or two for his recruitment activities, but there isn't any rule covering this.

Besides learning French Lily's other interest is the opera. Dennis specializes in snagging 'last minute' tickets, which he did recently, only to find that the opera they were seeing wasn't Romeo and Juliet but Elektra. Dennis says that you try to buy the tickets just before they become worthless. Apparently it's a form of art.

One of the 'Wines of the Week' with the blues.

Out on the café's terrace but barely out of the gloom cast by the awning we gather for the week's 'Group Photo of the Week,' and it goes off without a hitch. The secretary wishes he knew why it will do this one week but not two weeks in a row.

Back inside there is no problem coming up with more subjects requiring discussion – architecture, cellos, Serbia, the rain some more, photography, Samuel Beckett's 'Diary of a Nobody' – but before long we are as full of this as we want to get and then it is time to drift off in our various directions, until next week.

Berlin Update

Club members Lennie andphoto, raincoat Doug Carlson arrived in wet and cold Berlin and immediately proceeded to Checkpoint Charlie in order to write the welcome and timely report below.

Almost on the terrace, the 'Raincoat of the Week.'

"The mood in Berlin with the rain and dark sky was something right out of a John le Carre novel. Missing were the East German Vopos on the Wall's watchtowers with their conehead helmets, which always made them look menacingly ridiculous. They did indeed tear down the Checkpoint Charlie memorial on Tuesday, but it wasn't as alarming as we had supposed. What was taken down were the thousand–plus crosses on a vacant lot and a Wall replica. We spent a fair amount of time in the permanent museum, which is impressive, and it was doing a huge amount of business."

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report' with enough different 'Cities of the Week,' probably doesn't exactly clear up what this is all about. If you have time take a glance at the virtual 'About the Café Metropole Club' page with its collection of photos, words and the famous crossword puzzle of a membership card. You can join the club too, with or without one, on any 'Thursday of the Week.'

Where, How, What, Who, When, Why Not?

Club meetings, as these afternoons are laughingly called, begin at 15:00, in the afternoon, always on Thursdays and continue for two whole hours until 17:00, usually in the western European Time zone, now in its stretched summer version. Known in other exotic places as 3 pm to 5 pm, around somewhere else is not where meetings are held. Be sure to turn up in the café La Corona's 'grande salle.' The folks in the back, are us.

Enhance a meeting – by being at one. Stay around for a hour or two with old and new friends especially if you have the time for it. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' being equivalent to 'first' even if 'real' is just as likely too, and if it is an alternate form of 'true' with any sort of connection to reality, fact or fiction.

A note of caution – you may have any one or more personal reasons for remaining unfindable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in one of these club reports.graphic: club location map Throw your name into Google if in doubt.

Former 'rules' continue to be former week after week after week, month after month, year–in year–out, forever and beyond the plains, divides, comets, stars and universes. Nevertheless these ex–rules may still be consulted so that you know that this historical social club makes it rare to repeat them, as we never tire of repeating.

Talking to other club members at meetings is encouraged rather than optional. There are usually empty chairs, so sit – wherever you like. Standing is permitted too. Whatever you say will be honestly appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are some but not always – and if it should chance to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of today's not so total surprise turnout by the three mademoiselles in person.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini