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''Tea or Chocolate?''

photo, group of the week tomoko

'Group of the Week,' without moving lips, is Tomoko.

Was the Question of the Week

Paris:– Thursday, 17. November 2005:– According to tonight's TV–weather news we are not supposed to expect much in the way of excitement from the skies which is just as well because we've had lots of wild times in the past few weeks and we are tired of it and need a rest, such as a having a calm weekend sans souci.

Skywards, if anybody happens to look up tomorrow morning, there will probably be blue from top to bottom and from east to west. By noon and after this is supposed to evolve into not quite so blue, maybe a bit of high clouds, but believe me nothing to worry about. In the temperature department you won't be able to expect much more than 7 degrees.

On Saturday a large or steady number of winds are supposed to pass through here, heading from east to west, atphoto, mean sky of the week about 40 kph. While the sun shines – promised by TV–weather! – the temperature will take another little hit, and struggle to hit a high of 6 degrees.

One version of a very changeable sky today.

However it will be counterproductive to sneer at this because Sunday has been announced without any breezes, meaning nothing, because the sunshine will be back, brighter than on Saturday, and the only flat note will be the day's high of 6 degrees again. And if you like this, Monday may be the same.

The 'Tea or Chocolate' Report of the Week

Of all the readers and club members who wanted to know why there were no club members at last week's meeting, not many of you wrote to ask 'why not?' Despite this singular lack of curiosity, the answer is simple. Tomoko had to visit her dentist.

But when I leave my artistic lair in Montparnasse and set out for the club I do not know this yet. On the way I am accosted by Uncle Den–Den who trots along with me past the cemetery as if he's coming to today's club meeting but as soon as he sees Raspail he turns around and returns to wherever he came from.

Of course I do not dwell on this because I have the thrill of riding the Métro to look forward to. But of course the train is not there, is it? A tiny bit of courtesy to a club member has cost me my habitual ride, and I have to take the next train and play catch–up.

But the sun is gloriously shining on the Louvre and the Pont des Arts as I cross the Pont Neuf which is also finephoto, beaujolais nouveau of the year today, with some Joes bravely adding new stones to it or fixing ones still under guarantee. It's not a criticism. I get to see these classic stoneworkers every week, hacking away with the same power chisels as the originals.

Glorious shrine to today's 'Beaujolais Nouveau of the Year.'

On my first traipse through the bar of La Corona I have the impression that they haven't celebrated Halloween. I keep on going, out another door, and look for signs. Yes! A Beaujolais Nouveau sign is in place, magically appearing while my back was turned. And inside, lo and behold, but young Monsieur Naudan is showing me the café's icon, shrine, crown of grapes, consisting of a barrel with one bottle surrounded with fake grapes. Is it beautiful?

Many of the waiters are dressed in traditional native costume to honor BJ Nouveau, sporting straw boaters and wine red smocks – what are they called? And in the café's grande salle there are many more clients, sitting comfortably around glasses full of red wine, the guest of honor itself.

But at first, at the beginning of the meeting, I have no members new or otherwise, to inscribe, so I peruse Le Parisien, which starts off with '742 outlaw towns.' Sarkozy's old town, Neuilly, is the number one of these 'outlaws.' Inside the paper Le Mans is rubbing its hands, but Marseille has jumped its compass. La fin de l'âge d'or du beaujolais nouveau is on page 13, just about where you'd expect to find a has–been.

This is turning into a long meeting so I go out to the terrace to catch the sundown, the ratty traffic, the empty chairs, but without warning Tomoko Yokomitsu catches me off–base, and we go inside so I can watch her face when she takes a drink of BJ Nouveau.

When Patrick the 'Waiter of the Week' comes to take our order he gives the ritual reply to the ritual BJ Nouveau question – is it any good? – but of course the police pass with a howling siren just then.

Tomoko asks me whether she should order tea or chocolate. The club secretary has to answer many questions as best he can, but when I ask, Tomoko counter–asks with, which will come out better in the photo? I say tea.

Then the oddest thing happens. Tomoko says, "The black cat was squashed flat. The black cat was squashed flat," and again, and again. I look under the banquette for cats. I look at the ceiling to see if Eva is flying around up there.

Patrick arrives with the tea pot and it is not the silver one I was expecting. It is some sort of modern affair, probably acquired at one of those places advertising Asian Electronics, nothing more than 29€. After ten minutes Tomoko hauls a tea bag out of somewhere and I look in the pot and there is no tea bag in it.


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