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No Fur Hat

photo, group 1, berta, scoop

Breathing our frigid air, Berta and Scoop, almost gasping.

Is Too Expensive

Paris:– Thursday, 29. December 2005:– It has been a bit chilly today with a temperature that made no attempt to get above 2 degrees. Mind you this was an improvement over this morning when it was minus 4. Elsewhere in France the freeze is even deeper, except for temperatures flirting with 10 down south.

Today's Le Parisien forecast a thaw for tomorrow but tonight's TV–weather news has a different story. All of western France has an Alert Orange for snow, until tomorrow afternoon. The TV weather–lady said something about expecting 'up to 10 centimetres' of snow. Unclear is whether this will fall on Normandy's black and white cows or on Parisians, or both.

Other details include the snow landing on frozen ground, so it will stick, and south winds puffing along at 70 or 90 kph, although on the maps these were shown offshore, in the Channel, and gusting towards Belgium.

Also on Friday a high of 10 degrees has been forecast for the western tip of Brittany while here it is supposedphoto, onion soup of the week to be no more than zero. The tendency will be for warmer air to move east, and it should arrive here on Saturday, New Years Eve, in the form of 7 degrees as the day's high.

The 'Soup of the Week' today.

The wind will still be blowing, but switching around the compass, and Saturday's skies are forecast to be between very cloudy and cloudy with brief sunshine peeps. The same program has been forecast for Sunday, New Years Day. Windy, cloudy, 7 degrees, and maybe a bit of sun if you look quick enough.

If you are hardy be sure to try out Paris Plage on New Years Day, and think of yourself as on a sort of polar beach, without the sand, palms, deckchairs or boules that are six months off.

The 'Bus Station' Report of the Week

I don't go out before I go out to go to the club so I don't have a preconceived notion of the ambient temperature and this is a good thing because there is no ambient temperature. But myphoto, club madonna true wool sweater, made for Canadian loggers, holds in heat better than all the plastic stuff. It only lacks having heat inside it, because walking down the stairs cooks up no calories, creates no calor, and I think once again I should eat more cassoulet for breakfast.

Too late for that so I churn my jeaned legs briskly past the unheated cemetery and in no time I am sitting in a warm Métro wagon whizzing though underground tunnels towards Odéon, where it is lightly snowing.

The club's own madonna of the fronds.

Frozen people are wandering around trying to look interested in the amazing sights of the Quartier Latin but further on down Dauphine most of them have given up and the sidewalk is clear of gawkers and the seekers of significant moments. On the Pont Neuf nobody much, as much as they might want to, is looking over the situation, because bridges are short on shelter.

The Quai du Louvre is deserted too. All in all I find my sweater working fine by the time I arrive at La Corona. Here, it seems to be the place where everybody has gathered, face down in onion soup bowls. The café's grande salle looks like it's been taken over by the alpine version les bronzés, with many sweaters like mine, pompons on the knitted caps, balloon coats, baby buggies, portable phones, fronds, madonnas, and waiters acting like they are in a comedy about how not to give service at the chalet.

The club's space is occupied by a whole band of 15, deep into the frites, the garlic, the wine soup, the AOC onions, the grilled slabs of iron bread slathered with hot melted fromage, and it all smells like... Paris, more than Mont Blanc.

I park at the edge of the club's area and am well into Le Parisien before a waiter tells me I haven't been forgotten. Monsieur Ferrat slides by, laden with cheese slabs and mountains of frites, and excuses the café for the disorder. As a frequent observer of Thursdays in the café, today seems like the jour de l'année, the equivalent of the first few minutes of the Soldes d'Hiver.*

The front page of the Parisien says, "Snow, Verglas – Only Two Days More." It is also called the grand froid, usually capitalized. It's the kind of stuff Finland gets every year, but is the equivalent of a general strike here.

After a half hour the club's tables are being cleared but new wayfarers are arriving, and at this momentphoto, berta members Berta and Scoop Maginniss arrive, so we all scoot rapidly back to the club's proper location. We are a bit too quick because Berta gets jam on her shoes, left over from some short person eating off the floor.

Turned to the warm light of the café, Berta.

There is a pause for whoosh. This is what one does after having been out in the cold and comes into a warm café. Realizing it is warm causes a whoosh, and then coats can come off. Same thing with hats and gloves, but in Paris we keep our scarves on.

"They had hats with fur," Scoop says, "but they wanted 50€." As if to prove the point, lonesome snowflakes outside begin to fall, joined by their white uncles and cousins.

The background sound in the café is at a high level, made by folks who sound glad to be inside with waiters willing to bring cups, bowls and plates of hot stuff to eat and drink. Actually, it is a major uproar, with emphasis added every few minutes when a waiter makes a fatal misstep and a tray of glasses hits the marble floor.

In case you wandered in here late, Berta and Scoop joined the club on 23. December 1999, with membership numbers 25 and 26. It was the club's 11th meeting on a Thursday. Today's meeting is number 322. Since Berta and Scoop have been to many meetings over the years, they ask for news of other members they've met.

With over 650 members now, I don't quite keep all in memory. In fact I have difficulty remembering last week, and it is usually members who read these 'reports' and keep track of whophoto, scoop is on hand, who is coming and who has just been. Berta sniffs at my memory. What can I say? I wasn't elected.

Besides talking about other club members we have a moan for the closed Samaritaine. It is still closed, it is staying closed for years to come, and it is sorely missed. It was like the club's 'home' department store. Members returning to their real homes could waste their time at club meetings until beyond the last minute, and do the catch–up practically next door.

Unfazed by big, black, bazooka camera, Scoop.

We talk about Paris and I have only one tip for this time of year. Berta, as she does every year, asks if there will be fireworks at the Tour Eiffel at midnight on Saturday. Every year, except for 2000, I say the fireworks are on 14. July – regardless of whether the city sneaks in a fireworks display between now and year's end. It has happened before.

Instead I point out that there are two ferris wheels inside the Grand Palais, and they are going to be there for two extra days. The problem with this is that they are the super popular hit–of–the–season and the waiting line is long.

Gradually we manage to get the 'Group Photo of the Week' in two versions. Berta is for the inside version but since it has been left late they put on their duds and we do the outside ones on their way out. Parting, they wish all members a Happy New Year.

The Italian gentleman whose photo I've taken with his portable phone is guarding my coat from the waiter when I return, and we exchange seasonals, if he was in fact, Italian.

Then, loaded up and off to the bar for the rest of the seasonals I pass two ladies in the booth next to the passageway.photo, group 2, mussette, barbara I almost pass, because one looks familiar, so I stop. Hey! Yes, they are prospective club members – who have accosted some other Joe pretending to be the club's secretary – except he stoutly denied it.

Mussette and Barbara catch club secretary, who captures them.

As the real club secretary I induct Barbara Fee and Mussette Richey, both from Austin Texas, into the club. They are pleased to hear that they aren't the only members hailing from Austin – in fact they know some of them. It could make Austin the 'City of the Week' if it didn't already have this supreme distinction.

But all the same this last chance encounter results in today's sole 'first' – Barbara and Mussette are not only new members of the week, but also the last new members to join the club in 2005. All together now, we dance from success to success!

*Soldes d'Hiver begin on Wednesday, 11. January.

New Year of the Week

As has happened in previous years, Paris area public transport will be operating all Saturday night and Sunday morning. The best part may be that from 17:00 on Saturday until 12:00 on Sunday, all rides will be free.

Within Paris all buses and Métros will be operating normally up until the regular times. Then a special all–night service kicks in. For the city it means Métro lines 1, 2, 4, 6, and 14, plus RER lines 'A,' 'B, 'C' and 'D' run all night. Somephoto, neon, grande salle SNCF suburban trains will also be operating, to compliment the RER trains.

Sign translation – 'this way to the club.'

Then, not least, buses will be operating to and from hubs in Paris, at gares Saint–Lazare, Est, Lyon and Montparnasse. For example, if you have to eave town suddenly early on Sunday morning, take the buses 120 or 121, or 140, from Gare de l'Est, to CDG at Roissy. The extra all night RER 'B' trains only go once a hour to Roissy, until regular service resumes in the morning.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This highly informative club meeting 'report,' including costly fur hats, may leave you perplexed. Illuminated behind the mystery true facts are on the 'About the Café Metropole Club'photo, last cafe of the year page with its low–rez photos, bloated prose and farrango of a membership card made of recycled bike parts suitable for beer can lids. You can join the club in any year containing at least 52 remaining 'Thursdays of the Week' left next year.

Last café of the year.

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

Club meetings usually begin at 15:00 and normally continue until 17:00. These times, fixed in cement, are termed in some lands to be 3 pm to 5 pm. Around somewhere else is not often where meetings are held. Substitutes are unreal. Bring yourself to the café La Corona. Come with a friend, relative or stranger. The folks in the rear of the big room is ze club, or more exactly, we.

Attend any meeting – by being at one or more. Pass a hour or two or a whole meeting with other club members pretty much like yourself. Real 'firsts' are welcome. True stories are will get a hearing. Other stories will depend on your skill. Attending more than one club meeting is optional, and not discouraged.

Caution – you may have a personal reason for remaining unfindable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found'graphic: club location map by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in one of these illiterate club reports.

The 'ex–rules' that the club once had continue to be former. These rules were mostly nonsense, even if you can find them. Otherwise you may, in theory, learn that this club features talk, cracker barrel philosophy, unlikely stories that are true, and never institutes new rules because most members are self–secret Anarchists.

Talking to other club members at meetings is plenty okay rather than optional. There are always some empty chairs, so sit – wherever you like. Lounging is fine too. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if there are any listening, and sometimes there are but not always – and if it should by glancing chance be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because now that it is winter the count–down to the first instance of 'Onion Soup of the Week' is over, as of today. Smells like... garlic!

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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Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
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there is no such thing
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Waldo Bini