A Real Carnival

photo, group, marion, stephan, tomoko, katie, alan The 'Group of the Week,' Marion, Stephan, Tomoko, Katie and Alan.

Usual Hocus Pocus

Paris:– Thursday, 23. February 2006:– It has been a few days since the last meeting of the Café Metropole Club but not much has happened in the sky. It got cloudy five weeks ago and stayed that way. Sometimes the gray has been enlivened with feeble sunbeams and at other times it has rained, sometimes with bits of ice in it. But mostly it has been like winter, like we have not had for several years, not even last summer.

I don't think February is going to get its cold and glass–clear week this year. Maybe March will get it but it is pretty unlikely. Maybe Easter will get it but I will bet on snow. Meanwhile they've all gone up in the Alps, and the slopes have cooked up and now there's avalanches all over the place. They could have stayed home instead and watched everybody lose in Turin.

photo, teabag of the week The 'Teabag of the Week.'

If folks were going to the Indian Ocean to get away from it all I hope they don't catch the bad bug down there. Staying home isn't a good idea either because the bird flu is getting ever closer. There's no danger here in the city so long as we don't eat any wild feathers. French chickens, ducks, geese and escargots are okay, according to the prime minister, who has to eat one every day and like it.

I can waste this space on general news because the weather, like I said, is pretty simple. Think light rain, minor snow, overcast, humid, crummy, lows of zero degrees and highs of 5 degrees, and one sunbeam every afternoon at 14:54 lasting three minutes, and you've got the whole picture from now until Monday morning. Hells bells, add all of Monday to it too!

A Real Carnival

According to the calendar the time's up. Today is the anniversary of Metropole and I have risen a hour early in order to be able to receive the cards, letters, telegrams, and emails with the good wishes of all from far and near. But after waiting patiently beside the door with the telephone within reach for 20 minutes, I gave up and had a breakfast of chicken necks and a half–dozen raw eggs, with a pound of fried foie gras on the side.

Thus refreshed I checked the email for incoming cheer. That guy in Nigeria who was offering me the $25 million seems to have moved to Abu Dubai. The other email asked if I have a spare telephone to give away. The remaining 65 messages were spam, which is giving that tasty but salty meatlike paté a bad name.

photo, marion nowak thinks Marion thinks...

Hardly disenhearted I gathered up the club's stuff, the camera and a couple of Métro tickets and set off on the familiar journey to the club, past the cemetery swathed in gray mists and into the Métro at Raspail, totally unchanged in five weeks, to exit at Odéon like it was yesterday.

At the north end of the Pont Neuf the city is tearing apart the crosswalks, letting traffic filter through, with a burly flic harassing the drivers and ignoring the pedestrians. If you are on foot don't take it personally.

At the Café Corona they ask me, "Hey! Where were you? Been on holiday? Got bird flu?" Nobody has left any messages, notes, billets doux, telegrams, bottles with treasure maps in them.

However in the café's 'grande salle' there are a couple of club members waiting for me, waiting for me to explain what I did with the cookies they sent for Christmas. "Aha!"I exclaim, "That's what's in that package."

Marion Nowak says, "They are probably inedible by now." I think not. I trust Marion to wrap up cookies as if she intended to send them to China instead of the 14th. I wonder what kind of cookies they are.

While Stephan Nowak is telling me about all the supermarkets in Germany that had to close so that heavy snow wouldn't collapse flat roofs, perhaps injuring all the hungry folks searching for decent chickens, Marion is having a difficult time with a very hot handle on her teapot. In fact, she says she normally doesn't even like tea – and suspects that fine tea is nowhere to be found in Paris.

photo, stephan nowak unposedStephan considers... teeth.

But of course we know this in incorrect. You can get any kind of tea you want at the wedding place, what's its name? Marion remembers it, as she should, because there's one by the bus stop. I remember it so well that I tell Stephan that it smells like India.

Which reminds him of what somebody told him Bombay smells like. Going into this isn't going to help Marion with her tea, so I mention the Chinese coal mine movie I saw the other night. There's about five million Chinese coal miners but the movie was only about two, who bumped off their mates to get the compensation. It was hard to tell who exactly was profiting.

Then Stephan, who is a scientific guy, tells me crazy fast drivers in Germany are falling out of love with their BMWs. It seems as if BMW has tricked out their cars with so many trick features that fierce drivers can't find the gearshift, can't get that vroom–vroom thrill, slide the rear end, wind down the window. The cars read driver's minds and do what the factory says. But drivers, really, just want to drive fast, mindlessly.

photo, tomoko, cutie Tomoko's 'Cutie' is not a mouse.

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