horz line

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 n 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.

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