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Tuesday
Aug092005

Bandits Strike Paris!

The Big News in Paris this week is that the Frogs have gone ape-shit over Aussie-style pokies. C’est vrai! It started as a joke in an Australian bar in the Latin Quarter (called, I kid you not, “The Dingo Ate My Baby”). Seems the manager imported a couple of machines to add a bit of authentic Down-Under flavour to go with the schooners of Fosters and the didgeridoo ambient music. He didn’t expect the French to get the joke. But they’ve taken to them like ducks to water. And now he’s making more dosh from ‘les pokies’ than bar sales. Fair dinkum! He’s leased the shop next door to his bar, knocked a bloody-great hole through the wall and turned it into a ‘Gaming Room’ - complete with Change Machines, ATM, complimentary coffee and ‘Iced Vo-Vo’ biscuits gratis for the punters.


First it was the foreign students and tourists queuing up to get on a machine and then the Parisian night crowd got hip to the action and the place has gone ballistic. They bang on the doors at ten in the morning and have to be forcibly ejected by a Samoan bouncer at three the next morning when the machines are serviced.


The rest of Paris has seen what’s happening and pokies are popping up everywhere. They’ll even be in the Louvre soon. Yes le Louvre, that bastion of high culture on the banks of the Seine. If you go, look for the signs “machine à sous” (“slot machines”) on the Second Floor. It’s a Triple Bill – you can see where they filmed “The Da Vinci Code”, check out Moaning Lisa and have a flutter on the bandits at the same time. A bloke will be able to say to his Missus ‘I’ll be a bit late home tonight Darl’ – there’s a new exhibition at the Louvre I’ve just gotta see’…………and bang – there goes the housekeeping.


Even the smallest of bars, and believe me some aren’t much bigger than a suburban Australian lounge room, are going for it. Out goes those clickety-clack football machines you see all over Europe and the sixties-style pinballs and in comes ‘Queen of the Nile’, the ‘Penguin’ and ‘Chicken Run’.


I tell ya, we’re “flavour of the month” here. Sales of Fosters, VB and Winnie Blues are going gangbusters. ‘Bonjour’ is fast being replaced by ‘G’day’, ‘No Worries’ and ‘She’ll be right, mate’. No bullshit, they love us!


The “Dingo Ate My Baby” bar has special promotions where you can win Bondi Beach towels, tubes of ‘Pink Zinc’, six-packs of stubbies and rubber thongs. The sheila behind the bar reckons fights break out all the time over the free beer-nuts and Smiths Chips. She can’t keep up with the demand – soon as she fills the bowls the players are into it. They tried Jatz Crackers and cubes of Coon for awhile but the punters used them as missiles and the cleaner went on strike.


The Bandits have only just started to infiltrate the suburbs. But the shit’s hit the fan. They reckon school truancy is at an all-time high and job absenteeism is rife too. Marriages are breaking down – hubby’s hitting the slots straight after work and coming home skint and stinking of VB and Bundy. Pensioners are withdrawing their life-savings and putting them through the machines hoping to win the big one. Even the buses and trains are affected. The Metro was stalled this week for lack of drivers – they were all down the pub trying to get the three pyramids for 20 Free Games. Or the Penguin and money token. Or the three chickens to cross the road to the safety of the ‘Topless Chick’ bar without getting run over by a Mack truck. It’s madness mate!


So this week enough was enough. The Mayor of Gay Paree (who is, as it happens, gay) convened a National Debate on the scourge of Les Pokies Australien. The finest minds of the land sat down in the splendour of Hotel de Ville and pondered the existential question of electronic gaming and its affect on the national psyche. A dozen machines were installed so the delegates could experience firsthand the phenomenon happening out there in the city and ‘burbs. But proceedings had to be abandoned when the learned Professeurs and intelligentsia started brawling over whose turn it was to play.


Anyway….. I’d love to tell you more but I’ve been playing this machine over the road and I reckon it’s about ready to spew the big payout. I nearly got it last week but the third chicken got creamed by a Semi. C’est la vie.


Disclaimer : There are no poker machines in Parisian bars – Australian or otherwise. This has been a lame attempt at humour by the writer. However there are Australian poker machines at Enghien-les-Bains casino in a Northern suburb. You can play all reels/full weight for Ten Euros a pop – about A$16. And if you give me some playing money I’ll gladly escort you there.

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