My thanks to Vivienne for sending me this image of the symbol that has quickly come to represent the stoical and uplifting reaction of Parisians to Friday night's barbarities
Over the weekend, I was privy to two splendid examples of defiant English ‘pluck’.
My friend John - who now lives in Paris - happened to be in London during the Paris attacks on Friday night. He was spending some time with his sister and was due to travel back to Paris yesterday, via Eurostar. I asked him if he intended to change his plans, specially as his home is within spitting distance of the attack sites. The Place de la Republique, the Canal St Martin and the 11th arrondissement are all just a few minutes’ walk away. I’ve wandered round those streets myself - often.
John’s reply to my question was typically phlegmatic, not to say scatological. He scolded me for even suggesting that he might change his plans. To be honest, his exact words (look away now) were ‘Fuck the terrorists.’
Coincidentally, Brian - my oldest friend and a balletmaster of international reputation - was due to travel by train to Paris on Saturday morning to do some teaching and assessment there. Many years ago, he lived there for five years and fell in love with it (as you do) and enjoys these occasional weekend assignments there.
And again, it didn’t even occur to him to change his plans. Cancellation or postponement were not even options. He caught his train on Saturday morning, took the classes, stayed overnight in an apartment in the city centre, took more classes on Sunday morning and returned to London in the afternoon. He may easily have said ‘Fuck the terrorists’ as well.
I’m undeservedly lucky to have friends like Brian and John, aren’t I?
* * *
There are a couple of little tail-pieces to their stories.
Both men reported that the Eurostar trains they caught from London were uncommonly empty; a reflection of the regrettable tendency of so many people to be cowed by the actions of Friday night’s murderers, thus giving them precisely what they want.
Even more regrettable, though, is the taxi-driver who picked Brian up from Gare du Nord after his arrival in Paris on Saturday morning. The normal fare to his destination is less than €30. Because of the dislocation of public transport, however, the driver extorted €70 from Brian.
* * *
A very big Thankyou to everyone who has enquired about our friends in France. I can confirm that everyone is safe and unharmed - including Laura, Ada’s granddaughter, who is studying in Paris. I have passed on your good wishes.
Thanks again to everyone.
* * *
A couple of people have commented that my last blogposting was faintly Islamophobic. Nothing could be further from the truth. A ‘phobia’ is an irrational fear; arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders, NOT a hatred of them.
I do not fear Islam at all. A better word would be Islamogyny. Think of ‘misogyny’ and you’ll get the idea.
Hey - I think I’ve invented a new word!
Islamogyny. Says it all.
* * *
* * *
Post comments on this blog or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org