I had no plans to write a blog here having written about our experiences at the Stade de France on Friday here and a piece about Le Bataclan here, so I’ll attempt to keep it brief. I certainly don’t want to oversaturate you with my musings, but being woken up by sirens in the morning makes one more productive. Writing that first piece was actually cathartic, although speaking to media has been less so. I’ve spoken to a few agencies, one that was inaccurate enough that by the time I talked to the next one, they presumably couldn’t use what I’d said as I was so cagey (to be fair, I was all over the place for the first one as it was on Friday night). It’s strange having broadcasters you’ve grown up with leave messages on your phone, and you wonder where they got the number from. It’s not me they’re after of course, it’s the story. I’m a hypocrite really, as I needed comment from friends on Sunday who were too in bits to even speak because of loss. Even so, there’s something tawdry about news journalism, especially of the TV variety. I got a call from a long-running prime time weekly news magazine programme in Australia on Tuesday.
“Do you think you could speak with us, Jeremy?”
“Um, okay. When?”
“As soon as possible, mate. Now if you can. We’ve got to wrap this thing up today”.
“Okay, fire away.”
“Ah no, we wanted to take you back to the Stade.”
“Erm… I’d rather not.”
“Can we come ’round to your house then?”
As he’s talking I envisage the programme going out live Down Under, with me stood in the centre circle with a tricolor scarf around my neck that they’ve made me wear, my face stained with one tear as the camera pans in for a close up as ‘Trouble’ by Coldplay tinkles in the background. I politely declined.
I’m trying to ration my news consumption too, because it just makes you feel so horrible. It’s like an overdose of Haribo. 24-hour rolling coverage that’s as eventful as geriatric test cricket, reporters on the prowl for scoops that are all about ratings and nothing about safety, throwing live rodents to reptiles all the while with a disingenuous smile on their faces… I think I hate TV. Ask me onto your show if you want me to talk about how great Stromae is, or how rubbish the Boomtown Rats were, but don’t ask me about sad things please, I proved how inept I am at that when I went on France 24 (who are a nice bunch btw) to talk about Lou Reed. I’m no Paul Gambaccini, that’s for certain.
I must say, people keep reminding me, but it’s really not been lost on me that my life has been eventful of late. I do appreciate the concern though, and right now “concerned” is perhaps putting mildly how Claire and I feel. I’m jumpy but trying to stay calm, because we don’t want to give the crab any more encouragement do we? The people of the 11eme are stoic, despite the fact the quartier has been shot up, and if their kind smiles in shops and cafes belie the fact they’re quaking inside then they’re all doing a damn fine job of hiding it. Just thinking about how brave some people are ironically makes me feel like weeping. No shame in it, but not again, I’ve got shit to be getting on with.
Paris will get through this. History all but guarantees it. Mythology too. There’s a siege in Saint Denis right now, a place named after a Saint who had his head cut off at Montmartre, and who then picked up his erstwhile noggin and ran as far as he could with it (the cathedral there is apparently built where he landed). Such behaviour pre-dates le décapité récalcitrant illusionist Houdini by about a millennium-and-a-half, while you could argue he also invented rugby. Ever since there have been insurgencies, uprisings, revolutions, counter-revolutions, coups, and whatever other word you can think of that means more or less the same thing. Paris has a richer history than most of violence, and its most celebrated moment culminated in the beheadings of the Royal Family (they brought them back for a little bit, but everyone likes to forget that part as it doesn’t serve the narrative). Communists storming Hotel de Ville, anti-Royalists storming the Tuleries Gardens, starving proletariat storming the ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes to feast on exotic beasts so hungry were they during the revolution… there’s been a lot of it. Just up the hill from us is Père Lachaise where 147 Fédérés were lined up and shot and thrown into an open grave, while the Sacre Coeur on the hill at Montmartre was built to “atone for their sins”.
Perhaps it’s all too soon to go on about this. And I did say I wouldn’t go on didn’t I? Anyway, to wrap up one can only reiterate the mantra of unity, if anyone’s reading and feeling malleable, and if not then it hasn’t done any harm anyway. Also, if there’s another march, then Francois Hollande should probably not invite Benjamin Netanyahu again for that same reason, though it might be difficult to reason with him as he enjoys his John Wayne moment right now. Tragically his approval rating is probably soaring. And to paraphrase my friend Bester, because my French isn’t the best, do remember to cut the arm off any journalist thrusting a microphone anywhere near Marine Le Pen’s face. I thank you.Follow @jeres