Saturday, July 05, 2008

I have been in Paris for the last couple of weeks.

While traveling from the airport to my temporary home in the 18th arrondissement I came across several "signs" in the landscape that affirmed my views on why Paris constitutes the last corner of tolerability within a mad, mad world.

The first of these signs* was a fight on the train.

I got into the carriage with my luggage, in which there happened to be a busker (not in my luggage, but in the carriage). He was crooning light muzak along to a badly synthesised backing track that he had playing on a tape deck beside him on the floor. His presence served to create an impression that you were not a passenger on a train into Paris but in fact an involuntary guest at an old-age pensioners' dinner dance. And as the man was non-descript, obese and middle-aged, he was so thoroughly forgettable in appearance that he might expect to send an entire town hall full of old-age pensioners to sleep at the very sight of him.

At length, a young man (someone to whom President Sarkozy would undoubtedly have given the moniker racail), got up to confront the busker.

"You! You're on this train every day annoying everyone with your terrible music. I can't take it anymore! You're driving me mad! I insist that you stop with this fucking awful music!"

But the busker shook his head and refused to stop singing, a decision that I found not only uncharitable but ill-advised. The young man got up to physically confront the busker, and pushing and shoving between the two ensued. And yet throughout la scandale, the backing music from the tape deck kept playing and the busker kept trying to sing, in spite of the imminent danger to his person. I found this feat impressive, if not musically satisfying.

I must say, the incident on the train lifted my spirits considerably. It was with exceedingly good humour that I got off the train and wheeled my suitcase along the street to my new apartment. And while doing so, I walked past a few schools and I noticed that each one of them is currently occupied by parents in protest against government's education reforms. That was sign number two, I think, that all is well in Paris and that I was right to come back here.

"Let's not let Mr Darcos, with his new programmes, tranform our children into docile parrots who are without culture or imagination.
Let us support and encourage teachers to make free-thinking, intelligent active citizens of our children.
Parents: you have the right to be informed, to express yourselves and make yourselves heard.
Take action!

Signed: The parents currently occupying this school."

* sent to me not by God, because he doesn't exist, but presumably by some fairy godmother or other hangs around me from time to time.



At 10:34 am, Anonymous Chantal said...

These signs give me hope coming from australia where our children's brains are developing into pavlova. Getting their information from Andrew Bolt and a current affair on Channel 7. Thanks Katherine.

At 1:57 am, Blogger The Rantolotl said...

Katherine, come back and lead some occupations of your own here. God knows we need it.

Though the plan for the tunnel might just be enough to get the ball rolling.


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