Our Lady of Paris and a world gone ever so slightly mad

Following on from my last blog very quickly, I hope to be able to bring you a sequel in the near future, perhaps a ‘Desperately Seeking Sally’ or a ‘Finding Tony’.

Disney/Pixar.

Though he may be rather less than enamoured with any uninvited contact (even after my long overdue apology)  and, of course, I don’t want to tempt any legal sanctions or injunctions.

Just because I consider what I do to be ‘extensive research’ does not mean that some people don’t actually simply refer to that as ‘internet stalking’.

I jest, of course,  naturally I did have a quick look around. I couldn’t really find anything overly helpful so I have put the feelers out with an old acquaintance in an attempt to make contact with Sally and am now just waiting.
You never know, I might open my ‘Inbox’ one morning to a wonderful surprise.

In the meantime my thoughts effortlessly turn to events of this week because I am fickle like that.

As I’m sure you all know; I’m fairly certain the news has reached every corner of the planet, except perhaps a few small isolated tribes deep in the rainforests of the Amazon and the Congo basin, that the Notre Dame Cathedral had a dreadful, devastating fire this week.

The dramatic scenes were met with many outpourings of grief as people shared ubiquitous pictures on Facebook of burning candles or pictures of Notre Dame with the words “in our thoughts and prayers”, even the handle #jesuischarlie was taken up by some and reworded for this occasion #jesuisnotredame .  French flags adorned profile pictures and the world was once again reunited in it’s perceived shared grief and sympathies.
The devastating fire has certainly struck resonance around the globe.
A building that has stood firm for more than eight centuries, the beating, spiritual heart of Paris.

Tributes have poured in from world leaders and pledges of handsome donations for the rebuilding of this important landmark have been quick to be put forward from some of the worlds richest, so far about a €Billion has been raised in just forty-eight hours.

For me, though, I can’t help feeling that it struck me as rather a bad omen.

Cue Carl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ as the soundtrack alongside a dramatic picture of Notre Dame burning savagely in the Night Sky!

Credit: Unknown.

Then, imagine if you will, that the Cathedral itself, represents society or humanity. Something that has reveled in magnificence for centuries, before it became evidently noticeable in more recent years that many parts of it had started to erode and crumble, that huge cracks were appearing and that it was in need of dire attention and remedy lest it fall down entirely, and just as relief work had commenced to try to turn this neglect, this apathy around, the pinnacle collapsed in a spectacle of flames, with the eyes of the world upon it and now, well, now it it is ‘sick’ for feasibly several decades and perhaps, some parts of it,  irrevocably.
Now it requires to be restored, re-engineered, rebuilt.

I am not a particularly religious or spiritual person. I do have faith of sorts and something of an uncanny intuition but not to put it too bluntly, you really don’t need to be any of those things to see the sometimes glaringly obvious signs in life.

How many more apocalyptic signs will it take for humanity to wake up to it’s own shortcomings?

Look familiar????

With Fire and Brimstone…..The Wrath of God.

Either that or it was merely the result of a careless accident during the renovation works, a hapless and very human mistake, which is obviously far less dramatic as a cause but no less significant.

It may interest you to know that Notre Dame was also in considerable disrepair in the early nineteenth century, so much so that it risked falling into the ground if left untreated. It was badly damaged during the French Revolution, and since it was considered a bit of an eye sore in the nineteenth century when the love for Gothic architecture had waned considerably, it was neglected, left to rot on it’s island promontory, the Île de la Cité, within the Seine river.

It is believed that it was essentially saved from ruin, after Victor Hugo published his eponymous novel ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ (Our Lady of Paris) in 1831, which is more widely known as ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.

He did this with the full intention of making known the plight of the Gothic architecture in Paris and the subsequent disrepair much of it had fallen into. By describing it’s magnificence of 1482, when the novel is set, long before it was a crumbling relic he drew attention to the more neglected parts of the medieval city.  Whilst many people may think that the Hunchback is the central character in his novel, it is actually the Cathedral itself that has the starring role. 

The novel caused so much newly found adoration for the Cathedral (and other Gothic buildings), that a restoration project to restore this Gothic landmark to its former glory was commenced in 1844 with the restorations being completed in 1864, and when you consider that it took almost 200 years to bring about the Notre Dame building as we know it today (the first stone was laid in 1163 and the full project was completed in 1345) that restoration seems considerably swift. 

It now attracts over 14 million visitors a year and is as famous a Parisian landmark as the Eiffel Tower, which is considerably younger (1889).

I daresay that it’s popularity will only heighten after this global outpouring of shock and disbelief. 

I read reports of firefighters battling the fire for more than fourteen hours, not to mention the operation to salvage some of the priceless artefacts from within the structure. Don’t get me wrong, if it was indeed possible without risk or harm to those brave individuals to save priceless, historic objects then that’s marvelous, but you do have to wonder what goes through ones mind in such a unique and impassioned, patriotic circumstance.  As a firefighter, naturally you would want to do all that was possible to save such an important building or a unique, priceless piece of history before it is gone and lost forever. As a policeman/policewoman your first concern is not for yourself but for the safety of the ‘public’ many of whom will have been merely ‘onlookers’.

As much as I too was pained to see a National treasure up in flames, no man-made building or artefact, however historic and priceless they are, are to be compared to human life,  to a father or a son or a husband, to a mother or a daughter or a wife, to the brave men and women who proudly don the Pompiere and Gendarme uniforms every day with no knowledge or forewarning of what risks that day may hold for them, and for all of those in the Armed Forces too, for that matter.

Forget Marvel and DC, these are our real super-heroes.  These and many others like them all over the world.

The everyday men and women who are paid a decidedly average wage to go out and do the absolutely incredible, the unimaginable and sometimes the downright dreadful, whilst we watch from the sidelines or sleep safely in our beds.  

To all the men and women in the Army, Navy, AirForce, Police, Fire Departments, Paramedics, Nurses, Doctors, RNLI, (if I’ve forgotten anyone I sincerely apologise).

To ALL the Heroes of every Nation.

Whilst our Heroes may be many, sadly they are still too few to make up for the gross imbalance of the rest of humanity. 

Which brings me back to an earlier point, whilst on the one hand it is pleasing to know that the very, very rich are digging deep to save something they feel is of utmost importance to our culture and our history, the speed at which it has received these huge donations have garnered much criticism from some, with many people saying that there are far better uses for such a staggering amount of money.

Realistically, when there are starving children and woefully poor people elsewhere on the planet, it is kind of hard to disagree and I can absolutely see why it has caused some considerable outrage, though one has to also remember that these donations are not being pledged from public funds but being made from people’s own personal, private fortunes and it is entirely up to them what they choose to spend their money on.

Which leads me right back to my original premise as to whether as a species we have our priorities right, is the very cornerstone of our civilisation being eroded?

Or in more direct terms, are we completely and irretrievably doomed by our seemingly, constant poor choices?

The ‘Politicians’ of this world; I’m certain that when they were fresh faced, straight out of university and eager to make a difference, many of them joined the world of politics with the genuine intention of doing some good, but sadly, deceit, corruption and a self-serving attitude generally beget just more of the same. You can’t be daily surrounded by a bunch of flatulent, overpaid, over opinionated, under-informed, elitist, egocentric, charlatan narcissists without somehow becoming corrupted and stained by this same set of values, or rather lack thereof. 

A politician should represent the needs and hopes of the people who have elected them, not their own personal interests.
A ‘Government’ should always act in the best interests of the country and the entire nation.

This is evidently no longer the case. 

To briefly summarise (in my opinion):
– Brexit is utter bullshit.
– The majority of  the current UK Government appear to be incompetent, inept, ignorant, imbeciles.
-Donald Trump is woefully unfit to be a ‘world’ leader
– It seems that both our Democratic nations (UK/US) are fast becoming more akin to Dictatorships.

But then who are we to cast such stones, we that are too lazy, too apathetic to adopt the change that is very much needed.

Is our preening, self-adoring, social-media obsessed, selfie-culture rapidly causing a total denial of the actual reality around us?
Do we see everything through a fog of Instagram filters?

We can’t scream about the ongoing atrocities in the world and be outraged at just about everything if we do not make the necessary changes in our own lives to bring about global change.

Hitting the Like and Share buttons is not the answer to all of the issues in the world. 

When the appeal of a quick, daily, handy, ready prepared salad in a disposable (but not necessarily biodegradable) dish, complete with plastic fork and small, separate plastic container of salad dressing is more important to us than having unpolluted oceans, who is really to blame?

They can only sell this shit if ‘we’ continue to buy it.

Whether it’s from the the top down or the very bottom up, we seem to be rotting to the core and if indeed there is a God, surely he would smite thee….he would smite thee very f***ing much.

If not for all our appalling atrocities against the Earth, then surely for our blatant stupidity.

In short…..

It’s time for a revolution.

It’s time for a colossal change

and if that is not going to happen then it’s probably time for a planetary reset to rid itself of this plague called humanity.

Gotta love a good rant though!

On a final note, I feel certain that one day, when we are long gone, extra terrestrials will find their way to this planet that we once called home and look quizzically at each other as they puzzle over what all these strange contraptions they keep finding are, as they unearth eleventy-billion carelessly discarded €1 fidget spinners, selfie-sticks and endless other pointless human trash.

I’ll say it again….. They can only sell this shit if ‘we’ continue to buy it.

Think about that!
Happy Easter.

The Virtual Recluse