Monday 23 October 2017

City of Light remains bright despite shadows of darkness

'The national solidarity in the wake of the January and November attacks was inspiring. Parisians have done themselves proud in the face of terror.' Photo: AP
'The national solidarity in the wake of the January and November attacks was inspiring. Parisians have done themselves proud in the face of terror.' Photo: AP

Henry Samuel

Given the scale of shocking events this year in France, it seems churlish to have choked on my pain au chocolat for, of all things, being called one of the longest-serving (uninterrupted) correspondents in Paris, as I was recently. Le Figaro was on the line wanting to know how "un anglais à Paris depuis 20 ans" felt times had changed.

Cue existential vertigo. I arrived a graduate and now have three strapping Anglo-French offspring .

I wanted to tell the journalist that I am haunted by the parallel universes we all inhabit, criss-crossing each other's lives as the die of fate is cast. On the night of the Bataclan massacre last month, I picked up a Velib bike just 10 yards from the theatre. The terrorists were already there, lurking outside in their black VW Polo with the motor running. Oblivious, I pedalled home, minutes before 90 lives were sucked down a black hole of Islamist nihilism.

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