Bastille Day

A couple of days after the terrorist attack in my adopted home town of Nice, I was asked by Hotpress magazine to write a piece about it. The piece was published in last week's print edition but I thought I'd reprint it here for anyone who might want to read it.

 

BASTILLE DAY

I walked along the Promenade the other evening just after it had been reopened to the public. Felt this strong desire to take it back. I live around the corner from where those events took place on Bastille Day. Very often we walk along its length, looking at the water stretching off into eternity thinking, yes, right now it's great to be alive. This is a city that reminds you, on a daily basis, that it's good to be alive. The blue coast.
Now there's red everywhere. Red blood still on the street. It's going to have to rain for years to wash that blood away. Children's blood. The blood of the people who sat on blankets to watch the fireworks reflecting on the water. Just like we did. Eyes red from crying and not sleeping. I wish they hadn't killed that guy. I wish they'd kept him alive. He should have to look into the eyes of every person left behind, every mother and father who lost their daughter or son. I've seen a father screaming when he found out his child was dead. Why shouldn't he see that too? Now he's just a martyr. Red rage. How can people tell the difference between sadness and anger. It all feels the same to me. Between love and hate. We've known love but we are learning that hate is something you can't outrun.
And so another minute of silence and another three days mourning for this country that has mourned too much. We were on the beach on Bastille Day. We didn't linger, we went straight home. A few minutes later and we might be dead too. Now when I walk on the Promenade there are no more reminders that it's good to be alive. Every few metres there is another tiny monument, another bunch of flowers. Another pool of dried blood, burning in the Summer sun. There's a heatwave coming this week. I wish it would rain for a thousand years. Now everything has changed. Now we're just lucky to be alive.