News Views

There’s an Angel in our Courtyard

Has anything positive happened for you during this unprecedented Coronavirus time?

We hear so much about the negative side of this horrifying situation but here in France, in Paris and particularly here within the buildings I can see from my balcony and hanging out of my windows there is one change that is really heart-warming. And one very surprising, beautiful and angelic gift. Both thanking our Essential Workers.

The gift first. Since the April 13th extension the daughter of our neighbours living on the first floor of the building just above the ‘was red, now grey’ front door has been treating the whole building to a superb and positively angelic performance for a few minutes every evening.

She has been serenading us with her amazing voice. The acoustics in the courtyard are perfect, we are all hanging of of our windows to listen but why don’t you make up your mind up?

Click here to hear Debussy’s Nuit d’Etoiles. Tell me how you feel once you have listened to it. The high notes brought a tear to my eye. Another evening she sang ‘In uomini, in soldati’ from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte – her character’s name is Despina. If you want to hear more, I post her performances each night on either my Facebook page or 52 Clichy’s Facebook page.

Just before her beautiful performance, every evening at 8pm we clap, bang pans, honk horns and generally make a lot of noise to show our appreciation of all the Essential workers. I clock-watch!! We have to! Beforehand we’re glued to the TV from 7.15pm as the Director of Health gives a comprehensive and very reassuring rundown of all new Coronavirus information from France, / rest of the World plus Q&A which can take until nearly 8pm. Straight after we’re all jumping up at 7.59pm (some people are really quick off the mark).

I go out onto my balcony and from there I can see people hanging out from the building to the right, by the dance studio. They all seem young and it looks like they live on their own as they’re mainly one person per window. We’ve started waving although I can barely make out their shapes but I do know which windows to expect to open.

Opposite, through the trees, normally there is zero movement apart from the children playing football in the afternoons. That’s stopped but now families are waving to each other and people popping out onto their balconies from apartments that have looked empty for years!

The old school / new building is now peopled! During my live-streams on the construction I know I’ve been maligning the ‘poor people who would be living in the dank, dark apartments facing North’. Some people come on to their narrow balconies plus a couple of the lower levels behind the wall and, honestly, they look quite normal! We’re not waving yet, we’re nodding – come on I’m English, I can see their faces so this will be a drawn out process but this has leapfrogged past the reserve normally held by the French for anyone that isn’t family. Hopefully we have broken the ice.

Is your community thanking their Essential Workers? Do tell me what positive and perhaps unexpected outcomes you’ve found from this few weeks.

In the meantime, #StaySafe and keep washing your hands with liquid soap 😉

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