French FlagBy now you will have seen and read so much coverage of the attacks in Paris that you won’t be interested in much more from me, but I’ll just offer you this:

Before Harfleur, Henry V urged his English army to “stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage”. Well, I’ll nail my colours to the mast and say that, as things stand, Islam is incompatible with secular, liberal, Western democracy. Since the attacks I’ve read a very good piece in The Times written by Usama Hasan a Muslim and an academic. He argues that an Islamic reformation is, in fact, under way, and he cites several admirable examples. My concern, and that of many others who commented in the newspaper on that article, is expressed in the question: how long do you want? To me, Islam has been going backwards for centuries. In the 10th and 12th centuries it could boast learned people such as Avicenna and Averroes. The latter was even portrayed by Raphael in his fresco masterpiece, “The School of Athens”.

The nihilistic extremists of IS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram etc are beyond any reformatory arguments in my view. At the same time we should remember that such groups are killing far more people in other countries than in Western Europe. They need to be destroyed. Period. My concern is that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of ‘ordinary’ Muslims out there who may be open to persuasion but that the process will take far too long. I’m referring to the very many who protested against, and even burnt, Salman Rushdie’s book, ‘The Satanic Verses’, and who protested against the Danish cartoons. Then there were the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo shootings, although they claimed affiliation to one of the al Qaeda offshoots so could be put into the ‘militant’ bracket.  In the case of ‘The Satanic Verses’ and the Danish cartoons, the protests were violent and Muslims were seen on the streets of London bearing banners saying such things as ‘Death to those who insult Islam’.  An Islamic leader, the spiritual leader of Iran, even issued a death warrant against Rushdie Those actions represent a widespread rejection of western culture. Any internal reformation within Islam -and it does need to come from within- needs to happen quickly otherwise the West may well descend into fear and paranoia as appears to be happening with the rise of the far right in France and Holland and  in some Republican circles in the US; the idiot Trump has even called for Muslims to be registered.

End of sermon….for now.

One positive aspect of these dark events has been the outpouring of support for France. Prior to last Tuesday’s soccer international between England and France in London, everyone, English and French alike, sang La Marseillaise while the Wembley arch was lit up in the colours of the tricolore and the French national motto of ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité‘ was displayed in lights at the stadium. From my observations, the French have been extremely grateful for all the support they have received.

Sue’s vernissage, the official opening of her art exhibition in nearby Pré-en-Pail which I mentioned in my last post, wasn’t a success, I’m afraid. The organisers, those council officials responsible for art & culture, made no effort to create any sort of event. The instructions we received said that we could invite only 3 guests and that the council would issue all other invitations. It’s just as well that our three came, as otherwise there would have been no-one there apart from three officials and two reporters from local papers. This was a real let down for Sue after her successful vernissage at Condé-sur-Sarthe last year. At least we got a couple of free glasses of cider plus some nibbles.

On a brighter note, here are a couple of autumnal photos of Alice & George. Alice only goes on short walks now because of her arthritis.

And on an even brighter note, sunset across the road….As the British humorist and author the late Alan Coren once wrote: “Red Sky at Night, Refinery’s Alight”.

"Im Abendrot"

“Im Abendrot”

A final word on the Rugby World Cup. It occurred to me that all the matches were played on pristine green pitches. Back in the day,  in cooler, wetter climes, you didn’t consider yourself as having played in a REAL game of rugby unless you came off the pitch covered in mud….This is from the 70s. It’s the England forward, Fran Cotton, plus two teammates (?..Who would know?) taking part, I believe, in a match in New Zealand:

Fran Cotton

Fran Cotton

Just a thought. It appears to me that as channels of communication multiply, we sometimes find our vocabulary decreasing. There is management speak, of course, with phrases such as “24/7” and “going forward” but I can’t help notice the proliferation of the adjective ‘amazing’. It’s everywhere. I recently heard one person on the radio  use that word five times in the same interview. Don’t they know that there is such a thing as a Thesaurus and it isn’t to be found in the Natural History Museum? Astonishing!

Gallery Susan: Here are the latest from Sue’s brush. She has continued with the Maori theme but, lately, she has rowed out further into Polynesia, even as far as Tahiti. I hope the currents bring her back. À Bientôt