Bonjour, everyone. I hope you are all well and safe.
As you probably know, much of Europe–and now the UK–are returning to lockdown mode. Non-essential shops and businesses are closed. Travel for anyone not working for the government or involved in directly saving lives is prohibited. (I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but, suffice to say, very few people are going more than 1 kilometer from their residence here in France.)
One change from the last lockdown here is that schools, factories, and farms are remaining open her in France. The enforcement of restrictions remains diligent but for the most part unnecessary: Parisians know what they need to do and 99% of them do it without question.
Walking your dog and exercising are two reasons listed on the mandatory form (attestation) that you must carry with you when you step outside your front door. Going to the grocery store, pharmacy, to help a friend who can’t do for themselves, or to go to work approved by the government are the only reasons you can go outside. (The French love their dogs.)
Signed and dated, with your name and address, it is your Hall Pass to go out for baguettes and fresh air. Only the Uber Eats delivery men are happy about this. (They arrive on our street every 10 minutes every evening, dropping off to neighbors.)
I guess the curfew we’ve been under (9pm to 6 am) is still in force, too. The usually boisterous nights have fallen silent and still. The Seine, usually rippling with tour boats, pleasure boats, and police boats until all hours, is flat and smooth as glass by 10pm.
Businesses continue to close (permanently) and bankruptcies escalate here. Stoic boutique owners trade shrugs with cheese and wine merchants who cater to locals and tourists alike: what can you do?
For me, life has not changed much since the pandemic loomed on the horizon in February and France shut down in March. Reopening in May didn’t send me hopping and skipping back into restaurants or cafes. I sat, and still sit, on the terrace or near an open window, and never in a crowd. Not that there’ve been many crowds. Now, we’re back where we started, and patience is required.
So, to address a few topics…
David, our foreign correspondent, has returned to Paris. The rendezvous for coffee we’d scheduled for Friday at the Luxembourg Gardens was shot down with the lock down, but I’m glad he’s back, safe and sound from South Africa.
To Guy, who wanted to know how to thank someone for teaching Old Money fundamentals without ever articulating them as such: I’d suggest sending a copy of The Old Money Book with a bottle of wine or spirits, and a note saying, “What you taught me by example is now in print. My life would have been very different without your sterling example. Thank you.” And good for you, Guy. What a friend you have.
To Kathie, who is having difficulty finding an appropriate home for her heirlooms, I feel your pain. The documents and furniture you describe from the 1700s have tremendous value on several fronts. First, the financial. Such items often sell well at auction. You might consider liquidating the pieces and establishing a trust fund for your grandchildren, if you haven’t already done so.
You might also consider contacting the Smithsonian. They may have an interest in acquiring the documents and furniture. The benefit to others who could visit DC and see them would be very valuable culturally. I’m not sure how you feel or what’s possible with either of these suggestions, but I would not leave them in the hands of children who don’t appreciate them. That would be a loss all ’round.
I appreciate everyone’s contributions on the Back To Basics post, as well as the social media discussion.
Note: one of the life-changing suggestions I implemented from The Social Dilemma documentary was the suggestion to turn your mobile phone notifications off. This has made a huge difference in our tranquility here in Paris. My wife and I have our phones set to ring for phone calls and for messages on our Signal messenger service only. Very few people are connected with us on Signal, so the pings and rings are few and far between.
If someone emails or sends me a text, I don’t hear anything. I check my phone every 15 to 30 minutes each day, sometimes less, and control the frequency of interruptions from it. It is wonderful. If you are in a position to do this, I highly recommend it.
The elephant (and donkey) in the room is, of course, the pending 2020 election on Tuesday. I’ll continue my policy of restraint on political topics. I do hope that everyone votes, and that everyone stays safe.
Being an American abroad does change one’s perspective, however. It is no coincidence that Washington Irving wrote the short story Rip Van Winkle after living abroad for a number of years: he returned–and literally woke up to–a country very different than the one he left.
I can relate.