TWO SEVENS CLASH - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
"We spent the next 72 glorious hours blissfully wandering the beautiful streets of Paris, both knowing that this was just the beginning. Along the Seine, through the Latin Quarter, sitting in the sun outside restaurants, both drinking in the feeling. Holding hands in parks, getting lost and not caring. Just wandering and wondering. It felt like being in the sort of film where Cary Grant would fall in love with Audrey Hepburn. With Scott Walker writing the soundtrack (as indeed he did). Only better. Much better. If you've been there, you'll know. If you haven't, then I can't possibly draw you a map; but I hope you get there. I'm generous when I'm in love. I think we all are."
By George Berger
COPYRIGHT © 2005, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed, with all the hate and violence that seem to have cast a shadow over London since the war came home, I seek solace in Paris and, of course, fall in love.
What better way to defy the men of violence than to blossom a new love in the most romantic city in the world? When you strip away all the labels, pretensions and vocabulary that we seek to define (and thus limit) our freedom with, the real battle is between love and hate -- it's an internal battle within us all, and one we must win at times like this.
I'd been considering my reactions to the < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2005/london_explosions/default.stm> bombs ever since July 7th, when the two sevens clashed and the most tolerant city in the world felt the murderous intolerance of the religiously insane. I wrote an impassioned article the day it happened, but resisted from sending it for publication, aware perhaps that knee-jerk reactions to momentous events can be the wrong ones. Sometimes you can just be too near. Usually though, you're just too far.
The most poignant reaction to the initial murders came the next day on a radio phone-in. A Portuguese woman rang the Robert Elms radio show on BBC London to say that although she'd lived in London for twenty years, she's never completely felt herself a Londoner until she grieved for the victims alongside her fellow workers. And as I drove my car and listened, a tear trickled down my cheek: I realised the same thing had happened to me -- a chemical reaction had bonded me forever to a city I love. My city of birth and breeding is Liverpool. But…I cried for her, I cried for me and I cried because somehow she seemed to have touched on something far bigger.
The danger, however, still lurked, and I was tired. Paris then.
In my last column, I'd finally written, albeit in riddles, about the woman who left both me and this mortal coil; and haunted my dreams ever since. And the minute I'd said it… the second I'd let it out… it was released. The haunting -- 15 years of it (25 if you include the living years) -- finished and I was cleansed and free. So…
That chapter of my life over, I sat in the majesty of the Place De La Concorde, near the River Seine, waiting for my life to change. And then my mind exploded.
Because she was there… We spent the next 72 glorious hours blissfully wandering the beautiful streets of Paris, both knowing that this was just the beginning. Along the Seine, through the Latin Quarter, sitting in the sun outside restaurants, both drinking in the feeling. Holding hands in parks, getting lost and not caring. Just wandering and wondering. It felt like being in the sort of film where Cary Grant would fall in love with Audrey Hepburn. With Scott Walker writing the soundtrack (as indeed he did). Only better. Much better. If you've been there, you'll know. If you haven't, then I can't possibly draw you a map; but I hope you get there. I'm generous when I'm in love. I think we all are.
We lay in our hotel room on the Boulevard de Magenta, watching as a sparrow surfed the sunrays in through our window to perch itself on the back of a chair and stare approvingly at us. Now the film was Walt Disney, and the fact this was really actually happening (repeatedly) was < http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,60385,00.html> Salvador Dali. A formidable array of allies with which to liberate the city.
In each other, we together discovered our dharma, and gently began to nurture a deep deep love that is surely the antithesis of the twisted hate that drives young men with all their lives to live and all their love to give to transmute frustration into hate and blow up tube trains and themselves. A love and peace that is the most magnificent middle finger you could give both suicide bombers and the world leaders whose hate and wars inspire them. And as we rode the Metro, I pretty much knew there weren't any reasons for malcontents to blow themselves up on it. Which was a relief in itself, and a stark contrast to London. And I think I also knew that we were activists for love and peace.
As she took a shower, I lay on the bed, not really thinking about anything. Just happy to be in some kind of Taoist contentment zone. And humming a song…
"When Joanna loved me, every town was Paris…"
And tears started to roll down my cheeks again. And I smiled.
I didn't support my government when it dragged us to war: a war that now has indigenous civilian casualties on all sides, as it inevitably would. I stand for love: the men of violence stand for hate. We can, and will, beat them: the idiot bombers and the idiot world leaders that wage war and oppress. They got the guns but we got the numbers.
George Berger is a freelance writer, with punk rock dna. He has written for Sounds, Melody Maker and Amnesty International among others. He has also written 3 books, with one published thus far: Dance Before the Storm: the Official Story of The Levellers (Virgin Books 1999). George is the founder of Flowers in the Dustbin. He lives where the mood takes him and funds allow.