Effects of Paris Attacks Friday 13th Nov 2015:The Bataclan, Two Restaurants & Stade de France; A Personal View
Out for the Evening
For many, a familiar venue; for some, an awaited treat, but for 89 people on Friday 13th November 2015, the Bataclan was rocked by the Reaper. As a combine harvester cuts swathes through the crop, steady waves washing to and fro, so a combine of cowards cut, scythed and reaped with rage, creating a layered carpet of carnage awash with blood.
Imagine! You’re attending a rock concert at the Bataclan, a sea of people in front of you, the Eagles of Death Metal on stage. The air buzzes with raucous notes, head-banging, foot-stomping, smiles ringing to the roof. An alien noise nicks the notes off key; dramatic stage effects? You glance about to find the source. Your eyes dart upward. Black, balaclava-ed beings brandish bullet-death on the balcony. You find your body on the floor, others slumped above you. You feel the thud and jump of bullets through the flesh which protects yours.
Silence. Re-loading clicks and clacks, ratcheting up. You squint towards the exit, between the tussocks of clothing and limbs. You burrow inch by inch through the human tunnel. Then…
The noise you refuse to acknowledge renews. You play dead once more. This new chorus and refrain continues, the lost music forever fading into dead air. Slowly you inch beneath death and cheat your way out, to relief and despair. With numbed senses, you hit the cold outside where more bullets smack and tear the shot-punctured night. Someone pulls you to shelter.
You're savouring salsifi in Le Carillon or Le Petit Cambodge, sipping a Syrah, conversing with comrades, savouring the song of lively, light-hearted conviviality. Breath is suspended when windows shard with bullets and fleck the air with slivers of shiny blood. There is precious little room to run.
Le Stade de France
You’re at the International Friendly at Le Stade de France. You’re routing for your team. Two retorts reverberate the city air, the President quickly leaves under escort, the news filters through like snatches of dreams that suicide bombers have shredded the access areas. Where do we go? Should we get out? Herded like frightened deer onto the pitch, people cling to each other, throw furtive glances upwards and outwards. In the glare of the floodlights, you anticipate news of blood shrieking through the streets of Paris.
My Sequence of Events
I heard the news on the radio, late at night, switched to the television for visual confirmation. Images of people running, not knowing which direction to take as they knew not from whence came this terror.
Accounts surfaced: a carpet of bodies at the Bataclan, gunfire at restaurants, news that President Hollande had rapidly left the football match under close guard.
A disjointed jigsaw of events slowly morphed into the reality of gunmen fragmenting the Parisian streets and city venues, punishing as many as possible for enjoying music, food and wine.
I can’t get my head around how people can do that; those on the balcony who thieved the rôle of God, surveyed that layered carpet of people, showered their bullets, reloaded and continued their mindless brutality, apparently with relish.
I sent texts to French friends, some of whom I knew were likely to be out and about in Paris. Thank God, all were untouched physically, though shaken to the core.
The next day continued with news of at least 120 dead, a tally that would rise to 130. With incredulity, we watched more and more footage of those areas chosen for carnage.
A Text from France (translation): 14th Nov 2015
‘A message to pass on… This evening, a candle in the window for these attacks at Paris and St Denis, for the victims and the wounded, for the families of the victims; distribute this chain message as quickly as possible. Pass this message to all your contacts so that it will get back to Paris in order to show that FRENCH solidarity is much stronger than violence.’
But through the fear, slowly, tentatively, came the stoicism, the determination not to succumb to a brain-washed, faceless enemy; rather to rally together in force of numbers, force of beliefs and to honour those who had been cut down, snatched, torn from the world. For what? For no reason, as there is no reasoning with such as they. Tolerance, compassion, peace, discourse are words they do not understand.
I received a text from France, asking me to put a candle in my window that Saturday evening, in support of the dead and the injured, their families and friends, to show the people of Paris that the world was supporting them and held them in their hearts.
Similar to ‘Je suis Charlie’, I saw ‘Nous sommes Parisiens’ (We are Parisians) on placards and little notes around the city, where others had left flowers, written prayers and lit candles for those whose lives had been snuffed in a split second.
My heart was heavy and that feeling still weighs me down when I contemplate the evil of such actions. What is happening in this world? How do we combat this? How do we cope?
Then I was made aware of a world-wide response; many monuments and buildings in so many countries had been illuminated in blue, white and red (the colours of the French ‘tricoleur’ flag), a show of solidarity around the globe. That lifted my spirits. How often do we see a wave of light and love travelling around the world?
People across Britain and many other countries walked through their cities holding lighted candles aloft, in support, in defiance, in solidarity.
A simple image of a red carnation, balanced through a bullet hole in a window at Le Carillon, says so much.
A car back-fires and a crowd, kneeling around some candles and flowers trying to make sense of it all, scatters in panic like startled crows, even trampling some of the mementos.
Then there were crowds gathering in defiance, people going about their daily routine to dispel any idea that fear has conquered.
- Toll of suffering: risen to 130 and 352 wounded, some of whom may yet die.
- Brussels on high alert - expected imminent attack (underground closed, some stations until Monday 30th Nov). Public advised to stay at home. Empty streets.
- UN Security council unanimously calls on UN members to fight ISIS; a resolution drafted by France after the deadly attacks in Paris, calls for ‘all necessary measures’ to be taken against the extremist group on the territory it controls.
Does this mean that the terrorists have provided a catalyst for many more nations to react against so-called Islamic State? I like the phrase ‘so-called’; it refuses to label them, it refuses to give them the accolade or the importance of a name, it is derisory - they are not worthy of a name, not worthy of recognition, not worthy of a place on earth, let alone a place in any afterlife.
I’m left bewildered as to how any fellow human could do such things.
I’m left with a sense of loss, a sense of despair in my darkest moments about what sort of world my grandchildren will have to endure, but that is wiped from my mind when I realise that’s what these perpetrators want. I will not let them win. Paris will not let them win and, hopefully, nor will the rest of the world.
Have we gained anything from this?
Yes and yes again! We have gained solidarity, we have realised that working together against fear can bring forth positive action. It has caused countries around the world to finally wake up to the threat, to the fact that we have to act together, in solidarity (that word rises up again and again), a word that signifies strength, force and a solid wall of action against evil. I hope that momentum is sustained, that the shock and the fear don’t bow to complacency and relief that one attack has gone, that another might come but we’ll be ok. It will come and we won’t be ok.
The nations of the world have to act and act now.
Copyright annart/AFC 2015
In Remembrance of Nick Alexander, A British Victim
Sequence of Events in Paris 13th Nov 2015
Stade de France:
- 21.20: 1st of 3 explosions (bomber & passer-by killed)
- 21.30: 2nd explosion, President Hollande left
- 21.53: 3rd explosion at fast-food outlet near stadium
Le Petit Cambodge & Le Carillon:
- 21.25: 15 dead, 15 severely injured
Rue de la Fontaine au Roi:
- 21.32: diners in front of cafes, 5 killed & 8 severely injured
Belle Equipe bar, Rue de Charonne:
- 21.36: 19 died, 9 in critical condition
- 21.40: suicide bomber at Le Comptoir Voltaire + 1 other severely injured
- 21.40 0- 00.20 Bataclan concert hall, 1500 seats, sold out, 3 with suicide belts & Kalashnikov-type assault rifles - 89 dead, at least 99 others in critical condition in hospital
- 00.20 - police officer shot one of the gunmen; his suicide belt detonated - other 2 blew themselves up
An Old Postcard; the original Bataclan, with pagoda
Information: Le Bataclan
The Bataclan (French pronunciation: bata.klã) is a theatre, at 50 Boulevard Voltaire, in the 11th arrondissement (area) of Paris, France. It was designed in 1864 by the architect Charles Duval. It originated as a large café-concert in the Chinoiseries style, with the café and theatre on the ground floor and a large dance hall at first-floor level. Its original name was Grand Café Chinois - Théâtre Bataclan. Its name refers to Ba-ta-clan, an operetta by Jacques Offenbach, but is also a pun on ‘tout le bataclan’, meaning the ‘kit and caboodle’ or ‘all that jazz’ or ‘the whole nine yards’. In fact the oldest use, predating Offenbach, is in a journal entry of 11/11/1761 by Charles Simon Favart.
It’s a mythical venue, today classed as an historic monument and many famous people have trod its boards. Concerts were held there but it was best known for putting on ‘vaudevilles’ shows. Maurice Chevalier had his first theatrical success there and Edith Piaf performed there. Since the early 1970s it has been a ‘legendary’ venue for rock music, hence the presence of the band ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ on that fateful Friday. They have vowed to be the first band to play on its reopening; two members cheated the terrorist bullets.
Note on Friday 4/11/16: I heard on the news this morning that 'Sting' is going to sing at the opening of the Bataclan. According to people.com, 'Sting will perform at the re-opening of the Bataclan, the historic Parisian music venue where 90 people were killed during a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal in November 2015. Talking to Twitter [this Friday morning], the artist announced a concert that will benefit victims of the Paris attacks.' The event is set for 12th November.
In a statement on his website, Sting said, “we have two important tasks to reconcile. First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theatre represents. In doing so, we hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them.”
Origins & Examples of the Superstition of Friday 13th
In Britain many are superstitious of any Friday 13th. This Friday was certainly unlucky for the many there, for Paris, for France, for the world.
The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: ‘triskaidekaphobia’ and thence the fear of Friday the 13th is called ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή), meaning ‘Friday', and dekatreís (δεκατρείς), meaning ‘thirteen’.
Superstition surrounding Friday 13th might come from the Middle Ages, originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion. There were 13 persons present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan, Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items together being referred to as especially unlucky, before the 19th century.
Gioachino Rossini died on a Friday 13th, surrounded by admiring friends. Like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, so it is remarkable that he died on Friday 13th of November.
Possibly, the publication in 1907 of the popular novel ‘Friday, the Thirteenth’ (Thomas W Lawson) contributed to spreading the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.
A suggested origin of the superstition - Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar - may not have been put together until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel ‘The Iron King’ (Le Roi de fer), John J Robinson’s 1989 work ‘Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry’, Dan Brown’s 2003 novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and Steve Berry’s ‘The Templar Legacy (2006).