Five Days On

Five days on from the shooting at Charlie Hebdo and it has been a roller coaster of highs and lows.

The tribute to the murdered policeman Ahmed Merabet by his brother, and his appeals for unity was one of those moments when you feel proud to be a member of the human race. At the very same time as his pain and his grief threatened to overwhelm him, he displayed nobility, generosity and gave an intimate and touching portrayal of his brother. I’d vote for him.

One low spot was reading in todays’s Metro (a free paper and a rag) that the wife of someone who is believed to have mentored the Kouachi brothers is living, on benefits, in the UK. Somehow, I feel that the Metro, and most probably the Standard and the Mail, has rather missed the point of yesterday’s magnificent turn out of unity, despite the pages devoted to it.

Another low spot was hearing how David Cameron, the current Prime Minister, thinks the time is right to allow more surveillance. This is an echo of what the police said the other day. So, and not for the first time in our nation’s recent history, civil rights are to be eroded in the name of security. Do notice how a) those civil rights are never restored, and b) how ‘eavesdropping on terrorists’ does not preclude eavesdropping on everyone.

In France, the military are on the streets to protect the public. This sent a chill down my spine. Too often, in too many countries, the military’s protection has turned into something much more sinister and controlling. Continue reading

Of Cats and Their Names

My own cat has four names on his documents, though the first is really his title. The other three made it onto the shortlist after careful consideration, which was also about guessing how his character would develop once he had settled in. I rather regret not including Rudolph, which was on the longlist, and no regrets at all about jettisoning his previous name, Facebook, without more than a horrified backward glance. He is known here as NotCat, but that is not what I call him at home. I love his name, but it isn’t universally liked. One neighbour made her disapproval clear. She felt he needed a prettier name (her words) and wondered aloud about a diminuitive that would make it, to her ears, more acceptable. I pointed out that I had chosen the name, it wasn’t one I was making do with. She sniffed a bit, but has gradually come round. Continue reading