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ContentsArundells: The former home of the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European Community
Arundells: The former home of the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European CommunityReview by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd August 2012
The historic house of Arundells in the Cathedral Close, Salisbury is a special place for anyone interested in Europe’s history, as it was once the home of Sir Edward Heath (1916 - 2005), the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European Community. Sir Edward lived there from 1985 until his death in 2005 and the house contains his personal effects including antiques, an art collection, memorabilia from his political career and items associated with his hobbies of music and sailing.
The house also has a much older historical context dating back to the Middle Ages, having originally been a canonry and the home of Henry of Blunston, Archdeacon of Dorset who lived there between 1291 and 1316. The house has been much altered over the centuries, its classical frontage dates from the time it was occupied by John Wyndham who acquired a lease for the property in 1718. The house is called Arundells because it later became the home of James Everad Arundel, who married John Wyndham’s daughter Ann in 1752.
The contents of the house tell the story of Sir Edward Heath’s life. There is a Steinway Grand piano in the Drawing Room, on top of which are a number of photographs of world leaders and royalty. One of these photographs is of George Pompidou, who in 1971 was the President of France with whom Edward Heath negotiated the United Kingdom’s entry into the EEC (European Economic Community). While Britain’s entry into the EEC - which is today known as the European Union or EU - would have been one of the most controversial policy decions of Edward Heath’s premiership during the early 1970s, he should also be remembered for the many other achievements in his life.
Edward Heath was born at Broadstairs in Kent in 1916 and later attended Chatham House grammar school in Ramsgate. One of the paintings in Sir Edward’s art collection is called ‘Broadstairs’ by Sir Robert Ponsonby-Staples, where three women and a man are depicted looking out to sea towards the distant coastline of Belgium and France. Perhaps he bought this painting because it reminded him of his childhood. The painting poses a question about its former owner: did Edward Heath develope a fascination for Continental Europe as a boy because of his awareness of its closeness to his childhood home? In another painting in Sir Edward’s collection called ‘Girl on a Jetty’ by Antoin Plee, a young woman is depicted standing on a jetty looking out to sea through a pair of binoculars. In this painting the white cliffs of a distant coastline are visible on the horizon. Perhaps the girl in this painting is in France looking across the Channel towards England?
During the 1930s Edward Heath attended Balliol College, Oxford as an organ scholar. While a student at Oxford, he recognised the danger Adolf Hitler and the Nazis posed to Europe. Although Heath was a Conservative, in October 1938 he campaigned on behalf of the anti-Munich candidate, A.D.Lindsay, Master of Balliol College, against the official Conservative candidate Quintin Hogg in the Oxford by-election. Hogg supported Neville Chamberlaine and the Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement was seen as a capitulation to Nazis aggression, so Heath campaigned under the slogan: “A vote for Hogg is a vote for Hitler”. (See Chronicle of the 20th Century, 1989, p.502)
During the Second World War he served as an army officer in the Royal Artillery. After the war he became a civil servant with the Ministry of Aviation, before resigning from his job in order to stand as a candidate for Parliament for Bexley. He served Bexley as an MP from 1950 until his retirement in 2001. By the time of his retirement from the House of Commons, his constituency of Bexley had become Old Bexly and Sidcup.
During the 1950s and 1960s Heath served the governments of Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, and Sir Alec Douglas-Home. His political career advanced from serving the government as a Parliamentary whip through to becoming the Minister of Labour in 1959. A Cabinet reshuffle by Harold Macmillan in July 1960 gave Heath the job of Lord Privy Seal, which meant he was the spokesman in the House of Commons for the Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Foreign policy under the Macmillan government was marked by the process of decolonisation, the Cold War, and an attempt to join the EEC.
In 1961 Macmillan gave Heath the task of negotiating Britain’s entry into the EEC, but by January 1963 President Charles de Gaule of France had blocked Britain’s entry to that organisation. Throughout the negotiations of bringing Britain into Europe, Heath had the almost imposible task of trying to reconcile the trading interests of the Commonwealth with those of the European Common Market. However, Heath recognised that Britain was no longer an imperial power, and the country would have to forge new relationships with Europe as well as former colonies. He saw the new supranational organisation of the EEC would create common economic interests in Europe, which would make war less likely between the member states of the EEC. It would not be until Heath became Prime Minister in 1970, that he would once again get the opportunity to negotiate Britain’s entry into the EEC, this time he would be more successful.
The signing of Britain’s entry into the EEC by Edward Heath in January 1972 could be viewed by history as the high point of his premiership. Britain’s entry into the EEC is something that went well for a government which had to adapt itself to changing events and a number of setbacks. Before coming to power in 1970, Heath had a fairly right wing free market policy agenda for government. The Tory historian Robert Blake in his book ‘The Conservative Party from Peel to Major’ described Heath’s manifesto as follows: “The main themes were: lower direct taxation; less government interference; reduction in public expenditure; selectivity in the social services and a shift of the burden from the Treasury to the employers; legislation to restrain the power of the unions; and entry into the EEC. Negatively its message was no less important; it said little or nothing about an incomes policy or a national economic plan.”
The first setback to Heath’s government was the death of Iain Macleod just a month after the Cnservatives had won the general election. Macleod had just been appointed Chancellor, and was the man who would have put Heath’s economic plans into practice. Another problem for Heath’s government came when Rolls-Royce went bankrupt in February 1971. Ideologically the Tories did not believe in the government saving companies that were in difficulty, but Heath was a pragmatist recognising that putting the workforce of Rolls-Royce on the dole - along with the loss of skills and talent to the British economy - would be far more expensive for the taxpayer than government intervention. The aero-engine division of the company was therefore nationalised by the Heath government, while the luxury car manufacturer was sold to a private investor.
An energy crisis which began in October 1973 would ultimately bring down Heath’s government. When the OPEC nations cut oil production and raised the price of oil as a result of the Yom Kippur War, petrol prices in the United Kingdom rose while petrol shortages forced the British government to plan for petrol rationing. For the government and the country the problem of the oil crisis was exacerbated by a coal miners strike in December 1973, which caused power cuts across the country as most power stations were coal fired in those days. Edward Heath called a general election in February 1974 under the slogan “Who runs Britain?” He probably hoped the electorate would blame the miners for taking advantage of the oil crisis as a bargaining lever to get a better pay deal. However, the Tories did not gain a majority in the election of 28th February 1973. Heath was unable to form a coalition with the Liberals and had to concede defeat to Labour’s Harold Wilson a few days later.
After the election defeat of February 1974 Heath would never serve in government again. Many commentators have written about the antipathy between Heath and Margaret Thatcher, who would succeed him as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and as Prime Minister in 1979. When Heath moved to Arundells in Salisbury in 1985, he would have been aware that Thatcher had no intention of offering him a ministerial post in her government. However, in 1992 his lifetime service to the country was recognised when the Queen appointed him a Knight of the Garter and he became Sir Edward Heath.
Sir Edward Heath’s Will states that Arundells should be open to the public, for which purpose the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation was set up. The first charitable object of the Trust as recognised by the Charity Commission is “the preservation and conservation of Arundells and its associated amenities as a building both of special architectural and historical interest being the home of Sir Edward Heath”. The second charitable object of the Trust is “the preservation of the furniture pictures memorabilia and chattels ordinarily kept at Arundells (excepting such items the trustees consider inappropriate) and such of any other furniture pictures memorabilia and chattels as shall form part of the Charitable Trust and which the Trustees consider appropriate to preserve”. The third charitable object specifically mentions that Sir Edward Heath’s papers should be administered, maintained and preserved. Sir Edward would have realised that his papers not only told the story of his own life, but also that they were an important source for future historians of Britain’s post war history. This may have also been the reason why he made the fourth charitable object of the Trust “the advancement of education by the facilitation and access to and the study and appreciation of Arundells and its contents by the general public”.
If Sir Edward had not pursued a political career, he could have easily made his living as a concert pianist or the conductor of an orchestra. Sir Edward’s love of music is remembered in the fifth charitable object of the Trust, which is “the advancement of education of the public in the artistic appreciation of music by the promotion development or improvement whether at Arundells or elsewhere of the knowledge understanding and practice of all forms of music and the performance recording study composition instruction or training in all forms of music”.
Unfortunately since Sir Edward’s death in 2005, not all of the trustees have been committed to upholding Sir Edward’s wishes and the objects of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation. Some of the trustees did not want Arundells open to the public. The trustees applied to the Charity Commission for a scheme to sell Arundells and the contents of the house. The trustees claimed that the cost of maintaining the house is greater than the income it can generate from paying visitors. However on 26th September 2011 the Charity Commission refused the trustees’ scheme to sell off Arundells and its contents. A report of the Charity Commission’s decision was published on the website of the Friends of Arundells which said: “the reviewer is not satisfied that the trustees have properly identified and explored the range of alternative ways of generating income”.
Arundells as an historic house would not be open to the public today without the tireless dedication of The Friends of Arundells, many of whom volunteer as guides, stewards and gardeners. The Friends of Arundells have also fought to keep Arundells open to the public and the contents of the house intact. They drew up a business plan to show how Arundells and its garden could increase revenue by drawing more paying visitors. According to the plan, revenue could be increased by extending Arundells opening season and extending the opening days each week from four to five, as well as hiring out the grounds to film makers and hosting corporate events.
It is difficult to understand why the trustees are so keen to close Arundells when the main purpose of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation is to keep the house open for the nation. It appears that some of the trustees would like to have the memory of the former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath erased from the public consciousness. The story of Sir Edward Heath’s life is not just an important part of the history of the British Isles, but also belongs to the heritage of Europe and the world. Arundells as a living museum in Salisbury could attract many visitors both from within the UK and overseas, who would want to understand more about the man who brought Britain into Europe.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Jolyon Gumbrell writes for Ideas on EuropesJolyon Gumbrell the editor of Jolyon’s Review has recently started to write a blog for Ideas on Europe. His first article on this blog is called ‘The shortcomings of a Eurosceptic editorial policy’ and can be seen at http://jolyongumbrell.ideasoneurope.eu/2012/07/10/the-shortcomings-of-a-eurosceptic-editorial-policy-5/. Although Jolyon hopes to be a regular contibutor to Ideas on Europe, it is also his intention to continue to write for and edit Jolyon’s Review.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Cheaper mobile roaming: Something the Eurosceptics won’t mentionComment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd July 2012
On 28th June 2012 a press release appeared on the European Commission’s website at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/709&format=HTML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en announcing an EU regulation, which caps the amount mobile phone companies can charge their customers while travelling in other EU member states. The maximum rates that mobile phone users can be charged were quoted as follows: “29 cents per minute to make a call plus VAT; 8 cents per minute to receive a call, plus VAT; 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT.”
Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s telecommunications regulator said on its own website: “We have worked closely with Government and regulators in Europe on how best to deal with the issue of high international roaming prices.”
The price regulation of roaming throughout the EU - that came into force on 1st July 2012 - is an example of the type of regulation, which benefits the British consumer as well as consumers in other EU member states. Many of the Eurosceptics - who want to pull Britain out of the EU - do not want to mention this type of regulation which protects the interests of British consumers, as the Eurosceptics do not want the British public to be aware of anything positive that comes out of Brussels.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Should Britain have a Europhile press?Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 29th June 2012.
If the British public are Eurosceptic, are they so because of the influence of the media in the United Kingdom, or are they Eurosceptic for other reasons? It has not been difficult to find a Eurosceptic slant on current affairs in the British press over the years, both in broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. Take for instance the memorable front page article that appeared in The Sun on 1st November 1990 entitled ‘Up Yours Delors’, which directed scorn at the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors. The editorship of The Sun would say that the paper’s Eurosceptic slant is a reflection of the views of its readership, rather than just the views of Rupert Murdoch, the director of that publication’s parent company News Corporation.
In the past The Sun has been keen to emphasise the Eurosceptic nature of its readership. It did this on 25th April 1996 with the headline: “47,000 of EU back a vote! - EU the Jury”. The headline referred to a telephone poll carried out by The Sun, that found 47,481 respondents wanted a referendum on Europe against 1,237 who did not. Support for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU (European Union) was not necessariliy a sign of Euroscepticism, as some of the respondents who wanted a referendum may have voted for Britain to stay in the EU if such a referendum had been organised.
Calls for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU have often been made by Eurosceptic commentators and politicians, who believe that the British public would vote to pull Britain out of the EU. However, if the public truly understood what would be lost by withdrawing from the EU, then it is likely a sizeable majority of the British people would vote to stay in the EU if they were given referendum. Unfortunately many of the Eurosceptic commontators fail to talk about the serious consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the EU, one of which would be a loss of the freedom for British citizens to live and work in another EU Member State. If Britain withdrew from the EU it would make life more complicated for all of those British citizens who have retired to France, Spain, and other Member States of the EU.
With so many British newspaper publications being so hostile to the European Union, a new newspaper aimed at a mass circulation readership with a Europhile editorial policy would provide a critical balance to much of the Eurosceptic dogma that appears in the British media. This would enable the British public to make informed choices about Europe, and also show people living in the United Kingdom how they could benefit personally and as a community by engaging with the EU’s institutions. Perhaps the British people would become the most enthusiastic of all Europeans towards the goal of European integration, if they understood more about it?
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Review of Parlamentarium, The European Parliament’s Visitors’ Centre in Brusselsby Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 27th April 2012
The Parlamentarium is both a visitor centre informing the public about the workings of the European Parliament, as well as a museum tracing the history of European integration. It is the ideal place to visit if you want to understand more about why institutions were formed shortly after the Second World War, that would bring Europe’s people and nations closer together.
On entering the exhibition area, visitors are lent hand held multimedia devices, which can be listened to in any one of the European Union’s 23 official languages. These devices interact with many of the displays and exhibits, to give additional commentary on the various themes dealt with in the Parlamentarium: from the horror and destruction of two world wars, to Robert Schuman’s plan to form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1950, right up until the present day, where the process of a debate in plenary session in the European Parliament is explained.
The forerunner of the European Parliament was the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community founded in 1952. The Common Assembly was then renamed the European Parliamentary Assembly in 1958, eventually becoming the European Parliament in 1962. In 1979 the European Parliament became a representative assembly in the democratic sense, when citizens of Member States of the European Community got the chance to elect their MEPs for the first time. Elections are held across Europe for MEPs once every five years, the next European Parliamentary election will be 2014.
The ethos behind the Parlamentarium is to show European citizens from the Member States, how the European Parliament can be made to work to improve their lives. The Parlamentarium is aimed at people of all ages, but especially children and young people who are the future of Europe.
As Europe is becoming more integrated, then the European Parliament will need to become more assertive to challenge the power of the European Commission. The European Parliament already has the responsibility of scrutinising the Commission’s budget, but the Commission could become more democratically accountable if elected MEP’s were appointed as European Commissioners, instead of the present system where European Commissioners are appointed by the government ministers of Member States. It is an inevitable consequence of the sovereign debt crisis - affecting many Member States of the European Union - that the European Commission will need to become more involved in the management of Member States’ economies. The consequences of the eurozone and the European Union breaking up are too horrific to contemplate. However, as the Commission becomes more powerful, it will have to become more transparent and publically accountable. One way to do that is to give the European Parliament the power to appoint its own MEPs as Commissioners. As MEPs are themselves elected, then the European Parliamentary elections would also become the elections for choosing a new European Commission once every five years. This idea of elected European Commissioners is my own, and is not mentioned anywhere in the Parlamentarium but could become the subject of a future debate.
The Parlamentarium is an interesting place to visit on a Monday afternoon, when most of the other museums in Brussels are closed. Further details about the Parlamentarium can be seen on the European Parliament’s website at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parlamentarium.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Europe: not austerity but solidarity!Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 2nd March 2012
The speech which Martin Schulz - the President of the European Parliament - made to the Greek Parliament on Tuesday 28th February 2012 went largely unreported in the British media, but one day it may be remembered as something significant on Europe’s journey towards integration. It was a bridge building speech which offered something better than the chaos that would ensue if the eurozone was allowed to breakup. Schulz’s speech offered Greece direct help from Europe to invest in Greek infrastructure and rebuild the country’s economy.
Schulz spoke of the weaknesses in the global financial system, which had contributed to the sovereign debt crisis in Greece and other EU countries, saying: “There is no doubt that unregulated financial markets are part of the problem. In recent months the euro has repeatedly come under pressure from speculators willing to bet on the collapse of the eurozone by attacking what they regard as the weakest link.”
Schulz recognised the need for strong regulation and strong supervision of financial markets. He said: “We need a financial transaction tax at long last. It is a simple matter of justice that the people who caused the crisis should contribute to the cost of resolving it.”
Schulz was unhappy that the Greek people were suffering as a result of the austerity measures imposed on Greece, as a condition of the €130 billion EU and IMF bailout loan. He said: “Europe is not a community based on austerity - Europe is a community based on solidarity!”
He indicated that the way out of austerity for the Greek people and other Citizens of Europe would be through the European Cohesion Fund, which would invest directly in infrastructure such as road building and renewable energy projects to create jobs.
Schulz distanced himself from those who want to impose dangerous levels of austerity on Greece. He said: “It cannot be fair that the weakest members of society should be required to bear the largest share of the burden of economic recovery.”
He warned that it was the duty of Greeks to pay their taxes in order to sustain Greek society, and stop there being a complete economic collapse.
Schulz’s speech could be compared to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historic inaugural speech made to the American people in March 1933. Roosevelt said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. . . The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilisation. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.”
During the 1930s Roosevelt gave a clear message to the financial speculators on Wall Street, that they would not be allowed to breakup the union of the United States of America. Likewise in 2012, Martin Schulz gave a clear message to the financial speculators in London, Paris and Frankfurt, that they would not be allowed to breakup the eurozone.
An English translation of Martin Schulz’s speech can be seen at:
Düsseldorf carnival float depicts Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel in an intimate positionby Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 23rd February 2012
On 20th February 2012 Rosenmontag was celebrated in many cities, towns and villages in Germany. Rosenmontag literally translates as Roses Monday but also means Shrove Monday, which marks the end of the carnival season and the beginning of Lent. The tradition of celebrating carnival in cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf goes back to the Middle Ages, however the origins of these festivals are pagan and go back much further in time than the Christian era.
The carnival procession on Rosenmontag is an opportunity for citizens to mock those with wealth and power. This year a carnival float in Düsseldorf depicted the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy in an intimate embrace with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The Sarkozy effigy was wearing a Napoleonic hat while the Merkerl effigy was wearing a Prussian helmet. On another float the disgraced, recently resigned former president of Germany, Christian Wulff was represented as a fallen German eagle. The eagle which was upside-down, had lost most of its feathers and looked more like a plucked turkey than an eagle.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
Bones found in Berlin flatby Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 16th February 2012
Police in Berlin are still unable to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the death of a person whose remains were discovered in a Berlin flat on Friday 10th February 2012. It is thought that the remains of a 56 year old man, had lain undiscovered for more than a year, in the filthy flat in the Neukölln district of Berlin. The tenant who had lived in the flat had not been seen for a long time.
According to an article published on the website of B.Z. am Sonntag, the neighbours had complained of a stink coming from the flat which contained piles of periodicals, cardboard boxes and household rubbish. On the day human remains were discovered there, workers from the housing authority were in the process of clearing out the flat.
Following a post-mortem of the remains, a police homicide squad was called in to investigate the death as being a possible murder. Police are looking for the whereabouts of a woman recently seen by neighbours going in and out of the flat. It is thought she might be a vital witness in the case.
The story of the grim discovery of human remains in a Berlin flat, gained the attention of the German media, being reported in the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger and Berliner Morgenpost as well as B.Z. am Sonntag. In some respects this case is similar to that of Joyce Vincent, whose body had lain undiscovered in a London flat for more than two years. It raises awareness of people living lonely lives in big cities, who have lost touch with their closest relatives. The story of Joyce Vincent’s life was investigated by the film director Carol Morely and became the subject of a film called Dreams of a Life.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012
20th October 2008
Why do people cry in silence?On 26th September 2008 a woman for the first time in 19 years, returned to her childhood village of Salomé not far from the city of Lille in northern France. Her name is Ida Beaussart and the circumstances of her life in a house in the village, became the subject of a film called Pleure en Silence (Cry in Silence).
Jean-Claude Beaussart was a violent neo-nazi, who had been convicted and served eight months in prison, for inciting racial hatred in relation to the murder of a Tunisian in 1984. Pleure en Silence, focuses on the last eight days of Jean-Claude Beaussart’s life in July 1989, as the physical attacks he inflicted on his family became more violent. Ida was then 17 years old, and had sustained abuse from her father for years, but it reached the point where she could take no more. Her own survival and that of her mother and siblings were in danger because of her father’s behaviour. It was at this point in July 1989, that Ida took her father’s pistol and shot him dead while he was asleep.
In 1992, Ida was acquitted of the murder of her father when a court took into account the circumstances of the case. She has since rebuilt her life and is now married with two children and expecting her third child.
The film Pleure en Silence, co-written by Ida Beaussart and the film director John Gabriel Biggs, recreates the fear that existed in the Beaussart household. The film made in 2006, has not yet received much media attention in the United Kingdom, but trailers of it can be seen on YouTube. In one scene the psychopathic Jean-Claude Beassart suddenly spits and punches at his daughter Ida. The film puts the viewer on edge, because one never knows when Beassart will launch an attack on one of his daughters or his wife. In another scene Beaussart forces his daughters to do a nazi salute in front of a picture of Adolf Hitler that hangs on a wall in the house.
The local community in Salomé knew of the cruelty that Beaussart was inflicting on his family, but they were too frightened to do anything about it. In an interview with La Voix du Nord in June 2008, Ida said, “Everyone knew, the neighbours, the school, the social worker, the police, the children’s judge, but they did nothing because they were frightened of my father. I want only for my story to be a lesson, nothing more than that.”
In a recent twist to the Beaussart story following the screening of Pleure en Silence at Salomé in September of this year, Ida’s mother Jacqueline claimed in a television interview with TF1 on 5th October, that she and not her daughter had killed Jean-Claude Beaussart. However, this claim was denied by Ida who said later in an interview with La Voix du Nord: “It wasn’t her who killed my father, she would never have had the courage, I did it instead.”
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
22nd September 2008
An Exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the photographer Henri Cartier-BressonA review of the exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson/ Walker Evans: Photographing America (1929-1947) can be read on the Art Reviews page.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
22nd July 2008
Astarte Gallery, ParisA review of the Astarte Gallery in Paris can be read on the Art Reviews page.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
17th July 2008
Knife incident in Paris results in death of suspectOn 15th July 2008 an article was published in le Parisien, the daily newspaper for Paris, about an incident of the previous day involving a man with a knife. According to details given in le Parisien, the incident took place at rue Moret in the 11th arrondissement of Paris around 2pm, when a man was seen in a distressed state shouting incomprehensibly whilst waving around a long bladed knife.
Local residents informed the police and three police officers quickly arrived on scene. One of the officers attempted to bring the man under control, but the man resisted and in the struggle he stabbed the police officer in the hand. This brought an immediate response from the police with six shots being fired. According to le Parisien, the suspect was hit three times in the chest, and once in the arm and leg. Two of the police officers were injured, by bullets that ricochetted off a parked car, and the windscreen of their own car.
The suspect, whose name hadn't been given in le Parisien article but was described as a young man of 28, died later in hospital. The scene of the incident was sealed off while police were gathering clues. An investigation is being carried out by the Inspection Générale des Services (IGS), an authority responsible for investigating the police in France.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
14th July 2008
French veterans’ anger at Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to invite President Bashar Al Assad of Syria to see Bastille Day military paradePresident Sarkozy’s decision to invite president Bashar Al Assad of Syria to see the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, has caused resentment among many soldiers and veterans in France. The fête nationale or national holiday is celebrated in France every year on 14th July to commemorate the storming of the Bastille, an event which marked the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.
This year President Sarkozy is using the national holiday celebrations as a backdrop to his foreign policy of bringing together the leaders of countries from around the Mediterranean. This will coincide with France holding the EU presidency, so there will be around 44 leaders from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in Paris on Monday. President Sarkozy is hosting the gathering in Paris as a platform for Middle East Peace talks.
French veterans who had served on military campaigns overseas, including peace keeping missions in the Lebanon, are represented by an organization called Fédération Nationale des Mission Extérieures (FNAME). On the FNAME website its President, Laurent Attar-Bayrou, was critical of the decision to make French troops parade in front of the Syrian President, whose country he believed was responsible for supporting and financing attacks against French soldiers in the Lebanon.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
8th July 2008
St. Denis BasilicaBy Jolyon Gumbrell
During the middle ages the basilica of St. Denis located just north of Paris, would have exerted great influence on the consciousness of France. It was primarily an abbey dedicated to the martyred St. Denis and secondly the final resting place of the kings and queens of France.
St. Denis who lived during the 3rd Century AD is recognised as the first bishop of Paris, or Lutetia as it was known in Roman times. According to the myth surrounding St. Denis’s martyrdom, after he had been decapitated by a Roman swordsman, he continued to walk on his path with his head in his hands until he finally collapsed. St.Denis also know as Dionysius was executed alongside two other Christians: Rusticus and Eleutherius around 250 AD. They were buried in a cemetery belonging to the Roman town of Catolacus.
The site of St. Denis’s grave became a place of pilgrimage during the 5th Century, when the first church was built over the old Gallo Roman cemetery. From the time of Dagobert I, who had the church rebuilt in 636, the church of St. Denis became the burial place of the kings and Queens of France. The Gothic basilica of St. Denis as seen today, was built by Abbot Suger in the 12th Century during the reign of Louis VII, and by Pierre of Montreuil in the 13th Century during the reign of St. Louis.
It would have been important for French monarchs to be associated with St. Denis, because he represented the foundations of Christianity in France. That is why for 12 centuries French monarchs were keen to have their earthly remains interred in the basilica named after him. The connection with the Saint is illustrated in a 15th Century religious painting called, The Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris, c 1449-1450, which is now hanging in the Louvre, but once hung in the royal law courts.
In 1793 at the time of the French Revolution the graves in the basilica were desecrated, when the royal bones were exhumed and re-buried in unmarked graves. Louis XVIII was the last Bourbon King of France, after the restoration of the monarchy, to be burried in the crypt of the basilica in 1824. During the 19th Century, the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who had both been executed during the Revolution, were brought from the cemetery of the Madeleine in Paris and re-interred in the crypt of St. Denis.
A crystal urn can be seen in the crypt containing the heart of the dauphin, the 10 year old son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who died in Temple Prison in Paris in 1795. For many years there were doubts that the heart had belonged to the dauphin, but DNA tests were carried out on it in 2003, which proved a genetic link with Marie Antoinette.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
4th July 2008
The Church of England in ParisBy Jolyon Gumbrell
Paris might be an unusual to find an Anglican church, but St. Michael’s at 5 rue d’Aguesseau is on the site of an earlier church that once served the British Embassy. The original British Embassy Church was set up by Bishop Matthew Henry Luscombe in 1834. The Bishop had been Chaplain to the British Embassy in Paris, and paid for land on which the church was built out of his own pocket.
The present St. Michael’s Church on this site is no longer the British Embassy Church, members of St. Michael’s stress that their church is completely separate from the British Embassy, and that the church is financied by individial donations. St. Michael’s comes under the Anglican Diocese in Europe and the congregation is made up of people from more than 30 different nations. On a Sunday there are services in English, Tamil and French.
Although St. Michael’s Church like any other church is primarily concerned with the teaching and practice of Christian religion, it also serves a social function for people who have recently arrived in Paris. It is a meeting place for people from many backgrounds, the common factor bringing them together is an interest in the Christian religion from an evangelical perspective.
St. Michael’s can be visited at: 5 rue d’Aguesseau, 75008 Pais. Telephone 33 1 47 42 70 80, website www.saintmichaelsparis.com
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
26th January 2008
Learn French OnlineBy Jolyon Gumbrell
A good way to improve your French is to visit a French language website, which provides news and practical information to people in France or another French speaking country. For about two years, this journalist has been receiving newsletters by email from ‘Imagine-Rouen’ at http://www.imagine-rouen.com/ which comes from the office of Mayor of Rouen. The newsletter publicises events taking place in the city of Rouen, and news from the Conseil municipal, which is Rouen’s city council.
Websites belonging to newspapers and television channels, also give the French language student the opportunity to get closer to French culture and society, as well as improving their French. When a big news story about France receives media publicity in England, such as the recent fraud, which resulted in the loss of 4.9 billion euros from the French bank, Société générale, it can be quite satisfying to get some extra information from a French newspaper or television channel.
Two interesting French websites belong to the newspaper Le Monde, and the television channel France 2. They can be seen at http://www.lemonde.fr/ and http://www.france2.fr/ . Videos of recent news bulletins can also be seen on France2, helping the language student to tune their ears to the cadences of the French language.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008
This website has been created by Jolyon Gumbrell. ©Jolyon Gumbrell 2007