Regardless of what I had thought to write this week, recent events prompt me to publish some photos instead. My wife and I visited Paris in May and though I’ve posted a few of these pictures earlier on Facebook and Ello, I hadn’t got Stops and Stories up to speed then, so they are new here.

From Place de la Concord to the Eiffel Tower

Paris is an iconic city, with iconic buildings. It’s hardly surprising it should be a target for people who have demonstrated a hatred of icons other than their own black flag and the book they interpret at will.

Blue light in Paris 2

Paris is a city of light and colour, of freedom and dreams. Those who attacked Paris last Friday hate the light. For them, colour is an enemy. Their flag is black. For them, freedom is enfeeblement. They cannot allow any dream but their own, and they dream of death.

Outside La Dauphine - a Paris bistro

Paris is a city filled with the vibrancy of people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs meeting in both love and debate (and the love of debate). Those who attacked Paris last Friday hate these things. They hate difference, discussion, debate.

Facade of the Arab World Institute

They probably hate the portrait of early Islam painted in the Arab World Institute. At least six of the people murdered on Friday were from the Moslem community of France (and by far the majority of all victims of this terrorism world-wide are Moslems).

Old and new at the Louvre

It’s only 70 years since another group of people threatened Paris. People who also worshipped the dark, who dressed in black, who dreamed of death. They planned to destroy the city, all its buildings, all its icons, all its art and, if necessary, all its people. They failed.

Notre Dame in evening light

Why are we afraid that a handful of fanatics might succeed where the German army of occupation, with all its resources, with all the will of Nazi ideology, yet failed? These recent events, terrible though they are to all caught up in them directly or indirectly, heartrending though we may find them, are insignificant in the stream of history. They make a little splash in the flowing waters of time, and then the waters close over them and flow on.

Pont Marie from Pont Louise-Phillipe in the dark

This morning on the radio I listened to an interview with Phillipe Sands and Niklas Frank. The one is not only a Professor of International law, he is also the grandchild of a Jewish family murdered in the holocaust in Poland. The other is the son of Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor-General of occupied Poland during World War II. The two have recently collaborated on a documentary What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy. Phillipe Sands made the point, how, 70 years down the line, who can say whether a child of Friday’s victims and a child of Friday’s murderers may not also sit with one another in friendship?

Pont Marie from Pont Louise-Phillipe in daylight

Now is a time to mourn, but not a time to despair. And, if you can, save some pity for the miserable men and women who committed this atrocity. What tortured, distorted, dull and infected minds they must have lived with to bring them to a situation where murdering their brothers and sisters seemed like a good idea.

Cain - How can I undo the damage I've done

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

Photography – overcoming photo-block

In the park - leaves against the skyNo matter how accustomed I am to photography, I find there are days when I can’t see anything to take pictures of. In a way that’s understandable if I’m in a new place where new impressions are forcing themselves upon me from all sides and it’s difficult to filter out the things I want to focus on, but I don’t understand why it happens sometimes when I’m familiar with a place. Unless this is an example of familiarity breeding indifference.

In the park - the joggerI’m not sure which of these two perspectives was influencing me the other day, but I decided I didn’t have any intention of indulging my reluctance. I took the camera and I went on a walk and I forced myself to do one of those basic photography school exercises. You know the one: set yourself to take a photograph every 100 paces. Walk, count your steps, and when you get to 200 (because two steps make one pace) stop and take a picture. It doesn’t matter what – just take it and then walk on.

In the park - conversation over a bicycleAfter a while – after three or five or seven photographs – you begin to see things that may be worth photographing and after 10 or 20 or 40, you find you’ve had a walk and you’ve got a collection of images, some of which may not be so bad. Of course, you don’t know until you get home and look at them but, even if when you do, you don’t choose to share even half, perhaps there are few with something interesting about them. Perhaps there’s one or two that are really not bad.

In the park - up to the roadSo it was, again, for me. I walked through the two parks that are nearest to where I now live in Brussels: Duden Park – which used to be an enclosed Royal Park but was given over to the people of Uccle sometime in the late 1800s – and then on through Vorst Park which I think is all that remains of a forest since that’s what “vorst” means. (And yes, the French name is Parc de Forest so my linguistic achievement here is even more underwhelming than it may seem at first.)

In the park - not a bench you can sit onThere were people out jogging in the morning air, walking their dogs, companionably talking with one another or consulting their mobile telephones. There was one homeless man just waking up from the bed he’d made for himself on one of the benches, and another bench without any planks to sit on.

In the park - off to workThere were park workers setting out for work.

In the park - LeopoldThere was the bust of bad King Leopold II gazing arrogantly at the dome of the Palace of Justice he ordered built, and the working class district of the city he had depopulated in order to make space for it.

In the park - what Leopold seesThere was the sun on the trees, on leaves green against the blue sky, on the facades of the houses over beyond the edge of the park.

And at the end of it all there was a certain peace and a feeling of accomplishment. And a few photos to illustrate this post.
In the park - sun on facades

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

A walk in Hisingspark

On Easter Sunday while Mrs SC was still home we went for a walk in Hisingspark – on e of our old haunts. With us was Aliz, a border collie, with her human. A sunny day, though cold in the wind.

Originally I used these photos to test out a number of different photo gallery/slide-show plug-ins. Having settled on one that works on PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets (Responsive Lightbox by dFactory), I choose to update this entry and present the photos with the new gallery plug-in.

Aliz with Lena and Agneta

Above: Aliz and her humans.
Below: A felled tree trunk wearing a fetching pair of sunglasses

Glasses on the felled tree

Do you suppose children who learn to climb on this climbing frame will grow up to have a more concrete grasp of abstraction?

Orange abstract climbing frame

Although the above was actually taken in a children’s playground in Hisingspark, it turns out to be a sculpture: “Knutpunkten” (“knot point”/”junction”) by Lill Lindblom and Jens Erlandsson.