les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Monday, November 02, 2020

Confinement and stuff in France

 Here in Bordeaux we are entering our confinement with a mix of resignation and resentment. Resignation because we can see that we need to slow the circulation of the virus. Resentment because actually our statistics in the South-West of France are not as bad as all that. We feel that we're in confinement almost in solidarity with the rest of France.

Some of our folk are teachers, and schools here are open. The big difference is that children aged 6 and over have to wear masks in school.

The university is back to teaching online. This is fine for lots of things, but not everything.

Confinement is presented differently from in the UK. We don't talk of "Saving our NHS" but rather of saving French lives. I think that's a significant difference. The NHS is a national treasure, but it is a practical arrangement, and other arrangements might be possible. French lives have a God-given, absolute value. It is quite difficult, though not impossible, to weigh French lives against the economic consequences of confinement.

There's no talk at all of blaming China. French people are pretty clued up about globalisation and the risks of destroying habitats and so encountering new and terrifying diseases.

At the same time there are reports of messages circulating online among the more violent and less law-abiding sectors of society encouraging gangs to attack people who look Chinese, and some assaults are reported to have taken place. 

Alongside this there is a outpouring of rage against France and the attacks on people in Paris, in Nice and in Lyon.

Friends who are teachers are encouraged to hold an act of hommage to M. Paty, but this raises the problem of how to explain to the children what happened without frightening them or exciting gruesome or voyeuristic imagination.

The shooting in Lyon may not be an act of terrorism. The Nice attack certainly is, and is not the first the town has suffered. People are horrified and defiant. People say "Why us?", "Why this?" as they are interviewed on the way to mass. Remember how the night after the Bacalan attacks people were back on the café terraces in Paris. 

Here in Bordeaux I do not sense any atmosphere of fear. We are fighting our own demons, with drug-related gangs fighting in some of our suburbs and noticeably more violence in the livelier areas of the city, "a recrudescence of delinquency", as our newspapers put it.  

Our imams are regarded as being learned and moderate, and the imams of Bordeaux and of Bègles took part in an act of worship in Bègles with the recently-retired bishop of Bordeaux. Meanwhile police entered the mosque in Pessac and the imam's home and seized his computer and various documents.

As for us, I have a small surgical procedure to undergo in early December which was already postponed from April. I'd like that to go ahead if possible. We also plan to spend Christmas in England, our first for fifteen years. I have not yet accepted that this will not be possible.

Confinement for us means: 

up to an hour of exercise per day within 1km of our home

shopping trips to the nearest reasonable shop for essential items (remember that French people are supposed to buy their bread every day)

work from home if you can

keep medical, legal and administrative appointments

only essential trips to help people in need or distress

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