Off To “Wonderland”

On Thursday my wife needed to take a train into London. At one time as we know an ordinary train journey hardly merited a blog mention. But we know little in our now “Covidworld” is unremarkable.

Neither of us had been on a train since March. However, as we know as well the powers-that-be have urged people to start to venture back out – to shop, to eat, to work… at least until recently when suddenly they changed their tune as cases have been spiking. In their constant shifts in policy from seemingly week to week, they have by now succeeded only in utterly confusing and demoralizing people simply because it is impossible to know what the hell they really want from we the public within the realm of what we can actually do.

In terms of work (you know, to be able to earn money to buy food, keep a roof over our heads, and pay TAXES), how millions are to travel to do that and still remain 2 meters apart from others and STAY ALERT and CONTROL THE VIRUS and SAVE LIVES is decidedly unclear. The London Congestion Charge, which is a confiscatory daily tax taken for driving (safely in your own personal bubble) within central London, has been back in force for months after being briefly suspended for the virus (congestion monies flowing in obviously being more important to Government than people at least being temporarily encouraged to travel separately in order to STAY ALERT and CONTROL THE VIRUS and SAVE LIVES), and my wife would have paid it (at least we can), but also finding LEGAL parking near her destination was nearly impossible. Uh, walking was not an option. And, no, uh, cycling was not an option either. Which left her with public transportation, and what she messaged me as she stood in a packed train carriage upset and infuriated me because WE HAD HAD NO IDEA SOME LONDON TRAINS WERE THAT CROWDED BECAUSE ALL WE SEEM TO HEAR LATELY DISCUSSED FROM GOVERNMENT IS, WELL, NOT THAT:

[From My Instagram Stories, October 8, 2020.]

That brought from me a small rant on my Instagram. I normally avoid criticizing the government here, but we pay enough taxes that I am SURE AS HELL ENTITLED TO AN OPINION NOW AND THEN WHEN MY WIFE’S LIFE MAY HAVE BEEN PUT AT RISK. Sometimes you just want to vent at any sympathetic eye happening to be reading.

Indeed some are really struggling – financially as well as mentally. It is not possible to keep people indefinitely on “battle stations” without them tiring after a while and becoming short-tempered and ragged. Yet I detect most remain willing to try to do the right thing… as long as it is possible for this Government to make it CLEAR to them what the right thing to do is supposed to be, to encourage that behavior as a top priority, and for PEOPLE to be ABLE then actually to do it.

London’s train crowding issue would seem likely in weeks to come to lead to new outbreaks in the capital. Similarly over in another capital: Paris. I shared this from a French account:

[From My Instagram Stories, October 9, 2020, shared from another account posted October 5.]

These are tough times most everywhere.

I won’t even go near what I see virally-happening over in the United States (under, to borrow my late mother’s colorful language, that “g-damn a-shole” in the White House). But speaking also of the U.S., on Netflix a new comedy-drama appeared October 2. It is about a young American woman (played by an English-American) named “Emily” who moves to Paris and is entitled – shockingly, I know – Emily in Paris.

I have not seen any of it (yet). The French – in Paris, especially – reportedly have been glued to it. The program has been a huge hit there:

[From Instagram Stories, October 9, 2020.]

A French journalist quoted in the Financial Times playfully dubbed the program “Emily in Wonderland,” and in making reference to a famous series set in (my birthplace) New York also pointed out:

[Me, from Marjorie Paillon’s Instagram Stories, October 9, 2020.]

So with “Emily” it appears we are off to “Wonderland.” This 2020 one suspects must be a lot like how it felt during the Great Depression of the 1930s amidst Hollywood’s “golden age,” when millions around the world flocked to cinemas for a few hours to forget their problems and see the “stars” they adored. Similarly now, anything that transports us “elsewhere” is much welcomed.

Even in more “normal” times there are always escapist films and television. Possibly the most famous one of all set in Paris and made by “Hollywood” is still Gene Kelly’s 1951 An American in Paris – which remains enjoyable viewing today. I can think immediately of a few set in France just before Ms. Paillon’s year “2000”: French Kiss, the TV film The Maid, and Valerie Bertinelli’s short-lived TV series Café Americain are just three that jump to my mind. In many ways they were all ABOUT exploring stereotypes… which was at least half the fun.

It was also about that same time – the 1990s – that I also came to know the French capital like almost a second home. I could navigate the métro by heart. Often I could walk around without a map. (There was no swiping at a smartphone in those days for directions or other info. On a street you had to unfold an often LARGE paper map and LOOK like a tourist. LOL!)

[Paris street scene. Photo by me, 1994.]
[Paris, France sidewalk. Photo by me, 1995.]
[Iconic Paris landmark. Photo by me, 1994 (I think).]

If Emily in Paris, like any other program or film or book, takes our minds off of our real life troubles for even a little while, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I may give it a watch. It sounds basically harmless… and if you don’t know Paris well or have never been there, while the story may be “hokum” it was shot on location and the city that is its backdrop is indeed there.

And while we are watching for those hours, no one will be lecturing us about the damn coronavirus and what we are supposed to do and how far apart we should be sitting…

Hope you are having a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂