Paris in the Springtime and what an exciting time of comings and goings. I was there originally for the birth of my first grandchild, Camille Joy and then caught up in election fever. What was staggering about the election is just how many young people appeared to be getting actively involved for the first time.
Jaded taxi drivers did that Gallic shrug when asked what they thought. “Who was going to win, didn’t care. Sarkozy is a crook and Hollande another champagne socialist” All they worried about was their taxes and how to answer American tourists who only wanted to know if Carla Bruni would leave Sarkozy if he lost the election.
Sunday night and following dinner in the Place desVosgesmy daughter (Katy, not Amy who had just given birth) were swept along to Bastille where the true carnival atmosphere of election success had taken over. Beer, wine, cakes, banners, balloons and acrobats packed the street and whenHollandstood on the steps of the monument erected on the site of Louis XV1’s prison, stormed by the people ofParis, there was uproar.
Later, trying to speak with ecstaticHollandsupporters I asked what was important to them and if science featured in their lives. The answer was sad. Many of those who have passed the science side of their Baccalaureates are now looking for jobs in finance and banking. Although Hollande had pledged to close nuclear power stations all sounded proud of their energy industry and of the amount of electricity they exported acrossEurope. They reckoned Hollande would close one or two run down stations to look as if he was fulfilling his pledge “But they are falling down anyway” they added.
True the city is doing its bit to support science. “Sciences sur Seine – La Science pour tous” Science on the river Seine, science for all, is running in the summer but although posters are displayed there are no dates, no details of what is happening, almost a token gesture.
It is early days but most of the youngsters I met and spoke with were more interested in well paid jobs in the media, banking, living for the moment and not being involved in scientific discoveries and advances for their future. There are masses of magazines being bought inParisbut only once did I see somebody buy a true science mag like Science et Vie yet I saw scores of copies of Psychology ad Philosophy mags being bought and read.
True, there are interesting times ahead of us inEuropeand I can foresee many more comings and goings before things settle down.