Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Sad reflections!

We went into the centre of London today in fine weather. Another good day. Not so spectacularly sunny as yesterday but milder and still bright and reasonably clear. There was, however, a certain haze in the distance, making everything look muted and slightly empty.

By the time we went back to our son’s house in Chesham the rain, which had begun at some point during the return journey, was coming down in bucketsful. Raining stair rods, as we say in the North. La tromba, as they say in Galicia. The drains were not coping and the the roads were turned into rivers in no time at all.

I found myself thinking that this was what they needed yesterday evening in Paris, instead of that fine blue clear spring sky, with smoke and flames standing out against it.

It’s amazing how quickly something that has stood for nigh in a thousand years can be almost destroyed. We were sitting around talking about this and that last night when our son came down and asked had we seen what was happening to Notre Dame. And there it was, all over the evening news, the ancient cathedral in flames. We sat there, simply stunned.

You forget how big such a cathedral is until you see it silhouetted against the sky, with flames leaping out of it. Apparently it came within half an hour of being completely destroyed. But the firemen worked tirelessly and, astoundingly, none was seriously hurt. All the people who were putting off visiting until the restoration work was done must be feeling somehow cheated. Lots of “if onlys” must be going on.

They don’t know for sure what the situation is but some treasures might be saved. There is a Pietà statue by Nicolas Coustou and the Great Organ constructed in the 1730s. The latter is said to have suffered water damage but has escaped the flames. The culture minister, Franck Riester, said religious relics saved from the cathedral, including the Crown of Thorns and Saint Louis’s tunic, were being securely held at the Hôtel de Ville, and works of art that sustained smoke damage were being taken to the Louvre where they would be dried out, restored and stored.

I doubt at they really have the actual crown of thorns but whatever it is they have as a relic will undoubtedly be pretty old by now.

Some treasures were safe because they had been removed while the restoration work took place.

The relics I can live without. I have never been impressed by that kind of thing.

No, it’s the things of great beauty that we will all miss. Even if they restore everything as closely as possible to the original, it will not be the ancient beams, weathered by time that will there. I understand that with modern technology and the kind of 3d imaging we have now it will be much more possible to make a close a copy as possible.

Fortunately they think at the moment that the three rose windows have somehow miraculously survived the onslaught. I was convinced that the very heat (800C they calculate) would have been enough to crack the ancient glasswork.

Let us hope that some of the beauty has survived!

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