More musings from Marseille
Three huge fires today around the Marseille area and I mean huge. Whipped up, snarling and blazing full force with the angry mistral coaxing the flames and distruction. Even in the city, the skies hang low part red and part grey and the air is acrid. A dirty barbeque without meat.
This almost describes the city itself: a total mixture of what is half beautiful, achingly beautiful but right now it is in self destruct mode. My very first impressions of Marseille around 5 years ago was that it was (and is in parts), a wonderful city but with such shocking negatives that I would have never considered living here. The ugly graffiti is almost everywhere and I am not talking about artistic graffitti which does exist and is beautiful. The two are not linked. The fact that most shops feel the need to have heavy metal shutters when closed to avoid vandalism, was an eye opener and something that I was not really used to ,coming more recently from a leafy London suburb.
Yet, I am not totally naive, I recall the Tottenham riots, the Brixton riots- a London constantly under threat. I have lived in slighly dodgier parts of London before they too became more gentrified: Shepherd’s Bush, Hammersmith and between Wandsorth Common and Tooting Bec. Ok, I was closer to the Common but I used to run down to Tooting. I grew up having to use the Tube with the threat of IRA bombs. Difficult times everywhere, then, now and forever I guess…
And so back to Marseille… the underbelly of this city is rotten, it’s dirty, it’s corrupt. There is no respect. People throw their rubbish in the streets, let their dogs poo without collecting, dump sofas, mattresses, wherever! There is no sense of service in many bars, restaurants or shops. One time, at the check out in a local supermarket, a product I had was lacking it’s barcode – the reaction from the person at the till was – do you really need this anyway? Really, really?? Would this happen in Waitrose- hmm, I don’t think so!
Solution time. It needs the equivalent of Rudy Guiliani to clean up this town as he did in NYC. It needs angels. It needs a new mayor who is not surrounded by people chosen by nepotism rather than merit (hopefully they are all about to retire). It’s too much of a melting pot, too many poor immigrants and angry drugged, armed people. A melting pot can bring wonderful things but this is just water thin soup with no flavour. It makes me sad. It could be grand. It could be magnificent. On Sunday, there was a shooting and two dead , 5 minutes from our flat..
Enough is enough but am still happy with Frog.