Notre Dame resurrection
After the immediate shock wears off, things don’t necessarily look quite as bad. It seems the stonework has survived more or less intact, the bell towers are more or less untouched, the grandeur of the building, even after the fire will only be marginally compromised. Thinking about what happens now, there will be a rebuilding programme which will boost the Paris region economy significantly, and in a very special way. The demand for stonemasons, gilders, carpenters, joiners, glassworkers, carvers and all the other medieval trades will boost training schemes and a rediscovery of the crafts which come from working with your hands – perhaps there’ll be a localised renaissance of such things. I hope so. Much of it paid for in the good old fashioned way, through the patronage of the rich. Has Notre Dame tweaked the conscience of a few who sit on their billions doing nowt? After a relatively short break, even the new scaffolding that will emerge won’t be a deterrent to tourists. One only has to think of Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, to realise that once something has achieved iconic status, it will attract the tourists regardless of a bit of building work. At some point in the future, Notre Dame will be restored and many visitors will not be the wiser. Some may look for a new beginning, just like the Houses of Parliament today – who’d want the old (1830s) stuff back? (Having said which, I’m not confident that the Palace of Westminster authorities will be up to speed on what lessons need to be learnt from Notre Dame.) I’m just glad I visited Notre Dame in its ‘original’ state whilst I still could.
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