By Iris Conlay
AAV I leave Paris the news leaks out that de Gaulle is there. The city receives it quietly as it has received all the rest of the news-with complete apathy. The spirited French, always so voluble, so active in their expression of their feelings, faced with a threat of civil war, say nothing, and, more astonishing, write nothing on their walls.
It is uncanny, this silence. Whitsun has been the ordinary family holiday here. Children. who still play with troops in the Tuileries gardens, are doing the same thing now; lovers are holding hands in the Bois; cars endlessly chase each other out of Paris packed with picnic baskets.
It is true the streets around the Champs Elysees are thick with Civil Guards who swarm among the strollers from the Alexandre Bridge to the Etoile like bluebottles, or sit in their darkened lorries peering out at the crowds and playing trie-lrac to pass the time until .
Until what The parachute pensive arrive in the Bois ? The Communists stage a demonstration ? No one knows.
No Opinion No one has any vely definite opinion to offer. The French people who speak to one are as puzzled as any foreigner. Mostly they say that nothing could be worse than governments that do nothing but let things slip and slip away.
De Gaulle would at least he definite, although as write this on Tuesday morning de Gaulle has not told us which direction he is taking. hut some Parisians think that any direction is better than none. Some even welcome surgical treatment as drastic as a severance with America and a bent towards Russia,
It might be better that way, they say; who knows ? All Europe together with Russia under a benevolent sky of sputniks going round and round and protecting In belle France from ever becoming the battlefield of Europe again.
Perhaps France could then retire from politics and just grow grapes and wheat and become a vegetable state these are the weary thoughts of a country that has seen too many wars, and cannot contemplate another.
A great thunderstorm rocked Paris last night. It was the end of the holiday; the Metro, which will stop running at 2 p.m. today, was crowded with the drenched people returning home.
The noise of the thunder may have been dramatically symbolic, but the grumbles one heard on all sides were not of politics, hut of ruined dresses and squelching shoes.
On Whit Sunday. the churches were thronged with visitors and residents. and never before did the words of the Mass of the Holy Ghost seem so appropriate or so poignant. The people were asked to remain calm in this crisis, hut calm they have always been T could almost have prayed for an expression of some feeling instead of this strange kind of paralysis.
The Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop O'Hara, who is in hospital recovering from bronchial pneumonia, was stated on Wednesday to be making good progress and may leave hospital shortly. He will not be able to take part in the Manchester Whit Walk this weekend.