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Notre Dame on fire

As with everyone else, I have been watching the overnight fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Just the name of the building is etched on our consciousness as a representive of the French nation, with a seemingly indestructible image of strength and belief.

Yet, within hours, it has been reduced to a smoking shell of former magnificence, nearly a thousand years of history gone in a wink of time. Although the shell remains, and the promise of a resurrection over time, it will not be the original, it will not have the essence of history enshrined in its new replica.

Although this was, presumably, an accident, there have been many examples ,albeit on a much smaller scale, of the loss of historic buildings on the whim of a planning department. This has resulted in bland, standard identikit towns and cities across the UK, were, if just dropped in, you wouldn’t be able to identify any local landmark buildings anymore to know where you are.

Why do we allow this? History belongs to everyone, not just a town planner, who, it most cases, have come from the same background as other such planners, with no emotional connection to their current location. There are so few historic buildings left in my own town, even in my time the face of the town has changed completely, and by far not for the better. Rather than a knock it down thought process, can’t we just enhance and emphasise that which gives us our unique identities as a people?

Anyway, I truly hope Notre Dame does quickly get restored to its former glory, this mornings news broadcasts show that much of the infrastructure still stands. When we do really want something to happen as a collective, it is so much more satisfying to finally see the results, no matter how long it may take.

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