Andrea Dorfman is a Canadian screenwriter and film director based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A decade ago she created this charming video below entitled ‘How to be alone’. It got over 8 million hits. For COVID, she created a new video entitled ‘How to be at home’.
“The most shocking thing I saw were young people lining up at the food bank. They were wearing their work uniform: an Uber food delivery vest.” A quote from someone I heard on the radio this week. The irony. Young people delivering food to others on scooters and bicycles, most always at night, but not having enough themselves to eat. A note to Uber Eats users? Tip generously.
Also this week: standing in a shopping mall buying myself a ham and cheese baguette sandwich, I heard a soft voice beside me – “Excusez-moi. Would you have one or two euros so that I could buy something to eat?” I turned my head to see a woman, well-dressed, in her fifties. She looked embarrassed at having to ask such a question. She was French.
“Bien sûr“, I said. I bought a second ham and cheese baguette sandwich. Walking back to the office, I thought – That woman could be me. She could be YOU. She could be all of us. No job, not enough money to eat, no one or nothing to fall back on.
Last night after work, I stopped off at Marks & Spencer to stock up on food (for myself) for the weekend. I passed a young woman sitting on the floor with a small sign asking for food or money. Inside M&S, I bought a hot pizza and a drink and gave it to her as I walked past on my way to the metro.
I no longer judge. I used to, but these are hard, hard times. “Unless you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, do not judge.”
It can happen fast. You lose your job through no fault of your own (redundancy. restructuring. Or a pandemic called COVID). Your unemployment benefits run out, you can no longer pay your rent or mortgage payments. Or you fall ill and can’t pay your medical bills. Or you’re a student and just have no money and you’re alone. Every homeless or hungry person has a valid story to tell (and it always begins with family.) Those from the Middle East? Their stories begin with war, displacement or persecution.
You have no family to help out, no loving parents whose home you can return to until you get back on your feet.
France has a generous safety net, but it’s being stretched to the limit. And benefits last for only so long. One of the reasons I live in France is because of that safety net. Because you see, I have no family. My loving parents died in the 1990s. Had they not died, I would’ve moved back to Toronto a long time ago to be close to them. I have an older sister – married, well-off – but we’re estranged. The last time I saw her was in a lawyer’s courtroom in Toronto in 2000.
There are so many wonderful, hardworking charities, associations and organizations the world over. For every Christmas or Hanukkah gift we buy this year, let’s donate to a charity as well!
La Fondation Abbé Pierre
Les Restos du Coeur
Le Secours catholique
La Croix rouge française collects clothes, toys, blankets.
The Secours Populaire Français (SPF), or the French Popular Relief, dedicated to fighting poverty and discrimination.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the pleasures of having a blog is to be able to look back through the archives to see what you were doing 2, 3, 5 years ago. A blog is a digital time capsule of sorts. So on this mild November Saturday late afternoon in 2020 as I sit here relaxing with a glass of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil at my side and listening to In the Mood for Love soundtrack on my CD-DVD player, I scrolled all the way back to November 2014 (wow, have I had this blog that long?)
I still think this advertising campaign below, created by Rosa Park ad agency, is brilliant. It promotes Thalys, a consortium of companies (SNCF, SNCB and Deutsche Bahn) that manage high-speed train service between France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
On December 20, 2014, I took a Thalys train to Holland. Fancy a winter trip to Amsterdam? Click on this link here, I had such a good time.
Today I want to turn the world off.
I’m sick of hearing and reading about Trump, COVID, Brexit, the lockdown and all the other depressing news. (But ecstatic over Biden’s win.) It’s time to change the narrative and tune out all the background noise. Just for a day; a rainy day.
Wednesday November 11 is a national holiday here (Armistice Day), so I took the Monday and Tuesday off to make a long 5-day weekend. Back to work on Thursday. Earlier this afternoon I diligently filled out my Attestation form allowing me to leave my apartment for a brief period while staying within a one kilometer radius of my building. I had local errands to do. But when I stepped outside, it was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella. I ended up in the convenience store at the foot of my street, the Attestation not needed.
I guess there are a lot of things to do on a rainy lockdown day depending on who you are and what kind of life you lead. But if you’re feeling lazy and hungry like I am, there are only two things to do: make a lemon drizzle cake and watch an old black and white movie.
Watching these old movies from the 1940s and 50s is one of my great pleasures (there’s a good selection on YouTube). I love the music, the dialogue, the clothes, the big cars, the interiors, the glamorous women. Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr was one of the most beautiful women in film.
In 1937, she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris and then onward to London. There she met Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood. But she wasn’t just a pretty face, she was also an inventor. During World War II she invented a radio-controlled torpedo and had it patented.
What I find surprising about some of these old movies is they’re not old at all, they’re remarkably modern. Take a look!
Donald J. Trump: you are fired!
Bye-bye, you big blowhole. You never deserved the role of President. You and your grifter family members were utterly unqualified for the exalted positions that you cheapened and despoiled.
Now, dégage ! (bugger off!)
We don’t want to see you ever again, unless it’s from the inside of a jail cell.
Advisor to the President of the United States: focusing on “the education and economic empowerment of women and their families as well as job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship”.
First Lady of the United States of America:
I just thought of this slogan now.
GO JOE GO!! The whole world is watching, waiting, and wishing you a smooth and safe sail to the W.H.