(The Root) — I’m in France at the moment watching the horrible events in Boston and their effect on London. Brits who were there are returning to the U.K. with terrible tales to tell, some still in shock. It’s the same in France. The Boston marathon is a huge international event that many nations see as their own, so what happened yesterday is personal for many people in Europe.
And yet, the usual stuff in France, for example, continues. Yesterday in Paris, it was revealed in court that black and North African-origin railroad employees were banned last month from handling Israeli President Shimon Peres’ bags because he might think that they were Muslims. “No Muslims near Peres,” the court heard that one train official said. If this happened, it’s illegal. But you have to prove it happened. That’s why the French railway has been taken to court.
Anyway, it’s always best for people of color to have a passport handy when you’re in France. There are about five different kinds of police here, and nobody can tell you exactly what each of their functions is, so it’s best that when a uniform walks up to you and says, “Papiers” — referring to your ID or passport — you’d better hand it over quickly. They don’t/won’t speak English most of the time and are not interested in the fact that you can’t speak French. Oh, and the American Embassy in Paris or most places usually doesn’t turn up at police stations unless you’re a VIP. That’s in the movies.
Back across the English Channel, the Boston Marathon bombing has implications in London as well. The London Marathon, the largest in the world, will be run on Sunday, and Prince Harry is still scheduled to be at the finish line handing out prizes. In the aftermath of the American attack, officials are reviewing security for the race.
This week in London will feature a mega-police event: Margaret Thatcher’s funeral is tomorrow. There will be 4,000 extra police on duty for that, and those are just the numbers they’re telling us.
Her death has spilt the nation in two. There was a “Thatcher Death Party” in Trafalgar Square, the center of London, last Saturday night. A song from the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz was chosen by anti-Thatcher people as their anthem. Millions bought it. The BBC had to explain to teens who tune in to their weekly chart show why an old song like “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead” was the No. 2 download in the U.K. last week.
Many people are planning to show up tomorrow on the funeral procession route just to turn their backs on the coffin as it passes. So it’s best not to believe any “Kumbaya” articles written in the States or anywhere else about how united the Brits are over the greatness of Mrs. T. Even the newspapers have dueling headlines.
And with the news that the worldwide crash of gold on the stock market yesterday might have been caused by the fact that Cyprus is planning to sell all its gold bars so that it can get a bailout from the European Central Bank, it’s already been a very long week here in Europe.
Bonnie Greer is a Chicago-born U.S. and British citizen living in London. She is a playwright, author, novelist, TV pundit and member of The Jazz Warriors International, or TJWI. Follow her on Twitter.