Proudly displaying his ‘green credentials’ Ambassador of France Christophe Lecourtier welcomed guests to the reception for the Bastille Day commemoration at his residence. Standing beside the banner advertising the Paris climate conference he declared he was a green ambassador. Green is good, shame we aren’t as determinedly displaying enthusiasm for an international accord to save us from current leadership skepticism.
And just like the Italians for their national day the countdown to Paris digital clock was on display to remind us of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris from November 30 to 11 December. Standing beside it sheltered us from a winter chill on the terrace as we shivered our way through the official niceties, delicious delicacies, French champagne and small talk wondering if this long cold spell in our little corner of the world is indicative of the future.
US Ambassador John Berry was dressed for the occasion, his own 4 July party just 10 days before prepared him for another cold day, and now knowing the bright July sunshine is not an indicator of warmth and that this event too is outside. Across the road from his residence in fact with a good view, each to the other, high on a Yarralumla hillock with winds to cut through your thermals and green grass moist enough to sink the nicest of stilettos. We must not complain, we get it easy because until you’ve shoveled snow to get your car out of the garage, you have nothing to whinge about!
The greening of this day extended to some clever food the embassy chef and his team had conjured up to assure us that green peas and pasta are delicious and you don’t need kale to make a healthy green drink, with all on display on a mini Eiffel Tower and table covered in plastic green grass! For those with a robust appetite the charcuterie and spit roasted pig were warming, while the sweet toothed were rewarded with mini desserts to enjoy. The desserts short circuited in their progress to those outside by some of us inside including the ever so stylish and vivacious Lydie Bertrand, Senior Press Advisor at the Embassy of France, who is leaving soon to join her family and finish the refurbishing of her home in Bali, taking a trip to her real home in Paris and then to New York. A mini sabbatical before pursuing other interests after a formidable 35 year career in the diplomatic service for France.
That’s what makes this French celebration such a pleasure. The best of France, the most interesting people, a society impacted by the worst of this world’s terror but with determination reinforcing the freedoms they fought for and looking to the future of the planet in a positive way knowing we have to fix it. Altruistic, yes. That’s what we all have to be.