Father Peter Jackson

I was shocked when I heard that Father Peter Jackson, 69, had died on August 30.  Having suffered a pulmonary embolism, he passed away a few days later in hospital surrounded by family and friends. In the words of many, he genuinely was “one of the kindest people I had ever met.” A eucharist at Holy Trinity Nice will take place at 11 am on Wednesday, October 12 will be followed by the committal of ashes in the church yard. There will be a private cremation in advance.

Father Peter came to Holy Trinity Nice in October 2014. During my years as Editor-in-Chief of the Riviera Reporter magazine, I had the privilege to sit down with him several times after he first arrived, which happened to be mere months before the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Uncannily, he was also in Washington as 9/11 unfolded, driving across the bridge as the Pentagon was hit. The story below is based on two interviews, from March 2015 and November 2015, when he reflected on the Paris attacks and the fundamental human question about how could God allow suffering.

It was All Saint’s Day 1945 when Peter Jackson’s parents met on an air force station in Hartlebury, Worcestershire. They married two years later and moved to Wales where Peter was born in 1953.

“I attended a small private school from the age of 13 to nearly 18, and I stayed on to do an extra study for Oxford entrance. I worked for the newspaper – not as a journalist but folding and delivering papers to make some money so I could travel to the South of France. In fact, I spent my 18th birthday closed to Toulon.”

Peter read theology at St Peter’s College Oxford for three years before starting to study Law but went back to Oxford and got a teaching qualification. From there, he went on to Theological College at St Stephen’s House in Oxford and trained to be ordained. 

“When I was in my prep school of 150 boys, the headmaster commented to my mother ‘Brother Peter’, so even though I wasn’t particularly pious, there must have been something religious about my attitudes. And the other thing I do remember is my scripture lessons. Our teacher was quite obsessed with spiritualist things and these were some of the liveliest lessons. My rival in this tiny school, Nick Rowley, eventually went to Cambridge and was a brilliant musician who played for the Two Ronnies. He and I were absolutely engaged in thinking about religion and philosophy, the big issues that concern us as we are growing up.”

After confirmation, Peter found going to chapel significant and admired his “very abled” Chaplain, and the idea that this is what he would do crossed his mind. “But I also experienced the common teenage reaction to all the suffering in the world, we’re talking about the late Sixties and Vietnam. I wasn’t becoming an atheist but I now realise the fundamental human question about how could God allow such suffering is actually growing up in terms of spirituality, a fairly normal adolescence for a thoughtful person. At the time you just feel quite angry. I didn’t stop going to church but I felt very conflicted, which fell into a time when I was fascinated by Bertrand Russell; I read all three volumes of his biography and read transcripts of his debates on religion in the early Fifties, which now you could probably watch on YouTube. It all makes you wonder whether God exists, and if he does, why does so much appalling suffering go unrectified?”

He added, “The institution on the whole didn’t give me greatest confidence. I resisted being ordained but I saw that I was resisting, and that wasn’t a good thing. I wasn’t sure. It was such a relief, though, and I felt like I had arrived at the right place.”

Father Peter said the question of suffering was one he was often asked. “If there’s a sudden death or a young person is afflicted with some awful illness, or, as in my last parish, the youngest son of our treasurer’s wife was murdered in his twenties in a random attack around the corner from where I lived. It’s not that they stopped believing, but they didn’t. Faith and my connection with them pastorally didn’t waiver, but it left them in a very bleak place. I read that Mother Theresa in the last few years of her life found a complete emptiness when she prayed. I made this commitment and I will hold onto this even though they get nothing back in terms of feeling.”

He believed it was possible to “hang in there” even though one’s intuition or affective side is desolate. Much like people felt after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, where two armed terrorists killed 12 people and injured 11 others in the office of the weekly satirical newspaper.

“I didn’t preach about Charlie Hebdo. You have to be very careful about preaching about these subjects, you can characterize it as the conflict between two faiths, or two brothers who lived marginalised lives, and it doesn’t work. It’s essentially many different interpretations, and I don’t think in public, giving an opinion is helpful. Frankly, we don’t know.”

Father Peter was in Washington on 9/11. “I was driving across the bridge as the Pentagon was hit. I’d oddly been right in the mix so to speak. We cannot understand how shocked Americans were about being attacked in their home country and we can get lost in a fog of complexity. What I did in the very thoughtful and highly educated episcopal parish in Washington was a whole series about the ethics of war. I found those who were pastorally engaged, they didn’t want a knee-jerk reaction but to consider the wider context of what this was all about.

“One of the consequences of the First World War was a change in how people thought about the dead. They wouldn’t have a very adequate response to death and grief, but you have the ritual of the unknown soldier and poppies, two minutes silence and you suddenly get changed emphasis in Anglicanism, get prayers for the dead.

“In the Second World War, people, not everyone, went to church. The intensity of the experience drew people to the church for a secular memorial service. There isn’t religious behaviour in our society, but  institutions or religion and their representatives connect with the raw emoting and questioning of the moment.

“By inclination, evocative sacramental religion gives people more of a resource to cope. People can be themselves and have their own relationship with God.”

A year after his arrival as Chaplain at the historic Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Nice, as well as of St Hugh Vence, Father Peter said in 2015, “I have served in a variety of parishes and schools, including twelve years at Harrow School, but I have never received such a warm and practical welcome as here.

“We have had so much help in settling into the presbytery – the 1890s priest’s house next to the church – getting to know the community and becoming accustomed to life in France. The assistance offered was invaluable as Holy Trinity is quite different from my previous parish in London. The congregation there consistently drew from only the immediate area, while the Nice one is constantly changing. There is a loyal core of people who have made their permanent home here but there is also a constant flow of visitors from all over the Anglophone world. In recent months, we have welcomed students from the Netherlands, Australia and the US, a Canadian Air Force chaplain, as well as visitors from the UK and North America. There are also those who come for a few months at a time: some from Canada wintering on the Riviera, as the British did in the nineteenth century, and others simply spending time in apartments that they own in Nice.

“There is also a significant American presence, which dates back to the time 40 years ago when the American Anglican congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit joined Holy Trinity, having sold their church in Nice to the French Protestants. This explains why Holy Trinity, a chaplaincy within the Church of England Diocese in Europe, is also listed as an associated parish by the Episcopal Church. Attendance, as well the composition of the congregation, varies considerably.

“We had almost 300 in church for the Easter Day service but fewer than half that number at Christmas, reflecting both the tendency of many permanent Nice residents to visit family at Christmas and the popularity of the Riviera as a holiday destination at Easter. When I describe the Holy Trinity congregation to visiting friends, I say that they are more like a cathedral congregation than a parish one. The factors that draw people to us are similar: a desire to participate in worship in English, and worship, that is accessible and mainstream.

“Also, I cannot assume that everyone is Anglican or that everyone is equally devout: some may be seeking something spiritual without yet having strong commitment. Moreover, the social time after services, when many linger to chat over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, is for some an indispensable complement to the worship – English speakers in a foreign land, they are keen to find an English-speaking community. But this has to be balanced by a recognition that some are also attracted by the fact that you can also slip in and out of Holy Trinity without the obligation to become more involved.

“I am very fortunate. I have had a variety in my life of working with interesting communities and met an extraordinary range of people and become involved profoundly in the lives of others. And that’s a privilege that doesn’t happen to a lot of people. I’m grateful that I have a family life, which was not something I expected. And fascinated to have arrived in such an extraordinary place and community and house, and at a point when one might expect to be winding down and retiring, I find myself with the stimulus of something entirely new and rewarding.”

Father Peter is survived by his husband Joseph Voelker and their children Eliot and Anneli.

Rosés of Southern France

Authors Elizabeth Gabay and Ben Bernheim (right).

There are less than 400 people on the planet with a coveted “Masters of Wine” certification. Considered the highest wine achievement in the world, Elizabeth Gabay is one of two people in the Alpes-Maritimes with the accreditation.

As a Provence specialist for the Wine Scholar Guild (formerly the French Wine Society), she is also the main South of France wine writer for Decanter magazine. Her second book, Rosés of Southern France, was published earlier this month.

“I passed the Master of Wine exam in 1998 after four years of intensive study, three after the birth of my son Ben,” says Elizabeth. “The exams involve understanding and being able to analyse viticulture, vinification, commercial business, the role of wine in society and, of course, being able to taste and evaluate wine. The pass rate is low – around 10% – and we do have an amazing global network.”

Back in 2018, Elizabeth wrote the definitive book on rosé, Rosé: Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution. “I had originally thought of a book on the region of Provence, but with over 80% of production being rosé, it made sense to focus on rosé. As I studied the market, history and different styles the book grew into being a global reach and a realisation that there really was a global revolution happening as rosés were growing in volume – now well over 10% of global consumption.”

When Elizabeth started researching for the book in late 2016, the level of quality rosé around the world was “erratic”. And while quality has improved in the past six years … “a lot of regional styles have disappeared as commercial competitiveness has pushed producers to make ‘Provence-style rosé’. Quality is improving but at the price of losing tradition and individuality,” says the Saint-Martin-Vésubie resident.

Rosés of Southern France is a collaborative cowrite with her son Ben Bernheim, who “has spent his entire life in wine. As part of the wine tasting team at Edinburgh university he won the prize for the best white wine taster competing against Oxford, Cambridge and French students.” After graduating in 2017, Ben helped his mom finish the original rosé book and he worked in vineyards and as a sommelier.

“Working with a 25-year-old is exhausting. He has so much energy,” Elizabeth shares. “I was in my comfy niche of writing and lecturing and he has pushed the boundaries.” In addition to last year’s e-guide and this year’s book really, the mother-son duo also found the time to create their own rosé, Sen, made with a winemaker in Slovakia.

Their book Rosés of Southern France clearly establishes patterns for regionality and what makes the wines stand out, which is of interest to both buyers and consumers. “Last year Ben and I did an e-guide tasting 1000 Southern French rosés and we realised that the best wines showed originality and we wanted to write more about these wines and estates.”

Elizabeth and Ben sampled over 2,000 rosés during the past year. “Including rosés from elsewhere – it is important to keep an international perspective.”

The book aims to be a classic wine book. “If you love rosé, you can read it and understand the different styles, and how to look for other wines.” At the same time, at the end of August, they are launching their website pink.wine which will be a modern and innovative approach to rosé,” the New Yorker explains.

“Most existing books on rosé either give a list of wines or list estates to visit or are coffee table books with lovely photos. We wanted to treat rosé as a serious wine. We have included maps showing the geology and geography, photos of the soils, grapes, regions. We have tried to show how and why the styles of wine have different styles. The elegance of Sainte Victoire, the robustness of Gigondas, the complexity of Tavel …”

Rosés of Southern France is for professionals, sommeliers, buyers and anyone who likes rosé. “Hopefully it will help consumers when they go into a shop and want to choose a wine. Recently someone mentioned they liked fuller bodied Les Baux rosés and we were able to suggest which regions and appellations had similar styles.”

Elizabeth has three recommendations to look out for this summer.

  1. Les Schistes, Les Maîtres Vignerons de Gonfaron, Côtes de Provence (€7.80): a delicate charming white peach, fresh citrus acidity and a lovely balance of restrained fruit and acidity.
  2. Pierre Amadieu, Romane Machotte, Gigondas AOP 2021 (€17): a juicy, slightly weightier rosé with real Gigondas character filled with fresh cherries, strawberries and raspberry fruit – but also a serious gastronomic wine.
  3. Chateau de Selle, Domaine Ott (€26): red fruit, floral, perfumed, orange blossom. Gorgeous citrus acidity, crisp, citrussy, vibrant well-made, elegant, direct, hint of leafiness on the Rather lovely.

And for those like me who know nothing about wine, Elizabeth says look for rosé in a dark bottle. “I know that is counter-intuitive but colour is not important. Pale does not make it good. The bright sunlight can damage the wine and give it off vegetal flavours. I’ve seen people say they don’t like rosé and then discover they are tasting wine which has been in the sun. An hour on the table in summer is enough to harm the wine.

“Look at the back label. If it says serve at 6°C you know it is best drunk chilled by the pool. Serve at 10°C and above with maybe some detail of the grapes suggests the producer is more serious.”

Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful to your health

Chess for Peace: Ukrainian refugees play at Monaco tournament

Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook

I discovered Monaco had a chess club back in 2017. It was during the #Whitecard photo op at the Monaco Yacht Club where a slew of sports celebrities had gathered to show support for the Peace and Sport initiative. Following the group shot, Prince Albert turned to his right to speak with Fiorina Berezovsky (pictured below), Monaco’s youngest ever national chess champion.

At age nine, Fiorina had already been playing the game for three and a half years and was a member of Le Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo (CEMC) – Monaco’s Chess Federation. She also spoke five languages – Ukrainian, French, English, German and Russian.

Monaco Champions for Peace at 2017 #Whitecard event. Photo; Manuel Vitali/Direction de la Communication
Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook

Now age 14, Fiorina (above) is part of the Monaco Women’s Team competing at the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022, which takes place in Chennai, India, from July 28th to August 10th August. With 100 countries registered for the event, she is the youngest participant.

The Women’s Team will be captained by Fiorina’s mom, Svetlana, who is also a Monaco Women’s Chess Champion; Fiorina’s father, Igor, holds an international chess title. The couple, who met at a chess tournament in Ukraine, have been extremely active in assisting Ukrainian refugees arriving in Monaco.

When Igor and CEMC president Jean Michel Rapaire decided to organise a “Chess for Peace” tournament for players ages 5 to 17, they never imagined such an overwhelming response. Fifty-six young players – including 14 girls – from the Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo registered. The event had to be moved from the chess club on boulevard d’Italie to the Novotel to accommodate everyone.

The fast-play tournament on Sunday, June 12th was based on 9 rounds of 10 minutes plus 5 seconds per move.

What makes Sunday’s “Chess for Peace” event exemplary is that ten of the young players are Ukrainian refugees. “As chess is popular in Ukraine, most kids came with a certain level,” explains Igor.

“Thanks to my wife’s great work, Ukrainian kids new to the region have gravitated towards the chess club.”

RESULTS AFTER FOUR ROUNDS
1st-2nd Fiorina and Aaron 4 points
3rd-4th Boris and Sergej with 3.5 points
5th-14th Nam Thao , Stanislav, Nikita, Lukas Dante, Alina , Alexander, Egor, Valériia and Janibek

Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook
Photo: Nam Thao Facebook

Burton Gintell

I last spoke with Burton Gintell at the American Club of the Riviera’s Thanksgiving lunch in November. Chatting in the Salle Belle Epoque, his genuine kind self inquired with a twinkle, “How are you doing Nancy … really?” And yet he was with the pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

After several minutes, we were talking about one of my all-time favourite stories: how Burton happened to meet Fred Astaire in New York on their shared birthday on May 11.

Burton and I were anecdotal and chatty, as we had been since we first met years ago when I worked at the Riviera Reporter and he was in his first mandate as president of the American Club of the Riviera (ACR), a position he held from 2010-2011 and from mid-2013 to 2016; he also co-presided in 2017 with Beathe-Jeanette Lunde.

In 2011, the Reporter had done a piece on the annual conference on the Association of Presidents of the American Club, which Burton hosted at the Monaco Novotel with representatives from 15 countries in Europe. He remarked in the article, “The business component is rather smaller now as fewer firms are sending staff abroad. Talking to our guests, I heard that in some places business networking can still be a significant function of a club, in others there’s a strong interest in political issues. Here our emphasis is a blend of the social and the cultural.”

Burton, a trained CPA who was an Emeritus Member of the Board at Sophia Business Angels, strived to develop unique events for ACR members, such as a pre-lunch visit to Nice’s Museum of Historical Musical Instruments, whose curator Robert Adelson was American.

One of the most memorable ACR events I was invited to was a few years back, when the club celebrated Christmas with a beer tasting session at the then-new microbrewery in Nice, Allez Hops!, owned by ACR governor, Daniel Deganutti.

Ever the gentleman, Burton and his British realtor wife Jackie Pressman-Gintell, have always been kindhearted towards me. The couple lived in Europe for more than 40 years, and spent the last two decades in Cannes where both have been active members of the community and supporters of several French arts organisations.

Burton was a director and founding shareholder of Innovation Europe S.A., an investment vehicle created by SBA to invest in a portfolio of innovative young companies. I did not know this but he had received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in the UK during one tenure as chief executive at a major company. In addition to his presidency at ACR, he was vice-chair for three years of the Côte D’Azur-Monaco chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in France.

At ACR’s “Swell-egant Elegant Gala” at the Belles Rives, Burton commented, “Virtually all of us here have enriched our lives by living elsewhere from our birthplaces, to which some of our families migrated to seek a better life. We can perhaps pause for a moment to reflect upon those who do not have our choices.”

He was a compassionate and giving man who often reflected on others’ needs. Cy Todd, ACR vice-president and membership coordinator, added this reflection on Burton: “He was an ‘influencer’ before the term’s time. His friendly and inclusive demeanour drew people to him. This made him the perfect president of the American Club. He was like a Pied Piper, even taking a group of friends to his beloved Venice, to celebrate his and Jackie’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful trip, enjoyed by all.”

Burton died on April 30 just shy of his 87th birthday. Jackie shared the message: “My darling husband, Burton Gintell, passed away this morning. He will be missed by all who loved the extraordinary man he was.”

He will be cremated on May 11th at 11 am at the Cannes crematorium (Chemin plaine de Laval, 06150 Cannes la Bocca).

I will not be able to attend but at 11 am, I will do my best Fred Astaire moves in his honour.

International Women’s Day Monaco

March 8 is International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion this Tuesday, I am organising at StarsnBars a collection to support Ukraine.

Two of my colleagues are Ukrainian: one is currently being bombed; the other is here but her father is not. He has stayed in Ukraine and is working with the local government and preparing to defend his pays natal.

Like many of you I feel helpless. I see images on TV of brave-faced Ukrainian women who are trying to flee with their young children, with their lives stuffed in one suitcase. I see young women, middle-aged women and not so middle-aged women who are staying and arming themselves with rifles. I see women and their families in Russia defying imprisonment as they unprecedentedly protest to end the war on their neighbouring friends. This is all, by definition, courage.

Courage does not care how much money you have or what nationality you are. Courage is not easy, it takes effort to find your voice. But one voice can turn into two which turns into 200 which turns into 200,000 which turns into 2 million.

I am asking to hear your voice on International Women’s Day. We have lived in isolation for two years and now is our time to come together and to shine a collective light on Monaco, a community that shares a global conscience united through benevolence, compassion and love.

Here is where you come in.

9am to 10am Monaco Stands Together
I invite everyone who works, lives and plays in Monaco to come together outside of Starsnbars and #standwithukraine. It is International Women’s Day and I would love to see as many female faces as possible – moms, entrepreneurs, those working with nonprofits or in commerce, clubs and associations members, artists, athletes or retired – but this is a 100% inclusive event. Everyone is welcome to come and chat, network, order coffee at StarsnBars, hug … to connect.

Should you feel inspired, wear a dash of yellow or cyan blue for the Ukraine flag, orange for Kate Powers or purple for International Women’s Day.

9am to 7pm Red Cross Monaco
The Red Cross Monegasque (RCM) has kindly agreed to give a collection box for cash or cheque donations to Ukraine. Cheques need to be made out to:
Croix-Rouge Monégasque – Ukraine.

All cash and cheque donations to RCM on Tuesday will be made in the name of the Kate Powers Foundation.

Please note the RCM is not accepting items of any kind. You can also send a cheque direct to Croix-Rouge Monégasque at 27 Bd de Suisse, 98000 Monaco.

9am to 7pm Drive for Ukraine
There will be a collection of items for Ukraine outside of StarsnBars. I have organised with my Ukrainian colleague a driver in the community and point of contact in Ukraine to ensure these items are driven to the border where they will then be picked up and taken to various cities within the country. Many donated items from around the world are making it to the border but not able to be distributed in Ukraine itself. Some are making it across the border only to end up in the hands of those selling on the black market.

This is a part of a list sent today to my colleague from a volunteer in Ukraine. The focus here is on women and babies. These items are probably not in your closet but a little effort on your part will go a long way.

– antiseptics
– anti-inflammatories
– antispasmodics
– hydroalcoholic gel
– needle and thread
– hygienic wipes
– baby wipes
– Pampers
– baby food, baby milk
– baby clothes (socks), baby toys
– anything for newborns
– pet food
– feminine hygiene products
– toiletries, especially toothbrush, toothpaste and soap, baby shampoo

Please share this information to encourage others to support this humanitarian cause on March 8.  

Thanks to Annette Anderson and Didier Rubiolo at Starsnbars, Françoise Cellario at the Croix-Rouge Monegasque, Yana Kryshtofovych and Merrily Lustig Tornatore, who have all helped pull this together last minute.

Let’s stand together Monaco. See you on Tuesday.

Text in French
https://goodnewsmonaco.com/2022/03/04/journee-internationale-de-la-femme-monaco/

Photo: Flickr Renew Europe.

Journée Internationale de la Femme Monaco

Le 8 mars est la Journée Internationale de la Femme. Pour marquer l’évènement ce mardi, j’organise au StarsnBars une collecte pour soutenir l’Ukraine.

Deux de mes collègues sont ukrainiennes : l’une vit actuellement sur les bombes ; l’autre est ici mais pas son père. Il est resté en Ukraine et travaille avec le gouvernement local et se prépare à défendre son pays natal.

Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je me sens impuissante. Je vois à la télévision des images de femmes ukrainiennes au visage courageux qui tentent de fuir avec leurs jeunes enfants, toute leur vie enfouie dans une seule valise. Je vois des jeunes femmes, des femmes en pleine force de l’âge et des femmes même plus âgées qui restent et s’arment de fusils. Je vois des femmes et leurs familles en Russie défier l’emprisonnement alors qu’elles protestent sans précédent pour mettre fin à la guerre contre leurs amis et voisins. C’est tout simplement du courage.

Le courage n’est pas une question de combien d’argent vous avez ou de quelle nationalité vous êtes. Le courage n’est pas facile, il faut des efforts pour oser parler. Mais une voix peut se transformer en deux qui se transforment en 200 qui se transforment en 200 000 qui se transforment en 2 millions.

Je demande à entendre votre voix à l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la Femme. Nous avons vécu isolés pendant deux annéss et il est maintenant temps de nous rassembler et de faire rayonner ensemble Monaco, une communauté qui partage une conscience globale unie par la bienveillance, la compassion et l’amour.

Voici comment vous pouvez aider.

9h à 10h Monaco Stands Together
J’invite tous ceux qui travaillent, vivent et jouent à Monaco à se rassembler en dehors de Starsnbars et de #standwithukraine. C’est la Journée Internationale de la Femme et j’aimerais voir autant de visages féminins que possible – mamans, entrepreneures, celles qui travaillent avec des organisations à but non lucratif ou dans le commerce, membres de clubs et d’associations, artistes, athlètes ou retraitées – mais c’est un événement 100% inclusif. Tout le monde est le bienvenu pour venir discuter, “network”, commander un café au StarsnBars, faire un câlin ou autre. Il s’agit d’être solidaires

Si vous vous sentez inspiré, portez une touche de jaune ou de bleu cyan pour le drapeau ukrainien, orange pour Kate Powers ou violet pour la Journée Internationale de la Femme.

9h à 19h Croix-Rouge Monégasque
La Croix-Rouge Monégasque (CRM) a aimablement accepté de mettre à disposition une boîte de collecte pour les dons en espèces ou en chèques à destination de l’Ukraine. Les chèques sont à libeller à l’ordre de : Croix-Rouge Monégasque – Ukraine.

Tous les dons en espèces et en chèques à CRM mardi seront faits au nom de la Fondation Kate Powers.

La CRM n’accepte aucun article de quelque nature que ce soit. Vous pouvez également adresser un chèque directement à la Croix-Rouge Monégasque, 27 Bd de Suisse, 98000 Monaco.

9h à 19h Drive pour Ukraine
Il y aura une collecte d’articles pour l’Ukraine devant StarsnBars. J’ai organisé avec mon collègue ukrainien un chauffeur de la communauté, et aussi un point de contact en Ukraine pour s’assurer que ces articles soient conduits à la frontière où ils seront ensuite récupérés et transportés dans différentes villes du pays. De nombreux articles donnés du monde entier arrivent à la frontière mais ne peuvent pas être distribués en Ukraine même. Certains traversent la frontière pour se retrouver entre les mains de ceux qui vendent au marché noir.

Ceci fait partie d’une liste envoyée vendredi à mon collègue par un volontaire en Ukraine. Le focus mis ici est sur les femmes et les bébés. Ces articles ne sont probablement pas dans votre garde-robe, mais un petit effort de votre part fera beaucoup de chemin.

– antiseptiques
– anti-inflammatoires
– antispasmodiques
– gel hydroalcoolique
– aiguille et fil
– des lingettes hygiéniques
– lingettes pour bébés
– Pampers
– nourriture pour bébé, lait pour bébé
– vêtements bébé (chaussettes), jouets bébé
– tout pour les nouveau-nés
– la nourriture pour animaux
– produits d’hygiène féminine
– articles de toilette, notamment brosse à dents, dentifrice et savon, shampoing pour bébé

Veuillez partager cette information pour encourager les autres à soutenir cette cause humanitaire le 8 mars.

Merci à Annette Anderson et Didier Rubiolo au Starsnbars, Françoise Cellario à la Croix-Rouge Monégasque, Yana Kryshtofovych et Merrily Lustig Tornatore, qui ont tous contribué à l’organisation de la dernière minute.

Soyons solidaires Monaco. Rendez-vous tous mardi 8 mars 2022 à 09h au StarsnBar, quai Antoine 1er.

Texte en anglais:
https://goodnewsmonaco.com/2022/03/04/international-womens-day-monaco/

Photo: Flickr Renew Europe.

Open Water Me vs. Boat With Motor

My inaugural open water came in the summer 2012. I had signed up for my first triathlon, the Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix-en-Provence, for September of that year. I needed to get comfortable in the water as opposed to the Olympic-distance pool in Nice where I had been training.

Considering I had not swm since my teens, at the age of 43 I was a reasonably strong swimmer thanks to endless childhood summers at our family cottage in Canada. Swimming in a lake and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, however, are two different ball games, especially when the warm currents in the Med in the South of France favour jellyfish.

That first swim with my ever-patient husband is a memory we both chuckle over to this day. Embarrassing to admit, I thought my air bubbles were jellyfish. When I was not literally swimming on top of my husband for protection, I was stopping because the fear of jellyfish was interfering with my breathing. We maybe swam 500 meters that day before I’d had enough but I quickly understood the vital relationship between controlled breathing and open water swimming.

A decade later, and thanks to swimrunning, the sea provides a connection to nature that I simply cannot live without. In the winter season, when the water here can be between 10°C and 14°C, I still manage two to three 5-6km swims a week, depending on the weather.

As openwater swimmers and swimrunners, we take all the necessary precautions, from swimming when possible with a buddy and with a visible safety buoy to sticking close to the shoreline and being smart about marine conditions.

I am not what you would call a risk taker. I may push myself out of my comfort zone but I am overly cautious in everything I do in and out of the water. I swim year-round in swimrun shoes, so I can exit at any time should I need to – a jellyfish infestation, change in swell, feeling cold or unwell. Before every swim, I ask myself: what am I dealing with today? I look at my course from the shore. We have paragliders who offseason land on the beach and so there are security boats. I have many times mentally prepared myself for the possibility of a paraglider falling on me.

There are fears about open water swimming that we share. Some we talk about, like jellyfish (I have lost count on how many times I have been stung although I have several scars to remind me) and cold water (having succumb to hypothermia during a swimrun race I know the difference between mental cold and physical cold). Then there are the dreads in the back of our minds that we don’t talk about: more dangerous marine life, such as sharks, and the fear of getting hit by a boat.

I don’t have to worry about sharks but I got hit by a boat. So let’s talk about it.

****************

On Sunday, February 6, I did my regular 5km swim with ideal winter conditions: calm sea, clear skies and no wind. The water was 14°C. I had a bright orange safety buoy attached and looked up often to check my direction and for any boats. With cold water swimming, the longer I am in the water the more likely I can become disoriented so I am vigilant about maintaining visuals.

With less than 200 meters to shore to end my swim, an oval shadow appeared overhead and I thought it was a paraglider falling in the sea. Instead of stopping suddenly, I kept my course so the paraglider could calculate my direction and avoid hitting me. I learned this from rowing. Stay the course.

The oval shadow became larger until suddenly I felt a violent hit to the back of my head and neck, which I presumed was the paraglider’s feet plunging into the sea. I was pushed under the water and a voice in my head said “I am going to drown.” I madly tried to lift the parachute off of me only to discover it was not a parachute. It was something hard and flat, maybe a paddleboarder. My face and upper body were pinned down in the water and to my right, I registered a motor moving towards my face.

My face felt hot. I frantically pushed my hands down to try to stop my body. This did not work. I calculated it would be worse to lose part of arm than my life. I used my right arm to protect my face.

The length of the boat ran over me.

****************

Once I was upright and my head above water, I could see the driver. It was a security boat for the paragliders. I stayed in the water, in a treading motion, until I was calm repeating in French “je suis dans un état du choc” (I am in a state of shock). For some reason I could not speak English. I had been in the water for nearly 90 minutes at this point and my body temp was low.

The driver was apologetic. He was not supposed to be within the 300-meter buoys, but he was 150 meters from the shore. He admitted he was not used to seeing swimmers at this time of year so he was looking up at the paragliders and not down at the sea. He did not call the police, which by law he is supposed to do when a boat hits a person.

He did offer for me to come onto the boat. I wanted to get out of the water and get home. My right elbow was throbbing and I approached the boat driver to have him examine it. He looked at and said it was okay, but I was wearing wetsuit. I asked him to watch me swim to shore, for less than five minutes. He said he had to watch the paragliders. I said he had to watch me because I was not sure I could swim with my elbow.

It was hard to swim, something felt not right. I got to shore and he came around to check on me. I gave him a thumbs up and immediately started climbing the 475 stairs that connect the beach to my apartment in less than 10-minutes. I never take off my gear in the winter until I get home.

In the safety of my own home, I threw up from realising what just happened. I took off my wetsuit, my elbow had two slashes and was bleeding. I should have had stitches. I should have gone to had my head checked but my right side was so sore that I did not remember the thwack to the head until it woke me up in a dream the next morning.  

Unfortunately, my husband was away that Sunday. He would have told me to go the hospital (which I did do on Thursday for a head scan) but honestly as a sportif, I am used to injuries. Unless I see bone, I think I do not require medical attention. Throw into that line of thinking that I was in a complete state of shock that I had almost been killed. If I had stopped suddenly and lifted my head, the impact from the boat would have been so much worse. Or if he had approached me from a different angle where I did not see the motor before it cut me.

Once the gravity of this freak accident sunk in, I went to the police on the Tuesday afternoon to file a complaint. The first question the officer asked me was, “Why were you swimming?” and then he refused to take my statement. He told me to work out the compensation with the paragliding club. Huh? “I do not want money. He could have killed me. I want to make sure the sea is safe for everyone and this does not happen again.”

Nothing. So I went to the local French press. Following the article, the police have said they would “welcome” me to file a complaint. I have been in touch with a Roquebrune paragliding club who is helping me to find the identity of the boat driver. And another boat driver who was in the bay that Sunday, visiting with his paragliding club from Provence, has contacted me to testify to the lack of measures and security in place for the safety boats. Once I have assembled a file, I will go back to the police to porter plainte but at a different station. I have six years to do so.

****************

My biggest fear has happened and I survived. But shock is a funny thing. You are in no man’s land somewhere between “I’m okay” because you are alive and “I’m not okay” because I almost got killed.” You try to do things as normal. For example, I went rowing with a friend two days later, in hindsight I should not have with my arm, and fifteen minutes outside the port of Monaco I burst into tears and wept uncontrollably, slumped over my oars.

For nearly two weeks I have felt like I was floating outside my body wondering why I lacked focus and was randomly crying uncontrollably. When I tried to write, the words I typed were not the words formulated in my head. I have been frustrated that I am not “strong”, that I cannot put mind over matter and get on with things. I have done everything I am supposed to do – meditate, breathing, exercise, good sleep, eating well (lots of pots of homemade soup and homemade breads) – but honestly this is my regular lifestyle and it was not improving my state of zombie mind.

I consider myself strong minded I do not have the tools to help myself. I reached out for help and contacted Gavin Sharpe at Riviera Wellbeing. He explained to me about trauma and the window of tolerance. I knew nothing about hyperarousal and hypoarousal. Gavin put me in touch with a counsellor who has helped me understand, among other PTSD elements, that because my accident was silent – that I could not scream or physically respond to protect myself because I was stuck underwater; nor was there any car crashing sounds – that my fearful reaction has been trapped inside me. I am working on letting it out. It will take time but I am confident I am on the road to recovery.

I also reached out to a few water safety organisations to ask if they could provide any advice about what to do when you are in this situation, like the difference between fire prevention and the steps to take when you are in a fire. But maybe it is a question of whether it is your time or not.

I got back in the water a week after the accident and managed a very cold 3.5km swim with my husband. My neck hurt looking up and looking back too much but the waves welcomed me back with each caressing crest. I have since swam solo and have no fear. Bliss.

For those who do not open water swim, the sensation is impossible to describe. I refer to the words of Gillian Best, who wrote “The Last Wave”, a story about a woman who swam the English Channel: “There is nothing in a pool: no current, no tide, no waves, and most of all, no history. The sea is alive, expansive; a pool is dead and confining. The sea is freedom.”

Monaco’s G-Spot

Screenshot from the homepage of a Monaco pizza service. I have deleted their info.

Reading the British press over the past week and the news of Sarah Everard’s disappearance and now confirmed murder, I have been shocked by the hundreds of stories women have shared about living in fear of walking home at night and harassment.

Jenny Jones for the UK’s Green Party suggested a possible “amendment to create a curfew for men on the streets after 6 pm” adding “I feel this would make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.”

In Monaco, the question of security has come up in every conversation I’ve had with single women – who between 25 and 64 make up 7.7% of the population, see chart at end – and the idea of being able to walk home in safety at night was the biggest incentive in moving to the Principality, outweighing the exorbitant rent.

Having lived in Nice for nearly two decades, the deteriorating sense of safety during the last five years is what drove me to move. Even in the Carré d’Or, a block from the Negresco, I would not go out by myself after 10 pm. But I have never been harassed. Or have I? Looking back over my years in France, I can recall four times men have exposed themselves to me:

1/ walking home from the bus in Bois Fleuri in Biot a pantless man confronted me and started masturbating.

2/ after seeing Radiohead at the Frejus amphitheater, waiting for the train home a man in très short shorts whipped out his penis and started yanking on the stairway.

3/ my personal favourite, stopped at a red light on the southbound outside lane at blvd Gambetta and rue de la Buffa in Nice, a drunk came up to the passenger side, unzipped his beige cords and smudged his penis in a slow windshield-wiper motion against the window. My car was wedged in, I had to wait for the light.

4/ Walking the dog on the Prom in Nice, some guy called out for help and when I turned he starting jerking off and laughing.

Then of course there are the countless zizis I’ve unwillingly come across as men in France deem fit to urinate anywhere in public, which is still a culture shock having grown up in Canada.

It brings to mind an interview with Ricardo Antonio Chavira, who was at the 2005 Monte-Carlo TV Festival when I attended for People Magazine. Discussing his character Carlos Solis on the then new series Desperate Housewives, he said when the show first aired in the US, men would stop him on the street to berate him for bringing such a macho character back on TV between because it made their wives angry. in Europe, he said men offered him a congratulatory slap on the back for bringing back a macho character to TV.

But is being a macho European a green light for men to cause offense? I am no snowflake but when I read a headline like “Convincing Win For G-Spot” in reference to the Monaco team who won at the Primo Cup sailing regatta last Sunday, I can only sigh. This is not National Lampoon.

This type of hyper-sexualised culture feeds into the bigger picture of why young girls and women, regardless of their relationship status, feel unsafe. From inappropriate body references to catcalling, objectification sends a detrimental message. Even in my own case, I have somehow normalised public flashers.

I doubt a 6 pm curfew for all men is the answer but simply wishing a “Happy International Women’s Day” does not cut it. Maybe the headline “Convincing Win For Ball Sac” would help open the dialogue.

IMSEE’s most recent census statistics (2016) on women living in Monaco.

Age                Monégasque    Non-Monégasque
25-34                           384                  1,393
35-44                           486                  1,832
45-54                           705                  2,305
55-64                           675                  1,995

Age                Living w/partner         Not living w/partner
25-34                           1,078                           699
35-44                           1,750                           567
45-54                           2,162                           848
55-64                           1,785                           885

Andrée and Michelle

Monegasques Andrée and Michelle outside the palace in Monaco Ville. Photos: Nancy Heslin

To celebrate National Day on November 19, Andrée and Michelle – the “Mamies of Monaco Ville” – share their stories about growing up on the Rock and how Covid has impacted the community.

Andrée and Michelle are sitting on a bench outside the palace, nearby the marble statue of tribute from foreign colonies presented to Prince Albert I on the occasion of his 25 years of reign in 1914.

“When I was a child, I used to climb that statue,” Andrée points. “Everything has changed. This used to really be a square.”

“Well, it was different,” says Michelle. “When I was younger, we would bike and roller-skate in the square. You know, the other morning, there was no one here except for a few kids from the painting school (Pavillon Bosio Visual Arts School) who were sitting in front of the palace on the sidewalk with their papers and pens, and the teacher was there. I saw a Carabinier approach and tell them they had to leave. The gentleman said he was a teacher here in Monaco-Ville and the students wanted to draw the palace a little. The Carabinier replied, ‘No, it’s out of the question.’ I found this completely absurd.”

“When I was young and in the month of Mary (May), we would all go to the Cathedral. There are arches at the top of the church tower and you can see there is a floor. There was a door and so we would go up and look at the choir sing. Now, you have to show your credentials everywhere. It’s not like before.”

These days, Covid also makes life different for the two women. Before the health pandemic, Andrée and Michelle would usually meet with friends every day for coffee. “We would meet up every morning at 9 at the San Remo bar,” says Michelle. “Before Covid, Monaco was far more lively. I think that with lockdown, we realise that apart from tourism, there’s not much on the Rock. Even people from Monaco, they are not going to come here to buy souvenirs. Although, some have come in a stand of solidarity.”

“In our day, it wasn’t like that,” shares Andrée. “There were grocery stores, a stationery shop, florists, a cobbler … we had everything. Souvenir shops practically did not exist. But it changed in the Sixties, they took away all the stores.”

Michelle agrees. “Monaco-Ville used to be a village but it gradually changed and is now essentially touristic. I’m going to tell you the honest truth. At the time, we were a bit fed up, because you couldn’t walk in the street in the summer, in the middle of August. Between the restaurant’s terraces and the groups, going out was really annoying. Frankly, we were bothered by this but when you look around now, it’s obvious that it is dying with sadness.”

Andrée adds, “I think, there is going to be a reversal. It’s necessary for the souvenir shops to do something else.”

“But some can’t close because they have big management,” Michelle remarks.

Village Life

“Before, all the families used to all know each other in Monaco-Ville. Now we no longer do,” says Andrée. There are many foreigners who have bought as secondary residences.

“The old grannies would take their chairs,” Michelle describes, “and bring them in the street and they would be in front of their doors, chatting. I remember that.”

“I can see them now,” recalls Andrée, “with their aprons, and they would shell peas or beans…”

Michelle remembers how the women would wash laundry. “You’ve seen the Parking des Pêcheurs? There was a lavoir there. I saw women who would leave their house with the thing on their heads and they went to wash their linen there.”

“Not my grandmother,” says Andrée, “because we had the bassine on the terrace.”

“Well, Claudie, with her sister, who are roughly my age, they would go there,” Michelle responds.

Andrée adds, “Not so long ago, some people still didn’t have toilets at home, they would still go wash to the washhouse. And there was a lavoir at Sainte Devote church, you know where the stairs go up behind, there were toilets there. They removed them, and there was a washhouse.”

Michelle says she sold her 3-bedroom apartment on Boulevard des Moulins to buy another apartment on the Rock for her son “because I couldn’t see myself living at Palais Miramar. For me, my stronghold is here.”

“My neighbour can see me in my bed,” Andrée, who has one daughter, laughs. “It doesn’t bother me, it’s been like this since I was born. Where I lived before, my neighbour was Madame Augusta,  and when I opened my windows, there she was. ‘Hello Madame Augusta,’ I would say … My grandfather bought the place I now live in 1921, I have the deed. I wanted to leave because I had back pain and I have four floors. But at my age, I couldn’t picture myself moving.”

“I don’t have neighbours opposite,” says Michelle, who has a son and daughter. “I have a view of the mairie. It’s my grandmother’s house and I was raised there, so were my children, and even my grandson. My grandparents used to live near Sainte Devote, at villa Lilly Lou, I think it’s still there. And they sold it to buy here on the Rock, a house with two floors. They bought the second floor first, because the first floor was rented. And I remember that later when they bought the first floor, there were always two apartments. I was raised in one of the apartments with my grandparents.”

Andrée, with Michelle, in front of the Palace statue she used to climb as a child.

Living With Lockdown

During the first lockdown, the women say they only did what was authorized, like went out to do shopping or a morning walk in front of the Carabiniers or around the garden and then home.

Andrée admits, “Confinement didn’t bother me the first time.”

“I have a terrace with the sun, I have a view on the mountain … there is worse,” Michelle says. “We are very privileged in Monaco. Even if things have changed, we are privileged, really.”

“You know,” says Andrée, “you have to be born in Monaco-Ville, because there are a lot of people from Monaco who tell you they would never live here. I can’t leave.”

“Things never change here, and never will,” says Michelle. “Except that they repaired houses but otherwise, you can’t touch Monaco-Ville. When we look at the old photos, it was a bit old-fashioned. Now, when you look, it’s all perfect. It’s all redone.”

Michelle adds, “Everybody dreams about coming to Monaco. It’s the only place where you can go out with your jewellery and not worry about your purse. Let me tell you something. We are all happy, even those who complain, in Monaco, everyone is happy. And everyone would like to live there. Aren’t I right?”

Andrée nods in complete agreement. “If you only knew how I hear from friends because we are less locked-down than in France.I don’t know, it seems that people are jealous,” says Andrée. “There is good and there is bad, it’s a bit like life.”

“I can’t stand when people criticise Monaco. I can’t stand it,” admits Michelle.

National Day

“The fête nationale in Monaco is something close to our heart,” says Andrée. “Every time we come to the square, there is a party. I was born on the Rock, really, and I’ve never seen this before.”

Michelle agrees. “We come to the square with a flag, we wait until the Princely couple stands at the window. This year it’s sad because it won’t happen. There will be a speech on television. They are doing the Te Deum but with distancing and that’s all. For the Prince’s Day, everything has been cancelled.”

Typically, in the days leading up to the National Day in Monaco, which has been on November 19 since 1952, there are rehearsals for the parade in the Place du Palais and the ambience is festive. As we sit near the Place du Palais two days before the big event, there is little activity. This year, there will be no military parade or symbolic wave from the window by the prince and his family. Mass at the Cathedral and the ceremony in the Cour d’Honneur will be broadcast live on Monaco Info.

“Every year, the Princely couple would stand at the window, sometime’s the whole family even,” Michelle points out.

“It was a family holiday,” says Andrée. There were two different days, on Wednesday and Thursday.”

“Back in our children’s time, they would have all the games at Place du Palais. There were things for children all day long.” Michelle says warmly.

I ask the ladies if they saw Prince Albert as a child at the window, and they admit seeing all three young siblings – Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.

Michelle recalls the birth of Princess Caroline. “I was at school and I must have been in 6th grade. I remember, with the teacher, there were cannons fired.”

“… to know if it was a boy or a girl,” Andrée chimes in.

“And then, after the cannon shots,” Michelle relives, “we all left school and came here to the square with flags, shouting. It really came from our hearts. We were kids.”

Andrée and Michelle say that before Princess Grace, “Monaco was not much.” For Michelle, “Grace is the one who brought about the renewal of Monaco that led to making Monaco known all around the world. The whole world was invited to Monaco. There were parties, there were galas, and it was sumptuous. Sumptuous. Even now, it’s not the same anymore. It’s not the same thing, it was a different era.”

Andrée adds, “At the time there was Le Bal de la Rose at the palace or on the square … we would see all the artists pass by, I saw Charles Aznavour.”

“In the morning, we would always see Princess Grace bring her children to school,” Michelle reveals. “We would meet them in the streets. One day, I was walking down the ramp and there came the Princess, such simplicity. She had a small scarf, flat shoes. You remember Andrée?”

“Yes,” Andrée replies. “We would often see them. I also remember her with Stephanie, and their dog, the little poodle.”

“We had the most glamorous period of Monaco,” Michelle says. “We were very lucky because we had a time, I think, no one will have again. It was the time of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. It was magic.”

Words cannot express my gratitude to Andrée and Michelle, two characterful ladies who provided a rare glimpse into a very private world in honour of National Day. They only removed their masks for photos.

I wish I could organise a Rediscover Monaco-Ville day to encourage Monaco residents to explore and support the old town, to eat at the restaurants and buy some gifts and souvenirs for a Very Monaco Christmas. But alas, I cannot. So I will continue to share stories of real people and maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference together.

International Day of the Girl: Sports Edition

On Saturday, October 9, California became the first state in the U.S. to require large retailers to tackle gender inequality marketing.

In addition to sections for boys and girls, stores of 500 or more employees will have to display a separate and “reasonable section” of toys and childcare items related to in a gender-neutral way or face a first-time fine of $250 ($500 for repeat offences). The Assembly Bill 1084 impacts toys, children’s items related to sleep, relaxation, feeding, teething or sucking but falls short of clothing.

Democrat Evan Low, who co-authored the law, said “Traditionally children’s toys and products have been categorised by a child’s gender. In retail this has led to the proliferation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-geared toys in a ‘boys’ section and toys that direct girls to pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life. The segregation of toys by a social construct of what is appropriate for which gender is the antithesis of modern thinking.”

Then, on International Day of the Girl on Monday, October 11, LEGO released a press statement saying the toy company will remove “for girls” and “for boys” labels to ensure that “children’s creative ambitions — both now in the future — are not limited by gender stereotypes”.

For Vibeke Thomsen, Monaco’s champion of gender equality and founder of the non-profit association SheCanHeCan, this is encouraging news but there is still “so much to be done”.

To mark the 10th edition of the UN’s International Day of the Girl, SheCanHeCan launched its first series of female footballer collector cards.  “This year we wanted to focus on women in sport and it was so apparent that one of the most popular sports in the world is wholly dominated by men but that the best footballers in the world are also women,” Vibeke explains. “This is a way of highlighting the inequality, challenging the current situation and encouraging more girls to continue or take up sports such as football.”

The limited-edition packs of 24 collector cards (€10) in French feature 24 of the 100 best ranked international female football players. “Even though research has shown that playing football increases self-confidence in girls. children do not value female football as much as male football, which is reflected through a lower participation in this sport,” she shares.

“There has been progress over the years when it comes to awareness of the many challenges faced by girls worldwide, like a strong focus on getting girls to school and including women in the digital revolution,” Vibeke reflects.

“We have also advanced in talking about violence against women but it is still a very real problem. Despite the few who get highlighted in the media – usually white, attractive young women like, for example, Brit Sarah Everard but rarely about less privileged minority women – most violence against women goes unreported and mostly unpunished.”

Her tone is less upbeat when is come to the abortion “heartbeat bill” in Texas. “Attacking basic rights to healthcare is rarely about protecting unborn life, but rather about controlling and exerting power over girls’ and women’s bodies. Such laws won’t stop abortions, it will just increase unsafe abortions, putting more women at risk.” 

On a lighter note, Vibeke shares one encouraging story at a local level. “I know most people cringe when I talk about periods and our Red Box Project Monaco but we are working to break that taboo. This makes me smile every time.”

To order collector cards, send an email to info@shecanhecan.org. Delivery in Monaco is free and there is a special promo this week – 3 packs for €20. Proceeds go towards SheCanHeCan International Day of the Girl projects and “hopefully to print more such cards in the future”.