A thousand years ago, on an island in the river that runs through my town, L’Isle-Adam, a warrior-lord, Adam de l’Isle, took residence in the fortress he built to defend himself, his family and his serfs from the marauding Norman Vikings. Today the municipality has just set up a special armed force to protect us from Islamist terrorists. I kid you not.
L’Isle-Adam is a small town of 12,000 inhabitants, 45 kms north of Paris. It is exclusively residential; there are no factories or industries here – which means that taxes are the highest in the region. It is a pretty, picturesque town, attractive to residents and tourists for its forest, sporting facilities and an environment that had Honoré de Balzac declare it his “terrestrial paradise”.
It is not yet under siege, and hopefully never will be. It was, in recent history, when it was invaded by Germany in 1870, 1914 and 1939. But a recent municipal brochure has spelled out the precautions that have been taken in case of a terrorist attack. A specially trained and equipped, heavily armed squad of Gendarmes has been assigned the task of “limiting the number of potential victims” (!) if, or more probably when, our town is targeted. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky . . .
The world will never be the same since 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan and Orlando. Terrorists can strike anywhere, any time, even in a terrestrial paradise.