FEBRUARY 19, 1962
NOTTINGHAM, England—Everyone I met in Paris who lives there asked me at once if I noticed any difference in France. Since most of my time was spent in the TV studio, I was obliged to answer that I had very little opportunity to observe the streets and the people of Paris. One was conscious, however, of a certain amount of tension in the air. Outside the TV station, soldiers—though standing as inconspicuously as possible—were nevertheless always on guard and armed to the teeth. This precaution was put into effect after the TV station in Algiers had been taken over by the rebels not long ago.
I dined with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Finletter, and Mrs. Finletter told me that one of the plastic bombs had been exploded in a little park quite nearby. When she heard the noise she naturally started to run out, but was told to go back as there was nothing she could do to help and it was more important for a crowd not to gather.
I saw a few French people, including Mme. Genevieve Tabouis and M. and Mme. Jules Moch, who came to tea with me at the Crillon. I thought they were taking the situation very calmly, and it also seemed to me on the whole that the general public was calm. At the same time, those who know that an agreement has been reached with Algeria seemed to feel that, pending ratification and announcement, there will inevitably continue to be demonstrations both in Algeria and in Paris, and it is a question of how quickly these can be brought to an end and of how well the violence can be minimized wherever it occurs.
For myself, I must say that at the Crillon, where I have stayed so often and for such long periods of time during sessions of the U. N. in days gone by, I was not conscious of much change. Many of the same familiar faces greet one, and things are done in exactly the same way as they always have been. My room was filled with flowers and I was certainly grateful to my many kind friends, whom I hated to leave behind when I left on Saturday. On the other hand, I was glad that our two programs for educational TV in cooperation with Brandeis University on "Prospects of Mankind" were completed satisfactorily. I was also glad to have come through the ordeal of being interviewed in French for a popular program called "Cinq Colonnes a la Une."
In addition to those in for tea at the Crillon, I did have a chance one evening to take a few friends to my favorite Paris restaurant, Les Porquerolles, on the Left Bank. Madame the proprietress always remembers us and we are always so pleased to see her and her husband, who supervises the very wonderful dinner we are always sure to have there.
One thing I heard from everyone—namely, that the economic outlook was far rosier in France than it had ever been since the war. From the way people talked, also, it looked as though Europe was moving not only toward economic but political unity, and the newspapers reflected the confidence and hope of the business community.
As far as one can see, however, there still remains much to be done in housing. I asked a sociologist if, among other changes in economic thinking, France was now providing her workers with a wage that would permit them to pay for decent housing without spending more than a quarter of their monthly wages. He had to admit that it is probably impossible to obtain good living quarters at less than 50 percent of the average working man's monthly wage.
Building is certainly going on, nonetheless, and one also notices a great many new roads, particularly going in from Orly. But traffic in Paris seems to the newcomer quite dangerous and uncontrolled, and I am told that parking is as difficult as it is anywhere in New York City, which may be a sign of prosperity that makes life difficult for the average Parisian driving his own car. We thought we noticed a lot of young girls driving their own cars, which may also be a sign of prosperity!
The flight to London was smooth and uneventful, and I was very happy to be met by Lady Reading, who is her usual energetic self. Again, we were very much at home at Claridge's, where I always return because I spent time there at the first meeting of the U. N. and it makes me more comfortable to be in familiar surroundings and see familiar faces.