Monday, September 3, 2007

what's wrong with this picture?

I knew there was something wrong with this picture.

In the year 2000, while I was in Paris taking notes for my book Virgin Trails, I paid a visit to the impromptu pilgrimage that had sprung up in the Place d'Alma, above the tunnel where Princess Diana's fatal crash occurred. I thought I might sneak something into the book (Princess of the World vs Queen of Heaven?), but the whole business got lost in the editing process and my notes and photos from that day went into cold storage. Permanently, I thought.

Then several days ago, I decided to do a blog on the tenth anniversary of Diana's death and suddenly they were relevant. The notes were close to hand in my computer (lovely things, computers) but the photos were stashed in a shoe box..... somewhere. So I skimmed around the Net till I found this photo on a website about the Statue of Liberty (many thanks.)

But somehow the photo didn't jive with my notes. For instance, my notes speculate about the first pilgrim/mourner to come to this site "with a can of glue," and later mention civic workers "scraping photos" off the memorial. Yet the image from the Net clearly shows that the photos are not pasted to the statue, but hang primly from the little guard rail that encircles it.

"Guard rail?" I thought. "What guard rail...?"

Tonight I located my photos from 2000 and, eureka, they show that there have indeed been some changes to the "Princess Di memorial." The barrier is new and all of those lovely photos (and broadsheets proclaiming conspiracy theories) have been bundled away. Decorum rules. Here's a glimpse of what the place looked like in the days when pilgrim enthusiasm was unbridled.

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