We were supposed to be cruising on the Nile this week but,  for entirely understandable reasons, the trip was postponed . So we consoled ourselves with a few days at the end of the week in Paris. This afternoon we went to Notre Dame and admired the great rose window. In 2002 I visited the cathedral one lunchtime during a work trip and recognised the massive bulk of Helmut Kohl, the former German Chancellor, sat in the pews, staring up at the same window. He had lost his wife the previous year and was in bad odour because of a party financing scandal. I had had a ringside seat during the German unification process and the constitutional conferences leading up to economic and monetary union – both achieved thanks in no small part because of Kohl’s statesmanship. He looked ‘down’, and I wanted to say to him only that history would surely judge him kindly. But before I had made up my mind he stood up and a group of about six bodyguards materialised around him – I had missed my opportunity and I regretted this. However, when I came out of the cathedral I saw that he had been spotted by a group of German schoolchildren who had surrounded him admiringly. There was a happy smile on his face and the gloomy introspectiveness of the cathedral interior was forgotten.