It’s Sunday morning.
Last night I went to bed with a head full of stories, and today, woke to real-life horror in London. At that moment, fiction seemed trite. How could I be thinking about writing a blog when our emotional levels are raised to this pitch?
Yet here I am, at the laptop, tapping in words and preparing to post them into this public space. Do I really need to say anything? Should I say anything? Do I have anything to say that is not already being said, and felt?
Journalists are busy responding all around the world. That’s not who I am, or what I do, usually. Any account I give can only re-process what they tell me, which makes this third-hand, as a piece of news.
So, perhaps I should ask myself why I am writing.
On the radio, some journalists and commentators are talking about democracy, and freedom of speech, human rights and civil liberties, not just here, but in those other countries who have recently suffered attacks. They’re thinking themes, and that’s important, it’s part of the picture I’m responding to, but it’s not what I’m trying to say.
Then the eyewitness accounts come on. These are everyday voices telling us of what they saw and heard : said, and did. I don’t just listen, I stop. Although I am staring out of the window, I’m not seeing the garden. I’m restless.
The emergency services were efficient and brave, but so were the civilians caught up in this. Some people tried to stop the attack. Some stopped to help the injured, some ran towards the scene, not away. Taxi drivers gave lifts for free, beds were offered to the stranded, strangers invited into homes. Despite the fear, there was a need to help, to give, not take away.
I think about the hospital services in Manchester, who this week went on the radio to say thank-you, but we don’t need more blood-donations for now, the banks are full.
By the time this blog goes out, there will have been a tribute concert. Artists seem to have queued up to perform. Tickets sold out minutes after they were put up for sale, despite the awful possibilities of this Critical Threat Level.
Communities are pulling together, not apart. Good or bad times, what we do best is empathise. This, I think, is why I’m writing, because I need to hold onto this.