I have a new baby. MissA is just three weeks old and so I live in a world where normal time is suspended. Day and night are a continuous blur where sometimes it just happens to be light or dark. Where I long to sleep all the time but could be summoned from that slumber at any moment. Thrown back into the cycle of feeding and burping and changing, that can stretch and shrink at random whenever I think a routine may be emerging.
So when the terror attacks in Manchester, and then London happened I was drip fed the news every few hours through the night as I lay in darkness, feeding my baby and scrolling through the crowd of information and misinformation on twitter.
Perhaps it is the sleep deprivation and the surging hormones, but these attacks felt far too close. My Mum is from Manchester and I spent a lot of time there as a kid, visiting my Gran. The youngest victim in that attack was barely older than MissE. She wore the same supermarket school pinafore in the pictures on TV.
London Bridge and Borough market are my manor. A few minutes walk up the road from our old flat, the flat we brought our first baby, MissE, home to after she was born, the flat we returned to after many nights out in the local bars and restaurants before she arrived. The flat where I decided to rename my blog after a silly in-joke from school and the borough where I live, Southwark.
But what I felt most, in the glow of my little phone screen, was sadness and frustration at the utterly pointless loss of life.
I am exhausted from looking after my tiny new baby, I am hurting and bleeding from her birth and I know it will be months if not years before I get a decent nights sleep. But oh how much I love her.
Most, hopefully all, of those who died, even the killers themselves, have been the subjects of that love. They have been the most precious thing in the world. Held and fed and cared for through long, exhausting nights, by mothers who sought no reward other than to keep them safe and see them grow. What right has anyone to take those much loved people away? Ordinary, joyful, young people who should have given their mothers so many more years of comfort and worry and love.
What is the point in it? London has been attacked forever. Alfred The Great saw off Viking invaders more than a thousand years ago. Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament in 1605 and we’ve turned it into an excuse for a party. The IRA, although their tactics were different, did far more damage than this during the bombing campaign of my childhood. Non of these attackers won, none of them changed our way of life and they never will. So why are people still trying?
I don’t believe this is truly about religion. I’m no expert but it seems to me to be more about angry, entitled young men who just happen to have latched on to this particular cause to make themselves feel more important then their lives suggest they are. If they couldn’t claim to be acting for their god they would just be picking fights in nightclubs or abusing their girlfriends like so many others who feel the world owes them whatever they want.
The world doesn’t owe us anything, we don’t deserve flashy cars or designer clothes, we aren’t entitled to anyone’s love and other’s aren’t compelled to share our religion or the opinions we spout on the internet. But we do all owe it to each other to remember the tears and pain and exhaustion of those who raise us. That has nothing to do with religion or nationality. Whoever we turn out to be we were all once tiny, new and precious.
London bridge isn’t falling down. Young girls aren’t going to stop screaming with excitement at pop concerts. Young people aren’t going to stop moving to London and drinking and chatting in the bars and restaurants. Perhaps there will always be someone with some cause who wants to change that but it’s been a thousand years or more and no one has managed it yet. The never will.