I’ve wanted to write something for ages about the last few weeks here in the UK, but I haven’t been able to find the words – instead I have been like many of us, reading the news, scrolling social media, and sitting on the tube feeling an anxiety I have never felt before and hating myself for feeling it. Because of course, I can hashtag #wearenotafraid all I like, but the fact is, it is scary and I do feel a bit afraid, and sad, and worried, but mainly, mainly just angry.
The Monday after the London Bridge attacks, I was walking from a client office in Old Street to Liverpool Street – a lovely walk which takes about 20 minutes past Finsbury Square and up through the back of Liverpool Street Station.
Whilst on the walk I was shocked at how uneasy I felt. I found myself looking at stairwells, looking at the doors of buildings, and underground car park entrances, thinking ‘I could hide in there’ and ‘If anything happened now I could get behind that tarpaulin and climb into the hole in the ground that the workmen are currently drilling’.
I mean, HELLO BRAIN. WHAT THE ACTUAL?
But this is how I felt. How I feel. It changes daily.
It was after this, and realising that I was on a one-way ticket to a panic attack I decided to get the hell out of the city and head to the beach, to Lulworth Cove in Dorset, taking in a festival whilst there.
At the festival, security was SO tight. “It’s because of London” the fresh-faced country girl checking the tickets said “We can’t be too careful”
“I’m from London” I said to her.
“Must be a nightmare, I’m avoiding it” she said, carrying on checking the ticket of the person behind me.
It was strange, but all of a sudden I felt defensive of the city I live in, the city I grew up in.
London shouldn’t be the place people avoid. London, like Manchester, is an amazing city. The people are incredible, the vibrant lifestyle is awesome.
London was being blanked, and I felt as protective of it as if it was a loved one.
‘How dare they do this to our great city and people?’ I suddenly thought, and in that moment, I made a decision to no longer be afraid, to not avoid my own life for fear of someone trying to take it.
And now, we are seeing London at its best following the Grenfell Tower fire. People are coming from far and wide to help. I registered as a volunteer, and they are inundated with offers from all over the country. People want to help.
What’s that saying? Always look for the helpers.
So, in a period of sadness and confusion and anxiety, so much good has come out of it. Hearing the stories of people who have gone above and beyond to help strangers who they don’t know, but know that it could so easily of been them.
Don’t just look for the helpers, be the helper.
So, tomorrow I will be out and about, living life, having coffee at Borough Market, still commenting that the Shard is ugly in a beautiful way, and getting on with life.
Because even if we are afraid, we have to ACT LIKE WE ARE NOT, and then somehow, slowly, it might become true.
With love to all in London and Manchester. Never forgotten.