The Notebook

'Imagination will take you everywhere'

My Brave City

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Westminster in the sun

Today was a typical June day in London.

The rain had been lashing down all afternoon and now the wind whipped my hair across my face as I dodged puddles on the glistening pavement. I joined the throng of commuters hurrying into King’s Cross Tube Station eager to catch the next train before 6pm. When I finally squeezed my way into a packed carriage (because my God I forgot how much time I spend waiting for the Hammersmith & City line), I got my book out and settled down for the 20 minute journey back to East London.

But then I did something I’ve never done before. I got off the tube at Moorgate. Three stops after I had gotten on. Why? Because I was scared.

It is five days since three men drove into pedestrians on London Bridge, before attacking people in Borough Market with knives. It is two weeks and three days since a man detonated a bomb in Manchester arena, killing 22, most of which were young people and children. And it is three months since the Westminster attack, where five people lost their lives.

After each one of these awful terrorist attacks the people of the United Kingdom have rallied together and shown defiance: we shall not be cowed they said. “The Plague, the Fire, the Blitz, 7/7, Westminster, London Bridge, and we’re still here mate” declared one sign. The hashtag “WeAreNotAfraid” trended on Twitter, and all over social media people shared messages which stuck a virtual two fingers up at the terrorists.

All of this filled me with pride; showing the terrorists that they have not won, and that we will still live our lives as normal. However I can’t pretend that I am not afraid. In a crowd of people in a public place, I can’t help but feel apprehensive, on the tube I am constantly looking at people who get on, and my stomach turns every time I hear the voice over the tannoy telling people to report anything suspicious to a member of station staff. It could happen to anyone. It has happened to so many innocent people that one can’t help thinking; when will it happen to me?

But I – like so many others – will not let it stop me from enjoying my life, because if I’ve learnt anything from these attacks it is that life is so precious; it must be cherished and enjoyed.

So I stood on the platform at Moorgate, breathed deeply, and got on the next train.

And as I stride together with my fellow commuters I feel a sense of pride. I am living and working in this amazing city; a city enriched by it’s diversity. A city which has united when others sought to divide it. My brave city; giving me the strength to feel brave too.

 

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