Seven Day Holiday

The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn to read n write

I’ve sat for a moment with my hands covering  my eyes.  Finger tips pressing down on my lids, disbelief of a situation that just unfolded before them.  I’m tying to work out in my head how to put it all into words. I have never felt so compelled to write and now all I want to do is cry.

Blessed to live a stone throw away from the beach in a bungalow that shares a communal garden with six others. Some are used as holiday homes where friends and families will often stay for long weekends and holidays.

At the moment two families are staying for a week. They both arrived on the same day. To my left are a family of three. The parents are a nice young couple who have grown up together. Her grandfather own’s the bungalow where they are staying with their adorable little boy Tommy*, who has just turned two.  They live in Camden, London, where I have frequented throughout my life and a place I hold dear to my heart. The family to my right are an Asian family, right now I can hear the laughter and shouts of several cousins, I havent met them all yet. Just three of the boys who are funny and cute. Two brothers close in age and their younger cousin who they find a pest but they are made to play with him. I love watching them have to include him, it’s better than watching the television, my heart goes out to the small boy who is no older than 4. The other day the two fathers were out back trying to start a petrol lawn mower. They were pulling and pulling before I noticed they wasn’t holding the bar up, so ran over to let them know. The kid’s faces were a delight as the bit of machinery roared into action, I felt elated at their joy and I’ve seen a petrol mower work a zillion times.

The family to the left I have met them all, though I have only seen the mother once. Tommy’s father is often out on the communal green, sometimes he is on his own having a cigarette outside, as I do. We have little chats and he is the same age as my son, he has a very nice way about him and is so calm with his little boy who is enchanted by my feline, though she has no interest in him as he runs around calling out ‘Cat Cat’…

Until this evening I had not seen any of the two families on the green at the same time . Tommy and his father were kicking a colourful football around that had sat in the bushes for the past few weeks. I’d seen the older boys playing with  the ball earlier in the week. Seeing  Tommy and his dad outside , I took out an unopened bottle of juice that I had bought for my nephews when they visited. He thanked me for it and so did the well-mannered two-year old Tommy. We stood there generally chatting and laughing at the little fellas cat antics.

Tommy had lost interest in the football so it sat on the grass.  The two brothers then came out to play with their cousin in tow. They picked up the  ball and began kicking it between football posts that are set up on the communal green. Tommy’s dad went over and took the ball away from them. I looked at him thinking it was odd behaviour but didn’t put two and two together at this point.  He then stood with the ball between his legs whilst he spoke to me. I was finding it very difficult to focus on the conversation because concern was growing inside.  I could hear the two brothers deciding which of them would ask for the ball and I was aware that Tommy’s dad could also hear them. He then started to try to tempt Tommy with ball, the innocent two-year old ran over and kicked the ball, which then rolled towards the three cousins. Excited Tommy ran towards the smiling boys who  had been anticipating this moment with the ball when suddenly a loud voice called out

‘No Tommy, come here’

Tommy looked at his father in confusion as he walked over to him and took his arm and  picked up the bright, colourful ball. The father then led his son away from the other children.

The faces on the boys was so sad to see. They were astounded as was I. They could not make sense of the situation. They were disappointed about the ball and could not reason the adults behaviour.

The reality dawned upon me, I had just witnessed racism in its purest form.

This man did not see the children to be like his own child. He was just seeing the colour of their skin and letting religion and culture get in the way of reality. Four boys who wanted to play together.

It took me back an age when my son was around the same age as Tommy. We were in a play area and there were two little boys playing together. One was a black and the other white. The two little boys openly accepted my son into their game. My son looked at the two boys and asked if they were brothers. The two older boys looked at each other as if to say ‘Is this kid for real?’ and I had one of those rush of love moments.

It has been a couple of hours since I began this blog and all has gone quite. In my heart I hope that the three little boys did not realise why the man would not let his son play with them, I hope they haven’t gone to bed considering the evening events. And thankfully Tommy is too young to understand or even consider remembering. I on the other hand will remember it for the rest of my life.

I worry about the hate our next generations could carry into their futures and what a sad impact it will have on the world in hand. Talking to the three cousins I learnt that they too live in London, in an area not far from Tommy and his family.

It’s a crying shame.

 

*name changed as protection of identity.

There is No Fight – There is No War

On the 17th April 1984, my memory clearly remembers watching a breaking news report, live on television.  As a fourteen year old, I sat horrified as WPC Yvonne Fletcher slumped to the ground after she had been fatally shot during a protest outside the Libyan embassy, London.  Her death resulted in the Metropolitan Police Service laying siege to the embassy over the next eleven days and the United Kingdom severing all diplomatic relations with Libya.  The demonstration had been organised by the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF) following the execution of two students who had criticised Muammer Gaddafi.  That day, our home erupted into sheer panic. Fear set in as my father, a London cab driver was caught up in town, unable to make his way home to safety. I remember my mother’s faceflood with relief when she received a call from him; he had to queue for a long time for a phone box.  We didn’t have mobile phones in those days. No one has ever been convicted for the murder of Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot along with eleven other people that day. Two years later Yvonne Fletcher’s death was a key factor in Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher’s decision which allowed US President Ronald Reagan to launch the US bombing of Libya in 1986 from American bases in the United Kingdom.

yvonne-fletcher-789530
Yvonne Fletch  – dailyexpress.co.uk

On the 21st December 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb; 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people on the ground lost their lives as the aircraft crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland.  My boss 30 year old, US Diane Maslowki, was amongst the passengers who lost their lives.  She was on her way home to spend the seasonal holidays with her awaiting family. The devastation has affected me and those who knew her over a life time.   In 2003 Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the families of the victims; although he maintained that he had never given the order for the attack.

1200px-pan_am_flight_103-_crashed_lockerbie2c_scotland2c_21_december_1988
Wikipedia

On 10 April 1992 at 9:20 pm 30 St Mary Axe was partially demolished, and the rest of the building was extensively damaged in a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb attack. The one-ton bomb was contained in a large white truck and consisted of a fertilizer device wrapped with a detonation cord made from 45 kg of Semtex. It killed three people and injured another 91.  That night I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant 0.4 mile away from where the explosion took place.  At five months pregnant, I had the shock of my life when a window where I was seated blew in and smothered the area where I sat in large shards of glass.  I was then evacuated from the flat where I was living at the time and was 0.3 miles from where the explosion took place.  Being caught up in the scene, I can only explain it as the scariest night of my life.  No filming or footage could give anyone a real sense of the horrific reality of what really happens.

1920917_bombing300pa
Guy Pedlihamfiles.wordpress

On 11th September 2001, The September 11 attacks also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11 were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed almost 3,000 people.  That night, like many of you, I sat at home watching with disbelief as footage unfolded on the television screen.  My husband (now ex) sat next to me ordering the body bags to bring home the British Victims.  I also spent the night through until 4am the following morning relaying messages from senior officials who didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. Although I was watching the news, I was aware of several of the happenings minutes before they were shown. Watching it didn’t make it any easier as the sickening anxiety of knowing became reality.

9-11-attack
tomatobubble.com

On 7th July each year, I stand in Hyde Park side by side with a group of people who had in some way or another been affected by the 7/7 London Bombings which took place on that date in 2005.  52 civilians lost their lives during the merciless attack and over 700 people were injured.  Innocent people, lives were destructed by the event of almost 12 years ago.  United we console one another as survivors of an experience we had all shared in some way or another. When I attended the memorial in 2014, people who were at the memorial at 6 O’clock that morning from the Peace Centre (a place set up by of the father of Tim Parry – his son was killed in the Warrington bombing, They scrubbed graffiti from the memorial, left during the early hours of that morning. Around that time The Gaza strip and been under attack. The innocent people, including children caught in a battle over land.

thetruthseeker.co.uk wordpress

Last year at the memorial as I listened to one of the speakers, I fully understood her bewilderment. On her way to Hyde Park a taxi driver asked her why she was visiting London. She explained she was attending the memorial – the response ‘What was that then?’

Ten days later I once again watched the news footage.  Open mouthed and full of pain for all those involved with the Malaysian Airline that was shot down over Ukraine   My heart went out to all of those innocent lives who had been pulled into yet another disaster involving a struggle of power and religion.

Watching the news in the early hours of the 4th June, London Bridge and Borough Market had been under attack by terrorists at 10:07pm the evening before. The terrorists taking the lives of 7 people and injuring 48 others. Dumbfounded that a week to the hour, Manchester had been bombed by a suicide bomber. The reporter asked a police officer ‘How can we make sure this never happens again?’ I was astounded by a reporter asking such a daft question. There is no solution to stop it. It has been happening for all of my life and before. It is not a war. There is no fight and no telling when the extremists are going to attack. Once they made their strike, there is always another to take their place.

itv.com

Manchester Arena Bombing – 22nd May 2016

On the 22nd of May at 22:30 a 22-year-old took the lives of innocent 22 people and ended his own short life.

Children, more children caught up in an atrocity of  devastation.

bomb
mirror.co.uk

How do you tell their siblings that they will never be coming home?

Independent.co.uk

How will family and friends ever recover from a tragic senseless act.

manchester-808029
Express.co.uk

Emergency Services having to live with the carnage that faced them as they fought to save lives and bring order to the chaos unfolding in front of them.

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thesun.co.uk
manchester20bombing20flowers20police
10tv.com

Four years ago to the day the nation tried to get to grips with the horrific end of Lee Rigby’s life. The man who took his life attended the same school as my son and lived streets away from him when he carried out his atrocious killing.

article-2515493-19b5b6a500000578-76_634x635
dailymail.co.uk

The only hope that we have to hold onto is that those who choose to shatter our existance are a minority. The majority reach out to each other in the hour of need. Standing against terroism, united in their hearts.

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rt.com
59245ccec36188d8558b458e
rt.com

Times of distress bringing people together.

Westminster Under Attack                  22nd March 2017

Remember, Remember the 5th of November…

 

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http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/22/attack-houses-parliment-london-what-we-know-so-far#img-1

 

Like many of you reading this, I sat glued to the screen yesterday. Westminster was under attack. When I turned on the television my initial thought was my son. I calmly dialed his father’s number and when he didn’t respond to the call, anxiety dug its nails in a little harder. I dialed my boy’s number and thankfully he picked up, sleepy even though it was the afternoon. My son works with his father, a Westminster licensed ice-cream seller. Thankful to the weather and the season not having fully started yet…

 

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http://www.flickr.com

Relief flooded through me like there was no tomorrow.

For some, this senseless act of terrorism has taken away their tomorrows.

For those that surrounded their lives, tomorrow will never be the same again.

article-1198010-059cbefa000005dc-566_634x445
http://www.idailymail.co.uk

As I sit tapping, the gloom in the air of London blows all around. Currently I’m house/cat sitting, in Hainaut, Outer London – for my mum, who is in America with her siblings, this will probably be the last time that all five of them are together. Thanks to media I was able to reassure her, all was ok

The truth is, all is not ok.

Watching ‘This Morning’ my heart went out to those the media had selected to share their story. I cried for the American lady who was on her way to pray in Westminster Cathedral. For the man who insisted he is not a hero after he had given the CPR to the Police Officer, one of four who lost his life to a terrorist. I listened to his only lifeline as he described the injuries, how he dealt with the dying man, following everything by protocol and that not being enough. The unassuming man, believing anyone else would have done the same.

My thoughts catapulted back to almost 25 years ago. Sixteen days to go to be exact, when I found myself in the same position, caught up in the destruction of the Baltic Exchange Bombing. The feeling of what to do.

The scene like something out of a movie, only you’re there living the worst nightmare imaginable.

 

1920917_bombing300pa
http://www.guypediham.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/1920917_bombing300pa.jpg

Cries for help!

The sound of Sirens coming from every direction.

People running like headless chickens.

Utter chaos.

My darkest memory, a young man running towards me, whilst I stood rooted to the spot, 5 months pregnant in Middlesex Street. My initial thought was my baby and as I looked up from my small bump, this frantic man was the first thing I saw.  Blood was streaming down his face like prison bars. His screams for help were piercing above all of the commotion surrounding us. He  kept on running, running, screaming straight past me, he could not stop.

Blinded by his own blood, he just couldn’t stop running.

quote-wanton-killing-of-innocent-civilians-is-terrorism-not-a-war-against-terrorism-noam-chomsky-218809
izquotes.com/quote/218809

There is no fight against terrorism.

It is not a war.

How can random attacks on innocent people be fought against?

When nobody seems to know what the fighting is about.

 

 

Burns’s Storm 1990

The Burns’ Day Storm, parallel with the strongest European windstorms on record, occurred on the 25th and 26th January 1990, covering north western Europe. The storm has been given no official name, some call it Daria. Starting on the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns and the birthday of my dad, it caused damage far and wide with hurricane-force winds. According to the Met Office the storm to 97 lives. Other figures have ranged from 89 to more than 100.

en.wikipedia.org-
en.wikipedia.org-

Severe weather warnings were headline news, I sat at home with my folks. I was 21 years old and had just started a job, working for Summers Henderson & Co, as an Insurance Loss Adjusters PA. I was due to begin some training only it never happened. The next day at work I was told to leave early. The storm was hitting London and our office in Shoreditch was shutting early in preparation. I was grateful to the coming winds, today was my dad’s birthday and we were due to order a Chinese meal for five, Stepping out onto Commercial Street the wind took my breath away. Rubbish was blowing down the street like it was in a race. I felt a taste of fear in the air. The street was unusually empty. Turning towards Bishops Gate I could see hundreds of people milling around Liverpool Street Station.

Keeping a steady pace I moved toward them. People in despair, every pay phone had a queue. A handful of people on the new technology called a mobile phone (cell phone) telling those at the other end of the line that the station had been closed due to the winds. Bus stops were a sea of people, stranded and trying to work out the best form of transport. People stood in the middle of the road trying to flag down crammed taxi cabs. The crazy thing was, my dad was out there somewhere in his black taxi, caught up in the jammed packed chaos.

dailymail.co.uk
dailymail.co.uk

Turning on my heels I thought rationally. I began walking back towards Shoreditch and others seemed to be following. People began talking, finding out about each others lives. People from all over the country who were supposed to be catching there connection to where ever they were trying to get to. The atmosphere was electric.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Street,_London
en.wikipedia.org    Commercial Street

I carried on walking towards my Nans’ who lived in Stoke Newington, place of my birth and thank fully only 3.7 miles away. Every pay phone was crammed so I kept on just walking. I walked some distance with a interesting woman of roughly my age until she realised she was going the wrong way. I helped an elderly man, who wasn’t sure of his way. Slowly people dwindled as I reached my destination and the comfort of my nans homemade chicken soup. My dad called my Nan and was pleased I had for once used my brain. He met me there a while later, I managed to walk from the city quicker than it had taken him to drive through.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoke_newington_coronation_avenue_1.jpg My Nans flat
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoke_newington_coronation_avenue_1.jpg                                                                     My Nans flat

We left my nans and picked up a takeaway en route home. It was lovely to have my birthday dad to myself for the journey back to Hainault in his black taxi.

http://www.4fiveone.co.uk/ill_taxi_london.html
http://www.4fiveone.co.uk/ill_taxi_london.html

On the 29th January I returned to SH & Co, the storm had passed for many. Not me, I was thrown right into the deep-end. The company was so busy from all of the insurance claims that I couldn’t cope and there was no time for training. The Burns Storm was my training and it was something they and I could do without. Blown away, I left amicably at the end of the week… little did I know the storm of 2013 would hit me like a tidal wave. The lack of lightening struck twice.

Tonight I sit and type this blog, thinking of my Dadzie on the eve of his Birthday. At this time 27 years ago nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, but my knight, my dad, was there to save me.

RIP Dadzie x x
                                    RIP Dadzie x x

Pan Am 103

On the 21st December 1988 Pan Am 103, a regular scheduled Pan Am translatic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and crew of 16. The terrorist disaster became known as the Lockerbie bombing. Residential areas of Lockerbie, Scotland, suffered as large sections of the aircraft crashed onto them, killing 11 more people on the ground.  In 2003, Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. He maintained that he never gave order for the attack, however, he paid compensation to the families of the victims.

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Pan Am 103 – Lockerbie   Taken from History.com

In February 1987, I began working at Drexel Burnham Lambert, in the major Wall Street Investment banks’, London Branch. I was interviewd at 77 London Wall by Fizzy and C0*. I received the news that day that I was to be hired and began work at DBL the following Monday morning.

http://www.slideshare.net/santhiya1991/drexel-burnham-lambert
http://www.slideshare.net/santhiya1991/drexel-burnham-lambert

A few days after I began working at DBL as an admin junior  for the Treasury and Bond Trading teams – the two departments moved to a larger open planned office in Fenchurch Street. We began our first day at the new site together and  straight away felt part of the furniture.  I was lucky enough to work for Diane Maslowski, who was kind and generous and also made time to speak to me on a personal level,  even though I was 19 years old. Diane alongside Fizzy were my Icons.

diane-maslowski
Diane Maslowski                       Archives – Syracuse University

In early December 1988, I left DBL and began working for a marine insurance company, in Tower Hill, a short distance from Fenchurch Street. I had been advised by Fizzy and Co to jump ship as Drexel might be going down. I was devastated because I loved my job. Co organised a Rambo, stripagram, on my last day. Diane took great enjoyment along with the other employees of our office, who all crowded round watching my reaction with great amusement . He also arranged a drink for me in a bar next door called the Pump House which was a swanky place with a downstairs bar. We had a great time with my send off.

I was missing the company so much. On the 22nd December, during my lunch hour I headed to DBL, Fenchurch Street. Walking through the unusually quite foyer of the reception area I met a distraught looking face belonging to NB*. She took one look  at me and broke down in tears when she saw my excited face.

‘You don’t know do you?’ she said through her sobbing.

‘know what?

Diane was on board Pan am 103

In that moment my heart stopped. I couldn’t take in what I was hearing. Diane Maslowski was dead. I was never going to see her again. Her confident walk and wave as she spotted me across the office. Her voice greeting me personally.

In February 1990, due to its involvement in illegal activates, driven by Drexel employee Michael Milken and the junk bond market, the firm was forced into bankruptcy.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-drexel-burnham-oral-history/
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-drexel-burnham-oral-history/

At its height, DBL was the fifth largest investment bank in the United States.

The 10th August 1992, on what would have been Diane Maslowkis’ 32nd Birthday, I gave birth to my son. My tribute to such a well respected woman.

In February 2015, I began working at Bentley Country Park, under the management of Melissa Eagles who was born 2 hours after the Lockerbie Bombing. Little did I know that disaster would hit Bentley Country Park on the 6th December 2013, When the natural disaster of flooding in the SE affected BCP like a tsunami.

Today my thoughts are with the victims of the 21st December 1988. For the families that lost their loved ones. The emergency services and the International turmoil caused by such a senseless terrorist attack.

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/lockerbie/gardenofremembrance/
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/lockerbie/gardenofremembrance/

Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash

The Ladbroke Grove rail crash (also known as The Paddington rail crash) occurred on the 5th October 1999 at about 8:06am. The rail accident  took the lives of 31 people. More than 520 people were injured. The accident occurred in Ladbroke Grove, London, United Kingdom and remains the worse rail accident on the Great Western Mainland.

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http://www.news.bbc.co.uk

I had been married for 2 years and a month when I received a call from my husband. He was an Inspector in the metropolitan police and was based at New Scotland Yard working in CO11 (MP The Public Order Operational Command Unit). My son was 7 years old and was recovering after having his appendix removed and had caught a gastric at the hospital. His recovery was slow. I had come so close to losing my boy.

 

My husband sounded rather excited. This was the second rail crash that he had been involved in, the first being the Southall Rail crash that had happened in September 1997, shortly after we had married. Little did I know, the moment the two trains collided my marriage was doomed, completely thrown off track.

Although I never met Helen Mitchell, one of the survivors of the wreckage, the impact she had on my life was phenomenal. My husband became firm friends with her. He was a family liaison officer. He worked closely with Helen and he fell in love with her way of life. Instead of spending time with me on the little time he had off, he would spend it with Helen, her partner and her friends. One friend in particular had her heart set on my husband and over the years he was drawn to her. The lady had a famous father who had died two years earlier. He was the author of Cider with Rosie.

ciderwithrosie
http://www.en.wikipedia.org

 

For years I battled with life at home as he spent more and more time in Stroud, Cotswolds. His high living sent us deep into debt. And left me crashing into despair.

For seven years I battled on. Knowing that my marriage was a shared affair. The commitment had disappeared in the wreckage.

In 2007 my marriage finally came to the end of the line.