Saturday, July 08, 2006

A SOLEMN ANNIVERSARY

So much has been said and so many words written about this day last year that mine seem superfluous and I have wondered whether to write about it at all. Talking about how it affected “me, me, me” when I was not directly involved seems selfish; yet remaining silent for the day would also be making a statement. So here goes:

When something like that happens in your country, even when you have permanently left it, it does still affect you and you can feel isolated. However much coverage there is in the media of other countries, it is not the analytical coverage which we take for granted in Britain and, however informed the foreign correspondent writing or broadcasting, he or she is not approaching the subject from the same cultural standpoint.

I didn’t even know about the bombs until the evening: I was still living in the chaos of the first week of the move into the flat and didn’t yet have a TV or net access in it. I’d had no time, that day, to go across to the computer shop and catch up with the British news online, either. So it wasn’t until I saw Marco in the evening that I heard about it and I was, of course, shocked and astounded. Later I was at another friend’s house and we did see some of the Italian news coverage but her children wanted to watch other things and I found that quite frustrating. You can get British newspapers, a day late, down in Modica Bassa, [though without the supplements or review sections, in other circumstances often the most interesting parts] so I had to wait till the Saturday to be able to pick up the Times of 8th July and so begin to understand the horrific extent and impact of what had happened.

My first thought was, of course, for the victims and their families and friends. My second was for the many lovely Muslim ladies I’d taught, who I knew would be feeling scared to venture outside, even as I read. Then you think about the arbitrary nature of it all, how easily you could have been there and so on… Like many British people, I have friends who were not far away when it happened and who could, but for chance, have been involved, or whose sons and daughters use the tube every day. I felt guilty at not being there to support them at that time.

In the ensuing weeks, as further information came to light and the sheer evil and sick nature of what was planned became clear, the Italian press of course covered it thoroughly, asking the same questions regarding the nature of British society as British people were asking themselves. Then Rome was threatened and the mood here became even more sombre, as you would expect. So there was a sense of solidarity.

I have previously said that going through culture shock helps you to realise what you value in your own culture. And one of the things that I value about Britain is that those Muslim lady students of mine had no reason to be afraid, as has been made clear in articles I have read in the British press in the run-up to this sad anniversary.

And now I think the most appropriate thing I can do is to spend a few minutes in the Sacro Cuore Church.

1 comment:

beethoven writes said...

I wish I'd been in Sicily on that day rather than down on the tube! I delayed my summer holiday last year and so nearly wasn't in London when it all kicked off!

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