Sunday, 24 July 2011

What an awful weekend!

This week I was going to share my work week but the murder of nearly 100 people in Olso, the death of Amy Winehouse, the worsening situation in Somali and the 32 people killed on the Bullet train crash in China seemed to make what I've been up to all just a bit trivial.

As many of you know I am a government press officer by day.  My office is on Victoria Street, just by the House's of Parliament; for many of us working in the civil service this, not the lofty halls of the House of Commons, is the real heart of government.  When I left the building on Friday night the security was immense, the bomb shutters were down and and anti ram raid ramps were up.  I've often thought that attacking this main hub of government was the easiest way of causing incredible harm, little did I know in Oslo a right-wing extremist was thinking the same thing.  For me, and I'm sure for many others, the pictures and news coverage coming out of Olso brought back memories of 7/7, but we, the ones with memories I guess are the lucky ones.  The complete and utter loss of life is tragic and I can't imagine the pain of having to bury your child.  What drove a 32 year old to cause such carnage? Maybe Anders Breivik will tell us his motive in court on Monday.  It doesn't seem like the rest of his group are so keen for the attention. 

Norway is known for being a peaceful and tolerant country, when the shock of Fridays events eventually pass I hope together they resist the urge of becoming a nation paranoid and dominated by fear.

Lots of views on Amy Winehouse this weekend.  Some people think we as a society have idolised a celebrity who set a bad example and brought all her problems on herself and some people are genuinely sad that such a talent has left the building.

I lived in Camden since my teens, we only moved east a couple of years ago when we needed a bigger house.  Camden is one of those places were everyone kind of muddles along together and everyone knows everyone.  You could be buying your vegetables at the Inverness Street market one day with Sade and in the queue at M&S with your frozen peas and Sadie Frost the next.  Amy Winehouse was our Camden-ette.  Before she surcumed to her life of addiction she was one of the locals who muddled along with everyone else and who happened to be a bloody amazing singer and for what its worth I think Amy Winehouse will be remembered in history for being a great vocalist.  Yes I did mostly see her buying booze in Sainsburys at three in the morning, but to be fair at the time so was I and everyone else!

In the late 90's my sister-in-law, who also lived in Camden, became a heroin addict.  No one had any idea until she was hooked, there was no strange behaviour, no change in her routine and to be honest, she looked fantastic.  She was a singer, she had always been a bit crazy, so no change there.  When it did become clear that her addiction was out of control and she just didn't care anymore there wasn't much anyone could do and trust me we tried.  It didn't stop us from both loving her and being terrified of her. Thankfully my sister in law was a fighter and after being turned away by the NHS, no funds were available for treatment, she locked her self in her flat and threw the key out of the window.  We didn't see her for six weeks, we had no idea if she was OK or not.  When she returned to us she had kicked the habit, true cold turkey stylee.  A good few years have passed since then but our Red knows she is always one hit away from returning to the pain and her darkness.  I don't know what demons Amy Winehouse was hiding from, but I do know that addicts are not just selfish idiots who don't care about anyone but themselves, they are escaping from something they either don't understand or can't come to terms with. The UK has over two million people living with some kind of addiction and one of the highest drug and alcholhol addiction rates in Europe but we have the lowest provision of rehabilitation.  Maybe if we all cared a little more and were not so quick to judge?  I truly hope Amy's friends and a family will find peace now her hurt is over.

Not much news is coming through from China but we do know that at least 32 people have died and more than 100 were hurt after two high-speed trains crashed into each other.  Terrifying, one minute your on your way somewhere and the next you are waiting to be rescued or waiting for news of a loved one.

I am hoping by Monday morning to hear some good news for Somalia.  When I last checked a spokesman for al-Shabab said the famine was 'propaganda and that things we're not that bad!'  Now I am no political mastermind and I really do need to read more, but I'd say parents having to choose between finding food for their starving children or walking through a civil war zone was as bad as it could get.  Aid agencies are leaving the region as personnel are not safe and many cannot return as they have been banned by the ruling party for being political.  10 million people. 10 million people is more than the entire population of Sweden!  Starving to death in a land that was once the garden of the world, and the world from what I can see, is not doing enough to help them.  Sadly I think that if the entire population of Sweden was dying a solution would be found a little more quickly.

I think who ever comes up with a workable plan is definitely in line for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Helpful suggestions to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations, New York City, New York, USA.

A week of devastation and I hope lots of water under the bridge for families and friends with 'issues' causing conflict.  This horrible weekend is a massive hint to let go of past hurts, after all, we just don't know when our own time will come.  Enjoy what there is to enjoy, suffer what there is to suffer, both are part of life and one cannot exist without the other.

Denise xx


  1. What a beautiful post. Your sister-in-law sounds like an incredible woman! Thank you for posting this x

  2. A thought provoking post, I hope that we start to get some good news stories soon...