The Motions

And so, here we are again. Mere weeks after the first ‘Brussels Lockdown,’ we are in the midst of another one. Only this time it’s different. This time our fears have been realised. This time the carnage that was originally predicted has happened. This time there have been deaths (over 30 at the time of writing, but with many more critically ill in hospital); at the airport, on the metro. Two places where we most want to feel safe, but no longer can.

One of the three terrorists from the airport is still at large. Sirens blare on every street corner. Stony faced soldiers stand watch over frightened pedestrians. No matter how much we don’t want to be, we are afraid. And we are angry. But alongside our fear and anger is something else, something far more unsettling: the total absence of shock. I can only speak for myself, of course, but when I woke up yesterday morning to see my phone going crazy with messages from concerned loved ones, I instinctively knew what had happened. And I wasn’t surprised. Not in the least.

Thankfully I had stayed at home ill (the only time in my life that I will ever be grateful for a tummy bug), which meant I hadn’t taken my usual route to work via the metro. Instead of being physically caught up in the chain of sickening events I therefore watched the horror unfold on the news and social media, where the vile reactions of people like Trump and Hopkins turned my stomach.

Today, as a new day dawned, I still felt numb. And I still do. The outpouring of sentiment from around the world is fitting for the victims, but no amount of brightly coloured monuments will bring them back. And sentiment alone will not address the threat that we are facing – which, let’s be clear, is far more than a group of radicalised people on the rampage in the name of their twisted and hate-fuelled ideology.

We are as threatened by the ignorant, yet terrifyingly prevalent, attitudes of the Trumps’ and Hopkins’ of this world as we are by the terrorists themselves. In the battle between love and hate, hate is gaining ground. But it will never win, because for every ignorant, hate-filled person there are a thousand more who can not only see the truth but whose hearts are fit to burst with love. Yes, LOVE; the one emotion that the people who are trying to threaten our freedom are incapable of feeling, and the only thing that can unite us in the face of such unspeakable terror.

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Just Be Cool

As important days at work go, today was right up there on the leader board. This morning I presented my PR strategy to the Board of Trustees before jumping in a cab to one of the charity’s projects near Westminster to coordinate a royal visit from HRH The Duke of York. Given the vast amount of stipulations and revisions that I’d had to make to the plan over the past couple of days I was expecting The Duke and his entourage to be a tough crowd, but in actual fact they were lovely. The Duke in particular was warm and friendly, and seemed to take a genuine interest in the project.

Tonight I joined my gorgeous friend Emma in seeing off our beautiful girl Sarah on her Australian adventure from Heathrow airport. We spent several hours drinking Tempranillo in the Three Bells pub and reminiscing about life and love. As ever, my time with her was precious and healing, and it was just so special being able to see Sarah one last time before her flight Down Under.

Before I forget, the following was the (verbatim) announcement on the tube en route to meet my dear friends earlier this evening:

“It’s Friday tomorrow, nearly the weekend. Yeah man.
Word to the driver, there are still some people trying to squeeze onto this ride.
Life is difficult, let’s just keep at peace and be cool.
Yeah man.”

I think Paul would approve.