The French Connection

France_240-animated-flag-gifsJohn McCormick writes:

“Salut Sunderland”. That, and the nom-de-plume of our leader, says enough but I’ll leave it to Colin to expand on his connections. Me, I have my own. My sister lived in France for many years. She married a Frenchman, she has French (oh, so French) children, she has French grandchildren.

I think it must have been in the seventies when she went over. I was living in London and it was at the time the IRA were active. Forget the romantic view of “freedom fighters”. They were cold, callous, calculating killers, whose indiscriminate bombs, placed in public places and on public transport, murdered and maimed. We forget now, but their attacks went on for twenty years, perhaps more.

And made no difference.

Yes, I spent time outside Euston waiting for my girlfriend, whose train(s) were sitting on the other side of an evacuated station. Yes, our bags were searched when we went into pubs, but her visits continued and so did our pub trips. Life went on.

I left London and married my girlfriend. As as I’ve said, my sister moved over to France. We visited her and her family from time to time and my French got quite good but our families grew up, as they do, and my visits dwindled. She came back to the North-east, followed by her son, who went over to the dark side and became the black-and-white sheep of the family.

And the memories of London and the IRA faded. Sometimes  they would be brought back to the surface by chance events – I visited a school near Warrington and walked past a memorial to 12 year-old Tim Parry, murdered by a bomb in 1993- but, by and large, they were gone.

And so it will be with this latest atrocity. The friends and families of the killed and the injured will carry the scars forever, as will the friends and family of those caught up in 9/11, 7/7, Spain’s 11-M. I could add to that list from past events – who now remembers how many were killed in the South Moluccan train hijack? – and I will be able to add to that list from events which have yet to happen. But for the rest of us life will go on much as it does now.

As life should go on.

If the aim of “terrorists” is to cause terror then surely the aim of normal people is to ensure normality. I didn’t change my lifestyle in London in the seventies, I’m not changing it now. Last week I went to the theatre and then to a restaurant, I’ll do it again next week if the mood takes me; and tomorrow it’s likely I’ll visit a Muslim run shop in one of Liverpool’s ethnically diverse areas and buy some things I can’t easily get elsewhere.

By then, in London, survivor of the blitz, of the IRA, of the bombings in July 2005, a football match will have taken place. It’s absolutely right that it does.






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