Sunday 17 September 2017

The Chance

I wake up with butterflies in my stomach; a pre-booked event in London to attend, the chance of new skills to learn and new people to meet. None of that is the cause of these butterflies though. The thought of travelling into this major city which has been targeted so recently is the reason for a small knot of fear appearing. 

For some reason, the attack in Manchester this year had a big effect on me. Despite no longer living nearby, I've always felt the love for my birth town. The event picked on then was a pop concert, somewhere I could easily have been taking my tween to. Close to home in a different kind of way. Unimaginable horror. 

Then news this week of another shocking incident, one which could have resulted in many more casualties. Not exactly close to where I am heading today, but within the same central London circle. 

The show must go on though, I think, and on my way out of the door I remember to grab a bottle of water to carry with me in case of an emergency. I settle on to the train and browse social media, the nerves temporarily forgotten. 

As I get on the tube, I have a good look around, at faces, at feet, at bags. What I'm looking for, I'm not sure. The strongest people, those who could help at a time of need? Someone looking shifty? An unusually shaped bag, or a big rucksack? What would I say, or do, if I saw any of these things? 

I change onto a different tube line, a different train. I take another look around; new faces, a variety of ages and skin colour, some young children. My thoughts turn to what would happen to the children if there was any trouble? What would I do to help, or to save myself, if anything happened? I'm glad my children aren't travelling with me today. Even though it's a Sunday, so it's quiet and probably a less likely time for an attack to take place, you just never know. 

The fifty or so people who get off before me trudge slowly up the stairs to the exit. I wonder what it would be like to have ten times as many as that, all trying to get down the stairs at once, as they were at Parsons Green station. With panic in their hearts, falling over each other, scrambling to get away. Hundreds of them, who may never recover from that fear. The media will no doubt hound a handful for their stories. So many more will feel forgotten, invisible and yet will have to go on living. 

The truth is, none of us can know if it might happen to us one day. There's always that chance. My autistic daughter has a tendency to worry about all forms of travel, and the possibility of accidents. In her words, 'it may be a slim chance, but that's still a chance'. I favour the glass half-full angle personally, and like to focus on the word 'slim'.

I hope to teach my girls that you can't take away that chance. The chance can't be avoided. To live your life, you have to be out. Experiencing new situations, travelling, meeting new people, learning all the time. You have to be aware, but you also have to live. 

On the way back out of London, it's mid-afternoon and I sense the increased numbers of people moving around the transport system. The underground tube tunnels are like a maze, and again my mind turns to escape plans and how to survive. I hate feeling like this.

London underground station tunnel

Unsettled for a short while I may be, but I know that it will pass. In a month or so, I'll feel like I always have, excited for new adventures and happy to have the freedom to explore. The 'what ifs' will be a distant memory. 

We can't let the bad guys win. Life is for living.

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