Claire Martin

England, My England – by Claire Martin

Getty Images: HGL

There is something profoundly frightening watching live news play out in front of you. Especially when you know that people you care about may be caught in the cross-fire.

I’m writing this from the safety of my office, numb and shaking at the same time.

Apparently a “lone wolf” (as reported by the UK media) has struck London with devastating violence.

My brother is a very proud black-cab driver in London. He has owned his Hackney Cab license for over two decades and loves driving tourists through the city he adores.

Westminster Bridge

Parliament Square

These are all the areas he knows like the back of his hand. And just rolling the names on my tongue takes me home instantly.

On July 7th, 2005 – I got a frantic call from my brother – who just kept yelling “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok” into the phone. I was completely confused and spent several minutes trying to calm him down and ask what was wrong.

The 7 July 2005 London bombings, sometimes referred to by Londoners as 7/7, were a series of coordinated terrorist bomb attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during rush hour.

The fourth bomb went off on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square – about 100 yards in front of my brother’s cab. He was traumatized by the event, but unharmed. And has continued to drive in London despite suffering anxiety attacks for a year afterwards.

About 20 minutes ago, I got a phone call “I’m ok” he said quietly “I’m ok”. But I can tell he’s not.

WHAT have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own?

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 14 Comments In Post )
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  • Reply Shari March 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Yes Claire – Awful watching. Our cousin a professor at LSE. She just let me know she is OK and their first concern is getting students out safely. I hate the changes in this world. Only time I am glad I am in my 70’s All very sad.

    • Reply Claire March 23, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Hi Shari, glad to hear your cousin is ok. And yes, it is indeed a fearful time – but it is also a time for us to show character and strength in the face of adversity. Thanks for your comments. Claire

  • Reply Shea March 22, 2017 at 11:10 am

    PTSD is no laughing matter.

    • Reply Claire March 23, 2017 at 8:38 am

      I agree Shea. I had no idea how utterly debilitating it can be. My heart goes out to everyone affected. Claire

  • Reply Jane Rowland March 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Dear Claire,
    Stop making me cry. That’s two occasions where you have reduced me to tears. First, on learning of your health scare, and now with your post on the latest assault on innocent people just going about their ordinary lives on a spring day in London.

    First let me tell you that I love England. No that isn’t entirely true, I don’t just love England, I adore it with a love that comes from my very core. It is in my blood, it is my ancestry, it is my mother, my brother and, though I am a Montrealer, it is also me. England makes me weep, laugh, enlightened, curious, intrigued, entertained and inspired. I care what happens to it and, I believe, so should the world. So much of what the world takes for granted, came from England.

    When my mother first took me to England in the 70’s, it dawned on me quite quickly, the reason for the way I am. Why for instance I have such a quirky sense of humour, why I love good manners, why I love to paint English scenes, why I love history, architecture, and old churches. I am this way because these things that are important to me are England, and that it wasn’t only genetics that gave them to me.

    And so, today, yet again, I weep for my England too, Claire. As I have wept before after the London bombings and all the IRA bombings of the 70’s and 80’s. My England.

    • Reply Claire March 23, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Hi Jane. I loved reading your comments.
      No matter how long I have lived in Canada, regardless of how proud I am to be a Canadian, England is in my bones. I cherish my heritage there and, like you, weep for tragedies that occur there. That said, after checking in with rest of my family, I am reminded that Brits are tough old buggers (!) and are resolutely moving on from yesterday’s events.
      Thanks for your wonderful comments – they’ve helped me tremendously.

  • Reply Shea March 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I have just watched live feed on what happened today in London, and likely the reason for your post. I am sad for you and your family, London, England, and citizens of the World, all of whom have been terrorized once more. Sick armies of one are more dangerous in their random and brutal war, than a declared event.

    • Reply Claire April 3, 2017 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Shea.. and by resolutely announcing that we do not condone nor support such behaviour anywhere, against anyone – we start the path to healing.

  • Reply ghmanderson March 22, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Claire, my roots are in England and Scotland and I have good friends that live and work within the sound of the gunfire that happened there! Though we are not necessarily big City people we love London and feel the pain you feel. Strangely I had written early this morning to our friends as they were out birthday celebrating yesterday and there but for the grace of time ….. What I know about London, and especially the people, is that there is a strength and determination that will not be altered – even if shaken – by the outrage that is some time set upon it! My thoughts are with you, your brother, my friends and all other Londoners at this time! Glenn

    • Reply Claire April 3, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Thanks Glenn. It appears that the British “keep-calm-and-carry-on” resolve is alive and well now!

  • Reply Linda March 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Yes, live with sound is very real, You blink and see the body language of the passers by…..late for work chaps or what! A different type of person placed the trainers neatly side by side, maybe not knowing what else to do to help. People are a mix.

    No one can stop a lone attacker……who gets a sixth sense a car is headed right for you? You just have to hope your number is not on that one! The reality is we are living in a troubled world. The days of standing on a soap box at Hyde Park Corner on a Sunday morning are long gone but we can still ‘move a message’….. make someone smile in a day, listen and give ’em a hug if they are down and lonely. That’s the message I reckon in My Back Yard…..sharing always helps….I’ll get the bottle and we’ll share that!

    Cheers Claire,

    • Reply Claire April 3, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Cheers to you Linda.. this message has lifted me! Thanks.

  • Reply angieb March 25, 2017 at 9:04 am

    It’s OK to not be OK… Is what I told my daughter the morning I received her text. She had just been standing there the day before, on a school trip from BC, with her friends. It’s so much different than watching it on the news across the pond, she said. My 17 year old went off on a 10 day European adventure… She was so close to this moment. And yet, it strengthened her and made her mire defiant. This will not put fear into future adventures, this will not break her trust that there are wonderful people in the world. I am hopeful your brother can go through being not okay, and come out positively from this. I cannot imagine being right there in those moments. My thoughts are with all who are affected xo

    • Reply Claire April 3, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Angie – I love this comment! it’s so true, and I’m so glad that your daughter see’s beyond the “moment”. Thanks for this.

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