Monday, 14 September 2009


This blog first appeared on The Bournemouth Echo website and was also published by The Blog Paper on the same date.

My son was nearly 4½ years old on 11th September 2001. He was taking part in his first school Sports Day. The weather had decreed that the Sports Day planned for the previous term had been delayed until the start of the new school year.

Parents had gathered to watch 28 young children go through their paces. My son and his best friend hadn’t quite got the hang of what they should be doing. One of the “obstacles” on the circuit was a small tent. They abandoned running around the rest of the course and took up residence in it. And they laughed and they giggled. And despite the encouragement they were hearing from their teachers, they stayed in that tent and continued to laugh and giggle.

I couldn’t help myself ... my son and his friend looked so cute, I had no option but to stop joining in with the encouraging noises that their teachers were making and to laugh and giggle along with them. My husband was steadfastly continuing the encouragement whilst I could barely contain my mirth at these two happy kids having a thoroughly wonderful time in a tent whilst the rest of Sports Day continued around them.

Husband received a telephone call and had to go to work. Sports Day was nearing its end & we sought permission from the head teacher to take our son home a little early. On arrival at home, I switched on the radio to catch the news. And that was when I heard about what was happening in New York.

My towers were under threat. I ensured that my son was happy and occupied and switched the television on. And for the next 18 hours I didn’t move. “My towers”. I had lived in America, in Philadelphia. My ex was a pilot. We visited New York frequently and the last time I’d seen my towers had been 10 years previously when we’d flown in a Cessna by them en route from Connecticut back to Philadelphia. And I had fainted. I suffer from vertigo and whilst flying doesn’t usually affect me, I knew the height of the towers and had a “reference point” so I simply passed out. And now I would never be able to fly past them again.

I know I’d taken care of my son – tell-tale signs of having made something to eat for him, and having bathed him and put him to bed were evidential – but I couldn’t remember doing any of those things. I seemed to be welded to a seat in front of the TV.

The world had changed and it would never be the same again. A “war on terror” had begun and, however hard I tried, I couldn’t see that there would ever be an end to it. I still can’t. And I still can’t close my eyes at night without seeing images of the ‘planes flying into those towers or of the towers collapsing. The world order changed that day and it is never going to change back.

In 2006 on 11th September, I felt compelled to do “something” ... anything ... to release the emotion that I felt about that day. I’m no artist but with paper and charcoal I drew my interpretation of Ground Zero. And, in some way, found some sort of comfort for having got onto paper that which I couldn’t put into words. That picture hangs in our hall – barely on show, mostly hidden by a tall cupboard ... but I know it’s there.

Eight years on, I don’t need to watch the many programmes about 9/11. I live with that day in my head. I hope the images of it remain in other people’s heads forever too. If we refuse to forget, then maybe we can remember to not let it happen again. I don’t know. I only hope.

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