Binging on the latest series of Bloodline on Netflix when I get a message from P, checking whether I’m safe at home. I know from the last time I got a message like that it could only mean one thing, so I paused Netflix and went straight onto the Guardian website, even though I’d promised myself a weekend off the news. Looking at the news late at night for me is like drinking three double espressos, guaranteed to keep me awake for hours, but this was too important and I couldn’t keep away from it. Two weeks ago I guessed that something terrible was bound to happen again before long, and it has, in a place I know extremely well. I spend practically every day of my life in Central London, and I tend to walk through the London Bridge / Borough Market area at least once a week before or after my home group on Saturday night. Last night I jumped on a train at Blackfriars before I reached there, as I was tired from a week of sleepless nights and was keen to give myself a rest. Had I walked a bit further a long the Thames I would have been at the epicentre of the attack, at the time when it was taking place.
I don’t feel the same raw shock that I felt in Paris eighteen months ago, when I found out I’d just passed through the area where gunmen shot dozens of innocent people. Perhaps it’s tragic that instead of shock I’m merely experiencing numb resignation. For the third time in as many months we’ve seen horror and carnage in a place where it doesn’t belong, and I can’t help thinking about the atmosphere this is taking place in, and how it seems to be becoming a part of life. Commentators will bemoan the injustice and the needlessness, while politicians will spend the day talking about what they’re going to do to “beat” terrorism, as if stern words and policies can ever beat it. Our leaders talk about us standing together in the face of this atrocity and “not giving in”, but didn’t we already give in by voting to close our borders last year? Hasn’t the broken state of this country paid testament to the fact that we are all afraid, and angry, and clueless about the solution?
I don’t want to sit here writing yet more words of negativity. But if this is to be an honest document of my life, I am forced to admit that I am feeling very negative today. Before anything had happened last night, I was at the fish and chip shop with my sponsor and friend from the meeting R, trying to enjoy a meal in the place that has become a favourite for our little group. I was trying to enjoy it but I found it impossible after my sponsor came out with something absurd, for no reason, in the middle of a conversation about something entirely different. “You know what, I’m going to vote Conservative for the first time this week.” I had been trying to avoid thoughts of the election all day, having made the mistake the night before of sitting down to the leaders’ debate on TV, which caused a restless night of anger and insomnia. I could have punched my sponsor, firstly for bringing the subject up and effectively ruining the evening for no reason, secondly for admitting to being a first time Tory voter. It’s bad enough being a Tory voter, let alone one that until now was a reasonable supporter of other parties. To know that someone I considered a spiritual guide has abandoned all principles to go with the intolerant masses, for what he justified as our “national safety”, incenses me.
Of course I could say nothing, I just had to get through the meal and get home, hoping I’d never have to sit through another one like it. For ten minutes my sponsor and R berated Jeremy Corbyn over such predictable things: his promise to increase tax on businesses, his unwillingness to launch nuclear missiles and kill millions of people. They could have been reading their lines straight out of the Daily Mail. Even though R’s attitude could be considered even more pig headed and ill informed than that of my sponsor, given that R has never studied the policies of any political party or given it any great deal of thought, I was more angry with my sponsor, as someone who has clearly thought about it and come to what I see as the most treacherous conclusion. Before leaving them last night I felt like saying to them: “Well thank you very much for screwing me over!”
Like a lot of people of their generation they evidently see the Conservatives as the only answer to the problems we’re facing, just because the Conservatives keep claiming to be strong, stable and trustworthy, ad nauseum. They appear to have been brainwashed by slogans, I can’t think of any other explanation. The government’s record on these issues certainly can’t be what’s persuading people to turn to them. I don’t hold people like my sponsor, R, P and my mother personally responsible for the terrorist attacks that we keep seeing, there can never be an excuse for callous murder, but equally, unlike them, I don’t see this happening in a vacuum. If we are ever going to solve this problem surely we have to look at the wider context that it’s taking place in: a society that is dividing along racial lines, that is blaming innocent refugees from abroad for the actions of sick men who are very much home grown. No, that didn’t cause those men to go out in a van and knock people down blindly, but for God’s sake, we can’t keep responding to this in the same way every time, because it isn’t working.
I was supposed to be meeting P today, to help him choose some new glasses at the opticians, but I just wasn’t in the mood. My sponsor has messaged me to ask if I got home safely, and I haven’t replied to him yet. I’m not in the mood for politeness and the hand of friendship, I just want to push everything and everyone away and be on my own. With all of those close to me supporting an ideology that divides people, I can’t pretend to like them today. I’d rather do what my therapist referred to the other day as passive aggressive inner child’s work. I’m determined to sulk and be alone, until I’ve figured out some way of telling these people how I feel. I haven’t got the words to say to them what they’ve done yet, so I need to stay here and think.