10 April 2010
It’s the brightest morning of the spring, the long warm weekend we’ve been waiting for. You’re thinking about throwing the windows open, using the garden properly, or getting out into the park.
Most of my neighbours on this street are Polish. An hour or two ago, they lost their President. It isn’t gracious now to talk about what I thought of the man’s politics, but he was still a brother – a twin brother – and a son. It’s going to turn out later half his government was with him, flying to commemorate the massacre at Katyń.
As I walk out to the corner shop, the news on Polish satellite TV is coming through the open windows. On a Saturday morning like this, you would have been getting up and thinking about where the kids might want to go to play, until you idly flicked the television on.
The British radio, between the headlines, is going on about an inane sausage sandwich game.
Englishmen walk past in red and white, but not that red and white. They’re dressed for the football as if nothing had happened. Eighty years ago, they might have been worrying Who did it? (in Russian territory? On this day of all days?), consoling their wives who wept (as they would never weep) with anxiety for their sons of military age. Thirty years ago, and they might have been going through that drawer under the kitchen table, searching for that leaflet from the council that tells you where the shelters are. Nothing like that now. I’m sickened so many deaths have made me think of consolation.
The other side of the curtains, their neighbours are mourning ninety national tragedies all at once.