Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Twenty Years

Twenty years ago.

A fair Saturday afternoon.

I was packing my things ready to return to Liverpool for the last term of my first year. I was probably listening to Otway.

The doorbell went.

To my surprise I opened the door to a boy I knew from school, but hadn't been particularly close to at the time. He was on a year out and had dropped by on the off chance that I might be in. He became a good friend.

I offered him a cup of tea or coffee. He asked for a glass of milk.

Meanwhile 150 miles away, the girl who worked a few benches down from me in the chem lab went to a football match.

Whilst Nick and I were chatting, Mum was listening to the radio. As he left she came to tell me there had been some trouble at the Liverpool match. By the evening news it became apparent that this was no ordinary case of crowd trouble. As we were to find out later, it wasn't a case of crowd trouble at all, whatever some sections of the media wanted us to believe.

The drive back to Liverpool on the Sunday was sombre. As I returned to my Halls there wasn't the usual sense of laughter at reunion; people were subdued. I unpacked, grabbed my granny square blanket and went to my boyfriend's room. As I sat and crocheted the blanket that I am sitting on now, the evening news came on. The first victims of the disaster were named and their photos flashed onto the screen: sisters Sarah and Victoria Hicks, 19 and 15.

The shock was immense. Even now, the sensation of my insides turning to water vividly remains. I didn't know Sarah very well and it shook my world at the time; I will never be able to fully comprehend how the families feel and how they survive from day to day.

The Thursday after the disaster, a friend and I got a map, plotted a route and walked to Anfield. We joined the snaking queue to lay flowers. By the time we got there, the flowers covered half the pitch. The fences at the front of the Kop were a riot of colour, with football scarves and shirts from clubs across the country. The sense of grief was almost overwhelming. It was the first and only time I have been to Anfield. I spent a fair bit of free time that week at the Metropolitan Cathedral, just across the road from the Guild of Undergraduates. I found it then to be a place of peace.

Today the urge to be in Liverpool was overwhelming, so I went. Without A, I didn't think I could face Anfield and in retrospect I'm glad I didn't go there. My composure was wobbly enough as it was and 28,000 people singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" would have finished me off. Instead, I returned to the Met. I stayed for the two minutes silence, then sat outside listening to the bells of both cathedrals as they tolled 96 times.


Archive radio and photos are here.


Louise said...

A very moving, well-written post Nic. I actually saw Sarah Hicks and Vicki Hicks mother on the TV on 'This Morning' yesterday. She gave such a moving account of the tragic events and I found myself in floods of tears (For me, I think it is Mothers empathy since having Anna). 96 remembered. Rest in Peace.

scarletti said...

Well done Nic for writing this post.And your last one too. Very real. Very hard to comprehend that space someone's unlived life leaves.
I've left you an award to pick up over chez mice. x