Belfast Telegraph

Whether Bono, a sports fan or a mother, we all stand with Paris

By Lindy McDowell

Immediately after the massacre in Paris, Bono, who with his bandmates in U2 had been due to give a concert in the city, described the atrocities as an "attack on music". This prompted a bit of a backlash on Twitter. "Yeah, right, Bono. It's all about you ..." But actually it is, isn't it?

In the aftermath of any horror we relate it to ourselves and to our own experience and in our own, often trite way, try to offer sympathy and, where we can, solidarity.

For Bono, it's all about the band. For sports fans it's all about the crowd in the stadium.

For me, as a mother of two grown-up sons, it's about those young people in the concert hall and their mothers desperately trawling the hospitals in the aftermath, searching for news of the sons and daughters who never came home. Cold ice clutches at the heart to even think about it.

God help the mothers of Paris.

Those of us who grew up with the terror that the youth of that city now face recall it only too well - the fear, the suspicion and the confinement.

How frightened our parents must have been for us down through the years.

Not that it stopped us ...

Terror can and will curtail the exuberance of youth. But it cannot entirely stifle it.

Gradually, as we know from our own experience, people learn to live with fear and threat and violence and shape the parameters of daily life to cope with the extraordinary.

To misquote Bill Clinton, the abnormal becomes the normal.

I remember going into bars (our mothers had no idea) that were little more than bunkers. Previously bombed, likely to be hit again.

With youthful confidence in our own invulnerability, our greatest fear at the time was that our parents might find out where we'd been.

We learned to always be on the lookout. For the oddly parked car. The abandoned bag. The shifty looking guy at the next table. Not that in the end, even any of that is a real safeguard.

Those young victims of terror in Paris had no reason to be on their guard. Their parents had no reason whatsoever to imagine the horror that awaited their sons and daughters in a popular concert hall.

After the weekend savagery, all that has changed forever.

At the risk of sounding like Bono, back to me again ...

My youngest son moved, just last week, to live in London. Following the Paris attacks there were a hundred things I wanted to say to him. Most of them beginning with the word "don't".

But like all young people he has to live his life. I know that.

The cruel happenstance that puts you in the line of fire of murdering cowards, that, none of us can control.

If I was to give one bit of advice to the mothers of Paris it would be this. Let your children live their lives.

Teach them common sense and caution, yes. But let them be young. For that is precisely what the terrorists want to shut down.

Despite what Bono says, those attacks in Paris were above all an attack on youth.

On innocent, carefree, noble French youth whose courage in the firing line of skulking savages this week has touched the entire world.

It is glib and trite and insensitive to trot out cliches such as "the terrorists will never win" at a time when they have already taken so much, destroyed so many young lives.

But wherever we come from, however different our points of empathy as we've watched those terrible events unfold, we can say this.

We all now stand with Paris.

And Paris will endure.

Why I've big issue with the word wee

You know that "wee" thing we do? Putting the word "wee" into just about every sentence ... I can see why it happens.

It tempers the tone. "Here's your wee card," sounds that bit less abrasive (a wee bit less abrasive?) than the blunt, "Here's your card."

Still, I think we can safely say we have now reached the point of maximum wee.

It was reached for me, anyway, when a colleague handed me a coffee the other day with the words: "Right. There's your wee large Americano."

Oh deer, it's very festive, but...

It is apparently a nutritious foodstuff rich in selenium (whatever that is), zinc and iron. And it is low fat, comparable, we're told, to chicken.

Lidl's new "deluxe" meat option should be a winner. Except that it's reindeer. Festive, granted. Although maybe not so much if you happen to be part of Santa's transportation team. The pre-packed Rudolph steaks are reported to have annoyed some customers, who say it is destroying the very magic of Christmas.

It may be cheap deer. But oh dear, dear ...

Belfast Telegraph


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