This week’s writer is a manager in a voluntary agency


My son
has just started school. He’s going part-time so I’ve taken the
morning off work to settle him in. He looks so grown-up in his new
uniform and I take lots of photos of him and his eight-year-old
sister. It’s the end of one era and the start of a new one. He has
his future opening up in front of him. I wonder what it will


  I rush to a meeting with
colleagues in a town 23 miles away. We need to discuss how we can
best provide a service which is accessible to children and families
in such a diverse rural area. As I leave the meeting I hear one of
the administrative staff talking about a plane crash in New York.
It sounds serious. I start to drive home and switch on the radio. I
can hardly believe what I am hearing. It is unreal and horrific. I
go straight home to find my partner watching television. My
daughter is playing on the computer and complaining about the
children’s television programmes being cancelled “because of some
blooming bomb”. I cannot take my eyes off the television. There is
talk of another plane missing, another crash. Men in suits talking
of war. My children go out to play with the little girl next door.
They complain that her mummy is watching the television too.


I take
my son to school. Parents are greeting each other as usual. My son
compares Power Rangers with another boy in his class. There are
smiles as people go about their usual daily business, but quietly,
in huddles. Instead of hearing “did you watch EastEnders last
night?”, it is “isn’t it terrible about America?”. The newspapers
talk of war, Armageddon. A tremendous fear comes over me.


haunting phone calls from people in the planes and the World Trade
Centre dominate my thoughts. Until now we have been protected from
such details of people’s last moments. We didn’t know what those
terrified men thought as they went “over the top” in World War One.
We didn’t hear the last anguished voices of the passengers of the
Titanic when they realised all the lifeboats had gone. How does it
feel to get home from the shops and hear the last words of your
loved one on your answering machine? Does it help? I don’t


time I hear a plane go over I flinch.

Unbeknown to me my children are looking over my shoulder as I read
the paper. “What’s that man doing, mum?” asks my son. “He’s falling
from a building,” is all I can say. “He’s not got a parachute,”
says my daughter. “Maybe it’s Superman.” I can’t answer. All I can
remember are those anti-nuclear films I watched in the 1980s; the
ones where the end of the world started with war in the Middle
East. We grown-ups now have a responsibility we have never had
before. We have a duty to all the children in the world to enable
them to grow up safely and without fear. I hope we can live up to

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