Twenty years ago, I would have been just over a year old.

Twenty years ago, 96 Liverpool fans died in the Sheffield Wednesday stadium in Hillsborough.

For twenty years, I had no idea that there had ever been a disaster in Sheffield, other than the fairly major impact of the recession of the 80s, and Margaret Thatcher’s systematic destruction of the unions.

But yesterday, I was in the city centre, and Waterstones had a number of signs explaining that they would be observing a two minute silence out of respect for those who had died in Hillsborough that day.

Perhaps in Hillsborough itself, things would have been quiet too.

I am not old enough to remember the day. I’ve read some of what’s been written now, twenty years on, but that’s not the same. I am removed by space and time and culture, and I just don’t know what it was like.

What I mean by that is that I am a Londoner. When you grow up with news reports that X number of people have been stabbed not far from you, when you grow up in the next borough along from Peckham, when you have Damilola Taylor’s name and Steven Lawrence’s name and Victoria Climbie’s name in your head as though they were old friends, when your mother remembers bombs going off in Soho’s gay bars, when everything you see and hear after Bush and Blair decide to bomb the fuck out of another country is “look for suspicious packages”, when you have to get on a train from King’s Cross the day after the London bombings in 2005, when you make two trips on the Underground every day for a year to get to your job in a well-known department store in the centre of London, when you’re told to memorise particular phrases that mean that you should search your counter for concealed explosives if you hear it over the tannoy, when you’re in the city when the police shoot an innocent man on the Underground… Well, when you live with all of that for 20 years, nothing really comes as a shock. The barely-concealed boredom of the police doesn’t come as a shock. The deaths of nearly 100 people doesn’t come as much of a shock.

I don’t know what it was like for those people. In all honesty, I hope to avoid knowing what it was like.

I’ve found a discussion about media reactions to the anniversary here. It’s got a lot of material both in the post and in comments, so rather than peppering this post with links, I’ve decided I’ll send you there. On the other hand, the Fems is a Sheffield-based site and group. If there’s anybody reading who needs a place to say their peice about the Hillsborough disaster, they’re welcome to do so here (pending adherance to the comments policy, of course).

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