There were huge queues for the U2 concert on Wednesday night. We were searched and swiped before going into the venue. A helicopter hovered over head; sirens and blue flashing lights were about. I was really uncomfortable.
But why? I’d been here before. I grew up during the time the army could and did stop and search anyone on the street. We were all searched going into shops, evacuated from buildings regularly for bomb scares. We heard the bombs and the gunshots. We had nothing on the scale of recent attacks, but music and fun were targets and many people were killed when they were out to spend time with their friends and family. Later in the evening, our experiences were recognised by U2 as they showed fabulous artwork by Oliver Jeffers on the screens.
Northern Ireland is different now. Not different enough in its politics, but very different in its everyday.
But it wasn’t just the years away from heavy security that made me uneasy. I’ve changed too. Specifically, I’m a parent.
Spurs Fan and I huddled in the long queue and I wondered “Should we both be here?” Girls 1 & 2 were home alone. What if we didn’t make it back? Would anybody know to go to the girls? Who would wrap them up and love them? How would my wee people cope with the horror?
I have decided that we should behave like royalty from now on, and not all be in the same place at the same time. I’m going to sit at home, with my tiara on, coordinating with my pyjamas. I will expect a state carriage and individual security should I have to leave the house. The roads will be cleared and safe before I travel. Spurs Fan will travel by stealth, like the Milk Tray man.
I’m sure that’s a better way of protecting ourselves from the baddies than dropping more bombs.