Monday, August 28, 2017

Is that the Time?

Last weekend, I watched a few documentaries on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's fatal accident. Am I the only one who remembers that event as if it was yesterday? That day, I was at my parents' place, house-sitting, while they were on vacation. I had just passed my final exams at university and was enjoying my last idle summer, so to speak. Chiquita, still in her teens, was keeping me company that week and I distinctly remember chopping up apples for apple stew (orders from my Mum to not let all the apples in the garden go to waste and also use those bruised ones who had fallen from the trees) while watching the endless TV coverage, half fascinated, half bewildered by the growing mass hysteria.
Likewise, I distinctly remember 09/11 (incidentally the birthday of Chiquita's sister). I was at Coma HQ and our new deputy department head had recently arrived. Everyone was glued to TVs apart from the deputy head and her successor who were engrossed in handover meetings all day. Earlier this year, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York with the Empress. The first part of the exhibition focuses on physical objects, such as remains of the staircase that led survivors to street level and to be honest (and also included the mural pictured above), I was not that moved at all, while some American visitors broke out in tears. The second part of the exhibition was an entirely different story - it basically narrated that day from "innocent" newspaper headlines that fateful morning to pictures of the aftermath that everyone will have seen so many times in different types of media - people covered in dust, exhausted firefighters sitting on the floor. What I, personally, found most haunting were videos of desperate people jumping to their death from the 100something floor and voice messages of people trapped in the tower (or calling from one of the highjacked planes).
On Saturday, I was at the hairdresser, where I read a recent issue of German Spiegel magazine. Its cover story was on terrorism and the analogy between today's terrorist attacks carried out by IS followers versus German RAF terror of the 1970s and 1980s. The article featured a photo of one of those black and white "Wanted" posters that I remember seeing in corridors of any official building when I was a child. Those serious looking faces of young adults, most men wearing a moustache, always bewildered me and the blanket explanation I got from grown-ups did not really help me understand what this was about.
All this seems a lifetime ago now and I am counting the days until there will be nostalgic events, held in venues decorated with phone booths and bulky landline phones...

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