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Bloody brilliant Britons

Take that look from off your face
You ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out


Once again, the pre-election blog I had planned for this week has been overtaken by events. By the awful, dreadful, appalling events on London Bridge on Saturday night. But also by the amazing, uplifting, heart-warming, life-affirming party at a cricket ground in Manchester last night.

I’ve called this blog Bloody Brilliant Britons. Not, for once, a typo, rather a reference to what, or rather, who, it is that makes our country great. And it is in so, so many ways. Yes, there is a lot that’s currently wrong with Britain, as there is with the rest of the world, but as Saturday night showed, there is so much right too.

When shit happens, we deal with it. We open our hearts and our homes. The Twitter hashtag #bedformanchester, offering a place to sleep for those stranded by the Manchester Arena bombing was echoed on Saturday night by #sofaforLondon, by tweets offering people sofas to sleep on or just sit and have a cuppa on. Even that most 21st century of basic requirements – somewhere to charge your phone.

The most recent UK attacks have felt too close to home – the Westminster attacker went to school where I live, my god-daughter’s classmates were at the Manchester Arena and close friends were caught up in the chaos at London Bridge, an area I travel through a lot.

So my heart soars when I think of how so many people acted on Saturday: those who flung themselves in the way of danger – the off-duty policeman who rugby-tackled one of the knifemen, the journalist who stepped in to break-up what he thought was a fight and ended up getting knifed in the neck, the paramedics who battled to save people, the bouncers and pub-drinkers who threw anything and everything at the attackers, the British Transport Policeman who took on three knifemen armed with only with his baton.

Thank goodness, the emergency services acted so phenomenally fast. I timed myself getting ready this morning. In the time it took me to get in and out of the shower, dried, and decide which socks to wear, the emergency services had answered the calls, mobilised and shot dead the three attackers. Eight minutes.  

Not forgetting the NHS workers who battled through the night to save people, who patched up and comforted those who were traumatised and terrified, the taxi drivers who switched off the meters, even the guy who cycled from Surrey to hand out cold drinks to police still on duty on a baking hot Sunday and the chap who went back on Sunday to pay his restaurant bill.

Seeing all this unfold in the news on Sunday only served to make the concert in aid of those affected by the Manchester bombing more poignant and more powerful.

Know this, you losers who wish to divide us. We will not give in to people who wish to attack us in this way. We will dust ourselves off, have a cup of tea, and find something to laugh about, complain about the weather and the trains and get on with our lives.

There are so many ways that Britons have proved themselves brilliant over the past few weeks and the viral clip of the policeman holding hands with a bunch of 10 year old girls, dancing to Justin Bieber is just one of the reasons I bloody love us.




About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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