Tuesday, January 01, 2008

An 'interesting' year

Other people have done much better political reviews of the year. (See Paul and Justin.) So here's the personal rather than the political.

I think I now understand why ''May you live in interesting times'' is a Chinese curse, and not a blessing. 2007 was a year of changes and storms, of joy and anxiety and sorrow. It was a year when I was once again bowled over by the amazingly generous and compassionate support of friends and strangers, without which I would not be blogging now. Looking back on a cold grey New Year's day over the ghost-smoke of a strange, unforgettable year, I feel somewhat battered as well as contemplative. I am relieved to be here on the other side of it. Few more laughter lines, no grey hairs yet, it's hard to fit 2007 into a few paragraphs.

wedding plans and book deadlines, PTSD insomnia and stress symptoms are aggravated by the ongoing harassment which began April 2006. Civil liberties campaigning with lone mass demonstrations, and political rumblings are noted as the 7/7 Inquiry group prepare for the 7/7 revelations from the forthcoming Crevice trial. February: much the same. March: book submitted to publishers, but things don't get much easier, tsk.

April: Despite last-minute ruse of defendant failing to appear at court, the harasser is convicted. I get married to my wonderful J, hurray - and after the longest jury deliberation ever, the Crevice verdict breaks the day before our honeymoon, so bridal bliss temporarily on hold as I am on media duty.

May: Links between 7/7 and the Crevice would-be bombers (which we've had to keep quiet about for 18 months because of the huge court case) , and questions about security services slip-ups are finally all over the UK and international media. A mad 48 hours follows of back-to-back news interviews finishing with live on BBC News, ITN, C4 News and Newsnight. The push for a 7/7 inquiry becomes headline news for over a week, with both the Lib Dems and Tories reiterating calls for one. We (the 7/7 Inquiry group of families and survivors) hand in a demand for a 7/7 inquiry to the Home Secretary, then J and I go on honeymoon - landing on Grand Cayman, and immediately filing copy for the Sunday Times who want a 'Crevice reaction' column. Finally stop working for two euphoric weeks. Return to UK as political documentary Taking Liberties movie comes out nationally, find out that the convicted harasser has absconded, is wanted for arrest and that, incredibly, the harassment still going on. A blogger ''wanted'' campaign ensues, the harasser is quickly tracked down and remanded for sentencing and psychiatric reports - phew.

June: Taking Liberties is a big critical success, Jon Ronson and I do an interview for Radio 4 and then American National Public Radio which questions conspiracy theorists, causing ex-spook David Shayler to speculate that I am either a team of M15 agents, or mentally ill ( a month later he announces he is the reincarnated Messiah). The harasser is sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail with a tough ASBO protecting 16 other victims. Failed terrorism attempts in London and Glasgow as Tony Blair finally leaves the stage. I make Channel 4 educational documentary about conspiracy theories.

July: Out of the Tunnel comes out on 5 July, which is emotional. 2 year 7/7 anniversary with fellow-passengers, then off to Norwich with J for a family birthday party the weekend of 7/8 July . Back to London Sunday evening-then, on Monday 9 July morning J and I and my sister rush back to Norwich after the terrible news that Mum has had a huge stroke that morning. I continue with the pre-booked contractual author publicity schedule, but cancel the book launch party because I want to spend as much time as possible in Norwich with Dad and the family seeing Mum in hospital. Mum starts to make a good recovery from the stroke, and the family is thankful to be surrounded by people's thoughts and prayers.

August: Mum continues to make good stroke recovery progress but is diagnosed with mylenoma and heart failure. She picks up a gastric bug at hospital which fatally weakens her and leads to complications. On August 22 she dies in hospital with her family at her side.

The survivor and bereaved group launch legal action against the Government to try to force the matter of an independent inquiry helped pro-bono by Oury Clark solicitors and Paddy O'Connor, QC.

September: Over £3500 is raised for charity after Mum's death and over 400 people come to her extraordinary funeral. Blog break. It all gets a bit overwhelming. October: Still off blogging. Meetings with various politicians about 7/7 Inquiry stuff including Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

November: More political meetings including giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, more civil liberties campaigning. December:still banging on about terrorism and civil liberties, and missing Mum.

Stats: 2007 saw me involved in just under one hundred interviews, over one hundred meetings, and giving evidence at two Parliamentary committees and one court case. I featured in four books, including the one I wrote myself, two documentaries, one movie. I cancelled two book launches and attended one wedding, ( mine), had one holiday (our honeymoon) and mourned at two funerals (my mother, and the village Squire).

I doubt I will ever have a year like it again. I kind of hope not.

The blog clocked up 350,000 visits and 577,000 page views. I want to thank you again: blog readers and all the people who gave me and my family such unstinting and generous support throughout the year. I am lucky to have it, and I will always be grateful for it. You know who you are.

Now here we all starting another year in what has turned out to be a tumultuous decade so far. I don't know what the year will bring on the campaigning front, although I know that there will be yet more 7/7 revelations during various trials, and that the campaign for an independent inquiry will continue. At present we are waiting for the publication of the ISC report, whereupon I will have quite a lot more to report on this, and related matters - sadly the issues I have been campaigning about are unlikely to go away any time soon. (More as soon as I can on that.)

On a personal level, I would just like this year to be a bit more flipping normal.

I would like to spend more time with my husband and family and friends. I would like to take better care of my health. I would like to have time to write what I want to write, do the work I want to do. That's about it; that is what I know makes me personally happy.

I would really like everyone to have a happy and peaceful, ordinary 2008.
That would be pretty good, wouldn't it? This year I reckon it's do-able.

I wish you health and happiness, peace and joy in 2008,
(and a year that is only as interesting as you want it to be.)


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