Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nominated for New Statesman New Media Awards

Wowsers. Big thanks to Richard for nominating me in the Advocacy Section of the New Statesman New Media Awards 2006 . ( I didn't pay him, I only found out when I checked the site traffic stats. Still, I must meet him and buy him a huge drink. He has a book out soon as well, which I am dying to read) Great to see Backing Blair there too.

The Advocacy Award , I discover, is for ''the individual or organisation that has most effectively influenced opinions and behaviour through the use of new media. Pressure groups, lobbying firms, charities. corporate public affairs departments and campaigning organisations are all eligible.'' Clearly, I am none of these things; I am just a semi-anonymous person who bangs on and on a lot about things I feel compelled to bang on about, like civil liberties, dialogue and compassion between people, and the non-advisability of attempts to defeat violence and terror by, erm, bombing the crap out of people.

You too can nominate things! Who floats your new media boat? Who do you want to buy you a drink? Go here - might want to check the categories first.

Good luck everyone!

Update: Well done Iain and Guido . Boo hiss to the tiresome conspiranoids at the ''July 7th Truth campaign'' who have managed to nominate themselves despite their survivor-pestering ways and their madcap insinuations that the Government/M15/Zionists/lizards blew up the trains by means of bombs placed 'neath carriages by pixies: the shock explosion of four extremist young men at the same time being entirely unrelated. Lovely, and no, you don't get a link. But you should get out more.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

'20 conspiracies'. But don't ask why...

The Sunday Times has picked up on the meeting with Dr. Reid. 'M15 at full stretch as 20 Islamist terror plots revealed' Also on Sky news

Then the BBC World Service got in touch. I called Peter Zimonjic to double-check what we remembered and noted down in the meeting. Dr. Reidhad said ''20 major terrorist conspiracies'' not '' 20 Islamist terrorist conspiracies'' as in the Sunday Times.

Peter Zinomjic who set up London Recovers.com a 7/7 survivor/bereaved website has been blogging, as have I, about the need for a further independent inquiry into the Juy bombings. Like me, he attended the meeting with Dr. Reid last week and his report can be found on his blog here. We have blogged similar accounts of the meeting. Here's Peter's account

''The 20 or so of us who went to try and convince Mr Reid that he should hold an inquiry were all coming from different perspectives. Some of us were concerned about the resourcing of the security services, others were concerned about the degree to which police co-operated their anti-terrorism operations, others still wanted to know how Britain's adventure in Iraq contributed to the bombings.
Some people wanted an inquiry to address the failings in communication sharing between various departments of the security services that let the bombers through. I myself wanted a look into more practical things like how the emergency services responded, what challenges they faced and what we can learn from it all.
My general point is; I feel an incident like this is not an isolated one. There were attempts prior to this attack and, according to Mr Reid, police are investigating 20 major terrorist conspiracies at present, so there are likely to be more. We should therefore take the opportunity to dissect what happened and learn everything we can.
Unfortunately Mr Reid, and his mates at No 10, feel they have answered all the questions. When we tried to tell him we needed one place to go, one definitive account, one inquiry to pull everything together that can sit on a library shelf, for ever, rather than one report from the
Intelligence and Security Committee, one narrative from the Home Office and, one report from the London Assembly due out soon, and countless other bits and bobs from various departments Mr Reid was unconvinced.
The Home Secretary simply said that he thought all questions were answered. We said no no no. We said there are holes apparent in-between the various reports that only a total report such as the
9/11 Commission report could answer. He said; like what, we gave examples and he tried to answer those questions there and then having only been in the job for three weeks. That, I consider, insulting.
Regardless. The point, I fear is quite simply, that his government is afraid to engage in a proper report for a couple of reasons, some obvious from what Mr Reid said in the meeting with us. The first is that an inquiry would, like the
Bloody Sunday Inquiry , cost tens of millions, and require every police and intelligence officer and every victim to testify with legal counsel present. It would become a process that would take so many resources away from the intelligence and security services, he said, that the government's ability to react to a future attack would be limited. In other words; if we have an inquiry it will be so darned huge the country's ability to keep us safe will be compromised and we will, as victims who demand an inquiry, be culpable for a future attack. Need I say just how nuts this is.
I understand where he is coming from. I can sympathise with his belief that his government is incapable of holding an inquiry that is short, comprehensive, cost effective and well run. But isn't the farce that has become the Bloody Sunday Inquiry a good excuse to find a better more efficient way to do things?...''

( more on Peter's ''Editor's blog'')

The comment by Dr. Reid about the 20 conspiracies was in response to our calls for an independent inquiry, to reiterate his point that the security services could not divert resources for fear of missing further attacks, about how we'd feel if ''our'' public enquiry and subesquent resources-diversion led to more families loved ones dying. So far, so emotive, but hmmmm, I negotiate and strategise for a living and I can see through this rhetoric. It doesn't wash.

Counter-terrorism is not just about reacting to known plots. It is about preventing them, proactively, and surely part of the process of that is to learn from our mistakes, learn lessons from July when the bombers struck? You analyse success, and you analyse failure: that is good management practice.

If Dr. Reid is as gung-ho as he seems about overhauling the ''not fit for purpose'' Home Office, then surely properly examining the lessons of July 7th is a crucial place to start? Rather than rushing through legislation about ID cards and imprisoniong people for 90 days, or 28 days, or any of the other legislation and resources which the police and security services ask for, how about taking a step back and asking the hard, grown-up questions about social, foreign and domestic policy.

Looking at communication, response, preparation, intelligence, practices, resources and readiness for attacks. Looking at why the attack happened as well as what happened. Therein lie the seeds of hope for the future, a debate about freedom, liberties, hatred and fear.

Wouldn't that be a brave, an honourable thing to do, I asked the new Home Secretary who had only been in the job three weeks, and who has made so much of sorting out the crisis-ridden HomeOffice. He didn't answer.

Look. It seems clear enough to me. The public were attacked by members of the public. The public's questions about how and why this happened should be answered publicly. It doesn't need to be the most extreme, expensive, lengthy Bloody Sunday kind of inquiry, that hoovers up resources. It shouldn't be a series of pamphlets and slimline reports drafted behind closed doors by civil servants and government officials appointed by the PM either. Which unsurprisingly find no-one to blame.

(It's not about ''blame', ' anyway. Or ''closure'', or ''therapy'' or ''attention''. If I want therapy I'll go see a therapist. I could do without all the campaigning for public inquiries and July 7th stuff, it is unpaid, time-consuming and impacts on my professional and personal life.)

But I'm asking for this because I genuinely believe it is the right thing to do. Not just for people like me who just randomly happened to be on the train, not just for the injured and bereaved, but for the public at large, for all of us, since this affects all of us. It's what many survivors and bereaved have said that they want. And many voters too.

It can be a new kind of inquiry for new post 9/11, post-Madrid, post 7/7 times. But it needs to happen. And soon. I've banged on about it for months, and more and more people are saying, yes, keep going, keep asking. So I will, and we will, and we will see where we get. I'm hopeful we'll get there in the end.

The petition, if you haven't already signed....

Friday, May 26, 2006

United 93 director condemns 7/7 inquiry

Paul Greengrass, who wrote and directed United 93, whom I met last week straight after the meeting with Dr. Reid, has come out in support of an independent inquiry into 7/7, calling the present one ( the Home Office narrative and ISC report) ''pathetic.''

Read more on the BBC

Brillant! Thank you so much Paul.

The film is harrowing, amazingly powerful and beautifully made; J and I were fortunate to go to the cast & crew premiere of United 93 on Tuesday where I met Paul Greengrass and some of the cast and crew. The film is out in early June in the U.K.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Close up Iraq

Peace by Understanding: Baghdad by bus, and the kindness of strangers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

United 93

After meeting the Home Secretary, I went to the cast and crew premiere of United 93, the new Paul Greengrass film. It was extraordinary. Shatteringly compassionate and humane, and harrowing and heart-ripping, and everyone, everyone should watch it, take the journey with those people in that doomed plane, for the two hours, pray and struggle and engage with the fight, even to the end, even ithough it is almost unbearable to do so. I have never seen anything like it and I cannot think of how it could be bettered. It is not made too soon; it is important that it was made and that it is watched, for in those ordinary lives we all are. In the mundanity of a cup of coffee, the gazing out of a window at a brilliant blue sky, then the fear and screams, and the tears and the desperation and the final, comforting touch of a stranger's hand on your own. In the grief and the bravery and the despair and the anger, and the final submission to what is coming, but to submit having tried, having tried your best, to change the world a little, and to divert the horror from others that you cannot escape yourself.

The film opens in June. Paul Greengrass asked me if I would like his support for a public enquiry into July 7th.

I just kissed him. I couldn't speak.

Yes. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Meeting the new Home Secretary

Sky News report on the meeting

BBC report

Met the new Home Secretary for two hours last night, with about twenty other survivors and bereaved, from Edgware, Kings Cross/Russell Square and Aldgate. Most of the meeting was taken up with the matter of a public or iindependent inquiry. The evening meeting got off to a scary start with an alarm going off and a recorded voice saying '' An incident has been reported and is being investigated. Please remain in your seats.'' Cue much barely suppressed anxiety: most of us are not great with alarms going off. ( 'Though you can bet the the Home Office is bomb-proof' another survivor whispered to me.)

Finally it stopped, and we all introduced ourselves. As well as Dr. Reid there was a representative of the Counter Terrorism directive there, the Chief Executive of the Criminal Injuries Association, and the Head of the Victims Unit. Dr Reid started by taking us through the ISC report and the home Office narrative and stressing that there had been learnings, with hindsight. More resources in Pakistan, more resources here. There had been, and may be, further enquiries; the Home Office Committee reports findings had been completed ( I haven't seen them - has anyone else?) and steps had been taken to improve response - for example the simplifying of the terror alert level.

This is from my notes and I don't have shorthand. Apologies for posting late, and badly, it has been frenetic, to say the least, and I am behind with work, emails, everything. This is a stream of consciousness, and I will write more, properly when I have time. It's past midnight, I seem to have no time to write anymore.

Dr. Reid stressed that the Intelligence and Security Committee's findings had been largely that no-one was 'culpable' and the Security service's judgements 'understandable', and said that ' it was not a cover up. I'd not be part of a cover-up.' He talked of his belief that huge resources would be diverted and kept mentioning the hugely lengthy, expensive Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He stressed his dedication to trying to make sure that this did not happen again, and the '100% effort' going into this, but that nobody could be sure that it wouldn't. That there were pieces of information that he just couldn't share, matters that were sub-judice, and he would try and answer more questions honestly when those investigations and matters were concluded, as information became more freely available.

He then talked about compensation, and the extra £2.5 million ex gratia awards which would effectively double most claimants' awards according to the existing tarriffs. He talked of how the CICA scheme was being reviewed but ''as 7/7 was a one-off event'' he hoped that this special award could be paid over quickly. (But what about the victims of other terror attacks? Or other, less well-known criminals? Is this fair? Are we being placated here? Am I being too cynical? I don't want to be. People need money though, £200,00 or less is not much if you cannot work, have to move house, will need life-long care.)

Over to the questions. The first question was from a man who lost his boyfriend at Russell Square who wanted to know if there were CCTV images of the bombers on the trains, and whether he could see the last minutes of his loved one. The Counter Terrorism representative said that there were, but they had not been released, as the post-bomb CCTV images 'were disturbing'. Dr. Reid promised to investigate whether images of the train before the bomb could be shown privately to the bereaved man. It sounded like the CCTV images were not of good quality. A survivor with an IT background asked about face-recognition software, and data-sharing between police, and security services - was it adequate? The Home Secretary came out strongly for ID cards, though there were strong murmurs of dissent from round the table - after all; the bombers had carried ID and had wanted, it seems, to be identified as 'martyrs'.

It became difficult to get a word in edgways at times. A survivor pointed out that we had been told that the police were able to dicover Khan's credit cards at three of the scenes and run his name through the police database and immediately find Khan listed as an international terrorism suspect. How had this been missed? Dr Reid stressed the importance of bombers having identifiable ID and not 'faked identities', that another investigation concerning a UK threat had been going on and Khan had been only 'peripheral' to it, that resources had been concentrated on that, on men planning to bomb UK soil. ( Was Khan not planning to bomb UK soil?..) At which point, a survivor said, if security services had been so stretched, why had the police or Special Branch not been asked to keep him under surveillance? Were the security services and police not talking to each other? I said, was it because there had been a reluctance on the part of the Security services to accept suicide bombings on British soil by British men? Yet the police had had a shoot-to-kill suicide bomber policy in place for some years - so they had clearly accepted the possibility. Was this a failure of imagination from a department more used to Irish terrorism and the Cold War? asked someone else. It wasn't about culpability, or cover-ups, or resources or blame, said another survivor, and we all agreed. It was about preventing terror by understanding why it happened. Could we not learn from what happened in the U.S after 9/11? They had managed an enquiry after all.

And so it went on. Twenty major conspiracies were known about, said Dr. Reid, how can I divert resources from dealing with the threat reports that daily cross my desk? How will the next set of families feel when they sit here and I tell them I diverted resources away from fighting terror into a public inquiry? Nobody blinked. He tried again: post 9/11 there had been a three-fold increase in resources, and funding from £900 million to £200,000 million. But it took time to train and recruit staff.

It's a weak argument, said a survivor. You should find the resources. It's people, it's time, not money, said the Home Secretary. Is it not that M15 and M16 are their own fiefdoms? asked a survivor - they wouldn't work closely enough with Special branch? Is this not the failure at the heart of this? I asked. No, said the Home Secretary, this is all with hindsight. Yes, the report said there should be better co-ordination between the security services and the police, that was 'a case proved'. Fine, so if you have admitted that, Home Secretary, are we to be satisfied? A group of people, appointed by the PM, take evidence from people who stand to lose their jobs if they have been doing their jobs properly. Unsurprisingly, they find from the evidence that nobody is to blame and the bombings could not be helped.

What 'collateral damage', what blood price is acceptable, then? Why has nobody mentioned, will not even admit the part that foreign policy has clearly had in recruiting terror to our streets? That what is done abroad has an impact at home? An impact that cost lives and limbs and left such a legacy of sadness and suffering? Why are ID cards the answer, but Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine must not be the question? Why can what was done by members of the public to the public not be discussed in front of the public?

Perhaps we should call it a Voters' Inquiry, not a public inquiry. Maybe then we'd make the point, get through, be heard more clearly.

I am not satisfied. I am very grateful for the Home Secretary's time, for his staff's time, for the chance we had to speak out, but I am not satisfied. In the first week of June the GLA London Assembly report will come out. It is expected to be critical of the response to July 7th , though nobody doubts the valiance of the emergency services and LU staff. It will tell the story of the impact on ordinary Londoners, and the communication on the day and after. It is not a substitute for a Public Inquiry, but it will, we were promised, challenge the Government without fear or favour.

Somebody needs to.

This is not going away, terrorism is not going away. And nor are the voices of those who are left behind in its wake. Dr. Reid has promised to continue the dialogue, to look at our suggestions for something that is not a whitewash and not a Bloody Sunday lawyer's bunfest. That is something, at least. I will not give up heart. He wants to engage, that is good. He listened, mostly.

This July 7th, we will mark the first suicide bombing on the soil of Western Europe with silence. And silence, still, is all we have. Dialogue, question, answers would be better, if we are to not to stand in silence again and again and again, in the days and years to come, whilst innocent blood continues to be shed, here, and everywhere where bombs are detonated in anger.

I am very tired, and this is not a well-written post; I will write more, better, soon, when I can. I, and others, will keep on asking questions. When the trials are over, when there is a new Prime Minister, maybe then we will have some answers. I hope so. I always hope.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving on - or trying to

I went on a course set up by the 7th July Assistance centre on Saturday, about finding strategies for moving on after the bombings. The campaigning for a public enquiry, supporting survivors, answering the many, many calls and emails from media representatives - which I pass onto the group (although I do a few, still, sometimes, if they specifically want to talk to me because of this blog or whatever) - takes up loads and loads of my time. Factor in writing, and my news addiction which is still slightly out of control, and my life is seriously out of balance. It isn't that healthy, and it is flipping exhausting. And I am getting married - not in September now, but next year - and there's my friends and family whom I don't see enough of. J's work, which is brutally hard and can keep him in the office for fifteen hours a day means that I am often alone in the evenings. Because I don't watch TV, just the news, I am too much online, and still too much caught up in the aftermath of the atrocities. It takes its toll and three serious chest infections and being signed off for a month with exhaustion and delayed PTSD has been a wake-up call. This is like having two jobs, two lives, and I want one job, one life, a balanced, healthy one that I am contented with.

So this weekend, I did not watch the news, did not buy the papers, and I wrote only of the party which my sister Anna hosted for the Eurovision Song Contest. I felt a bit guilty, but I have made a promise to myself and J, that I would do my best to claw back the normal life that I had before July 7th, and move on from being haunted by the ghosts of that rainy, terrible summer morning. J, too is trying to get more of a work-life balance resolved as well, though he may need to make further changes to accomplish this.

However, it is not possible to walk away just yet, because tonight I have a private meeting with the new Home Secretary, which was set up on the back of my Dad's meeting with the previous Home Secretary Mr. Clarke. At that meeting, Mr. Clarke responded to my questions about dialogue betweeen survivors and Government, and the public and Government, and the need for a public inquiry, by offering to meet Kings Cross United. Now, KCU has always been a non-political group, it is more of a virtual pub, a social network for people from one of the trains to keep in touch, which we do regularly, and many of us are now great friends. It isn't however, about lobbying for inquiries, or compensation increases or fairer policies - there are many within the group, myself included, who are political and do want these things - but I wanted the meeting with Dr. Reid to be for anyone affected by the bombings, not just KCU, and so, having established late last week that the meeting could be reinstated in the new Home Secretary's diary, I managed to tap into the wider networks of survivors through groups such as London Recovers.com, and make contact with bereaved families and survivors from other sites, including some very seriously injured people and tonight a representative group of about twenty people will go in and meet the Home Secretary, informally and privately.

Further meetings with Tessa Jowell and Dr Reid and various officials are also, I understand, planned, following our meeting with Tessa Jowell at the DCMS but this is one I set up myself and I am crossing my fingers that we can make our points, without anger, calmly but with conviction.

I have never said this is about blame. I have never said that this is about politics. It is far more important than blame or politics. It is about why July 7th happened, and what we can all do, talking together and learning together, to stop it happening again. I would like to look at not just the response on the day and after, not just what happened on the day and after, but to look at the background, the whole picture. I would like there to be a grown up debate about liberty and security, about anger and fear, about foreign and domestic policy, about exclusion and integration, religion and a secular society, multiculturalism and alienation and engagement, poverty and employment and what it means to be British today. I would like many voices to be heard.

This is a debate that affects all of us, isn't it? It shouldn't happen behind closed doors. It shouldn't be internal departments meeting secretly and in isolation. It doesn't just affect politicians and those directly impacted by July 7th. It's a debate about who we are and where we are going, together.

It's a debate that should be had by the public, about the public, for the public. Only then can we ALL move on. And then we might all have more understanding, and more confidence, and more hope about where we are all going together.

I just cannot understand why we cannot have an independent public inquiry. And that is what I will be saying tonight. And if we have to wait for a certain two trials to be over, so be it. And if we have to have certain bits of it behind closed doors, for defence of the realm reasons, so be it. But defeating terrorism involves learning, and analysing, and debating, and understanding, doesn't it? It involves all of us, doesn't it? So not to look at the day British people suicide-bombed British people in full, and in front of the British people makes no sense to me.

We are told by the Prime Minsiterthat ''the rules have changed''. Really? If they have changed so very much, then the Government has nothing to fear in presenting its case as to why the rules have changed, have they? If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear, we're told, as we prepare to carry ID cards - something that we only did before on a temporary basis when at imminent risk of massive ariel bombardment, gas attack and enemy invasion, for goodness sake.

Come on, let's be grown ups. Let's have this debate independently, publicly, freely.
700 injured. 56 dead. Every day the potential for another July 7th.
Every day in Iraq IS July 7th, for our soldiers and the people of that country.

If you agree with me and 700 others, including many survivors and bereaved - then you can sign the petition here.

UPDATE: Meeting the new Home Secretary for 2 hours; will try and report more later. We're now a little closer; for a negotiation opener, that was quite good. This is going to be a long fight, but he's engaging; this is not going away and I think, in 18 months, we'll be there.

BBC Update

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Anna's Euro-trash party

J and I headed over to my sister's flat for the annual Euro-trash party. I don't think there are any pics yet but you can get the general idea by looking at one of her other parties ( Theme: Mile High Airways). Pics of that party here. (If you look carefully you may see me hanging upside-down off the pole in pink plastic boots. You need to start at the bottom and work up to make sense of the photos and captions. J was dressed as a tourist and I was a groupie. )

Anyway, that was a while ago so let me report back on last night's thrash. The gaiety of the nations was enhanced by the presence of guests from France, Spain, and the the Netherlands, which meant that we were able to announce the scores of guests in four languages. What scores? The Rachel's Eurovison Drinking game ( c) scores, of course. As featured in the Guardian Culture blog, woo hoo.

We added in some extra characteristics: hotpants, Xtreme fake tan, breakdancing, inadvertent previous porn career ( whoooopsie, Ms. Croatia -NOT SAFE FOR WORK) and battle commenced with international snacks soaking up the vast quantities of alcohol. Salami, crisps, garlic bread, and lots and lots of international cheese, appropriately.

There was a lot of screaming as people fought to identify their characteristics as soon as they appeared on screen and get points: the nice devout Pentecostal Church-going French girl shouting '' Crotch! Extreeeme crotch!'' at regular intervals was a particular highlight. If we'd had Wearing all-white as a characterisitic, whoever had that would have romped it. Was the gig sponsored by Daz? ( Not wierdy-peaerdy Daz from the UK, who was just embarrassing...) However, Finland rightly triumphed and afterwards we all rocked out immensely, head-banging, pom pom waving, marraccas and devil horns salutes. Then it gets a bit messy, but I definitely taught several people to pole dance and demonstrated climbing up to the top of my sister's pole and hanging upside-down by your ankles, which is not at all advisable in a floor-length skirt, and I slid down way too fast and avoided landing on the top of my head by a whisker, but I did crash land on my back instead, and have a huge bruise to show for it However, I was pissed and carried on like a trooper.

Read fab Troubled Diva Mike's Euro-blog here. It's time for me to lie on the sofa and drink tea and rest my bruised limbs and support J as he bites his nails for the Leeds playoff final. C'MON LEEDS! Argh, head, back, bruises ow ow ow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What, still no narrative blogging?

You may be wondering why I still haven't written about the narrative and the ISC report into the London bombings yet. Last week was taken up with juggling work and being asked to do a lot of media stuff about the reports' publication. I did BBC radio and C4 news, and passed on dozens of media requests to the group and answered hundreds of emails. I was going to write more last weekend, but I was shattered after a devastating world premiere of the magnificent Francis Pott's new work, The Cloud of Unknowing, which absolutely blew me sideways. Francis, who sometimes reads this blog, very kindly invited me and Gill, another survivor, and our partners along to hear the work, performed by the Vasari singers. Sacred choral music about the evils of war and terrorism. The first live music I have listened to since the bomb. Harrowing, exhilerating, bleak and horrifying, it was simulataneously one of the hardest things and one of the most beautiful things I have ever listened to. Like being crucified by angels. It was performed in St. Pancras church, which became a centre for grief and relection after July 7th and where Kings Cross United placed their flowers on the 6 month anniversary. The following day, I was ill, and what with food poisoning and being in pieces emotionally, I couldn't get out of bed, let alone write. Back to work on Monday, still shakey, and then on Tuesday almost a hundred survivors from Kings Cross including myself spent over two hours grilling Tessa Jowell and the police and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund about the aftermath of July 7th and the investigation. We covered a lot of ground, but there is still more to say, more to ask. And there was much anger, at the lack of support, and the lack of a public enquiry. But the meeting was calm, people asked their questions with great dignity, though they would have been justified in shouting in frustration. Afterwards we all went to the pub and got drunk. I have met so many lovely people from my train, I feel proud to know them. I will write about that meeting with Tessa Jowell at the Department of Culture later too, when I can.

Meanwhile I have reinstated my Charles Clarke meeting with the new Home Secretary and will be going to that on Monday with other survivors, to ask some of our many questions. Including why they will not have a public enquiry, or an independent enquiry, why they seem to not want to answer the questions we have, questions that have not gone away since the publication of the narrative and the Intelligence services committee report.

I arranged that particular meeting with the Home Secretary off my own bat, but now Tessa Jowell is going to organise further meetings with us survivors and herself, and with us survivors, the Home Secretary and herself. I am not going to shut up about this need for transparency and public answers; it is not about blame, it is about learning lessons and saving lives and telling the truth. Not just to survivors, but to the public in general, since it is the public who are the targets of the next indiscriminate terrorist attack.

And I will write about the narrative and the ISC report and the Government's current position on July 7th when I have time, but it will have to be at the weekend, because I am frantically busy at work, and in the evenings, and it is a huge struggle to find the time to do it justice. I am still feeling angry about the Government's response to July 7th, but I am trying to use the anger productively. And I cannot always be campaigning and thinking about about July 7th, I need some balance in my life as well, to do other things that cheer and comfort me. Like silly Eurovision parties with my sister.

Euro you want to

Popped over to Troubled Diva to discover that the lucky chap is reporting on Eurovision from Athens. I am very jealous. Top tips can be picked up from the Diva's site if you are having a flutter or try the BBC site here . My sister will be having her traditional Eurovison party complete with selected national snacks and the Euro Points Drinking Game. I was minded to share the rules of my version of the Euro Drinking game( which I will be playing with my sister, J and friends) in the comments on the Diva's blog, and I reproduce the game rules here so you can all join in if you want

You will need: three hats (or containers to pick papers out of), international snacks, large quantities of alcohol, paper and a pen. Write down all the participating countries on bits of paper, put in hat. Do same with number of 'points' ( Include 'Nul Points') . Do same with characteristics ( suggestions below, feel free to add your own)

Everyone pick a country out of a hat.
Everyone pick a number of 'pointes' out of a hat.
Everyone pick a collection of 'characteristics' out of a hat. 'Characterisistics' include:

  • Wind machine
  • Gypsy Violins
  • Inadvertent nipple flashing
  • Peasant on stage
  • Flag waving
  • Bondage/fetish-wear
  • Wet-look hair
  • Luxuriant moustache(s)
  • Ambivalent sexuality/gender
  • Explosions/fireworks
  • Random percussion
  • Guitar solo
  • Over-use of crotch
  • Sudden tempo change (i.e from ballad to hard rock)
  • Rapping
  • High kicks
  • Formation dancing
  • Folk dancing
  • Removal of items of clothing (inc. hats). Bonus points for skirts or trousers.
  • Back flips
  • High-pitched inarticulate yelps or cries

You must drink, or score a point when your country, number of points, or characteristic (s) appear on screen. Keep a note of your drinks/scores.
Accompany with appropriate international snacks that are devoured when that country performs its song.

Enjoy! Salut! And come on, Teenage Life! ( The smart money is on Germany, though)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bloody food poisoning

Sick as dog since late Saturday night, sweating it out in bed, blinding headache, lots to say but can't. Normal service will resume shortly. Sorry.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times is essential reading. Makes me even more sick reading about it. I've had a bellyful of whitewash and lies. As soon as I can get time to blog I am letting rip ( am back at work today, Monday, having effortlessly shed 5 pounds on the weekend's a flat Lucozade and boiled water diet.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pushing for an independent public inquiry

The Sun has picked up my petition for a public inquiry.

The BBC had this and lots more.

There has been a lot of coverage of the ''narrative'' and the ISC report, and I will be writing about it this weekend, when I have time. In the meantime, I juggled work, and quickly ran out and did a radio car piece after John Reid's speech to Parliament on BBC Radio 5 live which then ran on Radio 4, and I also did Channel 4 news with Joe and Kirsty, after work.

Lots of other people - families, survivors - spoke out too which is what I had hoped and on Friday, it was all over the media. The media and many families and many survivors are highly critical of the Government's official reports into July 7th bombs.

Look out for more reasons why we need a proper enquiry, not the current whitewash in tomorrow's Sunday Times. And look out for the GLA report, out early June.

We're getting somewhere, slowly. After months of going on and on about it, our voices are being heard. I am tired, but hopeful. And I think the exhausting strategy of engaging with the conspiracy theorists has paid off, nobody can now say I am a conspiracy theorist, or that the only people who want an independent enquiry are conspiracy theorists...

...it is ordinary people, not politicians who were attacked, and it is us who run the risks of bombs each day on the streets, in the shopping centres, the trains and buses.

It is the public's questions that should be answered publicly, not reports produced behind closed doors that blame nobody and leave many questions unanswered. Questions like, how many more young men plan to attack us? And is there anything we and the Government can do to stem the hate and anger? Are we using our resources effectively - why spend billions on ID cards when they wouldn't have stopped the bombers, and when our security services ''couldn't afford'' to keep Khan and the others planning mass-murderer under surveillance?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Waiting for the narrative

So, we can expect the Home Office narrative account of what happened on 7/7 2005 out this week, and The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report to be issued on the same day. The ISC report, which ''has been studying the lessons of the 7 July bombings and will make wide-ranging recommendations on how the security services should adapt to the changing face of terrorism''.

I'm surprised that they are both coming out on the same day, since I think it is likely that they may seem to contradict each other if the Observer's previous leaks are anything to go by. According to the Observer, the ISC report...

''... has found there was a direct link between the bombers' ringleader, Sidique Khan, who killed six people when he blew himself up on a tube train at Edgware Road, and a terrorist cell that had been under surveillance by the security services.
The revelation will prove damaging. Previously it was believed Khan was linked to the cell only through a third party. That he had direct links to the group under surveillance raises questions over why he was not placed under closer supervision.''

(Yup, look into the Crevice .)

Hang on though. The security services seem to be telling us one thing and the Home Office quite another. On the one hand, we have Khan and his links to other terrorists. On the other hand, the bombers are apparently acting alone. Which is right?

The ''narrative'' seems to be going to indicate that the four men acted independently, without any Al Qaeda links or contact with other terrorists using materials available from local stores and bomb recipes ''from the internet''. (Tsk. Pesky internet. Shut it down.) Here's the Observer, April 9th.

''The official inquiry into the 7 July London bombings will say the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet, that there was no 'fifth-bomber' and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.
The first forensic account of the atrocity that claimed the lives of 52 people, which will be published in the next few weeks, will say that attacks were the product of a 'simple and inexpensive' plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom.
Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet...''

I have blogged about this before. It's an open secret, if you go and look around the internet. Seems Khan was not only known to security officials, but under surveillance in early 2004, and now, we find, clearly linked to another terrorist cell who were also under surveillance. Khan and fellow-bomber Tanweer were apparently only suspected by M15 of being sympathetic to terrorist causes, and were engaged in fraud to raise money for jihad, fighting overseas, not in the U.K, but because resources were scarce, he was let slip the net and not kept under surveillance. With fatal consequences on July 7th.

Frank Gardner, BBC Security correspondent noted the cross-party Parliamentary committees expected findings...

"Could they [ the July bombings] have been prevented with better intelligence? Yes. Could they have been prevented given the resources that the agencies had? They think probably not.
"They are not pointing the finger of blame at anybody," he [Gardner] told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.''

But it seems that M15's and M16's limited resources were diverted towards other anti-terror operations which were seen as more of an immediate threat. These terror suspects were intercepted and arrested, but some think that security services were forced to spring the trap earlier than planned.

Now what I want to know is this. Here we have Khan, the ringleader, already seemingly engaged heart and mind with the jihad cause in 2004, when the other terrorists were arrested about to carry out their alleged plot. We have Khan (and his associate Tanweer, and possibly another of the London bombers) travelling to Pakistan, attending terrorist training camps, raising money for jihad causes, recruiting young men in the gyms and youth centres and book shops of Beeston, angry, depressed enough to be signed off work in Khan's case, radicalised and attending sermons by radical preachers urging bloody jihad, enraged by DVDs of atrocities committed against Muslims in Chechyna, Palestine and especially Iraq, and not just on the periphery of a group of men actively engaged with plotting a major vehicle bomb atrocity, but ''directly linked'' with them. Aware of the plans of the would-be vehicle bombers? Very probably.

So did this mean that Khan, seeing that other terrorists, some of whom he had ''links'' to, ( the A team?) had been captured in 2004, decided independently to go to Plan B, in July 2005? A team of over a dozen men, buying large amounts of fertiliser to allegedly make a large vehicle bomb had been rumbled, as we see from the current trial at the Old Bailey. So, he comes up with his own plan. Take a smaller group, of four men, use bomb materials easily available in the high street, use knowledge gleaned from the internet, and strap the bombs on your backs, in black rucksacks, mingling easily amongst the crowds of commuters, stepping onto the soft target of the London Underground on a day that shimmered with symbolic significance. 7th July, the fourth anniversary of the day when angry young Asian men rose up with home-made bombs in Bradford to ''defend themselves'' against the ''oppression'' of their fellow citizens? Was that what happened, was that the ''real'' story of July 7th?

That makes both the narrative and the ISC report work. Khan was ''linked'' with another group of would-be terrorists in 2004, he trained with these men and other other would-be terrorists who were planning attacks on Britain in a training camp in Pakistan, and after they got nicked, then he went on to act '' independently''. And there is no Al Qaeda Mastermind, no Bin Laden in a bat cave involved here, this is not 9/11. This was a homegrown operation where British men met, plotted, got the training they needed abroad, and from the internet and then went off to kill. This is the new reality, and it is far more chilling, and our leaders are misguided, for you cannot make a war on it, because this new enemy has no boundaries, no armies, no generals. This is an idea, and an idea cannot be invaded and bombed and fought. Bombing and fighting, paradoxically, makes this idea stronger.

Time for a total, radical reapproach. The old rules don't work; this is not the IRA or the Cold War. This 'War On Terror' cannot be fought and won with weapons, however hi-tech, with bombs and guns and raids. It leads to only more bombs, more deaths. Nobody can win this war of terror, not Blair, not Bush, not Al Qa'eda. Not you, not me, not any number of young men marching off with a bomb in their bag or a gun in their hand.

Nobody in the Intelligence services was to blame, says the leaked ISC report. Maybe. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But if you had the bomber in your sights, and you let him go on and he carries out the worst ever terrorist atrocity on British soil with three accomplices, then I am personally angry, because it happened and it should not have happened. It may well be a strategic issue, a resource issue. How can you possibly monitor every angry young man, every trip to Pakistan? There are 500,000 visits from UK citizens to Pakistan every year.) How can they all be tracked? And what does it do to people to survey them all as potential terrorists?

There are now wider questions about freedom and fear and risk and civil liberties. Do we want to live in a society where there is so much monitoring of its people? What will the effects of this round-the-clock '' for your own protection'' surveillance be? Distrust? Fear? Worse?

Are we all deemed potential terrorists now? Will this anger more young men and paradoxically make more terrorists? I don't know. Let's all have a sensible debate about it, hey? Instead of bashing out I.D cards and increasing stop and searches of anyone with brown skin. And let's think about causality too. What is making these young men so angry in the first place? . Our foreign policy, the U.S foreign policy, the way it rather looks as if we have a beef with Islamic mineral-rich lands, and act like 'our' oil is under their sand?

Our leaders have said that the rules have changed. Yes, they have, but they are blind to just how much they have changed. There is only one thing stronger than fear, only one thing stronger than hate...

In the meantime, here is the Observer trying to do a 'definitive' account of 7/7 that seems to pre-empt the ''narrative'' about what happened on July 7th, (which I can see is basically taken from news accounts and from survivor testimony at the GLA) and which irritatingly contains some inaccuracies. For example, Germaine Lindsay stood by the second set of doors in the middle of carriage one on the Piccadilly line train, not at the back. The bombers seem to have got the 7.24 train, not the 7.40, and it was train 331, not 311 that was bombed on the Piccadilly line. ( For the second and third inaccuracies you can thank the conspiracy theorists, so they do have their uses, despite their taking two molehill inaccuracies ( some inaccuracies in reporting, wrong train time, wrong train number...) and making it into a mountain (...so it never happened! Everything is a lie and the Government did it! ) Hmmm. BBC News Director Helen Boaden at the WeMedia conference did mention the other day that news reports will usually be 80% accurate, not 100%, and that there will always be inaccuracies. That's rolling news, that' s human error, especially in the early days of a moving, multiple-sourced story. So, we await the official, forensic version of what happened on that day. Ten months on, we still wait.

I can see that certain parts of what went on leading up to July 7th, and after cannot be released because they could compromise existing trials and ongoing investigations, and I can deal with that. But much of what went on leading up to the day and after, I think should be discussed and examined in public. The motivations of the bombers, and how many more angry young British men there are, who feel that the only way they can change the world is to kill themselves and others - and what can be done to stop such deadly, nihilistic rage. The response on the day, and after, the communication, the treatment of the physically and psychologically injured, the lessons learned. Which is why I want an independent inquiry, not a narrative.

Though I wait to see what the narrative will say, I do not have high hopes. It's not about blame, though, from my point of view. It's about saving lives and sparing suffering. It's about having hope for the future.

If we learn from this, we can do more than understand. We can change.

We stand looking at two futures: one, in which we blindly carry on as we have done before, fighting back those who fight back when we fight them, fighting, fighting, an eye for an eye until the whole world is blind. Or a different future, in which we look at what we are doing and question it, and do things differently.

After the bombs exploded, there was a sense of unity that I will never forget. We did not descend into vengeance and barbarism. Muslims and Christians and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and atheists; men and women from all over the U.K, all over the world, stood shoulder to shoulder, ordinary people grieved by an attack on many that was an attack on all. Every day, all over the world, bombs maim and bombs kill, and we meet them with more bombs, more force. Thousands of years of meeting hurt with hurt, and hate with hate. In this age where information and pictures travel at the speed of thought, around the world, is this the best we can do? Is this the future we condemn ourselves to?

People say, why do you ask for an independent public inquiry? I say, why do we not have a public enquiry? It was the public, after all, not the politicians, who were attacked. The politicians are only servants of the public. This narrative was complied from meetings held and questions asked behind closed doors. Let the public know what risks they run, why there are those who seek to kill for an idea living amongst them, let the people ask their questions and let those charged with protecting us answer us. What are they afraid of? What are we afraid of? Is facing and understanding our fears really going to finish us off?

I don't think so. I think we can cope with learning that mistakes have been made.
I'm not sure we can carry on coping if we don't learn from our mistakes.

Anyway, the petition for an enquiry is here, if you want to sign it. It says it is from the British public, but you don't have to be British to sign it. There were people from all over the world travelling on the trains and buses of London that day. It could have been anyone who was attacked indiscriminately on July 7th. It could have been you. It just happened to be me, and hundreds of other people.

Here are some of us, you can join us.

Thank you.

The Sharpener...

...is now up and running in a swishy new version. Hurray! ( click)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Happy birthday J

It's J's birthday today. The man I love, who has asked me to be his wife. We have been together for seven years, we met at a party, both of us had mutual friends but we had never met. I saw him, taller than everyone else in the room, and I danced, caught his eye, moved closer. We went up onto the roof of the building where the party was held to look at the stars. When it was time to leave I asked him if he was coming with me. He followed me down the stairs, we went to another party, we danced all night, and we have been together ever since.

We moved in together after six months, to a damp rented flat in Wood Green. It had an enormous, unmanageable garden, which we tried to make beautiful together. By July 2002 we had succeeded on a limited budget, and we had dug a bed and filled the garden with flowers including spectacular hanging baskets that required constant watering and protection from the marauding slugs. I watched with pride as he passed his solicitors' exams after long hours of studying at night school. We spent money we did not have on holidays. The brutal pace of his job was forgotten as we walked in hot far away countries, having surfed the net for cheap last minute deals. We qualified as scuba divers and swam with sea turtles and stingrays. We danced and threw parties, let off fireworks with ridiculously-terrifying consequences. We adopted goldfish, and disastrously, two house rabbits, who chewed through every wire and gnawed all the furniture in the flat, before being rehomed.

We survived my near-murder and savage rape at the hands of a sadistic stranger who broke into our home whilst J was kept late at work , and I will always remember how he arrived in hospital after that long bitter night, and took my hand, and said 'Oh Honey', looking at me as if I was beautiful, when my face was battered and swollen beyond recognition. We moved from Wood Green from the home we had loved that I could no longer bear to look at, because I had lain there covered in blood and tied up with wire, and we did not give up, though I was in a strange, terrifying hinterland of remembered horrors and frozen fears. We made a new start, renting a place with barred windows and a steel door within noisy earshot of Arsenal stadium. (J is a Leeds supporter and bore local success with Yorkshire stoicism.) We made it a peaceful refuge: then we moved to another flat: it seemed that as soon as we settled, the landlords wanted to sell.

Everywhere we lived, we planted gardens, though we were renting and knew that we would not see the full glory of the bulbs we buried. We bought our first flat in June 2004, and moved in with Miff the fat rescued tabby, whom J had suggested would be a companion in the bleak, numb days when I was off work recovering from the rape attack.

On 7 July last year I kissed him goodbye and hurried to the tube for an ordinary Thursday at the office. An hour later I was texting him from Russell Square, wondering if he was on the train behind me, wondering if he was still alive. He walked across London and found me black-faced and bloodied and shuddering, sky-high on adrenalin in a cafe in Euston, and we walked hand in hand to a pub, my heart soaring because it was all right, we were both still here.

When we are apart I miss him, physically. The bed is too big, the frying pan too wide, as Joni Mitchell sang. The chatter of sports commentators on TV from the sitting room, the pad of his feet in the hall, the reading out snippets from the Sunday papers and his shoulder that I doze on as we sit on the sofa make the weekend sweet. He works too hard, he is brave and loyal and clever and passionate and stubborn. He takes a craftsman's pride in a job well done, and animals will come to his hands, even the goldfish eat from his fingers. He loves music and dancing and flowers and sport and rare steak and fish pie and crunchy vegetables and cheese and red wine. His arms around my waist and the smell of his neck are home.

I want to have children with this man, my beloved. Ti amo sempre, J and many happy returns. I hope I celebrate birthdays with you for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We Media 2006

Very quickly, because I have to pack, eat and get up at 3.30am to go to Spain.
Updates from the citizen journalism conference session I attended here by experts who know more than me.

It was a thought-provoking afternoon, I can't believe I was asked to go. I rushed at 1.30pm, having booked a half day off work to attend, and caught Richard Dreyfuss, who was sobering. I was very grateful to be asked by the BBC to come, having blogged for them w/c 7/7, they occasionally invite me things. I was honoured to have the chance to meet such interesting people. I felt like a bit of a foolish fraud, though, having only come into blogging since last July. What do I know about anything? I'm still unable to manage HTML code with any degree of competence, for heaven's sake? How can one person offer anything more than a personal insight into the [crap word alert ] blogosphere, anyway?

I was struck by the sense of Them and Us, the 'old media' wary but seemingly wanting to engage with the new, and the new media frustrated, sometimes chippy, often passionately challenging. Why the tension, I wondered? It's all content, wherever you source it from, and you choose what you consume and how much faith you put in it. The blogs you choose to read, if you read any, the paper you buy, the channels you watch, say as much about you as your hobbies, friends and voting tendencies. In a wired world where technology means we are all gossips round the village well, the amount of trust you place in sources depends ultimately on your own prejudices. And I think most people pick the media that confirms their views, rather than challenges them. We're all more conservative than we think, I think. Old media has little to fear. It needn't feel twitchy.

Report on the panel I was on here.
You know, I am a real muppet, I didn't realise it was such a big conference when I said I'd go. I thought it was a BBC internal training conference. Dur. And '50,000' hits a day, I wish. Nope. I misheard the question as 'how many people have read your blog', not read. Indescribably embarrassing. Though the original BBC blog I did got well over a million hits, I was told, in the first two weeks. Hey ho, sorry for being a twat, sitemeter fans. At least I got to big up some top UK political bloggers, when we were asked what blogs we read. Sorry to those I didn't have a chance to mention, like Bloggerheads, Blairwatch, Curious Hamster and everyone else in my blogroll.

The people who care most about blogging and media and the Dead Tree/Pyjama Kid debate are, of course, bloggers and journalists themselves. And we're notorious for navel-gazing. So we can have this big old debate, but meanwhile, our readers skim us, whilst shovelling cereal into the toddler's mouth, hunting for a bus fare, nursing a hangover or talking on their mobile phones. We're not that important, any of us, however hard we work, however big we are. Media is a part of people's lives but it doesn't define them.

And we bloggers? Sometimes we are lucky enough to touch the lives of strangers. Mostly, I think we are lucky to be heard. Thought, type, post. It is instantaneous and it still staggers me, when I see that someone has read my blog in Ontario, or Brazil, or Israel. I look at their pages and I have a window into someone's soul. We write because we want to write, and if anyone listens or reads us, or cares, then that is personally very satisfying. And we are privileged to do so, not everyone has the tools to become a citizen journalist. Not everyone has access to the wired world, and many stories that deserve to be heard remain unhold.

But it is important that there are all of these passionate people; writers, journalists, bloggers, photographers rushing about, caring, arguing, shouting, researching, engaging, whether as an personal interest or a career. If we're all round the well talking to each other, caring enough to exchange opinions and take an interest in each other's affairs, sharing information, then we're doing all right, I think. We've got a future, together, because we have a stakehold in it. Bruce Chatwin called humans 'the story-telling mammal'; and what journalism and blogging show is that we will always tell each other our stories, swap opinions, fall out, mistrust, rant and laugh and generally take a great deal of interest in one another. Where truth is in all of this is subjective, and who the story belongs to, who has the wisdom or the right to tell it, is a matter for endless debate. Keep the stories coming though, it's what we are all here for. It keeps us human, in a world that moves at the speed of thought. It keeps us connected, together, alive. Wemedia? We People. As long as it's We, not Them, we'll be fine.

Back blogging next week. I'm off to Spain for our work conference. Taxi at 4a.m. Been a long, long day. Comment moderator is on, sorry, there's been a lot of hostility from a few posters, so I'm calling it. I'll publish comments and be back online over the weekend. Adios!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nice one Marina...and citizen journalism

...tee hee, cheers. Ace.

I've been asked to be on a panel tomorrow about 'citizen journalism' at the BBC training conference, at BBC Television Centre in West London.

Richard Dreyfuss! Will be there! Eeek!

Have taken a half day's holiday to do it and am madly, madly flattered. From urban 75 bulletin boards to the BBC to the Sunday Times to various other bits and bobs. And then this. All very overwhelming. Mum is thrilled and so am I. Cheers Beeb.

Actually, though, I am not sure about the difference between 'citizen journalist' and 'freelancer' and 'eye witness', these days. I have a pile of notes to read that I researched off the internet, where it is a hot topic du jour. I will have a think. What do you think? Citizen journalism? Voyeur? Paparazzi? Busy body? Blogger? Threat? Complement to hackery?

A 'citizens arrest' always sounded to me like an arrest with less protection. Is citizen journalism similar?

Your thoughts would be very interesting...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rachel's Political blog choice

It's a British Bank Holiday. It's chucking it down. There's the Sunday papers still to plough through, the D.I.Y to avoid, and as for the plans for a barbie, forget it. Come, make yourself a cup of coffee, hide away with your computer and let's swap interesting links.

May 1st, 9 years later. I remember how excited and happy I was when New Labour came in. I don't think there will be many cakes and balloons today. It's been quite a week in British politics, hasn't it? Bloggers have been running at the front of the New Labour perfect storm with pertinent questions, observations, rumours, passion and bile. Why not stroll round these links below? And please do pop your own recommendations in the comments...

1. Blairwatch has been right on top of everything all week, go bookmark.
2. Tim Worstall has the usual juicy Britblog round-up goodies and is required reading this week
3. Parlicoot on Tabloid Government and various unsavoury Contrasts
4. Coffee and PC on When [Safety] Elephants Forget
5. Curious Hamster on Bully Boys
6. Ex Parrot on Look Out! There's a Safety Elephant on the Rampage!
7. Bryan Gould on the state of the Labour party on Austin Mitchell's blog
8. Backing Blair on why you should not vote Labour in the locals whilst Blair is still in the hot seat. Is that, as Bob Piper thinks, a vote for facism? No. That's a Labour scare tactic, see comments thread for discussion... Personally though, I wouldn't vote for the BNP under any circumstances, ever.
9. Bloggerheads on Tits out for Tony
10. Strategic Voter is dead handy if you live in London
11. No2I.D and 12. Save Parliament for those who have not already popped in to register their support.
13. Davide on the circling vultures

Have a lovely do-nothing Monday. I'm off to buy fruit, criossants and the papers.
( By the way, if anyone can tell me how to make links work in comments that woudl be fab, because I have never got the hang of it.) x