Never Grow Up

Watching and reading the news yesterday about the suicide bomber who had killed 22 (mostly) young people in Manchester, I was struck by how incredibly sad it all was. The images of those who had been killed or were missing included so many who were children and teenagers. The youngest victim so far identified publicly was only 8 years old, and seeing pictures of her adorable face was heartbreaking.

It brought back for me the memories of the first pop concert my daughters went to. It was 29 March 1998, when Katy had just turned 12 and Ruth was 6. They went with their Mum to see the boyband 911 at Wembley Arena and, as in those days I worked near to the Wembley complex, I drove them up there and we had a pre-show picnic in my office. I have two abiding memories of the day: Ruth taking great delight from the open plan offices in a square building and running laps around the desks, and the way both girls were so vibrant, buzzing with delight when I picked them up after the show. The date is an easy one to check, as it was the day Chelsea played Middlesbrough in the League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, adjacent to the Arena. I hadn’t realised that on big match days the short road linking our office to the Stadium became one way only, away from the Stadium, to help clear 80,000 supporters as quickly as possible. So, what was meant to be a two minute journey became an absolute nightmare with three very impatient passengers getting ever more nervous as we inched forward in heavy traffic going the long way round and the concert start time approached. In the end they had to do the last two hundred yards on foot, as it was far quicker, but at least they didn’t miss anything. I took Katy to a couple of other concerts there, but we didn’t have anything like the drama of that first one. Given the ages of those we know about from Monday, I suspect that for some of them it would have been their first pop concert, and they will have been going through all the anticipation and excitement that our two enjoyed leading up to their first show. But their parents won’t have been able to share in the after-show excitement, like I did, even though I didn’t actually go to it myself. My memories of that are stored away in my treasure chest of happy moments, and the victims’ parents have been robbed of that.

Somehow, as the memories came back, this song came into my head, and I couldn’t shift it:

As you can see from the lyrics, the song is about how we have moments when we wish that youngsters could be preserved exactly as they are, in their innocence and beauty. Sadly, many went to a pop concert – a joyful event – and a cruel murderer decided that their lives would go no further. Taylor Swift may not be to everyone’s taste and she often gets a bad press, but the simple beauty of that song is, I think, a fitting tribute to those whose lives were torn away from them in such a horrible manner. They will never grow up, and all that their parents, families and friends will have are memories of moments like those in the song. That can never be enough to make up for the terrible hurt they must be feeling now, and which will stay with them forever, but I hope it will help them. Time passes, and memories fade, but I’m sure they can hold onto as many as possible and will treasure them. That is the least they deserve, to try to fill the huge void in their lives. None of us who has children can begin to understand how those poor families are feeling, and it would be wrong of me to guess – it’s not something any parent should ever have to deal with. I just hope they have happy memories of those ‘never grow up’ moments.

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31 thoughts on “Never Grow Up

  1. Pingback: More Than Photographs – On Manchester | joanneeddy's blog

  2. The temptation for many parents of vulnerable young teen, is to be over-protective, to not allow them to even leave the house. But we all know you can’t do that. To do so would be to raise a stunted adult. It’s tough being a parent today. Gone are the safer, less dangerous pursuits of the past, much to our regret!

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    • Sadly, we do seem to have lost a lot in the name of progress. But trying to prevent our kids from doing anything wouldn’t solve anything, would it? We just have to do our best and hope that we’re among the lucky ones.

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  3. So well said, Clive. So awful to attack young innocent children at one of those iconic memorable places in life as you noted. Ironic to me is that I spent the day with my daughter’s twins. We went to a museum we have gone to many times and suddenly they are less awed by it then before…so obviously growing up.

    The song really touched me because when our son’s girls were at that stage I used to tell them I was going to give them a brick to wear on their heads so they wouldn’t grow up any more. As you said more poignant and sadder would never if they didn’t…if death was the brick and they were lost to time. America is full of mothers and fathers grieving with you and all in England. Jo

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    • Thank you, Jo. It’s barbaric to steal young people’s lives from them like that, and achieves nothing. I just found myself thinking of the song and played it several times yesterday. It just seemed so appropriate. I can remember saying similar things to the girls when they were little, they are so precious and grow up all too quickly – if they’re allowed to.

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  4. To deliberately pick who you will be surrounded by when you detonate yourself and to pick children is the height of madness. When you lose someone you love, you lose a piece of yourself. When you lose a child, you lose half of your heart and part of your sanity. These mad men have caused irreparable damage to the hearts of many people and have added to the scale that measures good and evil. The scale is getting dangerously close to tilting on the side of evil. Now more than ever we personally need to do good to keep the scale tipped in favor of good.

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    • Well said, Bernadette. I think it an act of extreme cowardice, to kill and maim children and young people in that way. Deluded, easily-led people being driven by fanatics who delight in organising the killing people whose lifestyle isn’t to their liking, but getting others to do it for them. As always with such events, it is the many tales of the kindness of others helping the victims that we need to remember.

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  5. What a heartfelt piece of writing Clive expressing eloquently what so many of us are feeling but unable to put into words. It’s a sad and tragic time in our history yet again and I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and horror those families are enduring. No one should have to go through this. So much innocence cruelly snatched. My prayers are for all affected.

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  6. I remember my daughter’s first concert, Wet Wet Wet! I bought the tickets as a surprise birthday present and her older brother took her, prepared to be both embarrassed and bored in equal measure but happy to act as chaperone. He had as much fun as she did and I can still picture their faces lit up, laughing, very pink with the sheer joyful abandonment of it all, the singing along, the dancing, the temporary friendships made, enjoying being brother and sister without all the usual hassles and bickering…My heart is swollen with sadness for these parents.

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  7. I have nothing to add except that you have chosen the most appropriate of songs as your ‘memorial’ to these innocents lost in the most heinous way. My grandmother, who lost her eldest son in the second world war, said often that there is no greater pain than to outlive your young. When it is such a shocking, violent and un-necessary loss at the hands of a madman in an environment that should be filled with laughter and explosive excitement, not the pall of death from an explosive device it is somehow even sadder. Thank you for writing this. I haven’t the heart or the strength to put anything cohesive down. And treasure those memories even tighter today. I am mine. For am fortunate.

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    • It must be terrible to be left with just the memories of your child. I can’t begin to understand how it must feel. All so utterly senseless, murder by the deluded in thrall to the despicable. xx

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      • There is much I could write on the subject. I did lose a child, not my birth child. He was 16. He had lived with us for 3 years. He took his own life on a visit to his natural father’s house. It never leaves you. It becomes part of the fabric of who you are. But to lose your child, the child you nurtured from their longed-for entrance to the world, the child you had such hopes for, the child you would die for …. that is unimaginable. And for what? The twisted beliefs of a few manipulating the vulnerable to their will. Angry doesn’t cover it. Sad doesn’t cover it. Xx

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      • You’ve been through a terrible experience, and I can see why you don’t feel like writing about it just now. I hope you feel able to at some point, as I think it would help you to share it, and help others who have been in a similar situation. Any loss of a young life is tragic, even without the senselessness of the circumstances. xx

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      • I will. One day. Just not today. Not because I can’t but because I want to be so sure that the words work to the good of others. Really. And today that feels so acute. Stay safe, my friend. And keep doing what you do because I know your work helps a lot of people. Xx

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  8. I keep thinking of that poor mother on TV last night who had searched in vain for her daughter. This morning on the news she had given up and added her child to the list of victims, as her daughter’s injured friend had been quite near to where the bomb had gone off. It’s all so heart-breaking. You send your children off to their first pop concert thinking it is a safe environment, but these days it appears that nowhere is safe.

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      • That’s right. Don’t read it as something to be scared of. To be frank we should all be alert all the time but it is impossible … this is an unstable, unfeeling, unpredictable foe and being vigilant at all times is essential but sadly if you are in the wrong place you are in the wrong place. We just have to hope that sometime soon those silently, stealthily working away to rid the world of this scourge will succeed. In the meantime the only way to respect those whose lives have been robbed viciously is to get on with our lives and live those lives with kindness and decency. xx

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      • Well said. Carrying on our lives as normal is the best possible response to these murdering maniacs. We know that many such atrocities have been prevented in the past and have to put our trust in the security services that they continue, mostly, to keep doing this. Sadly, there will always be the occasion when someone slips through the net. We just have to hope these are few and far between.

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