As I write, thirty two people are in emergency hospital beds across our city. We do not know how many people have died as sniffer dogs, fire and police service personnel carefully comb the rubble of the Clutha Vaults pub, searching for signs of life – or death. Shocked families wait to hear news of their loved ones.
This is a devastating incident which has touched many lives and will continue to do so as the days and weeks unfold. With profound irony, this is St Andrews Day: a day when we celebrate the richness of what it means to be Scottish.
We lay in bed this morning, shocked, having woken up on a lazy Saturday to awful news. And yet….through the jagged tempo of tragedy, we began to hear the strong heartbeat of Glasgow. A heartbeat we have heard before through other tragedies. The strong pulse of ordinary citizens caring for one another, some risking their lives to do so, not knowing whether the pub shattered by a helicopter’s plummet from the night sky was going to explode into fire and flames.
People called the emergency services immediately. Others formed a human chain to escort their fellows blinded by dust, blood and shock to safety. Passers by did not run away: they ran to see what could be done to help. Other folk sat on the street with the injured, tucked their emergency blankets round them, waited till the ambulances came. The rescue operation, well planned, swung fast into action. Gordon Matheson, the City Council leader, was eloquent in his praise of rescue services – and of ordinary citizens.
There is another Glasgow, a generous spirited Glasgow, the one that films sensationalising Glasgow’s at times violent history do not show. I am a Glaswegian by adoption, having lived here for over thirty years, my husband even longer. I too have been on the receiving end of the small and large kindnesses, laughs and warmth which are characteristic of living here. I hope I have returned these too.
Today, in the midst of disruption, pain and tragedy, I feel proud to call myself a citizen.
400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013