Christmas as nightmare
We went for a walk today in the Royal park at Greenwich. It was our first attempt at getting a bit of exercise in after the obligatory few days eating and drinking.
We weren’t alone. The park was teeming with families who had clearly had the same brainwave as me. Truth was it was reassuring to see so many other people with their dogs trekking up and down the hill, donning their Christmas hats, scarves and gloves to take in the crisp air. It was a unifying experience. We all craved the same thing. We all wanted to walk, to take in the air.
Something taped to the fence overlooking the naval college at the bottom of the hill made me stop for a moment. It was an arresting sight. I went over for a closer look being careful to dodge the many families with their new digital SLRs desperate to get that brilliant group shot for next year’s Christmas card. When I got closer, what I saw brought a lump to my throat.
Fresh flowers tied to a fence with a piece of police tape. A personal act of remembrance. A signal to all who passed it that someone somewhere close to Greenwich Park wasn’t experiencing Christmas necessarily the same way all of us there were.
Further down the hill (the steps circling the Observatory are closed off to the public at the moment) a bunch of wilted flowers remained on one of the many park benches. A handwritten message was taped onto the bench. Someone else remembered. Someone else remembering.
It didn’t dent our afternoon walk. In fact, it reminded me that Christmas for some – and the relaxing days which follow – is something which has been irrevocably transformed into a nightmare in a matter of a split second. We owed them a moment of reflection. I can’t begin to imagine what such an experience is like.
Just like the parents of Joanna Yeates, who’s daughter has been taken from them and who will be reminded of it every single Christmas Day for the rest of their lives.