I’ve thought long and hard about writing this. Emotions are still high, it’s still raw 23 years later. This has not been easy to write so be prepared.*
*please dont read on if your are still affected by it. I’ve not named any names and I hope I’ve not offended anyone.
The tragedy affected us all, in different ways. For me, it literally brought me back to Dunblane. Brought me home. Hard to explain but after the tragedy, I wanted to come home, be near my folks. We got a house in Dunblane in the following year, 1997. I think the family had lost their wee one (their surname was on the dreaded list) and understandably, left Dunblane. I’ve never told my family this until now, when they read this. We dont talk about it. Nobody talks about it (maybe you disagree?). That’s why this blog is so difficult. So, for many people, my family members too, it had the opposite effect. Far flung across Scotland, maybe further.
The day of the tragedy, I heard the news from a workmate: “theres been a shooting at Dunblane primary school”. It didn’t register and I headed out to visit a site. I stopped in a wee shop for a roll and it was on the radio. Children believed to be dead. I froze. I need to get home (to mum and dads)! They live opposite the school, across the playing field where I spent my youth.They were at home. Is it true? What happened? Dad had heard it all, thought they were shooting pheasants at first. Mum did what mum did, made us all cups of tea. I looked down, my cup was rattling in the saucer. What’s happening? I was in shock. Couldn’t comprehend it.
Memories are vague sorry. I was now in a huge queue outside the school, its freezing. Whispers. Is it true? It was the P1s. No no no, it cant be please no.My nephew is P4 I think, immediately feel guilty. Newsmen, camera crews arrive. Its surreal. Theres vans with big satellite dishes parked on the grass verge outside our house. Mum hands out cups of tea to the poor policewomen guarding the field. “Poor souls, they’ll be freezing” she says.
I try not to think about the scene inside the school. I still don’t.
My wife phoned the house on the landline. “Are you ok?”. Her concern is the final straw. “Oh Jesus…” I break down completely.
That night, on tv in our flat in Cowane Street, it’s all over tv. And there it is…a figure running into the big house beside the school (where the parents were informed the news of their loss)…oh no its …its an old teammate of mine..which means..oh no wee… surely not. I choke back a sob. I’ve never told him about this. We dont talk about it.
There was a disaster on the islands a hundred years ago, The Iolaire sank yards from Stornoway harbour. 200 men lost. They never spoke of it. Too painful. And families emigrated after. History repeats itself.
In memory of the sixteen wee angels and their brave teacher.❤