1974 The Birmingham Bombings


I was on the Mail boat from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead with my wife and my brother. We were leaving Dublin for London for employment and flat searching for my wife and I +  a locum for my brother at some hospital in Rugby but he was sojourning in London to see friends first.

A BBC camera crew was travelling with us to report on how we ‘immigrants’ were dealing with being in Britain just after this horrific, murderous bombing which killed many people in Brum . I was interviewed and then my articulate wife and then my brother but he demurred due to shyness about a speech defect.

Settled in our hotel on Penywern Road in Earl’s Court, I sat in the TV lounge for a while. The BBC News came on and there was the clip of we three sitting in the bar below decks with half-drunk Guinness pints before us. The reporter stuck the mic under my nose and the camera lit up: “What was I going to do in London?” Of course, I wanted to express my horror about the bombing and how I would depend on the kindness of Cockney strangers when I got to London but that plan died instantly…

Then I blurted like a twit with a grade three education- “I’ll probably get a job as a clerk.” As soon as this more-than-lackluster response was out of my mouth I pictured my friends in Dublin watching the broadcast – smirking and then laughing! I had meant to say that I was going to apply to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for an entry level position as a clerical officer and study to rise through the ranks. That is what I might have explained if I hadn’t had a rush of blood-embarrassment and had fallen to blurting anything so I could get out of the limelight.

There was another guest who smiled in the tv room and asked if that was me. I nodded and looked at my wife who had given an outstanding account of herself and her plans to fulfill her ambitions with study in London. She reached out, patted my arm and smiled conspiratorially – “Not so bad, was it?”

The shame.The red face. The self-sabotage … I withered and melted into the armchair. Have you ever stabbed yourself in the foot like that?


About stilesroad

Retired corporate monkey and speakeasy doorman. I done taught some and whittled some; I sought the divine with a divining rod and got my foot caught in a groundhog entrance - to prostrate self before the mammal gods and, finally, wept for my hawthorn tree and the escape lane opposite.
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