That was the advice tweeted by the metropolitan police as Saturday’s vile and cowardly attacks unfolded in London, along with images flashing across our TV screens and social media platforms around the world. I was over 100 miles away; safe from the atrocities in the capital, but not unaffected by them. As I watched the BBC news and the chilling warning tweeted by the police, I quietly crept downstairs and locked my porch.
“You locked your porch? How very British of you,” remarked a friend the next morning as texts and whatsapp messages darted back and forth amongst friends; checking-in on each other, trying to make sense of the senseless, seeking comfort and clarity from the previous night’s attack.
“Yes. I know it’s absurd. I knew that as I locked it…”
And I did. I knew that I was safe in my home in a quiet Dorset village. I had no reason to fear for my personal safety that night, and quite frankly, we all know a porch door isn’t going to stop anyone hurting you if that’s what they want to do. But, an Englishwoman’s home is her castle, and by locking my porch I guess I was pulling up my metaphorical drawbridge and pulling down my portcullis. Just as tea is the cure-all elixir for Brits in times of crisis, our homes are our strongholds; our place of safety, where we can retreat, regroup and heal when the outside world becomes too much.
And for those with children, whether they are still kids or adults, knowing your children are safe is all you want in the world. On Saturday night, I could lock my porch knowing that my children were sleeping soundly in the house, but it was also a stark reminder that as teenagers the time is coming when they will not always be nestled under my wing. The latest attack reinforced that all too soon they will leave the relatively safe haven of their home in order to start out on their own adventure of life, and it doesn’t matter how old they get, your children’s safety and happiness will always be at forefront of your mind.
As a mother, I want to encourage my children to seek out as many wonderful experiences in life as they can. I cannot and should not hold them back because of my own fears and anxieties, even when every natural instinct in my body is screaming at me to keep them close and safe. My job is to help open doors for them, to wipe windows clean of dirt and encourage them to look outside at the possibilities and opportunities the world has to for them. My role is to give them the tools and building blocks they need to go out and make the most of everything this world has to offer, so as they can go on their own journey, their own adventure, and yes, make their own mistakes which they will hopefully be given the chance to learn from.
I do not have the right to put restrictions on, or supress my children based on my own beliefs, opinions and fears. I may have created them in body, but my job is only as their guide, and that does not give me the right to try and shape them according to my own life manifesto. I should respect the opinions they form as they grow, no matter how different they may be to mine - just so long as those beliefs and opinions are formed with intelligence, based on fact, and founded on love and respect.
And we should adopt this philosophy when it comes to ourselves. Fear should not shape who we are or our lives. As another friend said, after the horrific Manchester concert attack, when I was concerned about a planned weekend away staying with her in London when the terrorist alert was at its highest;
"No, we’re not cancelling. We can’t let the c**** stop us living our lives.”
And she’s right, of course. We owe it to everyone who has lost their life to live ours to the max and not take it for granted.
I’m not particularly partial to tea, so I’ll stick with a mojito in times of crisis - and just like the bloke photographed holding onto his pint as everyone hurried to safety on Saturday night, I’ll do my best to carry on regardless.