For a few days last week here in the UK we had weather that reminded me of the heat in Abu Dhabi. It was lovely, and unlike Abu Dhabi, we also got to enjoy some absolutely spectacular thunderstorms with sheet lightening and torrential rain. I was also reminded of Abu Dhabi by the visit last week of His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. During his visit he expressed his sympathy to the families of those killed and injured in the terrorist attack on the beach in Sousse, Tunisia the previous Friday.
And many people across the UK also expressed their solidarity and respect when they observed a minutes silence as part of the official day of mourning for those killed. Flags flew at half-mast on official buildings and people stopped what they were doing at midday last Fridays to think about all those innocent people killed in the worst terrorist attack on Britons in a decade. 30 of the 38 people who were killed were British.
When I say many people, I exclude the so-called comedian Russell Brand, who in what I consider to be an obnoxious display of ignorance declared the one minute silent tribute as 'an empty, futile gesture'. His comments made in the year in which many marked the 70th anniversary of the Victory in Europe (VE) Day reveal more about his lack of respect for all those who sacrificed so much for his and our freedom. But then he has often been accused of being a hypocrite: living in a £5000 a month apartment while protesting about affordable rents; 2 days after hosting the 2015 Comic Relief telethon that raised nearly £1Bn condemning charities as being part of the problem; and just last month, the Daily Mail revealed that Brand was selling sweatshirts stated to be British made, while in reality they were being made in Bangladesh by workers earning under $1 per hour.
Death has featured a great deal this week. My Fathers sister Pauline died after what was a long battle with ill health. She was the only Auntie I had on my Father’s side. Her death was a peaceful one in her home with her husband and one of their daughters being there with her. The last occasion I got to spend time with her was at my Mothers 80th birthday in April 2014. And Mum, I know every birthday you tell your grand children you are 21 again, but most of them don’t read this blog so your secret is absolutely safe.
Last Friday I was an Internal Examiner for a PhD Viva. This was a study that looked at the withdrawal of treatment in an Intensive Care Unit, and so something else that also featured death. I have to say it was a beautifully constructed ethnography. The candidate defended her thesis really well and so it was with great pleasure that we were able to recommend the award of PhD be made. I learnt so much in the reading of her thesis. I was humbled by the descriptions of the care and dignity afforded to patients and their families at a time of great trauma and challenge. Once a year, those working in the unit held a memorial service. It was a simple but powerful way to remember all those people who didn't survive being in ICU. I felt proud to be a nurse.
Paying tribute to those who have died in the service of the rest of us or as in the case of the Tunisia massacre, to reflect on the death of innocent victims killed for some perverse cause, is a British attribute, and I am proud to be British too. As were others this week and this could be seen in many ways. For example, seeing the enthusiasm for that most traditional of British sporting events, Wimbledon. Andy Murray gets through – shoulder therapy mid match seemed to do the trick, and of course there was Heather Watson’s tremendous tussle with Serena Williams, a magnificent match. But for me, it was a German that captivated my attention – Dustin Brown, ranked 102 in the world, and someone who spent 3 years travelling around Europe in a VW camper van in order to play tennis. He convincingly beat Rafael Nadal (someone who has won 14 grand slams). I was so envious of his dreadlocks, but I so loved his unorthodox approach to life and playing his game. Unlike Brands jaundiced view of the world, Dustin was grabbing the opportunities with both hands – and I am sure, unlike Brand, Dustin will make a difference.