I like many people in Liverpool at the moment can’t pick up a newspaper without ending up in floods of tears when I read about the current debate about Hillsborough and the quest to obtain justice and the truth for the 96 that died and their families.¬†It seems as though there is now at least a political will to release the information about what really happened and I think we should be very proud of all those people who have fought so long and hard to get to the truth.
I am sure most people in Liverpool can tell you their story of Hillsborough and how it impacted upon them. For me, it made me realise, (a bit like Dorothy) that there was no place like home!
At the time of the Hillsborough disaster I was¬†20 years of age and living in Walton¬†on Thames, ¬†Surrey. I had been working in the court service in Liverpool before this but took a promotion and moved to Surrey believing; somewhat naively that moving to London would be the making of me. Whilst Walton on Thames was a beautiful place I was working in a dingy tax office and was finding it difficult to adjust to being so far away from my family in Kirkby, but I was a determined young thing and I was not going to return to Kirkby until I had made my fortune! How I thought I was going to do that as a Civil Servant I am not sure, but that was my thinking.
Anyway the weekend of the Hillsborough disaster, I was back home in Liverpool and was helping my dad on his market stall in Kirkby and we were listening to the radio as my dad is an ardent Liverpool fan. We were stunned when we heard the reports of what was happening and how the fans were being crushed in the stadium and being brought on the pitch to be resuscitated. We kept thinking that there must be some mistake or that we were hearing things. As everyone now¬†knows as the day went on things got worse and we all packed up our market stalls and went home to see the scale of the tragedy unfold before our eyes.
As the weekend went on we heard of people we knew who had died and friends whose relatives had died. It felt as though some of our own family had died we just could not get our heads around what had happened. I have to be honest none of my family had ever read or bought the Sun newspaper but when we saw the vile headlines that were printed we could understand why people publicly burnt the papers in disgust.
I returned to Walton on Thames on the Sunday evening in an absolute daze, I wanted to stay at home with my family and support all of those devastated people in our community but I could not get¬†any time off work so had to go back. I can’t remember much of the train journey back and was still in a daze when I got up the following morning and walked into the dingy tax office.
As I was the only scouser in the office, people were obviously aware that I would have been affected by what had happened and a couple of people¬† came over and hugged me and made me tea, but as¬†I sat down at my desk to switch the computer on,the “lady” opposite me didn’t even look up to acknowledge me she just said ” I hope you are proud of what your ¬†fellow scousers have done! Killing 96 of their own through their hooliganism!”.¬† I was stunned, whilst I had heard what had been written in the ¬†Sun, I didn’t¬†consider for one minute, that anyone who had seen the pictures of what had happened and heard some of the survivors accounts would believe it.
I am not usually a person who is lost for words and I am often accused of being too quick with a sarcastic riposte, however on this occasion, I calmly picked up the phone and telephoned my mum to ask would it be ok for me to come home permanently, even though I would not have a job. She of course said yes. I walked into the Manager’s office and said that I was leaving with immediate effect and they could do whatever they liked because I was not working any notice. I then walked back out to the office, walked over to this “lady” and shook her hand and said “thank you for being an ignorant, insensitive bigot” as she had made me realise that the dream I was chasing in London did not exist and the place I really needed to be was back home with my family, friends and my community who all supported each other in times like this! She looked a little shocked and taken aback, and I walked out of that office with my head held up high and a number of the other staff applauding me.
I came home, and embarked upon my legal career, met my husband and have had two beautiful¬†daughters and I am forever grateful to that stupid woman for making me come to my senses.
I know that I am not the only person who re-evaluated their lives after Hillsborough and I know it had and continues to have a profound affect on most of the communities in Liverpool, but the way in which everyone pulled together and dealt with the aftermath of Hillsborough still makes me very proud to be a scouser!
I know that this is a very self indulgent blog, but I felt moved to write this because hopefully we are moving into a more positive era in the Hillsborough saga which will help all those families truly come to terms with what happened¬† on that dreadful day and give them the justice they truly deserve.