So here I am, breaking the radio silence. It's been a while. Some of you have probably guessed that things haven't been good with me. The sciatica triggered a serious episode of anxiety and depression, which I am now trying to tackle, and while I am not out of the woods yet, I've been ordered by The Doctor to write a blog post before everyone thinks I've dropped off the face of the earth. (I don't want to go into all the details, so if you want to know how I am, you can email me separately).
I wanted to write about the appalling events in Connecticut, in a town that sounds similar to ours - affluent, picturesque, the kind of place where "those kind of things don't happen." I actually remember a local mother here talking about mass shootings once, and she even said she thought it would never happen in this town. "Why not?" I asked. "All you need is one weird loner with access to a gun, and it could happen anywhere."
What happened is just beyond belief, and while I don't want to dwell on the details, I want to record the effects on our own community. Everyone is shocked, scared and feeling just a little apprehensive as we send off our children to school in the morning. Emails are flying around - guidelines from the school district on how to talk to our children about this tragedy, questions from local mothers asking which schools have video surveillance, reassurances from the schools about security. When I picked up the boys from school on Friday, there was a police car in the car park. Everyone seems unsettled, and naturally, devastated for the community in Newtown, Connecticut.
But the reality is, nothing has changed. It is no more dangerous sending our children to school this week than last. Statistically speaking, our children are more likely to get run over by a car than attacked at school. While everyone is now calling for gun laws to be changed, what's the betting that in the end America does nothing about this? After all, it has happened so many times before, and in the end the gun lobby wins out. (Even now, we are hearing people calling for teachers to be armed. I mean, WTF?).
The fact remains that it is too easy to get hold of a gun in the US. I'd like to think that in other countries (including the UK), a young loner with serious mental health problems but no criminal connections would have found it much harder to get hold of a weapon. Yes, there will always be people who will find a way to commit these acts. But surely there are ways to stop it happening so frequently.
There are many things I love about America. I love our boys' school, and the fact that everyone in this town goes to the same high school, a good school, not private. But at this moment, I am relieved that they won't be continuing their education there. There is just no way of saying "it couldn't happen here".