THE BLOG

In Paris, As In London, It Was a Friday Night After Work

14/11/2015 15:08 GMT | Updated 14/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Here in London, I went for a drink after work last night.

There was no occasion. It was just the end of the week, and Friday always has that sparkly feeling that your work for the week is done and this time belongs entirely to you.

I laughed, I was happy, I was with people that I love.

It was just the same in Paris. They were watching music, cheering on the French football team, eating dinner with their friends in restaurants. They did not know that night they were going to die.

It's impossible for me to comprehend how my evening, so joyful and unremarkable, could begin in just the same way as for those in Paris, and end so differently. Like them, I switched off my computer, wished my colleagues a good weekend and called my brother to see where he wanted to meet me. As I sat on the bus home, with drink and happiness inside me, those in Paris were looking down the barrel of a gun.

I'm not a war correspondent, or an academic. I don't know much about religion or terrorism. My understanding of tragedies like these is just as limited theoretically as it is - thank God - in practice.

I'm just a 24-year-old woman. But I am one who believes, hopes, wishes, that she has her whole life ahead of her.

I want to be able to fulfil all of my grand plans. I want to live a long life full of brilliance and possibility. I want to watch my friends do the same and be beside them with a beaming smile for all of it. I want to have hundreds more dinners with my family where I tell my mum as many things that make her proud of me as make her a little bit embarrassed.

That this is no longer possible for those who lost their lives in Paris last night breaks my heart and makes me feel sick. That this threat makes a question mark of all of our bright lives makes me scared.

I don't yet know the names of any of those who died. I don't know their stories or what they did. But I know their dinner reservations, their ticket confirmations for the band they liked, the ache in their bones after a long week at work. They were friends I hadn't met yet.

In the shadow of the attacks, all feels irrelevant. Talking of anything but Paris feels like a foreign language. In our digital age we worry that our hashtags are crass and our tweets don't mean anything. But they were us, and we are them. The noise we make together - horror, heartbreak, helplessness - does something urgent on a day like today: it fills the void left by at least 127 people, who all had a world inside their heads and were part of an intricate web of love and life that interlinked them with all of us.