Funny old day, Boxing Day. One of those age old traditions that is irrelevant in today’s times. We no longer need to give our servants the day off and a box of leftover food, so we instead spend the day rubbing our food babies, wondering what to do with 15kg of left over turkey or getting up at 4am to go to the sales.
For me it is a day to remember. Remember all the people who were killed in the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. There were just over 100 Britons killed that day and amongst them were two of our friends, Sam and Debbie.
On the last day of work Sam had been nervous of flying all that way but Debbie had longed to go away so they went to Thailand for what should have been the trip of a lifetime. Sam and I had had a row that week, well he was my boss, but he rang me from the airport to leave me a voicemail apologising.
But he was more than a boss. He was the life and soul of any party. He was quite mad. In fact he was nuts. He had a nonsense word for everybody and everything. You might be a Chesney one minute, or a Guppenhausen the next. One year he had mugs made for everybody in the office. Or rather he asked me to call Letterbox and order them. “Yes, that is S E P T I C S K I L L E T. In red please”.
No, I have non idea about that one either.
I heard the news of the Tsunami on the radio on the way up to my parents in London but sort of dismissed it. Yes, it was horrific and my heart went out to all those families affected but it was so far away, I couldn’t really make an emotional connection.
Not for one minute did it occur to me that Sam and Debbie would have been caught up in it.
Don’t be silly. World disasters didn’t affect people we knew.
But then a friend texted to say that Sam and Debbie’s hotel was right in the line of the Tsunami. So as soon as we got to my parents I asked to put Sky News on. Still in disbelief that this wasn’t really happening. I couldn’t move from the TV. Several days later Mr B made me turn it off. There was no news of them and that somehow made it worse. The not knowing. But I had to keep watching. Just in case there was news. Or I saw them in the background.
They were such characters that they would have been fine. Run up a mountain with a bottle of Jack Daniels and would turn up soon. It was just that phone lines were down.
Except it wasn’t alright. How their immediate family and better friends than us got through the next few months I will never know.
Various government agencies kicked in and flew relatives out to the area to help identify bodies. Except Sam and Debbie were not found. There was nobody to identify. But coming back from that trip Sam’s family knew they were not coming home. For Debbie’s family they were certain she would, waiting desperately for news.
We went to Penarth for Sam’s memorial service in January. His family needed as part of their grieving process, a funeral. But without Sam it was all so surreal. We expected him to walk in. That would have been him all over. Making an appearance at his own funeral.
For Debbie’s family it was very hard. Their beautiful only child was still missing and it was a while before they could bring themselves to have a similar service.
Sam and Debbie were eventually identified. By DNA and Debbie’s tattoo. Weeks later. After weeks of anguish. Weeks when Debbie’s family had been trying to sort out mortgage payments. You think Data Protection is a pain in the arse, you try talking to a company when your daughter is missing, presumed dead. “We can’t talk to you without a death certificate”. And how do you get that without a body? Can you begin to imagine?
For everybody involved it was horrific. As I say, how their families came to terms with their grief, I shall never know. It still upsets me when I think about it.
So how on earth they are dealing with trailers for Ewan Macgregor’s new film “The Impossible” I shall never know. And I am sorry, but what a horrific plot. Making a story out of those events? Just eight years later? No. That is so very very wrong.
Yes, I know there are many films about the war etc but not just eight years later there weren’t. It was 80 years before the Titanic was filmed.
The trailers were shown during various Christmas Day TV shows yesterday, including Downton Abbey. Those poor families. Trying to get through Christmas Day and then seeing that trailer. On their own TVs in their homes. Feeling there is no escape. That nowhere is safe for them and it is all being “dragged up” again. That they cannot be left in peace.
I can’t even understand why a film maker would make something like that. And then I cannot imagine people saying “ooh yes, let’s go to the cinema and see that”. How is that entertaining?
It is too soon.
And very wrong.
This is a terribly hard time of year for everybody touched by that disaster. But to have those events coming into their homes when they least expect it is far too painful.
RIP to those hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives and to the families left behind.
And particularly to Sam and Debbie