Small Tragedies

Extracts from Chris Mullin’s diaries, 2002-4

‘…The Savchenkos… were taken away on Sunday.  Although we were expecting five days notice, police and immigration officers turned up at 8 am and gave them an hour to pack.  They were put in a cold, windowless van.  …  The Savchenkos were/are (I keep thinking of them as though they are dead) such dignified, decent people.  They would have made model citizens and the little chap was doing so well at school ….  I can’t get them out of my mind.  If only I could have saved them’ (30 April 2002, p. 284)

‘Customers at the surgery this evening included … an asylum seeker from Goma in the eastern Congo.  He is half Tutsi, which, he reckons, puts his life at risk were he to be returned to Kinshasa.  … The man is terrified and absolutely desperate. … These cases haunt me.  We’ve grown used to watching horrors on television, and then, after a couple of minutes’ ritual sympathy, getting on with our own lives.   But now the victims are no longer thousands of miles away.  They do not go away when we push the ‘off’ button.  They are here, wandering our streets, popping up in our lives. They can talk to us in our own language.  They bleed, as we would, were we to change places.  One day, who knows, we might.’ (10 May 2002, p. 287-8)

Chris Mullin, A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin, ed. Ruth Winstone (London: Profile Books, 2010)

And meanwhile, in 2012:

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