Why we can’t let the terrorists win in London, Brussels, and around Europe

I live in London and I’m going on a city break to Brussels this month.

I got thinking about this after two police officers outside Buckingham Palace in London were injured by a man with a large knife on the same night (August 25) that soldiers on patrol in Brussels were attacked, also by a knifeman.

Both incidents are being treated as suspected acts of terrorism.

These events follow horrific incidents in recent months and years throughout Europe, in places that feel very close to home. London, Brussels, Manchester, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Stockholm and Berlin have all been targeted.

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Tributes in Brussels after terrorist attacks in March 2016

But we can’t let the terrorists change our way of lives; that’s what they want. We must keep doing what we want to do in our home cities and go on holidays, supporting our fellow Europeans and their cultures and economies.

We didn’t stop going to concerts after the Bataclan or Manchester Arena attacks, although a lot of us certainly felt more afraid by the concept. It’s hard not to, when 90 people can be killed by gunmen at one concert venue, like in the Bataclan horror, or when other terrorists will deliberately target a concert largely attended by young girls, like the Ariana Grande gig. But we can’t give up on live music or the way it makes us feel united, as that’s exactly what we need right now.

When I first heard about a new terrorism incident in Brussels, I was worried and scared. There have been other attacks there too, most notably at the airport and Maelbeek metro station in March 2016, killing 32 people. It hits home when you know you’ll soon be deliberately travelling to that very area.

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Floral tributes at London Bridge by Matt Brown

London is scary too but we have to be brave and continue to put ourselves out there. If I couldn’t go to the O2 Arena or a West End show or walk over one of our beautiful bridges, what’s the point in living all squashed up in this amazing (but expensive and dirty) city?

And, not to put a downer on your day, but we’re all still more likely to die in a car crash anyway – your chances are 1 in 200 in the UK (source) compared to a 1 in 964,531 chance of dying in a UK terror attack (source).

So I’ll go on holiday to Brussels in a few weeks with loads of excitement, alongside a reasonable amount of caution, in my heart.

And I’ll remember the spirit of this fantastic piece by Manchester Evening News editor Rob Irvine after the awful terror attack. “We can show the terrorists who want to destroy our way of life that they can never win.”

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Yes, the new Taylor Swift song sounds bitter as hell – so what?

Anyone with internet access has probably noticed that Taylor Swift dropped the first single off her first album in three years this week – Look What You Made Me Do.

Response to it, from what I’ve seen on Twitter and various news sites, has been extremely mixed.

It’s thought to be an obvious revenge track aimed at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian after their much-documented feud (and possibly also at Katy Perry too, thanks to all their ‘Bad Blood’).

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Yes, journalists do still use shorthand – and here’s why

I’m a huge fan of McFly but Tom Fletcher, singer and guitarist, has annoyed me today.

It’s all because of this story about a disabled student who’s been told he would not be able to pass a Scottish journalism qualification as he is unable to do shorthand.

I get the uproar about this. I think that Kyle should be able to get a qualification – just perhaps with the caveat on it that it does not include shorthand, since employers will otherwise assume that his certificate will encompass that too.

He’s a teenager with cerebal palsy and journalism desperately needs more diversity, not less, so give him a chance to cut his reporting chops and get a slightly altered qualification. We don’t want to keep a good journalist out of the field just because of shorthand.

But that’s not what’s spurred me on to write this blog. Tom Fletcher chipped in with this:

“I can’t even remember the last time I saw a journalist use shorthand,” he said.

Well that’s probably because you haven’t been to a court hearing or a council meeting recently.

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Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks tour – 10 years on from teenage fandom

Kate Nash’s debut album, Made of Bricks, was definitely one of the big albums of my formative years, having been released when I was the tender yet crucial age of 15.

Almost three years later, her second album, My Best Friend is You, was released just a few months after I passed my driving test and I remember driving round listening to Paris and Do-Wah-Doo in the sun.

But of course it’s Foundations, and the more twee Mouthwash and Birds, that captivated me first. We Get On was great teenage crush fodder, and every single song on that album had something to connect to.

So when Kate announced a 10th anniversary tour for Made of Bricks this summer, playing the whole album, I just had to go – even though I’d seen her during a more shouty phase in York in 2013 and hadn’t been quite so enamoured. (I still thought she was awesome and girl power-y though).

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International Cat Day and why I love my job

Not every job would let you go and pet cats at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor on a Tuesday afternoon!

International Cat Day was the perfect opportunity to organise this – the day was trending on social media all day and we had incredible success earlier in the day asking people to send in photos of their cats on the Get Surrey Facebook page. I’m sure the fact I put a photo of my beautiful cat, Shanti, on the post made it all the more attractive to readers 😉

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Take That at the O2 Arena got me emotional – here’s why

Yes, it was about two weeks ago already, but I thought it would be nice to share this.

Take That always put on an incredible live show for a pop group and I saw that for myself during their recent run at the O2 Arena in London. So much thought had clearly gone into their Wonderland tour, way more than at most gigs I’ve ever been to.

And yet it was something really simple that meant the most to me.

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Sharing the love: Lessons in compliments from my cat

As anyone who’s met me in the past year-and-a-half is probably aware, I have a cat. She’s called Shanti and she’s very fluffy and cuddly.

On any given day, I’ll probably say most or all of these things to her:

“You’re lovely.” “You’re so pretty!” “You’re beeeautiful.” “You’re perfect.” “You’re my bestest friend!” and so on.

All normal things for a crazy cat lady to say to her feline friend.

But one day I got thinking – how come I, or indeed so many of us, don’t give these compliments to our real-life human friends with remotely the same regularity?

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