Twenty Years Ago Today
No, not Sgt Pepper - Hungerford. Twenty years ago something happened in this country which I don't think had ever happened before. Certainly not in my lifetime anyway. I was sixteen when I heard the news of the Hungerford Massacre. I've just watched the BBC report again, for the first time since it happened, and I've realised how different things were back then.
It was a Wednesday and I first heard of the events during the early evening news. I have a terrible memory, but I'm fairly sure Ryan had not yet killed himself. I remember the view from the helicopter of his mother's house ablaze. I remember the interviews with some of the villagers. More importantly I remember the news report ending and the return to normal programming. This clearly wouldn't happen today. I'd be switching to News 24 where I would watch newsreaders and reporters repeating the same tiny snippets of information over and over - invariably transitioning into pointless speculation and opinion giving. (Are there multiple gunmen? The death toll could be as high as fifty!)
When the news returned the facts were reported. One gunman. Sixteen murders. One suicide. There was speculation of course; even mention of Rambo being an influence, but nothing like the news of today.
This event was one of a handful from the eighties which I remember clearly. I have few memories of my late childhood, for some reason, so on days like these the internet is a wonderful resource and reminder. During the course of my morning browsing I've read TV listings from the eighties and watched clips from the period. I've seen pictures of Johnny Ball, rediscovered the Renault Fuego and yearned for a Texan bar. I've also been reminded that Ryan's first victim was murdered whilst picnicking with two young children. I found this detailed piece of writing on the massacre and noticed that the author had dedicated it to Hannah and James, both in their early twenties now. Whilst I sit here typing this, having actively sought to remember this day of twenty years ago, I'm sure they are doing the exact opposite.