Being evacuated did not involve helicopter drops and lifts or rushing out of the house leaving a half eaten piece of toast and being held low by some rescuer with a walky-talky behind the boot of a car until the bullets needed changing. Being evacuated involved a full day’s notice to pack, drinks to say goodbye to friends, a quiet walk with my noisy wheelie suitcase at 6am past the park and down sunlit, shuttered streets to be met by a bus and a goodbye party from employers, a nostalgic drive through the city to the airport and a somewhat jovial flight. We were in high spirits generally and some of our party higher by drinking them. Mostly there was laughing and joking and taking about what we were all planning to do while we are waiting to hear what will happen.
Of course, we talked again of some of the awful things that have been happening; one girl’s friend was travelling on a bus which was stopped where he was beaten and called an animal for allegedly no reason. When he protested that he was not an animal, the broke his teeth and shaved his head, thus ‘marking’ him. He is now afraid to go out in public for fear of what authorities could do. A Syrian friend who had drinks with us the night before was up late on facebook asking about the gunfire she could hear. She only lives a few streets away from us. Someone else had a theory that the reason we have been evacuated now is because of the ‘sanctions’ Britain and the USA want to impose. Such things make me fearful for my friends.
At Heathrow we were met by London colleagues who gave us information sheets and paid for onward tickets. They told us they had been almost entirely preoccupied with evacuations since January: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Japan, Bahrain. We are lucky. We weren’t traumatised like some of them.
We are staying in Cornwall for the time being, the time being spent waiting and wondering what will happen. Our employers hope we will be back very soon.