If you have asked me about Orlando twenty years ago – or even two years, or maybe four days – I would have said ‘Yeah, film with Tilda Swinton, directed by Sally Potter, based on a book by Virginia Woolf.’ Orlando was a young nobleman who becomes a woman and lives for centuries, engaged in an epic quest for love.
But now, following the events of two days ago, the name Orlando will always be associated with a vicious assault when Omar Mateen killed and injured dozens of people at a gay nightclub called Pulse, one of the most popular venues in Florida. Armed with two lawfully-purchased weapons, Meteen opened fire and killed fifty clubbers after having called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIL. (Correction: actually 49 victims. Mateen was shot dead by police during the siege)
And about seventeen years ago, we had a similar outrage in the UK, when a gay pub in London’s Soho was targeted by a right-wing fanatic.
Looking back through my journal, I find only a couple of brief entries concerning the Admiral Duncan pub bombing in April 1999. Perhaps I felt that this event would be covered in detail by the press, and there was no need for it to be carefully recorded in my diaries. Or did I feel uncomfortable and superstitious, unwilling to recognise the extreme impact of this dreadful attack?
Note: the Admiral Duncan pub bombing was carried out by an engineer called David Copeland, who wanted to stir up race hate by planting nail bombs in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho, all within a period of two weeks.
The Soho nail bomb injured thirty, and killed three people – Andrea Dykes (who was four months pregnant), Nik Moore and John Light.
Journal Entry, 27 Apr ’99: Today’s paper full of obits for Jill Dando – awesomely pretty, wholesome and popular TV presenter – who was murdered by a contract killer outside her home yesterday.
Possible connection with the ‘Crimewatch’ programme.
At work, heard that Jayne B (one of our dim sales reps) has phoned the office saying that the paint is crap. It turned out that she has been telling customers that C12 is water-thinnable – which it’s not.
Recent racist attacks in London – nail bombs in Brixton and Brick Lane.
29 Apr ’99: Last night went to Fred’s, saw the lovely Kev going off with bald beardy guy. Got chatting to Mick – Levellers t-shirt, into rock and folk and Chumbawumba. Then got chatting to Ian who goes to Peasmouldia.
Will told me that he had witnessed a high-speed crash on the A38, roadworks filtered. Some woman ploughed into the back of a lorry.
Chris (MAG) had a letter published in BSH.
30 Apr ’99: All this week, rumours have been flying round that something was due to happen at work today. Today speculation reached fever pitch; Sheila was called into the office with Mike and emerged later saying that it was bad news.
Anyway, at 3.00 Andy F was called into the office and 30 mins later appeared, telling us that he had been made redundant. Other casualties this afternoon: Ron Tooth, Phil Gratton, Geoff turner, Carol Lindley, John Mellors and Mike Shaw.
Mr Hannah pointed out that he had originally been ordered to dismiss two members of staff but I had pre-empted him by leaving. We were given a letter explaining about the effect of UK recession, industry consolidation and environmental concerns.
Tonight on the news: a bomb has gone off in a gay pub in Soho (Compton St). Thirty-odd injured.
01 May ’99: Last night tightened up the chain on my 125 death-trap, today rode it down to Hinckley – very pleasant journey, no rain, not cold, not hot, not sunny. Sold bike for 400 – dead rip-off, but at least I’m rid of it.
News coverage of last night’s bomb (Admiral Duncan in Compton St): the radio four presenter said “…a pub frequented by homosexuals.” So much for brisk reportage.
02 May ’99: Tamworth by train – lots of delays, hours late, found biker pub Jailhouse, bars, Sky TV, topless barmaids. Bought Herald.
03 May ’99: Sorted out tapes and threw a load out – Boulez, Schumann, Beethoven, JMJ etc. Police have arrested a bloke in connection with Friday night bomb attack in Soho. Three people dead, six critically ill, thirty injured. One of the dead was a young newlywed girl.
04 May ’99: Last night went to Flowerpot for a drink, got chatting to four youngsters (students?) who were saying that “Derby was full of pissheads, poofs, and Pakis.” ‘Oh’, said I, ‘and which are you?’
Today at work (everyone thought I had left on Friday) Mike had a meeting with everyone to discuss yet another lab restructuring. People changing teams, QC being devolved between departments, Tech Service and R&D being merged. And in reference to last Friday’s dismissals he said ‘Last Friday several members of staff were invited to meetings alerted to the possibility that their positions may be threatened with redundancy.’
Wow…talk about milk of human kindness!