Resilience, rallying round, the heroism of Glasgow people (note: nobody said ‘Glaswegians’) as they ran to help others.
These soothing words came too soon; only hours after a driverless (‘driver’ seemingly slumped at the wheel) dustbin lorry – baby blue, built like a tank – skittled into Christmas shoppers, killing six of them as it careered alongside Glasgow’s George Square towards Queen Street station.
Of course such words were said, as of course they are largely true; but saying them too early, too often, too readily, only reduces their restorative power.
Better to be dumbfounded at first. Shocked into silence by arbitrary, unnecessary death, since it contains the possibility that our whole lives were always that way.
Then the first acknowledgement: still barely articulate; halting, half-formed, until finally finding the right words immediately finds us the road back to who we are.
Out of the bleak midwinter, the bare naked bulb, the room still dark even though thelights are on, at that moment we can seek to show that death has no dominion.
But even resurrection – especially resurrection – requires a prior period of utter desolation.
It so happens that both aspects are already written into the dual character ofGlasgow’s civic architecture:
Enlightened orderliness in George Square itself, planned by Georgians and completed by Victorians, in which it is declared that out of power and substance will come sweetness and light.
Matched by the menace of the Gothic (the University, the Stock Exchange, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral), which threatens to embalm the city while it is still alive.
Yes, in the wake of disaster would-be words of comfort will come trippingly off thetongue. What else can be said?
But there is a choice: we can either keep saying them until the right moment comes along, eventually; or perhaps say nothing for the now, so that in good time they will be better said.