January 24, 2014
January 28, 2013
Old age doesn’t creep up. It rages over you like the flames which engulfed an old people’s home (Residence du Havre) in small town Canada (L’Isle-Verte, Quebec) on Wednesday night, leaving up to 31 dead.
Even Frankie Boyle couldn’t make it up: residents reliant on walking frames, washed-out shuffling things, overtaken by quickfire. See how they cannot run! Now they have run out of time.
Chief firefighter Yvon Charron described it as ‘a night from hell’. Away from the flames, the temperature dropped to 20 degrees below freezing. Pumped onto the fire to put it out, gallons of water turned to icy, witchy fingers.
Hell froze over. The world stood still. In our flaming youth we often saw it that way. We could afford to, with all that time hanging over us.
A mother rests her chin on the coffin, as close as she can get to the dead child inside. In Santa Maria to the south of Brazil, one of 231 coffins in a makeshift morgue (normally a sports hall); 231 casualties of the world’s worst nightclub fire in 20 years. From the tenderness in her bowed head, the mother might be saying a simple good night to the child inside; a plain and simple kiss for my child always inside me. Not the Rolling Stones-rubber-lips Kiss in the extravagant letter ‘k’ outside the mauve-coloured nightclub where she died. Aside from the melee of mourners, milling round coffins like shoppers in a January sale; beyond the muddle of survivors collapsed in the street in the early hours; cut off from the desperate, smoke-filled crush in which so many died inside, a mother’s placid face, resting on her child’s coffin. In her stillness, a state of grace; for now, at least. Could it be that Mary, Mother of God, patron saint of this small city, has been praying for its inhabitants in their hour of death?