Overnight the weather has changed. The calm, balmy days of a perfect June have been replaced by strong winds and lowering skies; heavy rain has flattened plants and darkened the ground, while leaves and petals billow through the air like hailstones in winter. Despite the sighs and sounds of a summer storm, the air is quiet and the mood is somber.
If anything can be perfect on a day like today, the conditions are right to remember and grieve for all those affected by the Grenfell fire just one year ago. Overnight, then, an ordinary night in a rich city became one of horror and incredulity as people struggled to survive and help. Inadequacy and irresponsibility became tangled with heroism and fear: it was too soon for the blame that was to follow. However far away from the fire we were, all of us in these islands and around the world were affected as we saw the images, smelled the acridity, heard the tears and spoke our prayers. It was a vivid, sensory event as we witnessed and imagined what had happened, and how it must have been.
In the year that has passed since that night, attitudes to the poor and the often forgotten have changed. The Grenfell occupants have been proven to be or to have been people of talent and intelligence, people with humour and personality, hard-workers and good neighbours, individuals who did their best in a hard, judgmental world where colour, religion and residence could have an impact for some people even then, even now. The fire revealed much about attitudes and social responsibility, and now, at last, the voices of the forgotten or ignored are being heard, with respect. The Grenfell inhabitants pleaded and warned of the potential dangers, but they were disregarded by the arrogant and the complacent: it will not happen again.
Today, nature mourns too that our uncaring came to this. Behind the dark clouds, though, I see a shaft of sunlight, a reminder that the Grenfell residents, all of them, have given a great gift through their suffering, and that it will never be forgotten.