Sandra Dick: Glasgow’s pain is our pain too

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Twinkling festive lights and children’s laughter, bulging shopping bags and thoughts of what was left to do and what fun was yet to come.

How pretty and how quite normal life must have been in Glasgow until around 2.30pm yesterday.

Of course it does not matter one bit that yesterday’s tragedy unfolded a few days before Christmas. Because for those affected, the injured and those who lost their lives, for the families at home who would later receive the worst news possible and those who witnessed it who might never be able to remove those images from their heads, there is no Christmas.

“Knocking everyone like pinballs,” said one shocked witness, who told how the bin lorry involved careered along the pavement for at least 200 yards, scattering people in its path who, regardless of where they turned, simply could not get out of its way.

No-one who heard the news unfold yesterday afternoon could fail to have felt their stomach churn and their hearts grow desperately heavy. This was the Glasgow that a few months ago we all felt a part of and united with, that made us proud to be Scottish as it welcomed the Commonwealth so brilliantly, with such joy, patter and humour that, for a couple of weeks, we all wanted to be Weegies.

And this was the Glasgow that a year ago our hearts went out to as it reeled from the tragedy of the Clutha Bar accident, when carnage fell from the sky and caused so much grief.

Surely that and the devastation of the Glasgow School of Art blaze was enough turmoil for one city. But yesterday, in an unbelievably tragic twist of events, came even more.

Like many I watched the news roll in on television and on Twitter, shocked by its scale, heart aching for the families whose lives changed in that split second when loved ones were in the wrong place at the wrong time, thoughts with relatives in Glasgow, hoping and praying they were all safe.

As always, the emergency services were remarkable, brilliant teams of dedicated and selfless people who throw themselves into awful situations the rest of us might run from.

And stories began to surface of ordinary people doing heroic deeds. Staff from a pizza restaurant rushing outside to help casualties, shoppers throwing arms around strangers and giving what first aid they could.

We are separated by just 50 miles, Edinburgh’s personality and character quite distinct from her west coast neighbour. But today – more than ever – we’re united. Glasgow’s pain is our pain too.