I’ve been resisting writing a blog about April Jones. Her family kind of have enough to deal with without my opinion adding to the already formidable media attention. But I like to think that, if I can’t help, I can at least let them know in this tiny way that I’m thinking of them.
When I first heard a girl had gone missing, I was surprised at myself for wondering, ‘Don’t kids go missing every day?’ A horrible thought, I’m ashamed to admit to. While it’s fantastic that searches for missing children get so much media attention, it’s horrible to think that this has led us to have become desensitised, nearly blasé about it.
And I naively assumed she’d be found really soon.
Then I heard she’d gotten into a car.
As the week went on, every day I was surprised that they hadn’t found her yet. I don’t know if I’m naïve but I just honestly assumed that they would. I was pleased at the extensive, and consistent media coverage the story got, and is still getting. Even if I did find it sad that it takes something as tragic as this to put a tiny little place like Machynlleth on the map. This probably isn’t what the town thought it would become known for.
Then they charged someone with her murder.
This was only a week ago.
Sunday night I was sat on my sofa and thought, this time last week, this time last week… her parents were enjoying their Sunday evening with their little girl. Having some tea, watching a show, putting her to bed. They didn’t know it would be for the last time.
It was a week ago.
What amazes me is, despite having arrested and charged someone with her murder, she hasn’t been found. She still hasn’t been brought home.
But what also amazes me is the reaction of the people of Machynlleth. The genuine outpouring of support, of hope, and lately, of grief. And not just once the journalists started arriving – but from that very first night. That leisure centre was packed out with volunteer searchers from the first word that a girl was missing, searchers who had to be told, very kindly, to go home.
Even after that, they made tea, they brought clothes, they tied pink ribbons. Last night, they released lanterns. It’s not that this horrible, horrible story has brought the community together – it has shown them, and us, what a community they already were.
This is Wales. This is how Wales should be seen, this is what people should know about the warm, welcoming, wonderful Welsh people. I’ve long felt that this strength of community is a Welsh thing – I wrote about it when Gary Speed died. The Valley’s isn’t reality TV – every news bulletin from Machynlleth is.
In a way, I still don’t fully believe she is dead. It’s hard for me to write, because I don’t 100% believe it. I like to think I’m a realist, but being realistic doesn’t necessarily extinguish sheer human hope.
And I hope, I really really hope, that the next bulletin says she has been found, and she’s coming home.