Letter from the editor: Norway has handled itself with class


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The Independent Online

Is it really a week ago that we were sitting in i Towers watching, but not comprehending, the horror of Anders Behring Breivik’s double atrocity unfurl - how could we understand the incomprehensible?

As the week went by, shock turned to disbelief, first at the sheer scale of the carnage Breivik wrought upon this peaceful nation, and then the chilling 1,500-page manifesto in which he outlined his warped view of the world. The images of Breivik - in fancy dress masquerading as uniform - only served to compound the impression of a delusional fantasist.

But as Norway begins its inevitable retreat from the front pages until Breivik’s trial, then it is important to pause for a moment to remember those for whom this story will never fade: the victims and their families. One doesn’t have to be the parent of two teenagers, as I am, to find the fact that most of the dead are teens even more poignant: so much potential unfulfilled, so many lives unlived.

If some readers were disturbed by the front-page image of a bomb survivor last Saturday, then surely the gallery of as many of the victims as we have images (p4) is even more poignant. A last thought: hasn’t Norway handled itself with class in the wake of the tragedy – from Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, downwards. How different this is from the near hysteria with which tragedy is now met in our own once phlegmatic nation. Sometimes clichés have real substance. The one about the UK's public display of grief having changed since the death of Diana appears true to me. I am really not sure how those fans ostensibly mourning Amy Winehouse getting so trashed in her street that neighbours were forced to call the police matches up to the dignity we are witnessing in Norway.

This week truly has given us much to chew over. Have a cheerier weekend.