Not My Problem?

Good morning!

So what was for breakfast? Skipped it? You’ll be starving by 10, the chocolate machine won’t give you any change you know it.

How’s that coffee queue? There’s nothing worse than standing in line for 15 minutes while some numpty at the front can’t decide what size of gingerbread latte they need is there?

Of course the traffic’s nose to tail and the bus is standing room only. Only because of that one idiot that needs two seats for the shopping. Seriously, some people have no thought for others. Facebook’s full of its usual drama, too – Sara’s not coming in to work today. One too many drinky-poos  last night judging by the post-midnight updates…

What – it’s a day off? Duvet day, you say? No need to be stuck behind a desk by 8.30? Aren’t you lucky. Just think of everyone else waiting in line for their coffee, breathing last nights garlic bread fumes.

Or not.

Someone clearly having a bad day across the road, everyone starts pushing and shoving for a good look. Hashtags and updates alert other nations, the few awake to care. It’s ok, someone always loses it on the morning commute- but then it gets personal….

The world stopped for a heartbeat. No coffee queues, or tediously repetitive discussions about the weather, complaining about queues for Christmas presents and other inconsiderate road users. And another beat. Normal fades from existence as life is inexorably dragged to an on going nightmare.

Welcome to Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough. People died, not queuing for coffee but delivering post. Not sharing their annoyance on Twitter about a train being late, but running for errands, or soothing a frightened child.

Scarborough Bomb Damage.
Scarborough Bomb Damage.

At first the town residents of Scarborough thought the loud explosions were nothing more than a naval battle and gathered to watch. But Scarborough was not the first in line. Hartlepool had already suffered, and German ships had turned south.

No one had attacked land from the sea until now. Two German Cruisers had opened fire on the popular seaside resort in Britain. The coastguard saw Scarborough Castle walls fall. Children hid in school cellars. In the time we allocate to a commute to work, over one hundred people died in Hartlepool, the shells on Whitby claimed three lives and in Scarborough eighteen lost their lives. Six hundred people injured from around 1500 shells sent in land to the coastal towns. Scarborough, Britain’s first seaside resort became a poster ‘girl’. Real people doing real things died. These were people others could relate to, a resort many had visited. A nanny and the baby disturbed by the loud noises. A fiancé returned from the front, only to find his betrothed killed by shrapnel.

Relationships were torn apart, family members lost. As the reality took hold people soon left the streets and headed inland for safety. Roads were filled with people on foot seeking shelter.

William Churchill (not yet Prime Minister at the time) declared the Germans “Baby-killers.” The Germans might not have been attacking people, they may have targeted the military outposts in the area. But, with the help of a press campaign it galvanised the populace of a nation. It helped change everything. Reflections can be seen in how we react today.

Remember Scarborough
Britannia urges people to enlist – while Scarborough burns.

In 1914 each country had its own agenda, and not all of them were focused on war. Each race its own hope. Nations across oceans were unreachable but not untouched.

‘Not our problem. It will not affect us.”

Now, we are more aware of how something the other side of the world can impact us directly. We can help one another without expecting payback. Can – not always do.

Enjoy your coffee, safe on your over crowded train, look forward to returning home to a warm house and your favourite book, game or show.

It doesn’t take weeks or days for news to travel any longer. When you turn a blind eye to fighting, the protests and the reasons, the loss of life in a part of the world nowhere near you.

‘Doesn’t affect me.’

Today people gather in the towns hit, to remember and pay respect those who died in Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool.

This one day a hundred years ago the events changed so much for better and for worse. Not just Scarborough, Hartlepool took the brunt of the attack, another “Northern Town” so often set aside for the sake of country moral.

What is happening today, in your street, in your city – in our world? Does it affect you? Should it?


(more about Scarborough can be found here: and facts for Hartlepool here: