I'm feeling really sad at the moment as I see the news from the US that 40 year old Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot at a "Congress on your corner" event at a supermarket in her Tucson, Arizona, district. It had been reported that she'd been killed - and I waited until the BBC said it before I posted it, as they usually get facts like that right - but she's apparently in surgery and in a critical condition. Let's hope that she pulls through.
At the time I'm writing this, it's not known how many other people have been injured, but it's thought that possibly 3 or 4 members of her staff are among the casualties.
I spent 4 years working for an MP and the absolute best part of the job was when we went out and about talking to people. We all loved it and always relished our surgeries or events at the places where people were, supermarkets and shopping centres. We were aware, of course, of what could, rarely, go wrong. Everyone knew about the killing of caseworker Andrew Pennington at then Cheltenham Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones' surgery. I remember how shocked and upset I felt that Friday night in January 2000. Then there was the stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms at his surgery in May last year. Thankfully he made a full recovery.
Gabrielle Giffords' enthusiastic tweets about this event and her first week back are now very poignant. My thoughts are with her husband and family, and all of those close to the other people who were injured.