Mark Olden


29 June 2017

‘I can taste the smoke’

My five-year-old son goes to school near Grenfell Tower. Nadia Choucair, his teaching assistant, was last seen waving a makeshift flag from her window on the 22nd floor. ‘I’ll remember her even if I’m 100,’ my son said. Nadia’s mother, her husband and their three daughters, Fatima, Zeinab and Mierna, are also dead or missing. So is Yaqub Hashim, a friendly six-year-old, who a few weeks ago I watched running around Grenfell Tower’s playground, with its superhero murals. He lived with his parents, older brother and sister, Firdaws, who was deputy head girl at the school before she left last year. Other families with children at the school were hospitalised. Some escaped the fire; others evacuated their nearby homes; others heard the screams or watched as flames engulfed the tower.