Thursday, 7 July 2005

London Bombings - My Tuppence's Worth

I wasn't going to blog about this but on the bus, on the way home from work, looking outside the window, I slowly got thinking about the events of this extraordinary day.

I first heard that something unusual had happened through one of the BBC's news alert emails I receive from time to time. I did not pay much attention to it to be honest as it mention that the "bangs" in the Tube were due to a power surge. A bit later MFD emailed me saying that a bus had been "ripped appart"! Now, no power surge on the Tube can do that!

Very quickly the story started to enfold and I sent an email to all users at work telling them of what I knew before going to another office and discuss things. They already had a radio on when I got there and we quickly decided to go to the conference room to watch the news on TV. As can be expected so early after the event, they weren't saying much and were basically repeating the same thing over and over between interviews with people who had not got a clue and would have been better inspired to have refused the interview.

I decided to go back to my desk and, despite the recent interdiction in the office, switched my phone's radio on. All morning, events reached me through the airwaves, the internet and emails. Although I could recognise on the tv footages the street where the bus had been blown up (I use it at least ones a week), the "incident", as internal emails kept calling the blasts, could have been happening in a different dimension.

At lunch time, the weather tuned itself to the general mood and it is under a fine drizzle that I made my way to get some lunch. I took a bus as usual. Although my place of work is fairly far south of Central London and the locations of the attacks, the buses, which are usually packed, offered free seats. Even the supermarket was not as busy as usual with cashiers waiting for punters where one usually have to queue. There were also slightly more sirens rushing past than usual but on the whole nothing so dramatically different that someone ignorant of the situation would have noticed that something unusual had happened.

Finally it was time to go home. By then the buses which had been cancelled in Zone1 were working again and I had an uneventful journey. Squeaky clean mormon prozelites with their crisp white shirts were chatting to people as if nothing had happened. The smelly old black men and the young hoodies and teenage mothers were there too. Again, the only difference was slightly more space than usual.

Of course the Tubes are still not working and many people will have to take buses or even walk to get home tonight and those people who are usually underground at this point will be greeted on this day of destruction and death by possibly the nicest, most lively face London can offer.

This brought to my mind the thought that however despicable today's attack was, it was more significantly useless.

The whole business feels strangely disorganised and amateurish with a stricking lack of ambition in the result sought. Considering that the attacks took place in one of the biggest capital cities in Europe, at rush hour, the damages could have been much greater than one bus blown up, and three trains damaged. As I write, 37 people have been reported dead. There again, it could have been much worse!

As I was nearing home, I was thinking, probably in my usual callous misanthropist way, that had the terrorist gone for something symbolic, like a landmark building, the wound would probably have been deeper as londoners (I) would have resented the city being damaged more.

In the end, I don't think today's events are going to have much of a strong lasting impact. Certainly not the one the terrorists were hoping for.

As MFD writes, London has seen much worse than that over the years and if anything is going to result of all this, it is a rallying of the famous British spirit against adversity.

Already things are going back to normal. People at work were exchanging emails to give each other lifts home. Friendships might/will spring out of this. I am sure that similar situations are happening all over London.

Despite their bragging, the terrorists have not only missed their goal, their action has clearly been counter-productive from their point of view (it is incidentally interesting to note the language used in the first paragraph of the statement, which, ironically, speaks of peace and compassion... ).

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