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Friday, July 08, 2005

"Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail." 

It's difficult to know how to start a post about yesterday. We had a meeting of our Trustee Board and the AGM at our offices yesterday, so the first we heard of the bombings was when we got phone calls from people saying that they might be late. At that stage, it looked liked problems with the Tube's power supply, and we were breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn't someone using the 2012 Olympic bid as an excuse for grabbing the worlds attention. No one was even giving a thought to a possible G8 connection. Over the next few hours, as the cause and the scale became increasingly clear, it felt distinctly odd being only about 20 miles from the explosions, and yet in the middle of quiet, leafy countryside where the only change was the large number of military helicopters flying past (there's a base not too far away).

News reports are painting a mixed picture - panic and quiet 'getting on with it', hotels being accused of profiteering and supermarkets donating food to Accident & Emergcy Departments and Ambulance Stations so that casualties and emergency workers could be fed easily. While the death total is still unclear, it loks like it's going to be under 100, which is mercifully less than it could have been. For those injured or bereaved, the scale is almost irrelevant, but I think everyone is aware of how much worse it could have been and thankful that, while it was the worst peace-time bombing in London, we weren't breaking international records.

Like Suzy, I know Bloomsbury well having been a student there. The bus that exploded can only have been metres from the statue of Gandhi in Tavistock Square, a place that has strong links with campaigns for non-violence. Fortunately, it was also close to the British Medical Association, which meant a ready supply of doctors. I may be a lapsed-adopted-Londoner these days, but I still have a huge affection for the city and pass through it regularly enough to share the 'there but for the grace of God' feeling with lots of other people.

A news reporter this morning was commenting on the eerie quiet of the now-running-again tube trains, and wondered whether it was a sign of people being scared. I beleive, and very much hope, that it isn't. Given the transport disruption yesterday ans uncertainty about when services would start running again, I think an awful lot of offices simply decided to close today. Come Monday I expect the rush hour will be as crowded as ever. When I hear Tony Blair yesterday talking about not being put off a mormal way of life, I thought it would be pretty fair to say that bombs and the threat of bombs are pretty much a normal way of life for London. Having lived there pre-IRA cease fire, I remember explosions, cordons and regular security alerts. While attacking transport at the hight of the rush hour and with no warning is a horific new tactic, London and the UK have know for a long time that we can't assume that we're safe, which means that such an attack doesn't have the same psychological impact as it might other cities. Certainly there's a definite sense that out of the shock and pain is coming a collective "fuck you!", to use a technical term, towards the bombers.

The statement from Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London, I think says very well what a lot of people are feeling. And check out qwghlm for the thoughts of an articulate and thoughtful blogger.

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