Tag Archives: London terrorism

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

I went out to a meeting this afternoon taking London buses in both directions. I won’t pretend I didn’t feel nervous; I did. There were a lot of buses with not many passengers and I sense my nervousness was quite general. Londoners are stoic – they are not without feeling.

Does this mean London has been cowed by the terrorists? No I don’t read it that way. I was thinking of Shakespeare: If you prick us do we not bleed? If you bomb our trains and buses, we will be hurt and we will feel fear. No need to pretend otherwise. Indeed, to the contrary, to feel fear under such viscious attack is the natural human response, it would be unnatural to pretend otherwise. We can leave the grandiose pretence of being above mere humanity to the deluded scum who perpetrated these acts.

On the bus home, at one point a disabled person in a wheelchair was helped aboard by the driver and a passenger. Later, after she alighted, a mother boarded with a three year old on one arm, and with a small baby in a pram. These are among the people who routinely use a London bus. They use it even in the wake of atrocities. We are a soft target, we don’t pretend to be anything else. Only the most devious and twisted of imaginations could possibly regard bombing such people as proof of any kind of virtue.

And if you attack such people, we will be hurt and we will be frightened. Because we are in touch with our frail humanity. Please don’t confuse the opposite of this, the denial of human vulnerability, with courage. That would be a big mistake.

And as well as fear, we will feel anger. This evening, no words can possibly convey the depth of my contempt for those who attacked London yesterday.

You bomb us, we’ll make tea

Is it being an Englishman abroad that makes Andrew Sullivan such a great observer on today’s attacks? He points to Tim Worstall‘s comment:

I have a prediction to make that tomorrow we’ll find out whether Britons are, still, in fact, Britons. Many years ago I was working in The City and there were two events that made travel into work almost impossible.

The first was a series of storms that brought down power lines, blocked train routes and so on. Not surprisingly, the place was empty the next day. Why bother to struggle through?

The other event was an IRA bomb which caused massive damage and loss of life. Trains were disrupted, travel to work the next day was horribly difficult and yet there were more people at work than on a normal day. There was no co-ordination to this, no instructions went out, but it appeared that people were crawling off their sick beds in order to be there at work the next day, thrusting their mewling and pewling infants into the arms of anyone at all so that they could be there.

Yes, we’ll take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us?

Fuck you, sunshine.

We’ll not be having that.

No grand demonstrations, few warlike chants, a desire for revenge, of course, but the reaction of the average man and woman in the street? Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off.

(Turns out that Worstall is abroad too.) Sullivan also spots this, from the London News Review:

What the fuck do you think you’re doing? This is London. We’ve dealt with your sort before. You don’t try and pull this on us.

Do you have any idea how many times our city has been attacked? Whatever you’re trying to do, it’s not going to work.

All you’ve done is end some of our lives, and ruin some more. How is that going to help you? You don’t get rewarded for this kind of crap.

And if, as your MO indicates, you’re an al-Qaeda group, then you’re out of your tiny minds.Because if this is a message to Tony Blair, we’ve got news for you. We don’t much like our government ourselves, or what they do in our name. But, listen very clearly. We’ll deal with that ourselves. We’re London, and we’ve got our own way of doing things, and it doesn’t involve tossing bombs around where innocent people are going about their lives.

And that’s because we’re better than you. Everyone is better than you. Our city works. We rather like it. And we’re going to go about our lives. We’re going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we’re going to work. And we’re going down the pub.

So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the fuck out of our city.

Here’s Sullivan himself, with his pithy endorsement of British stoicsim:

Brits regard the best response to outrage to carry on as if nothing has happened. Yes, they will fight back. But first, they will just carry on as normal. Right now, a million kettles are boiling.

I’m not drinking tea these days, but I think I’ll boil the kettle anyway.

Business as not quite usual

I’ve just been out shopping. The roads round here are fairly quiet but there are plenty of pedestrians presumably displaced from public transport. Most of the buses that normally stream through Islington are missing but I did see one loading up at Angel to head north. The shops were pretty quiet, with several closed, presumably because their staff could not get in. I’m still reflecting on the fact that bombs appear to have been placed at the two stations either side of the one I most often use, as well as, I believe, on a bus route I use from time to time. So quite close to home.

The Evening Standard on offer was obviously a preplanned Olympic celebration edition. An incongruity that Buddhists might see as representing the nature of existence.

I saw Red Ken (London’s Mayor) on the TV, from Singapore. I thought he struck about the right note if slightly blustering at the end. I really liked that he emphasised how multi-ethnic London is, and emphasised the cowardice of an indiscriminate attack on people who would be of any number of faiths, beliefs, ages etc; an attack not on the powerful but on the vulnerable. Spot on.

I am hoping for a defiant return to business as usual soon, without being in denial of the shock and horror of what has happened here.

UDPATE Rob Cottingham found Ken’s full statement. Here’s a snippet:

This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful; it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers; it was aimed at ordinary working class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christians, Hindu and Jew, young and old, indiscriminate attempt at slaughter irrespective of any considerations, of age, of class, of religion, whatever, that isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith, it’s just indiscriminate attempt at mass murder…

(Addresing the perpertators) In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They dont want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.

I’m here… angry and anxious

The terrorists have returned to London.

I’m working from home this morning so relatively secure. And news travels ultra-fast – but is also confused and rumour-laden.

Already I’ve had people contacting me to check I’m ok. Ton just rang from the Netherlands and Tony‘s on Skype at the moment from Melbourne. What a world we live in. Intimately connected and interdependent. Vulnerable to the behaviour of lunatics, yet also with the resilience of interconnection.

I’m sitting here trying NOT to follow every news bulletin. This is my current, possible futile, way of resisting being terrorised. And, of course, I am anxious, and concerned for all those who are suffering as a result of these bombers. It’s hard to fathom the thinking of those who perpertrate these attacks and right now I’m way too angry to try.

I’m reminding myself that I’ve experienced this before living in London, though that doesn’t right make me feel much better right now.

UPDATE: I’m now watching how this is being covered online and on TV. The TV is suffering already from rolling news syndrome: very high ratio of speculation to content. Jack Yan suggests New Zealand TV coverage is disproportionate. I think he’s right. Watched a bit of Fox News and it was pretty dismal – some really ill-informed explanations of the London underground by an American wanting to sound like an expert but not actually having the facts.

Technorati was very interesting – the London tag for instance – for a while but seems to be down. Tony gives kudos to fast work at wikipedia.

I’m caught between my horror at what I see and a dislike of the way 24hr mainstream media sensationalises. Is this a stiff upper lip I’m starting to feel?