Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Thursday 14th July 2005

A week ago London was attacked with the same savage and indiscriminate cruelty that was the hallmark of the attacks on New York and Madrid, and is a feature of everyday life for citizens in areas of Iraq and other troubled parts of the world. The complete disregard that such attackers have for the sanctity of human life has always been unsettlingly alien to the way most people think in this country. To suddenly find that it has arrived here and crashed into daily life is terrifying.

Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone and various other figures in authority advocated "Business as Usual" and subsequently praised Londoners for their defiance in getting on with life. Perhaps the people of London are more stoic than those in, for example, Madrid - who quickly assembled a mass demonstration soon after their tragedy and appeared to be moved to remove their government because of it (I am making no judgement on which is the better reaction to have). And in certain other parts of the world I can imagine riots and further deaths as a result. But, I am afraid and ashamed to say, that the times I've been on a bus or a tube in the past week I haven't been consciously sending a message to the terrorists. I've had to do it. There was no choice.

Just before midday today around 300 people assembled in the large square in front of my building. There was an incessant babbling of voices. I wondered how we would know when midday arrived. Then, suddenly, with no obvious provocation, the talking stopped and the traffic stopped. As well as those in the square, people lined the pavements and stood at their office windows. Recently I had started to feel that these silences were becoming too common and too long. Every football match seemed to start with one for somebody or other. But today, despite myself, I felt very moved. Of course people are being killed daily in various trouble spots through the world. December's tsunami in South East Asia killed thousands more than died on their way to work last week. But I ran through the photos of those people in my head and thought about the pure stupidity that drives fanatics. I briefly thought about the wider mess this is part of. And I thought, selfishly but inevitably, about myself ("It could have been me") and a new awareness of how vulnerable we are.

75 - posted at 17:08:12

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