Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saturday 9 July

Last Saturday, London was the place to be - Live 8, Gay Pride, cricket at Lords and tennis at Wimbledon. On Wednesday, we found out we'd won the bid to hold the Olympics in 2012. Reading the coverage in the newspapers Thursday morning on the tube into work, my indifference and slightly bah-humbug approach had started melting. (mostly on a personal level - increased council tax, no hopes of buying a house now, the gardener losing his allotments). I smiled knowing that by the time they come round I'll be joining in the excitement. Within a couple of hours everything had changed.

This morning we decided it was important to go to London. To be in the streets. Over the past two days I haven't felt shock or anger . Being subject to a terrorist attack was inevitable. There was a deep heart-felt despair, a realisation that something terrible had eventually happened, the recognition that people can commit such mind-numbingly awful atrocities. Pervading everthing is a strong sense that we as a city, a fantastic cosmopolitan city, have to carry on as normal. To take back our city from the terrorists.

I wasn't scared or nervous. I think I felt stragely defiant. Colin and I did, however, exchange slightly nervous smiles as the train suddenly lurched, popped and hissed.

Leaving Fenchurch Street station we crossed Tower Bridge. We wanted to be where there were people. We wanted to show our solidarity, our togetherness.

I was gladdened by the sight of toursits thronging the edges of the Tower; blocking the Bridge taking photos of loved ones from every angle.

In the summer sunshine, two violinists and a cellist were busking near the Egg. The cornetto tune.

The volume of the river traffic was high. Thames Clippers. Party boats. Lightermen. Boats on which you can dine in luxury. Private boats with onboard barbecues. Harbour Patrol.

The stretch of the river from the Hay's Galleria to the Millennium Bridge was teeming with life. Tourists. Families. Young couples making their weekly pilgrimage to Borough Market. All eyes were on the bride at Southwark Cathedral. She'd arrived in a red convertible. Smart car filled with mimosa. Curiously eccentric and British.

Before we could see the Golden Hind we could hear a children's party in full swing. Shouts and cries, a high-pitched "ahoy, me mates!".

The crowds milling around the Globe, the Tate, across the Bridge and circling St Paul's.

The pavements of Oxford Street were taking a pounding. Colin became impatient and scornful of the ditherers. Feelings reminiscent of Christmas shopping or January sales. With the exception of the hightened sense of camaraderie and the occasional comment, there was nothing to suggest that just two days before we'd been hit by a terrorist attack. Everything was calm. No panic, no hysteria, no outpourings of grief.

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