Sunday, July 10, 2005

Getting on with life

Getting on with life would defy the terrorists in a way they hadn’t expected. Merely getting on the Tube, as we do every day, would be an act of defiance, one we would proudly undertake.

But is that enough?

Cut to the still and pitch-black scene under Russell Square, where scattered bodies lie unclaimed, out of reach in a temporary, fragile tomb while we go about our business above them, ignoring the now-dead just as we may have done the day before when they anonymously crossed our paths. I keep coming back to this scene. It haunts me, and I can't help seeing echoes of the helpless dead below in the do-nothing-differentness we’ve embraced above.

If you read all of Jonathan’s post, he goes on to say that perhaps London is still in shock because Thursday’s bombings didn’t have the visual, in-your-face oomph of 9/11. Certainly it’s true that the horrifying visual impact to the general public is far less.

However, that is not to say that it hasn’t happened, nor is it to say that Londoners are not aware of it. I think that many people have had exactly the same thoughts which have passed painfully through Jonathan’s — and my — mind. A couple of minutes’ silence seem too quick a memorial. Give them more.

When I thought of the possibility of an attack on London, something inside me said that it would definitely happen, and the only thing to wonder about was exactly what form it would take.

That it has taken the form of explosions which are invisible and silent from the street, resulting in bodies and twisted wreckage far underground in the dark, has an otherworldliness which is bizarre and unsettling.

But we all knew that an attack would come; we all knew that it would end with bodies and wreckage. The shock we feel is of knowing that it has come to pass. But it is not a shock from which we will awake, wailing in the middle of the night like frightened children. It is the quiet, accepted shock of known violence. And it is overlain, in the minds of some, by the knowledge that the UK really did have it coming for quite some time.

I don’t agree that what happened on Thursday was right. I don’t agree that it was a fitting answer to Blair’s hubris — although I’m sure he is one of the very few people in this country to have truly taken it personally. It was entirely logical and entirely horrible and, as Jonathan says, from it have flowed a million ripples of goodness which outweigh it. London will absorb it, and the world will continue to turn.

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