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I feel that it's time for a pointlessly jingoistic icon at this stage of the War on Terror. [/Beyond the Fringe ref]

God, I haven't had a mood swing that violent since I was a teenager and mainlining hormones, The Smiths and Merrydown cider in large quantities. From unexpected elation and hope following the Olympic decision to fear and anger.

Thanks for all the messages you left after the last post. It was nice to surreptitiously log on to LJ while at work and read them.

* * *

Are you really a terrorist if the people you're trying to cow aren't particularly terrorised?

Upset, shaky, furious, a bit prone to skittish panic -- and in about 700 cases, grief-stricken and hurt -- but not terrorised?

There's a dark glamour surrounding terrorism for the terrorists. They seem to claim for themselves, in incredibly extravagant language, the role of the pure outlaw, cleansing the city of its nastiness and punishing those to blame for whatever the hell these people are pissed off about. Iraq. Israel. The US. Bad lyrics on the new Coldplay album. Uppity women with opinions and too many pairs of trousers. Who the hell knows. They just seem to be for themselves and against people who are not exactly like them.

I don' t think they should be allowed to don that mantle.
(1) We're not terrorised.
(2) They're not pure outlaws. They're mass-murdering gobshites with a big chemistry set and all the moral acuity of a cowpat.

The Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaida of Jihad Organisation in Europe? What are you, *five*? Next time do you get to be the Super Sekrit Organisation of al-Qaida in Europe? Do you get a special spy pen and guidelines to being a murderous *twat* if you join? Pfeh. (At least the IRA kept it simple. Ish. Well, there was that whole Provisional IRA/ Continuity IRA/ Real IRA thing to confuse people...)

In the website claiming responsibility, the Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters

Well, no. The only time we burn with fear in our southern quarters is after too much Vindaloo and tiger beer at the local Indian restaurant.

And there are not 81 virgins waiting for you in paradise, sunshine, because you don't get to hang out at the Great Party In The Sky when you die. That's only for human beings. You don't qualify.

* * *

I don't want to suggest that there are not legitimate grievances and terrible problems with UK foreign policy that need to be addressed and addressed swiftly.

It's just that I think that even if we caved to every single incoherent demand of the jihadis, they would not think any better of us. This little gang are in love with death and draw power from their hate. We have to work out a way to marginalise them out of existence.

* * *



It only took about 12 hours for ITV to start playing footage of 1940s Londoners taking the Blitz in their stride and declaring that they wouldn't be letting Johnny Foreigner/the Hun/ Old Narsty stop them from going about their everyday business. I take this as a measure of the shock that people were in, because usually it only takes about 20 minutes to start talking about the Second World War.

But I think that it does apply in some ways. Once they were over the initial shock, those only on the periphery were pretty calm. Too soon to say whether this will last but the humour was thick and black yesterday.

When I set out this morning, my sang was not particularly froid. In fact, I am not ashamed to say that if I had been anywhere near those tube trains, I would have been cacking a brick.

I managed to catch a bus from the end of my road into the city. It was packed with people. The bus driver told us there had been several bomb blasts in the tube. Near me, a young chap said "Shit, I didn't know the French were that pissed off," and was pleased when people tittered a bit.

But you could tell that some of the phone calls people were getting from friends were giving bad news about the gravity of the situation. The mood changed. Darkened. The fellow sitting next to me said "I've got to get into Old Street, I've got an exam." I told him that they would probably let him off but he seemed bizarrely determined, as if this was all his mind could cope with at that time.

As we approached Mile End tube station, where the bus was terminating, the noise of sirens increased. Every minute or so there would be another police car or ambulance hurtling down Mile End road towards the city. I decided to walk the remaining distance, four miles (the whole journey took two and a half hours so it's a good job I set off an hour early)

I had to strike north first, so I could avoid Liverpool Street and Aldgate, which were cordoned off. It was a strange journey. Even that early the roads were quieter than usual and passersby were sombre. Cabs kept passing by but their lights were seldom on and it seemed as though the drivers were heading home.

I started texting friends to see how they were but once I passed Bethnal Green, my phone refused to work. I would call a number and the connection would drop immediately so I put it away and concentrated on working out my route. I had my antediluvian transistor hanging out of one pocket, listening to the marvellous Radio 5, which had superb and chilling coverage. I kept passing people who were walking home or gazing hopefully into the distance, wishing a bus would emerge and whisk them home. Most seemed to be trying to get service on their mobiles (good luck with that if you were on Orange or Vodaphone) and all the time there were more and more sirens around and the streets were becoming less and less crowded.

I felt my legs jellying and my heart thumped in my ears. I wasn't scared at all but only my brain appeared to be aware of this. For the first 15 minutes I was in work, my fingers wouldn't type properly. 'The' became 'teh' with absolutely no ironic intention. It was aggravating but it passed pretty quickly.

I think it was the pictures that did it. For the first four hours of the day, I had no visual input to match the descriptions on the radio. Then when I got into work, there it all was.

Most chilling of all was that double decker bus, its top ripped off like the lid from a sardine can, huge blood spatters high on the smooth stone walls of the BMA building. Then there were the people in their smart workday suits, looking like every other London worker until you saw that their faces were like charcoal drawings. They were covered in smuts as though some cruel Victorian gangmaster had suddenly shoved them up a chimney and ordered them to get sweeping.

Work was noxious. Upsetting subject matter and more people than was useful. I spent seven hours wishing devoutly to be in my bed with a large bag of Maltesers and some Terry Pratchett.

By the time we were done with 14 pages of death and destruction, the world outside was far more normal. The Turkish cafe over the road was closed, annoyingly, prompting joking about how if you couldn't get a kebab, the terrorists had won, but most of the rest of the cafes, bars and pubs were open. I think a fair few people had decided to stay in town to eat until the transport links reopened further.

I suspect many just wanted to talk and talk about it until it felt slightly better. I don't think that point will come for a while.

Me, I couldn't face bus-wrangling, so I sucked it up and drew 30 quid out of the bank and took a cab home. The transport links are going to be rubbish for me for a while. One bomb went off along my usual route to work and the secondary route, the central line, is knackered. (it shouldn't be, but the rumour mill says it's severe disruption tomorrow)

And that is all. Life goes on -- not in the trite greetings card way, but rather because it has to. There will be pro-am Whining and Moaning, inappropriate jokes and a twinge of fear every time someone leaves a bag around the underground again. We'd almost forgotten what that was like, now that the IRA have been quiet for a while.

But there will definitely be no terror. A tiny bunch of gobshites can't be allowed to stop us from enjoying life in one of the most wonderful and infuriating cities on Earth. No terror here, ladies and gentlemen, please move right down inside the cars.

Comments

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vivwiley
Jul. 8th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
Hear! Hear! I'm just home again, after a miraculously uneventful flight (other than some severe chop over Halifax). It was a strange, sober and sobering day. I was really struck by the calm, grim, determined coping that I saw throughout the day among the folks on the streets. I first heard about the news around 10:30 or so at Marks and Spencers, of all places. Walking back from there to my hotel, I was struck by the quiet on the streets, the worry on people's faces, but the lack of panic.

I was in Paddington when it was evacuated for what I presume was a bomb scare. Although we were asked to move smartly along - again, no panicking, just people making orderly progress toward the exits and following police directions to move across the streets.

You and your country get very high marks from me on how everything was handled.

I didn't see any news footage until I got to Heathrow and the pictures of the double decker bus is definitely when my knees got a bit shaky. I'm still sorting out many of my other reactions, not helped at all by having a day that was 29 hours long....

I'm so glad you're okay and wish you and your city all the best over these next weeks.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:28 am (UTC)
Yes, the 29-hour days don't help anything. Glad you are home safely (which I may have said already, but I am glad all the same)
(Deleted comment)
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
Not exceedingly feisty in person (see above re: cacking a brick if I'd been even peripherally involved) but things are a little more normal today for most of us
ruric
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:08 am (UTC)
I think I have just fallen in love based on your what are you *five* comment and this:

Well, no. The only time we burn with fear in our southern quarters is after too much Vindaloo and tiger beer at the local Indian restaurant.

*reads post again*

Yes. Definitely in love.

And thank you for the giggles which turned into snorts and then to belly laughs. Much appreciated!
leiliaxf
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:27 am (UTC)
what she said?

yeah. In spades.

You roxors! (waves two-fingered salute in the general direction of terrorists.....)
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Jul. 9th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Jul. 9th, 2005 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
se_parsons
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
My mother called today and said, "You absolutely CAN'T go over there to visit this year!"

And I said, "But if I DON'T, it means the terrorists have won!"

And the fact is you folks handled it exactly right, just like the New Yorkers did when it happened to them. I know less about Spain. And when it happens next, to whoever it happens next to (I have a secret theory that they'll try to hit every major member of the coaltion that still has troops in Iraq at least once), they should handle it the same way.

I hope all your surveillance cameras allow them to be identified and found. THAT would be a real blow. Because it has got to be quite galling for these great "martyrs" to rot in prison instead of dying gloriously for their fucked up version of religion. Better still if we could use them to clean up highly toxic dumpsites without hazmat suits until all their bits rotted off, but that would probably be too good for them. BUt I like the idea that they'd be made to pay by making things better for LIFE, which would be real negation of their nihilism.

It's so easy to destroy and so very much harder to build anything.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)
My mother called today and said, "You absolutely CAN'T go over there to visit this year!"

And I said, "But if I DON'T, it means the terrorists have won!"


This made me laugh. I remember being tremendously impressed by the dignity and resolve of the New Yorkers, who faced a far tougher task than London did yesterday, in terms of the scale of the incident and the shock of it.

This is the most surveilled country in the world. They'll be on CCTV footage somewhere
violetisblue
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:30 am (UTC)
Don't Worry, George Galloway Will Save Us All!
"And there are not 81 virgins waiting for you in paradise, sunshine, because you don't get to hang out at the Great Party In The Sky when you die. That's only for human beings. You don't qualify."

Now flashing back to one of the more satisfying articles in the Onion's 9/11 issue, "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves in Hell." I'm very sorry and don't know what else to say.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:37 am (UTC)
Re: Don't Worry, George Galloway Will Save Us All!
I loved The Onion's 9/11 issue -- particularly its news logo.

I do love your subject line though. Gorgeous George is always good value for money, even when he's being despicable.
jood
Jul. 8th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
I don' t think they should be allowed to don that mantle for themselves.

Thank you for summing it up so cogently. This is it exactly. While we overcompensating Americans are busy pumping our fists and shouting about Measured Responses and Not Giving In To Terrorists' Demands, you're all over there being reasonable and getting that those deluded, murderous twats are turbocharged schoolyard bullies; they feed on the victims' reactions.

I'm so sorry work was such as cesspit. I truly, sincerely hope you don't have to end up being on the receiving end of one (or more) of those fatuous "what I was doing when the bombs went off" essays written by people who were nowhere near the blasts and knew no one who was hurt, but damn well has some deeply personal thoughts to share on the experience of having watched it on TV with a breaking heart.

You are marvelous. I don't know what I'd do if there wasn't a K. in my life. I'd probably have to invent you, which would be bad for all involved, as there's some tricky work involved in making the creation better than the creator.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
I truly, sincerely hope you don't have to end up being on the receiving end of one (or more) of those fatuous "what I was doing when the bombs went off" essays written by people who were nowhere near the blasts and knew no one who was hurt, but damn well has some deeply personal thoughts to share on the experience of having watched it on TV with a breaking heart.

Bless you for your beautiful snark.

God, that's all we're going to get for the next few weeks. Half the upper echelons live around the part of London that the Piccadilly line serves, so we'll get "OMG, I would have been right *there* were I not in fact sitting on my fat arse at home watching Britain's Burgeoning Underclass (TM) recount how "I slept with my mother in law and my wife doesn't know" on Trisha for the purposes of my next OhWhyOhWhyOhWhy!?!?11!! op-ed piece"

You wouldn't want to invent me. You'd have to spend a fucking fortune on a tonnage of raw materials. An awful lot on the arse, for sure.

{{{J}}}
delle
Jul. 8th, 2005 03:15 am (UTC)
Came thru on friendsfriends...

(2) They're not pure outlaws. They're mass-murdering gobshites with a big chemistry set and all the moral acuity of a cowpat.

OMG, I adore you. And thank you for this wonderful, witty and defiant post.

Am seding you and your country all the best thoughts.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for your good wishes.
thetathx1138
Jul. 8th, 2005 03:41 am (UTC)
They won't read your marvellously funny post, unfortunately. They're all clueless. Fun fact: Osama Bin Laden honestly thought America, with the world's largest army and tendency to glory in the use of firearms (I love my country but I have little in the way of illusions about some of my countrymen), would pull all the troops out of the Middle East after 9/11. That it would be the masterstroke.

WHOOPS!

I forget who said it exactly, but a military offical noted that the whole reason Al-Qaeda attacks civilians is that civilians are less likely to fight back. In an actual battle, they will lose every single time.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)
So much for the masterstroke, indeed

I forget who said it exactly, but a military offical noted that the whole reason Al-Qaeda attacks civilians is that civilians are less likely to fight back. In an actual battle, they will lose every single time.

I thought this was quite telling. From yesterday's Guardian:

David Capitanchik, a terrorism expert at Aberdeen University, said the rush-hour explosions bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is the work of al-Qaida or one of its nodes. They would never target a military base or the G8 summit. They choose the soft targets, ordinary people going about their everyday business, to cause maximum terror.

"Their philosophy is: why attack a tiger when there are so many sheep?"
(no subject) - thetathx1138 - Jul. 9th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC) - Expand
marakara
Jul. 8th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
A tiny bunch of gobshites can't be allowed to stop us from enjoying life in one of the most wonderful and infuriating cities on Earth.

Exactly. Take it from someone enjoying life in another wonderful and infuriating city.

Everything you said was wonderful (and very funny in spots).

Take Care
Mara
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC)
That's the best thing about cities like London and New York, I think: their absolute indomitability.

Hope your bathroom woes are over now
cofax7
Jul. 8th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
The only time we burn with fear in our southern quarters is after too much Vindaloo and tiger beer at the local Indian restaurant.

::cackles::

It's always good to hear from you, even in horrifying circumstances. You're tough and funny and fabulous.

And I love the Pro Am Whining and Moaning. Heh.

Here's hoping they get the transit straightened out fairly quickly, given the hours you have to work.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:52 am (UTC)
Like many people, I have a longer walk to work because I have to take a different line, and yesterday was way quieter than usual, but other than that and some absolutely heart-breaking pictures and news stories, for most of us, it's all gone very normal. There's nothing we can do to help or anything.

Thanks for the lovely words in that post of yours btw. I got an attack of the warm fuzzies.

Luckily, I beat them to death with a rolled up newspaper *g*
(no subject) - cofax7 - Jul. 9th, 2005 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Jul. 9th, 2005 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cofax7 - Jul. 9th, 2005 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
hobbituk
Jul. 8th, 2005 07:03 am (UTC)
In the website claiming responsibility, Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters

Hee. They really don't know us, do they? Can I link people to your post? I think it's blinding...
xsabx
Jul. 8th, 2005 07:25 am (UTC)
Same here
I think people *have* to read your post, just *because*...

As I listened to 5Live for most of yesterday, the pictures got me too.
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Jul. 9th, 2005 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
noelleleithe
Jul. 8th, 2005 08:19 am (UTC)
I think it was the pictures that did it. For the first four hours of the day, I had no visual input to match the descriptions on the radio. Then when I got into work, there it all was.

That happened to me on 9/11. Of course, I wasn't right in the middle of things like you were today, but I was stuck in the office all day with no TV and all the news web sites overloaded times 20. Seeing actual video that night was a serious blow.

You've summed everything up fabulously, as usual. :)
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
That happened to me on 9/11. Of course, I wasn't right in the middle of things like you were today, but I was stuck in the office all day with no TV and all the news web sites overloaded times 20. Seeing actual video that night was a serious blow.

I can imagine. That attack was designed to blow the minds of Americans. God, it worked in Britain, three thousand miles away.
vaznetti
Jul. 8th, 2005 08:35 am (UTC)
No terror here, ladies and gentlemen, please move right down inside the cars.

Yes -- from here it sounded like rather than burning with fear, terror and panic, most Londoners were ticked off about how sore their feet were from the walk home.

Great post.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC)
from here it sounded like rather than burning with fear, terror and panic, most Londoners were ticked off about how sore their feet were from the walk home.

Well, when faced with terror, fear, panic or even mere domestic discord, plan A should always be to whinge about something minor like the weather or the traffic. Plan B is the pub
calove
Jul. 8th, 2005 08:51 am (UTC)
Came here via a friends rec and very glad I did. Perfect post absolutely spot on. When we feel like this these morons don't stand a chance. Thank you.
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. I don't know about you, but for everyone I've spoken to since Thursday morning the attitude seemed to be "we'll show you, you buggers"
elisi
Jul. 8th, 2005 08:55 am (UTC)
Came here from hobbituk's rec. Excellent post! I agree with every other commenter and have nothing to add really. I've linked to it from my LJ which I hope is OK? Also I'd love to snag your icon - is it sharable?
infinitemonkeys
Jul. 9th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
Please link away and feel free to snaffle the icon if you'd like it.
(no subject) - elisi - Jul. 9th, 2005 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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