… and rather late, due to wedding prep taking up most of my spare time. (Was finally prompted by Doc.) The summary: I’m fine, Bob’s fine, everyone I know is fine, several hundred people in my city are not fine, and at least 37 of them are dead. But, compared to New York and Madrid, we got off pretty lightly. Personally, I slept through it all, just like I did on September 11th (I was in Oregon at the time) – Bob woke me up at 11 and told me what was going on. And, once I’d done the phoning and emailing and watched my various networks of friends go through their internal diagnostic routines to satisfaction, we went shopping. (The LJ is where most of my personal rambling will be appearing from now on – I needed a place where I felt more freedom to talk complete bollocks. Oh, you know what I mean.)
This was not our September 11th. This was something we’ve dealt with before, repeatedly, with the various IRA campaigns and the nail bomber. The typical Londoner’s response to an explosion was best summarised by Eddie Izzard: “What? A bomb? Where? Victoria? Shit! No, wait… if I change onto the Metropolitan Line, take the 130 from King’s Cross…” That doesn’t make it less horrific, but nor does it radically change things like 9-11 did. And god, I hope it doesn’t. The American reaction to terrorism was to shout about the freedom and liberties that the enemy was trying to take away, followed by the US Government taking many of those freedoms away instead. (Along with chucking tons of cash at utterly useless countermeasures – Schneier’s message of support is particularly noteworthy) If this gives the government’s stupid and irrelevant ID card campaign a boost, that would be a great way for the terrorists to have fucked our lives over.
The attack today wasn’t about body count – if they’d just wanted to kill people, there are almost certainly more effective routes that could have been taken. It was about infrastructure: immobilisation, inconvenience, massive economic damage. It was about bringing a city to a standstill, making it another blaring distress beacon heard around the world. Fortunately – thanks entirely to the astonishing efforts of the emergency services and those who keep London running – things will be mostly back to normal tomorrow.
Maybe I’m being too flippantly insensitive about what’s happened today. I know I’m not sufficiently communicating the shock that I feel, and I’ve never been good at that. But if we really want to hit back at those who did this to us, one of the best ways is just not to give them the satisfaction of turning our lives upside-down, making their tactics as pointless as possible. We should care, and not try to pretend that we don’t – but we shouldn’t let that change things for the worse. We bury our dead, we fix the damage, we donate some blood, and we go about our business as free and as loud as ever.