July 8th, 2005

The Next Day

My greatest fear is that yesterday's atrocity will change us. That we'll become cowed, suspicious, fearful, chauvinistic, nasty. That, as a direct result, we'll be more ready to allow government to herd us and spy on us and take away our liberties. If these things happen it'll be a victory for the bombers.

The chortling comminique that went up on the net yesterday, purportedly from the bombers, proclaimed (in that curious Arabian Nights lingo these people use) "Behold Britain now, ablaze with fear and terror, horrified from its north to its south, from its east to its west." This isn't my perception of how the people of Britain have reacted. What I feel in myself is rather the opposite, not a quickening, but a slowing down of the pulse, a sadness and a heaviness, a weary resignation. "Oh, not again."

Before this lot there was the IRA and before the IRA there was the Luftwaffe and before the Luftwaffe there were the Anarchist and Bolshevik and Fenian cells that put the wind up the Edwardians and late Victorians. We've been living with bombers for almost as long as there've been modern cities. Read Conrad's Secret Agent, published in 1907 (which fictionalises a real life incident where an half-arsed attempt was made to blow up the Royal Observatory at Greenwich) and it's all there- right down to the loony with explosives strapped to his chest and a switch in his pocket. The ideology changes but the methods and the mindset remain the same.

Two days ago London was on a high because of the Olympics. Last weekend London's Hyde Park was the central venue for the international festival of good will and hard rocking that was Live 8. It looked like it was going to be a good year. And now, suddenly, we've been knocked sideways. Well, a period of mourning is appropriate, but after that we need to recover our groove, our vibe, our mojo. It's not right that a tiny gang of godbothering psychos should dictate the mood of the nation.