London bombings – some thoughts on the day after
24 hours on, and life in London seems to be getting pretty much back to normal. The transport network, with a few exceptions, is running pretty smoothly for short journeys in and out of the capital, although the number of people who have decided to come into work today is far lower than normal, easing the strain on the networks. My office building feels like an empty shell today – anyone who could work from home has quite rightly chosen not to travel, with the full support of the company, although I’m sure the place will be packed again on Monday.
The atmosphere around town is a little subdued as the impact of yesterday’s attacks sinks in, but nobody seemed particularly nervous on the trains this morning. There’s an increased police presence on the streets, which is comforting although I’m not sure what other practical purpose they serve. By and large, people I’ve met seem to be grimly determined not to let yesterday’s attacks affect the way they go about their business and the way they live their lives. My girlfriend’s play, although cancelled last night, will be showing this evening.
The iconic image of yesterday’s terrorist attack will, of course, be the picture of the red number 30 bus, split open like a flimsy tin can, and it is an image that will be burned into the consciousness of Londoners for years to come. Red buses are everywhere on London’s streets – you simply cannot image London without them and every single Londoner has, at some time or another, travelled in a red bus identical to the one destroyed yesterday. Every Londoner has felt felt the thrum of a red bus engine under their feet as they stand, sardine-like, in a bus filled with fellow commuters, sharing a joke with another passenger. And we will all do so again. So, while on the surface we will not actually let the attacks change our lives, there will always be that hint of underlying fear as we step through the doorway of a red bus. Knowing Londoners, though, that fear will be distilled into a determination to go on travelling and, for better or for worse, a huge amount of tasteless humour.