(photo from www.bbc.co.uk)
And so London walked. There were hundreds of people on the streets, heading one way or the other. I knew it would take me a while to get home, and so I chose the scenic route. You may think it inappropriate considering the events of the day, but that was precisely why I was reaching out to every bit of beauty I could so as to not lose faith that people are good, this world is good.
(photo from www.royalparks.gov.uk)
I walked along the Thames where birds flew above and there was an endless queue of people waiting for the ferry, up to Trafalgar Square where laughing children took pictures with the fountains, through St James’ Park where old women fed squirrels and tourists pressed their faces to the bars to get a better look at Buckingham Palace, in Green Park where the canopy of trees shaded little boys in games of catch and people lazing in picnic chairs, across Hyde Park where teenagers rollerbladed and dogs ran free, down Queensway where the wind blew and people piled into restaurants, and finally reached home where everyone was huddled in the living room, hoping for BBC news to tell us what was happening and what to do. And later, in the silence of our rooms, we cried.
That walk home was momentous – I fell in love with London again that day. I became protective and defensive for it, I kept thinking how dare they, how dare they do this to my beautiful and happy London.
The harsh truth is that I don’t think the bombings came as that much of a surprise. After 9/11, at some level I believe most Londoners knew that it was only a matter of time before the disease would spread here.
What I will always cherish is London’s response. In the days and weeks that followed, London just moved on. It seemed to me that people were eager to get on with things. Don’t misunderstand me; we were not forgetting, oh no. London did not want to forget, and it was impossible to forget with the daily reminders in the form of pictures of victims and their families, the tubes being paralysed for some time, frequent checks on busses by the Metropolitan Police (more to reassure than anything else, I think). London will not forget the terrible four and how they shook our corner of the earth with those bombs.