Monday, 5 February 2007

A sunny morning in London

Today I was in London visiting students. The first one was at St Thomas's hospital. The department overlooks the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. It was a lovely sunny day and from the top floor the river looked so calm and peaceful. A few boats cruised up and down and I could see people walking over Westminster Bridge down below. After the visit I walked across the bridge towards Victoria station. I passed in front of the Houses of Parliament and the anti-war protest that is permanently housed there. A few tourists were taking photos of the sole protester who has become as much as an attraction as the building he protests outside. When I got to Victoria Street the road was cordoned off and closed to traffic and pedestrians. Everyone was very calm and just went about what they were doing, accepting a slightly longer walk and a detour with good grace. A few tourists looked a bit bemused and took photos but then went off to look at another sight. The police directed everyone to alternative routes. Just as I was starting my detour I heard on my radio that the street was closed because a letter bomb had exploded in an office and injured the employee who had opened it. As I got further on down the back streets towards Victoria I could see armed police and the fire brigade on Victoria Street. In the back streets some policemen were talking on their mobiles (explaining why they would be late home), some were directing traffic, some ‘emergency services’ were waiting in the warmth of the local caf├ęs and patisseries. I used my detour to look in a running shop I had wanted to visit for a while and then went on my way. One reason why I think terrorism will never achieve its goals in London is that most people just take no notice; except for the woman who was injured and her colleagues and family.

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