Monday, November 12, 2007


If you watched the UK news at lunchtime today, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was September 11, 2001 all over again. The plasma screen in the reception area of my work showed plumes of black smoke dominating the bright London skyline, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the twin towers attack six years ago. Well, it was clearly orchestrated by the news crews to be eerily remiscent of that day anyway. You could almost sense their disappointment when they reported that it was just a regular fire in an old warehouse.

A few days ago, I was on my way to work and when I looked up, there was a plane just hovering in the air, really still. You don't see that too often in central London. I continued walking but then bumped into a woman who was also looking up at the plane. "Do they always fly that low?" she asked. She looked worried. I smiled and said I was sure it was nothing, but when I reached the office ten minutes later, I realised I was shaking.

Although Londoners have this collective sense of not wanting to be cowed by terrorists, you can often sense that deep down, we're all shitting ourselves. Sometimes you see it on the tube, when the lights go out for a couple of seconds. Or when the train stops in the tunnel but the driver doesn't tell us what's happening. We're always living on the edge. Even though we've been experiencing this for decades (anyone remember the IRA?), we're still living on the edge.

I'm sure that's nothing compared to how, six years on from September 11, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq must feel.

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