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Do I need to blog about the London attack?

(Still from a BBC video)

Yes, I do.

Seven people are dead and over 40 injured, after three people launched a van and knife attack.” (BBC website)

It was such a stark statement. I was in Spitalfields on Saturday 3 June, about a mile north of London Bridge, having a bite to eat with the stragglers from my joint launch party for RETALIO. (More on the Roma Nova blog about that.) We dispersed around 10.20/10.30pm and I didn’t take any notice of the police sirens over a block away; there always seem to be sirens  in London – police ambulance, fire brigade. But when I was back in my room and sipping a cup of tea, I switched on the television to catch up on the news. I’d been out since 12 noon and I like to know what’s going on in the world. I idly wondered if they’d made any further arrests in Manchester. Oh, and  the singer Ariana Grande was coming over to do a concert in Manchester, wasn’t she? Not my sort of music, but well done her.

Then the horror hit. Three knifemen having run people down on London Bridge, ran amok in Borough Market, killing and maiming. Thanks to the speed of the police response, their courage and that of members of the public, the criminals were bought down.

People were frightened out of their wits. Some resisted, throwing bottles, chairs, anything at the criminals to stop them, or at least deflect them. Most, very sensibly fled. Some trembled, some cried, but most just ran. One photo of a young man hurrying along a pavement went round the world – he was still holding his pint of beer. Nothing was going to separate him from it!

Most people, civilians, out on a warm Saturday night talk about their work, their awful or wonderful boss, their friend being bitchy, whether the team was going to win the cup, where they were going on holiday, their pay rise (or not). They don’t expect to end up in a trauma hospital, hurting, their clothes wet with blood from stab wounds.

I messaged my husband that I was safe, he posted on social media, as I did; messages of concern had flooded in. I could just as easily been in Borough Market with my friends, or the criminals could have attacked Spitalfields. We are always the proverbial hair’s breath away from death every time we wake up in the morning (and that’s a miracle in itself).

However, the risk of being involved in a terrorist incident is minute. The M25 is far more dangerous. But the after-effect of a terrifying incident ripples through a population with the aim of disrupting and and disuniting it at the same time making it fearful of everything.

Yesterday I went to the British Museum for research but also for some historical perspective. I walked to Liverpool Street Station. Bishopsgate looked much as normal on a Sunday; quiet except for a few tourists and people coming out of the  adjacent Spitalfields area. Um, it’s the financial quarter – the normal busy, no, frenetic, weekday population is at home or out with the kids. I slipped into the last seat in my carriage on the Tube; others were left standing. At Russell Square station, we had to queue for the antiquated lifts. Back up on the street, people filled the pavement as usual.

In Russell Square itself, that green oasis, the café was doing good business, people were picnicking or just lying in the sun (getting over a hangover probably), parents were pushing baby carriages, toddlers running after pigeons. At the British Museum, I walked into walls of people and escaped to the Roman rooms and relative peace.

So, no, people weren’t cowed or reeling. Upset, yes. Angry, yes. How dare these bloody people think they have a right to kill innocent people? Call us unfeeling – you’d be wrong – but don’t make the mistake of underestimating our resilience or our bloodymindedness. That’s what the British do best.

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

4 comments to Do I need to blog about the London attack?

  • As a Londoner the events hit home, and my thoughts and prayers are for the families of those killed and for the injured, but well, I remember a few years ago when the IRA hit London on more than one occasion. I lived seven miles (as the crow flew) from the City. Two blasts in particular shook OUR windows at home. My husband is older than me, he remembers the blitz. I always carried an underground map when I went into town because I could never be certain which bomb scare had closed which station – but still I went.Not once did I think ‘oh better not risk it’.

    Do these silly little people who so wrongly think they are doing this for Allah REALLY think they can frighten us with their pathetic and perverted nonsense? Think again. You won’t.

    Good article, Alison 100% agree (but glad you’re OK!)

  • Alison Morton

    Thank you, Helen. Exactly how I feel. I’m desperately sorry for those whom these cowards attacked; their lives will be changed irretrievably.

  • Rebecca Lang

    Well said Alison. We cannot be cowed by such cowardly acts. It’s heartening to hear Londoners are so united. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. As for me, I will visit London again! To not do so is to let those faceless deluded people win their campaign of horror. ‘Let us go forward together’, as the great man once said.

    • Alison Morton

      So tragic, isn’t it? It looks like the police investigation is coming up with good information. But we must get to the bottom of why these people are so attracted to doing this. It’s so senseless.

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