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Londoners get back to work after bomb blasts

18 July 2005


It’s been an extraordinary couple of weeks in London. It’s felt like a real rollercoaster as we have swung from the excitement of Live Aid, to the hopes of African debt relief, the Make Poverty History campaign and the G8 conference in Scotland. Then there was the astounding news that the Olympic Games were coming to the city. Whatever one’s personal view of this, the outcome is a fantastic tribute to the amazing campaign which showed London as the vibrant, creative, multicultural city it has become.

Then, the very next day, there were the bomb blasts in what looked like the fates taking their revenge but can only have been a carefully planned act of terrorism relating to the G8 summit. Thursday 7th was a day of terrifying anxiety, as I can testify, having spent the day in an office very close to the bus blast. This was followed by a week of working in cordoned-off offices, a constant reminder of what had happened, against the gruesome backdrop of the identification of the dead. Then there was the news that the first suicide bombers in Western Europe, who had set off the first-ever terrorist explosions in the Tube, were born and bred in England.

All this makes it hard to concentrate on the book business and the concerns of writers. One freelance picture researcher working for Transworld is amongst the dead and a Pearson employee is still missing. Many in the publishing business reported close escapes, as the bombs were timed to go off at the height of the morning rush hour, to kill as many people as possible.

Londoners, hardened to terror by the IRA campaigns of the past and the clear knowledge that the city was a likely Al Qaeda target, were mostly stoical. Most people were back at work by the Monday after the bombers hit. The prevailing feeling was that getting on with life was the right thing to do, a mixture of British stiff upper lip, pragmatism and the view that that letting oneself be frightened would be a victory for the bombers. Although many were frustrated by the long journey to work during a hot week, the streets of London were busy and life rapidly regained a semblance of normality.

We are grateful for the concern and good wishes we have received from our friends around the world.