At the back of my mind there has always been the knowledge that London is a prime terrorist target – I had hoped that we would be spared given the time that has passed since 9/11 and Madrid – evidently not.
Thankfully, we are safe and so far nobody we know has been directly affected though of course some people we know have been inconvenienced and a close friend’s wife who could have been near one of the blasts was not heard from for five and a half nerve wracking hours before turning up unharmed at home.
It’s striking that for at least five hours after the blasts there was no UK helpline for people worried about those who are missing (though the State department set one up earlier “For information about American citizens who may have been affected by the July 7 bombings in London, please call 1-888-407-4747”) and it has taken several hours even to get a consistent count of the number of explosions (three on the tube, one on a bus). Some news outlets were still quoting seven for hours afterwards – presumably because where trains were blown up between stations survivors were evacuated in both directions, seemingly doubling the number of tube explosions. The casualty hotline here in London is 0870 1566 344.
Ironically when my parents lived here with me in the 1970s they also had to put up with bombs and scares – at that time from the IRA (and I was here when the IRA bombed Canary Wharf and the City of London).
I’m hopeful that Al Quaeda has now ‘done their worst’ for the moment and since they missed us our lives can return to normal. We’ve been here before and (sad to say) we’ll probably face this again…