diamond geezer

 Monday, November 18, 2002


No, surely it could never happen. The people of London have lived with the threat of terrorism, war and destruction for tens, hundreds, even thousands of years. And, no matter what has been thrown at it, London has always soldiered on, unyielding to attack. Anyone stupid enough to plot to shut down the capital through fear and panic has picked the wrong location.

The 30-year IRA bombing campaign never in fact killed huge numbers here, although the threat felt ever present and they did manage to get every litter bin removed within a two mile radius of St Paul's Cathedral. The Great Fire of London only killed six people, and no Vikings have been seen invading up the Thames for at least a millennium.

World War Two was another matter altogether. Nearly 30,000 Londoners were killed in the Blitz and over 50,000 injured. Bombs rained down on London, particularly across the East End, but the locals were more likely to complain about the weather than the destruction. Large areas of the capital were reduced to rubble, with thousands forced to take refuge in air raid shelters and Underground stations. A direct hit on Bank station in 1941 killed 56 taking shelter there, while 172 people died in a stampede at Bethnal Green station after the air raid siren sounded one night in 1943.

The latest scare stories about terrorist attacks on the Underground should be therefore be taken in perspective. The spirit of the Blitz lives on, and London life must and will go on. However, I bet I get a seat on the tube tomorrow...

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