At least thats my question about it. The word itself pretty much explains the nature of it. Something designed to engender terror. Someone asked me today if the current state of affairs in London ever made me worry about being there or avoid using the tube. The answer is “absolutely never”. I suspect a similiar response would come from most people who live here, too.
London has a different attitude to these things than many other cities. I suppose the best example recently of a city shitting itself in terror was NY after the World Trade Centre attacks. Not that those attacks weren’t serious, they involved huge loss of life, but the blow to the american ego and sense of self-righteous and safe superiority was much more severe than the blow to the headcount.
London has been bombed multiple times, for years on end. It has been a centre of violence, intrigue and conspiracy, has survived angry mobs, the great fire of 1666, and the black plague, amongst other disasters.
I will happily concede I was around for none of these events or circumstances, and that neither was anyone else living there today. But living memory is not necessary, the city has its own memory. The way things are built, and the way the police work, the lack of bins on city streets, the reaction to someone leaving a bag unattended on the tube. That is the memory of a society, of a place, the structure which shapes the future and offers an insight into the past.
When the London suicide bombings happened last year, everyone still went to work that day. Within 24 hours the tube was running again. Transport For London did not grind to a screeching halt, nor did everyday life. It was a tragedy, and no-one denied that. But to let everything come to a standstill is to be beaten. The Americans may have come back with guns as well as a major personality disorder, but they did have to run crying to their rooms first. They may win the war on whatever underdeveloped nation they choose, but the war on terror is the one they have already lost. They are afraid.
Perhaps I grossly generalise. I was not in NY then. I have never been there. All I have to go by is news and the speeches made by idiotic politicians. But I am here, and London is not afraid. Apathetic, indifferent, maybe slightly paranoid. But not afraid. The point of all of this is fear and intimidation. By the fuckwits who bomb the tube or by the government who looks to take advantage of public apprehension, its all the same.
I treat the thought of dying from a bomb on the tube the same way I treat the thought of being hit by a double-decker bus. Except that I’m fairly certain the odds of the bus are substantially higher. Those fuckers are dangerous.
So no, I’m not afraid, and neither are most people I know here. Yes, I value my life, and the only thing I value more than it is how I live it. I value it too much to ever live in a way I do not choose, and I do not choose to be afraid of an intangible threat. Though admittedly most tangible ones have trouble penetrating the thick layer of arrogance too.
But I’d rather be an arrogant bitch than soil myself every time I watch the news.