Never Surrender

I won’t lie about the stability of my mental state right now. I’m leaving for Sarawak early tomorrow morning to attend the Rainforest Music Festival, and am more than a little worried that someone could elbow me accidentally and split open my stitches.

And although this is obviously unimportant compared to everything else that happened today, it’s pretty rotten luck for me that just this afternoon, I have paid in full for a non-refundable, non-amendable return ticket to London, leaving 3 August.

The centre of the attacks is where I lived for four years. On any average day in London, I would have been more than likely to pass through Russell Square, King’s Cross or Liverpool Street (where Alec lived) tube stations, and walk past the British Medical Association on Tavistock Square, outside which a double decker bus exploded. Quite separately from the human aspect of the tragedy, watching the television footage I am again struck by the same feelings of anger and despair that I felt when watching the scenes of the fall of Berlin in Downfall – they are hurting a city I love.

Having said that, London has survived much worse and it looks like it’s handling this fine. I’ve checked and all my friends are safe, although of course my thoughts are still with any and every human affected, be they stranger or friend. London got bombed to bits during the Blitz, but while no one else dared to fight back against Nazi Germany Britain still said “We will NEVER SURRENDER” and thank God they didn’t.

I’ll have to make a decision over the next few weeks whether to go or not, and that will of course depends on what unfolds. I also have to consider the worries, perhaps exaggerated, of a mother who will be biting her fingernails the entire time I am away. Right now, I think I can only pray. Be strong, London. My heart never left, so it is there with you still.

13 comments

  1. Hi Michelle,

    My friend Ben, who writes most of the bilge we publish at http://www.policyblender.com, would say come anyway and show the terrorists you aren’t afraid of them. If you let it change your plans then you are giving in to them, and that’s how they get their power.

    Assuming this is it until the day you leave, in your position I would come, cowardly though I am. I don’t think this is the start of something too serious, though it’s hard to tell so soon after it has happened.

    Living in London, I’m liable to be forcefed information on the situation, whether I like it or not. I’ll try to share it if you thinkit would help.

  2. My heart’s been wrenched at watching the scenes of destruction in London on BBC. London is a city I’ve called my 2nd home, and after spending 7 years there, seeing it so horribly attacked by such evil really tears me apart. My thoughts and prayers will be for the people and my friends there right now.

  3. {London}

    It really hit home for me, since that’s basically the neighborhood I know best in London as well, having stayed there the only time I’ve been. Between this and the health worries, it has to be a very tough time for you right about now. Good luck, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

    And yes, go to London in August if there is any way you can. Think of it as thumbing your nose at the assholes that did this.

  4. The internet has proved to be a wonderful thing today. They switched off the mobile network for a short time today so people were unable to call loved ones to check they were ok. The forums that I am a member of have started roll calls to check its members were fine and getting people with landlines to check others. Its only in our darkest times that we can truely feel the humanity of the people around us.

    ((((Michelle)))))

    I know you will get through your hard times at the moment because you are strong and wonderful and you have a wonderful man beside you (although he does have his random cheeky moments, but I think thats what he is best at :-P~~)

  5. was caught up in the traffic snarl today when it happened – had a bit of a close shave, if i hadnt woken up late to collect my mother from heathrow, i *might* have been on the piccadilly northbound train btwn russell sq and kings cross when it happened!

    london was complete chaos at first, but things are slowly sorting themselves out… i agree with blair, british blitz-like stoicism is really pulling the city thru! nobody is really panicking and running around like chickens with heads cut off…

    and hey! i’ll be in london 1st aug… we shld meet when u come over (and you should!)

  6. It is possible that I am speaking too soon, but from my vantage point in Blomsbury, there is traffic, and things are carrying on. We were cordoned off for most of the day, but a deputation were welcomed by the Police (who’d been there all day) when they were offered flasks of tea and coffee.

    Our new Administrator was on the train after the Edgware Road one, and had to get out through the tunnels. Aubrey was in the vicinity when the bus blew up, and has subsequently walked to Paddington (tube closed) to get the Heathrow Express so he could go on holiday. We’ve had calls, emails and msn messages from all over the world, asking (a) after peoples’ loved ones, and (b) if we’re all ok.

    For my part, I was rather annoyed that (a) it happened at all, and (b) that they chose to do it on my day off. Cheeky buggers.

  7. And, meant to say – Churchill was right. We will fight them on the underground, we will fight them on the buses, we will fight them however the bloody hell they want us to. But we will never surrender.

  8. I was frantically trying to get through to my brother and friends to find out if they were all right once I heard the news. Thank goodness SMS was still working.

    I was – and still am – furious that they’ve done this to a city I very much love, to the places I used to walk by during my university days. How dare they.

    Do go, Michelle. Have fun and be safe.

  9. Hi Michelle,

    as you know, lived in London for many years and some of my closest friends are still there. Here is what a friend replied after I wrote to ask how they are. Both of them live 50 yards away from Barbican Station…. midway between Kings Cross, Moorgate and Liverpool St….

    —-

    Back home now – would have been on tube as it was happening, but had forgotten my purse so went back to get it and in meantime whole tube network was closed down. Managed to get on a bus but then they announced about the bus explosion, and diverted all buses away from central london. Ended up near camden so walked home from there with lots of other lost, confused people.

    Bit mad outside – so many sirens (reports of something at Moorgate) but glad not to have been caught up in it, and have heard from friends and colleagues and all seem okay.

    The world has gone mad.

    —-

    Another friend related how he has just passed Edgeware Road Station minutes before it happen. He is a young person fighting cancer, recently married and battling to complete his MBA.

    I just felt a need to share.. after seeing those images on the news and in papers of the places I remember so well..

    London/ Londoners, we are proud that you are going back to work today in defiance of the wrongs thats been done.

  10. hi michelle,

    i arrived in london from bristol last sunday and have been bumming around, catching some gigs, visiting galleries, eating duck rice at bayswater and whatnot. i had previously thought that terrorists would find the G8 marches a golden opportunity to launch an attack: place some suicide bombers amongst the morally upright crowd and set yourself off concurrently, or the live 8 concert at hyde park: who would give up a hostage taking possibility of such an eclectic line up of people ranging from snoop dogg to madonna, the who to robbie williams?

    speak of the devil.

    i say come to london. i have been moving around. taking the tube even though the underground systems seems really eerie, almost surreal, and not all that ‘safe’. i suppose this is my personal act of defiance; my metaphorical ‘up yours!’ to those bastards.

  11. First time i heard the news was when I was on the phone to David yesterday and listened to the BBC through the phone (had no access to the radio or TV at the time). Heard Tavistock, King’s Cross, Russell Square and Liverpool Street, and felt blood drain off my face. It’s all tbat was familiar to me, and though my experiences in London weren’t all rosy, I felt it was still home, and this was a violation of it.

    I wasn’t angry … just horrified and sad especially at the pictures of the bus at tavistock. Remember Michelle the day it snowed and we met each other by chance in the gardens by tavistock place? I think you must have been on the way back to our flat, and I was heading out looking for more snow. Remember our (not so successful) attempt at making a snowman?

    Damn.

    Watching the news, I thought of my ex-college mates working at UCH and Royal Free .. I salute them. Thanked God that David no longer works in London (his office then was at Liverpool street) and that everyone we’ve sent msg to replied that they were ok.

  12. Oh, come to London, Michelle.

    No really, this whole post of yours has made me quite cross, actually.

  13. Thing is, they did pick the wrong city to have a go at. We were all a bit stunned on Thursday and the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square at about 12pm when I nipped out from work to get a sandwich was one of a city reeling; but, apart from a noticeably quieter tube journey back into the centre on Friday morning, not a huge amount has changed. We will keep on going to work, going to the pub, going to and fro, and, because we are British, we won’t let some mumbling fundamentalist shitkicker dressed in a bedsheet with a beard you could reverse a Mondeo onto intimidate us, quite frankly.

    I’ve been reading a lot of the foreign press in the last few days to get a different angle on what’s happened. What has struck me the most is an entirely new sensation – namely that of pride. There are astounded articles from foreign journalists all over the web about how cool-headed and quietly determined the British are faced with a situation like this. And I think they’re right: I’ve lost a lot of love for London this past year, but I’ve been reminded over the last few days how lucky I am to live here and how much I do love it. Cool Britannia lives on.

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