Friday, July 15, 2005

Crowded together with other Londoners, a week after the bombs

So, the diary ends as it begins, crowded shoulder to shoulder next to other Londoners.
I am at the vigil in Trafalgar Square. This time, sun beats down and we stand in the open air, listening to speeches and poems from the Mayor, clerics and religious leaders, union representatives, TV personalities and news-casters, and most movingly, the train driver of Edgware Road.
We are told how we are united, how we are unbeatable, how we will rise. We are urged to be strong, to show tolerance, and to love and respect each other. Tears fall.
The diary began in a crowded carriage, crammed with people, with an act of murderous barbarity.
With a bang, smoke, shock and fear.
Yet almost immediately, even in the choking darkness, in the almost-animal panic, we remembered our humanity, that we were human beings. We stood up, we comforted each other, we held hands, and if we could, we led and carried each other to safety.
The selfish need to claw and fight for survival, to stampede, to free ourselves at all cost did not win; instead, the learned behaviour of city dwellers, who must live in close proximity with strangers took over.
And that has been the message of the week. We are a civilised society; we live closely and socially in crowded cities. We do not always agree, often we do not talk to each other or look at each other in the face.
Londoners are often accused of haughtiness and coolness. But this week we felt what it is like to come together as a city.
Now we need to remember what this sense of unity feels like; we will need to remember it in the difficult weeks and months ahead.
We are a civilised people, we will not fall victim to paranoid anger and selfish nihilistic hate.
My thanks to all who have helped me, listened, sent messages of support, followed my story. I am not a writer, but this week my writing what has happened to me has made a difference.
To my family, John and my friends, to my fellow passengers, to my neighbours and fellow citizens in London: I am so glad to be here and I wish us all calmness and hope as we continue with our daily lives.
Crowded together, shoulder to shoulder. I wouldn't have it any other way.


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