Better light a candle than curse the darkness

by Rodolfo Rosini

As you probably know, today has been a very painful day for London and
its inhabitants. Since so many people have asked about me and care
about my safety I’ve decided to post here about my experiences today.

 

Trafalgar Square this afternoon @ 1641 GMT
Trafalgar Square at 16:41 today 

I hate rush hour. I really do. I either try to leave
earlier or later than the majority of commuters and today was no
expection, expecially because I had a board meeting at Waterloo
Station, which is near the river opposite the Parliament.
Everywhere around me the media was celebrating ‘La Victoire de Les
Rosbifs’ – the largely unexpected victory of London over Paris for the
2012 Olympics by putting new posters and the papers were talking just
about that with full frontal pages. What a difference a day makes.

Finished my meeting shortly before 10 and went on to my next appointment, which was a memorial for the late Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International. It was going to be held at St Martin’s in the Fields
in Trafalgar Square (just outside the picture on the right) and on my
way there I passed a couple of gyms and places where there was forming
a crowd near the televisions. I stopped briefly by just to read the
headlines and was something about a power cut on the tube. Nothing too
interesting so I moved on to get some coffee before heading for the
church. In the coffee shop people where nervously speaking on the phone
and a couple of girls were really frantic but couldnt get hold of what
was really going on, so walked out and stooped a cop which was calm and
serene and told me that there were some power cuts around the
undergound, maybe some incident but he didnt really know.

Then hell broke loose. Ambulances from St. Thomas Hospital started
going north (it’s located on the south bank), police squads driving
like crazy, Jags from the Military Intelligence and finally a train of
vans with big letters on the side “Bomb Squad”. Trafalgar Sq. was
getting very hot and I was getting very nervous.
Inside the church I was told what was going on and alerted my friends
and family that I was safe, since at the memorial there were a lot of
NGO personalities and assorted celebrities I grew even more restless
until I realized that there was a lot of security personnel in that
place and they were doing bag searches and whatnot.
The whole event lasted approx an hour and was very emotional. The
eeriest part was that every time there was a pause or some silence, you
could hear the constant noise from sirens on the outside going to and
from Whitehall. At the end Annie Lennox did a Bob Marley song on the piano which made the whole event sound unearthly.

Stopped by Jubilee Hall
in Covent Garden to get some food and check the TVs, texted everyone
who tried to contact me and then headed back. Saw some Met Police going around with modified HK MP5 submachine guns, which is an unusual sight. The shops in the Piazza
were all closed and no one was there. On my way (it took more
than an hour to get home, more than 7 km) I saw many of the tube
stations where the
accidents happened cause they all around the area where I live, passed near the Bank and the London Stock Exchange, where you could read the stocks were down by approx 3%. Saw
also many people who were heading west from Canary Wharf and the
Docklands. No crying, no screaming, no kicking, no fussing. Just everyone looked as
they were just going to work on an ordinary day.

UPDATE: of all the report I’ve read, the one who best sum up today’s reaction is from a Slate journo who was in London to cover the Olympics

[???] the reaction to today’s attacks
feels incredibly English. When I left the quiet area right around the
bus bombing and returned to the busy streets of Holborn and Soho,
London appeared just as it always is.

The natural state
of the English is a kind of gloomy diligence, which is why they do so
well in hard times. In 1940, Londoners went dutifully on with their
business while the Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of them. Today, most
of them are doing the same. I was in Washington for 9/11, and the whole
city went into a panic. Offices emptied, stores shut, downtown D.C.
became a ghost town. But in London today, everyone still has a cell
phone clutched to their ear. The delivery vans are still racing about,
seeking shortcuts around all the street closures. The Starbucks is
packed.

Full article can be found here.

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