It was pretty weird walking home yesterday afternoon, with tens of thousands of people streaming down quiet streets that should have been busy with buses and cars. For me it was a 9-11 flashback moment.
What did Londoners do though, after such a day? They went to the pub, of course.
Public houses were doing good business from about 3 pm. The sun was shining. We were alive. The beer tasted better than ever. I only had a swift half (one of my favourite English euphemisms) before heading for home to see my wife, but all around me people were getting on with life.
Two young mothers, with babies in prams, walking down Brick Lane as if nothing had happened. Brick Lane is literally yards from the the first bomb location. These women made me feel strong and proud.
The English are great at times like this. First you have a cup of tea and calm down a bit. And then you go out for a pint.
It is as if the city remembers the Blitz even if its citizens are too young. The IRA kept us worried for decades. The City has a memory of dealing with fear, of how to cope. The City keeps us sane.
Yesterday London was the star of the show. This great big resilient City. This beautiful crazy monument to tolerance.
Talking of coping, what i really have to do is to thank the emergency services. They did an extraordinarily good job. Chaos, what chaos? London’s ambulance, fire, and police services all did brilliantly. They ensured the wounded were treated and that loss of life was kept to a minimum.
Next time i meet someone from any of the London emergency services I know exactly what to do. Buy them a drink and say thanks.