martes, julio 26, 2005

Fear in the city

No sé, exactamente, qué pasa en Irak y en otras ciudades donde la Guerra se desarrolla. Empiezo a entender algunas cosas ahora que estoy en Londres, pocas, seguramente pocas.

En medio de tales cosas, no dejo de ser un admirador del carácter ingles, de ese humus jovial que siempre aparece. Por ejemplo, ayer me iba a la universidad cuando mi pareja me alcanzo a decir, No te tomas un café conmigo. Me senté con ella y de pronto se me ocurrió decir, Quizá por tomar este café me toque bomba. Sólo contesto, Quizá te hubiera tocado si no te quedas a tomar café.

Borges decía de ellos y ellas que comienzan por evitar las confesiones y terminan por eliminar el diálogo. Es cierto, pero tienen modos de recomponer tan desastroso comportamiento. Va el inicio y el final de un texto de Tim Dowling y algunas opiniones de quienes viven aquí.

"I can pretty well pinpoint the moment when my own spirit of defiance started to fade. It was on Saturday morning. I was with the dog in the park opposite our house, chatting to a woman with a boxer while watching two uniformed policeman comb the undergrowth. It's not unusual to see police in Little Wormwood Scrubs; the place has of late become something of a centre of excellence for delinquents. It is unusual, however, to be ordered to leave the area by a plainclothes officer citing the presence of a suspicious device. It is strange to watch the whole park being festooned in police tape, to see cops with machine-guns and earpieces standing on the corner. A huge security cordon was thrown up, with our house inside it.


On Sunday morning, we were woken by the muffled crump of a controlled explosion. Although the bomb has been taken away, as I write this the police are still here and the park is still closed. I don't know whether I want them to stay or not. For the moment I live in unprecedented safety - a veritable gated community - but I must admit I'm now afraid; afraid that another attack is imminent, afraid of the idea of 3,000 armed police on the streets, afraid that London will never quite be the same again, afraid that my children will find out how afraid I am (don't worry, they'll never read this far). Carrying on as normal seems less politically freighted than it did two weeks ago, not least because it's no longer really possible, but you can't say that the terrorists have won just because the cops won't let the postman deliver my Amazon order.

The Guardian

I haven't been into London since it happened. I'm not going to for two years. That's enough time for it to calm down.
Rodney Odai, 17, sports science student

My great aunt - with whom I never speak - called me from up north. She said, "Is everyone in the family still alive?" I said, "Yes". She said, "Grand", and put the phone down.
Lisa Morgan, 31, legal secretary

I'm a cyclist and the roads are a lot more crowded. The traffic's gone a bit mad. A friend of mine owns a bike shop and he's advertising bikes on Thursday and they're gone by Friday.
Alex Constantina, 42, carpenter and joiner

An Indian friend of mine - English, but Indian parentage - always carries a rucksack and won't use the tube now. He says it's been the first time in years he's felt really aware of his colour.
Pippa Leech, social worker

This morning I travelled from Waterloo to Canary Wharf in the rush hour with 10 days' worth of clothes in a large rucksack. Nobody gave me a funny look or asked to search my bag, but I felt very self-conscious. I didn't do what I would normally do on the tube - abandon my bag at the end of the line of seats and sit in the nearest free one. Instead, I stood up for the five stops in order not to cause panicky "Whose bag is this?" type questions - and to avoid summary execution. I also find myself doing that awful bien-pensant thing of smiling reassuringly at all head-scarfed Muslims, so they know I don't blame them, extending the patronising white woman's hand of friendship across the racial and religious divide. Or something.
Grace Drummond, 30, doctor

I'm getting buses not tubes when travelling alone, getting cabs if I'm in a group and regularly - almost too regularly - checking the news. And I'm feeling irrational anger with people who I feel aren't playing by the rules - playing music loudly out of car stereos, shouting in the street and generally being a non-specific nuisance.
Alan, actor

I won't go in the front carriage of a tube train.
Lisa McEvoy, 42

I'm doing my best to carry on exactly as before. From what I've seen of people's reactions within London, they are the ones who are most determined to carry on as normal, whereas those who live outside London are the ones who are most concerned - so, ironically, those most directly affected are the most resilient, while those furthest away seem to be most fearful. But that's typical of all such scenarios - my brother spent five years living in Jerusalem with little fear of attacks, while all those outside the country assume it is a 24 hour warzone.
Adam Hoffman, 31, investment banker

I went shopping in yucky Brent Cross rather than Oxford Street today. I want my husband to leave in the morning so he's at work by 8.30, whereas before I'd want him to see the baby more in the morning as she's in bed when he gets home.
Emily Smith, 38, teacher

My housemate got off a train at London Bridge and took a cab home last week as there was someone acting strangely in his carriage. He was furious with himself, but what can you do?
Tom James

This morning, I found myself walking on the inside of the pavement rather than on the roadside edge, to put some distance between myself and the buses. How ridiculous is that?
Jennifer Stone, 30, stylist

· Interviews by Lucy Mangan