Tuesday, July 08, 2008

British values

A week after the 7 July 2005 bombings, there was a two minutes’ silence. I’ve never seen Euston Road, where my office is, so crowded and so still. The buses and taxis pulled over. Nobody spoke, nobody moved. It felt very powerful.

On the one-year anniversary, another silence was scheduled. This was thinly attended, we weren’t quite sure when it began and ended, and the traffic didn’t stop this time. Likewise assorted passers-by. It all felt a bit forced.

On the two-year anniversary, I heard no mention of anything for the general public – as opposed to those directly affected – to commemorate it. It felt as though we should just get on with our lives.

I hadn’t even realised yesterday was the three-year anniversary until I was in the train going home and glanced at someone’s paper. It felt like a normal day.

The bombs didn’t, as the saying goes, change our way of life.


Matt Wardman said...

Tom, I'd like to email you but I can't find an address.
Matt Wardman

Tom Freeman said...

Hi Matt. Sorry, I monkeyed around with my profile a little while ago and must have accidentally hidden it.
Try tom3man@hotmail.com

Andrew R said...

Hmm. Much as I like to lay claim to a little bit of the Blitz spirit (and, like you, I didn't really notice the date till it was pointed out to me) I'm not sure that we're quite as insouciant as we'd like to imagine.

Day to day, we don't do much differently but there have been various changes in the national culture which are more or less influenced by the 7/7 bombings. One hand, there's the "soft" stuff such as the rise in tabloid stories of "weird Muslims" - from their "banning" pictures of dogs to "sharia law in Blighty!" scares to "Christian no-go areas" and so tediously on. A bit difficult to pin down, but it seems to me that there is a heightened suspicion/fear/awareness of Islam nowadays.

This leads into the "hard" consequences, best reflected in legislation and security practice. There was/is lots of support for 90 days as well as 42; also for ID cards/CCTV; and greater surveillance powers generally.

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the above (and definitely without going all David Davis) I think they are a) at least partly in response to 7/7 and b) a somewhat significant change in "our way of life" - and if I were e.g. a Muslim corner-shop owner or IT worker, I'd probably find it more so.