Friday, June 29, 2007

Clueless me

[Update below]

So today I played hooky from the archives (more on them later - there's lots to tell) and met up around 11am with a former professor of mine who's staying on the edge of Chinatown on Shaftesbury Ave. (which street always makes me think of the address of a radio show I used to listen to as a teenager: Rock Over London, with Graham Dene). We walked down to the National Portrait Gallery (passing through Leicester Square, where I saw the TKTS booth -- but I still haven't gotten tickets for anything yet), and walked through about half of the collection, including the exhibitors and winners of the BP Portrait Award. After, we had lunch in a lovely little bistro, where I accidently spilled my white wine all over my senior colleague, but she still paid for lunch (thanks!) and the kind proprietors brought me another glass of wine.

And I did all of this completely clueless that this morning at 2am, not far from where we were, at Haymarket and Coventry St., right off Picadilly Circus, police were defusing and disassembling a car bomb, and that streets around the area were closed off for some time. It wasn't until my colleague said something about sleeping well this morning because (as she would find out later) the street was so quiet from being closed off due to the scare. What scare, I asked? I suppose I should read the news online *before* I go out.

Then again, I had a perfectly enjoyable, albeit clueless, walk from my room to Shaftesbury on a sunny and pleasantly warm late morning, so maybe ignorance is bliss. After all, what good is fear going to do me? Deputy Asst. Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism unit, says "we must all stay alert." Alert to what? What if, while we're all staying alert for the last thing that happened, something *different* happens? (This is what drives me nuts about the no liquids rule on airplanes and still having to take my damn shoes off.)

So I'll just go about my business and figure that the concealed-carry law in the state where I make my home is statistically more a danger to me than potential terrorism in London.

A quote from a New York Times article today (2 am EST edition):

“It’s only when I got to work that I realized what was happening,” said Renee Anderson, 32, a New Zealander from her country’s nearby diplomatic mission. “I feel surprisingly all right about it. We all kind of thought, ‘Well, you could be hit by a bus anyway.’ ”
Kiwis and me: san souci.


The Pastry Pirate said...

i've been thinking of you all day since hearing about it on the drive in to school at 0615... so i guess technically i found out before you did. you already know how i feel about the no liquids/take yer shoes off rules for flying, so i think i'll just call to mind the great grass roots campaign londoners (and then people around the world showing support) had going right after the tube bombings a couple years back... remember when they uploaded photos of themselves with handmade signs, or photoshopped into famous landmark photos, the phrase "still not scared"? huzzah to that. and i hope you're still not scared. much love (and envy.... bombs or not, london is still my favorite city in the world), me

Dr. Virago said...

Nope, not scared. Unless you're talking about mopeds. *Those* scare me because their drivers don't think pedestrian right-of-ways apply to them!

TheCrankyProfessor said...

I thought of you this morning - in the bad way as in "I hope she's alright" and in the jealous way as I typed "I'd really like to see it, though."

Dr. Virago said...

Michael -- well, since the bomb was diffused before it went off, and since I'm not the 2am-clubbing type (anymore), yes, I'm OK. :)

And hm, yes, that does look like an interesting exhibit, especially its more positive and poignant attention to Katherine. I wasn't planning on making a trip to Hampton Court, but maybe I should change my mind! Oh, so much to see and do in addition to my work!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Yeah -- I found out about it when I got off the Tube at King's Cross yesterday, and then when the security guys at BL apologetically checked my bags. Didn't hear about the second one till today. Me, I've been more worried that they've stopped service at my Tube station for the weekend and I have to make my way to Golders Green before I can get to the BL!

Anonymous said...

This is much more like London bombs as I remember it from the IRA campaigns than the reaction to the tube bombs of two years ago. Those were pretty horrific and the IRA rarely came close to that, but fifteen to twenty years ago bits of London being closed, parts of the Tube shut down, while the police checked for bombs that might or might not be there, was something quite usual and no-one really thought too much about it. Casualties were still a lot lot lower than road deaths, after all, and the Tube was so often broken anyway that it didn't really alter the journey experience very much. (It got noticeably better after about 2000, and is now deteriorating again.) We seem to be heading back there again: car bombs, indifferent Londoners and a degenerating Tube system...