I’ve been in London for the last few days. I was at the House of Lords the evening before the ‘terrorist incident.’ On entering the Lords though, I have to say that I was thinking, ‘Good God, security seems so lax – in comparison to it was a few years ago. If I was a dodgy nutter, I’d be targeting this place – big time.’
I literally sauntered into the Houses with a big backpack. And no X-Ray – nothing – until I was inside of the Palace of Westminster itself. Just a paper invitation to the event – printed off in Huddersfield. On a home printer. And yep – we wandered around freely once we were into the building. The main concern seemed to be feeding us and watering us. No one seemed to twig the fact that one of our well-heeled guesties might want to swan off and scan the building for weak points.
And then, the morning after – I was on a big London run. Just a few hours before the attack. Saw the French (and many other) school children as I meandered across Vauxhall, Westminster, Blackfriars bridge. The kids always do the Golden Hinde, The Globe, The Tate, South Bank, maybe The Wheel – and then lunch and over to The Houses.
They got in the way of my running. One lad stepped right in front of me – I gave him a friendly tap and a smile. ‘Pardonne moi – Madame!’
Then back to my base in Vauxhall, finish off the work commitments and head for Up North.
When in London, I try and walk everywhere. You see so much more. You truly experience London Life. You can scrutinise the people, the buildings, the history and the city.
So I decided to do the big walk to Euston. Quickest route was via Parliament. The weather was drizzly. So I focussed less on the beauty of Westminster Palace – and more on my never ending ‘to-do’ list. I then veered off – to take in Buckingham Palace (pic for the kids) and was surprised at how quiet – and how few police there seemed to be.
And so I am truly surprised to hear on the news, that we were supposed to be on ‘high security alert.’ Up at close quarters – and at a tourist distance – in comparison to visits in the past, the security just seemed more dumbed down. More relaxed – less bodies in black. More freedom for cheekier folk who like to climb on railings and take a few more liberties.
I’m not freaked out by the fact that I was trotting past Westminster just before it happened. My life story is one of ‘Near Misses.’
I’m just horrified that innocent people lost their lives, that so many were injured – and yet again the word ‘Islam’ is used to describe what went on here today. That my best friends – beautiful, wonderful folk who are born, or nominal or devoted muslims – will now again be under attack themselves from narrow-minded people who don’t seem to be able to think for themselves.
I guess that the description of ‘very psychologically disturbed individuals, who lack socialisation and sufficient human interaction and the warmth needed to overcome the need to believe in extreme political or religious thought’ doesn’t sell newspapers quite as well as the hit-word of ‘Islam’.
And yet – despite my northern prejudices against London (let’s face it – they are CRAP at hills and making soup for their next door neighbours) – one thing that I reckon the north might want to learn a bit more from the capital is that they do mixed-up culture and jigging alongside each others a tad bit better than some of the northern cities and towns do.
Solidarity to Londoners. To visitors to the capital. And to muslim brothers and sisters who know that ‘this was NOT Islam.’ And this was NOT them.