The London Mayor Sadiq Khan is right; terror attacks are part and parcel of living in a big city and you have to be vigilant to combat the dangers. Donald Trump Jr just launched an attack of his own on Kahn (on Twitter, this presidency’s preferred mode of communication for the conducting of ill-informed dialogue). Kahn had gone on to say that ‘it means being vigilant, having a police force that is in touch with communities, it means the security services being ready, but it also means exchanging ideas and best practice.’
Of course like his father, Trump Jr took a tiny portion of an old article and ran without the facts behind him.
There is no way to future-proof a country against terrorism by building walls or turning the place into a police state. I had my first experience of bombing disruption when the IRA tried to blow up the (then called) Post Office Tower. My first day at work was at the foot of this building in Charlotte Street, and my office windows were shattered, the interior showered in debris.
Both my parents remained in London during the war, my father firewatching near St Paul’s, my mother in the WAAF. Through all the IRA terrorist years I remained in London and saw the aftermaths of these events. My PA Sally was having her hair done in Harrods when the bomb went off outside on 17 December 1983. It killed three police officers and three civilians, injured 90 people, and blew in the windows of the salon.
On the evening of 30 April 1999, the Admiral Duncan pub was the scene of a nail bomb explosion (one of three attacks that day) which killed three and wounded 70. My staff and I were about to have a party in the pub when the bomb, detonated out by a neo-Nazi nutcase attempting to stir up ethnic and homophobic hatred, went off causing horrific injuries. Tragically one of the barmen, David, who survived, was later thrown off Charing Cross Bridge and killed in an entirely unrelated homophobic attack.
When the three 7/7 bombs caused havoc in King’s Cross I was walking to work around them, one after the other, following their exact path into the West End. In my life there has never been a time when London wasn’t under violent attack.
None of this will mean anything to the privileged son of the short-fingered vulgarian, who has no experience of real life. London endures because the alternative – to us, at least – is unthinkable.