London Endures


Westminster rain

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.

19 comments on “London Endures”

  1. Gary Hart says:

    True, so true.

  2. Jo W says:

    Very well said,Chris.
    My husband was involved the day of the Victoria station bombing.He had just got off the train and was approaching the barrier when it exploded. He wasn’t physically injured that day,but the memory remains vivid,especially on days like these. We carry on!

  3. Chris Webb says:

    As for The Trumpling, people who say stupid things will always succeed – in making themselves look stupid. You’ve got to feel sorry for someone who has to go through life being called Junior. “Junior, have you done your chores?” “Yeah Mom.”

    I worked in the City when the Bishopsgate and St Mary Axe bombs went off. My main memory of it is of the really lame jokes we made. Many offices had their windows blown out and documents were flying around everywhere. The phrase “paperless office” was popular at the time so we made up a slogan “The IRA – helping London move to the paperless office”. The resulting Ring of Steel was made of plastic barriers and was re-Christened The Ring of Plastic. Told you the jokes were lame but they were better than nothing.

  4. Roger says:

    “The London Mayor Sadiq Khan … Donald Trump Jr  just launched an attack of his own on Kahn”
    Any relation?

    Very good sense on your part too too.
    Wasn’t the PO Tower bomb the Angry Brigade? Or was that another one?

  5. Brian Evans says:

    It is ironic that this has happened only a couple of days after Martin McGinnis has died. He seemed to have been over feted as a peacemaker. That unfortunately was not the full story. For the first time in my life I agree with a statement made by Norman Tebbitt.

    When the IRA bombed Canary Wharf, a car bomb also went off later that evening outside an entrance to Queen Alexandra Mansions, Judd Street, Kings Cross. I was getting ready to go out-it being Saturday evening. Had I have been ready a few minutes earlier I would have been blown to smithereens. We were evacuated to a nearby hotel in Bloomsbury. Inside, something happened that could only happen in Britain: the jobsworth barman refused to sell anyone drinks as it was after hours, and we weren’t booked into the hotel.

    I get the impression form my current read, “Strange Tide”, that the above block of flats (QAM as it is referred as locally) is now were Arthur and Alma live. Or perhaps I just want it to be!

  6. Brian Evans says:

    Re above: I failed to mention-we were living in QAM at the time of the bomb.

  7. Brooke says:

    With deepest sympathy…the loss of lives is tragic.

  8. Wayne#1 says:

    Yes indeed London does. Thank you Mr F for your post.

    With a sad heart I once again send deepest sympathy to all those affected by yesterdays events.

  9. Davem says:

    Great post Chris

  10. Poul Thorsen says:

    Hear, hear well said.

  11. David says:

    If statesman like is an acceptable term, I thought Theresa May’s statement to parliament today was exceptionally so.

    It seems an appropriate evening I think to take myself off to the monthly gathering at the Cross Bones graveyard in Southwark to connect with the Old London souls.

  12. Vivienne says:

    Yes, well said.

    Most Londoners have had close encounters. I walked past an IRA bomb an hour before it went off. We were all vigilant on every tube journey and I walked past the House of Commons gate and across Westminster Bridge on Tuesday evening. Good to see that people didn’t run, but stayed to help yesterday.

  13. SteveB says:

    I have many memories of the ira bombing.
    Including walking through half a mile of broken glass from finsbury square to get to my then-office in finsbury circus.
    I remember the crummmp sound of the really big bombs, the terrible stories of the innocent people not only killed but even worse horribly maimed.
    I think, people do what is in them and some people are dark inside. In England and Wales we are not weighted down by history and because of this we forget that for 90% of the world history carries a great weight.

  14. SteveB says:

    Regarding Martin M…
    This was a guy who could walk out of a church service and order a torture and execution.
    He’s the man who organised the forced ethnic cleansing of Derry through terror.
    He’s slso the guy who forced through the peace process and probably the only man who could have achieved that.
    So make of all that what you will.

  15. Bruce Rockwood says:

    Bravo. More people die from guns in our USA daily than from terrorism annually. Your comments are right on point.

  16. Helen Martin says:

    There are some places where there are very few people who have experienced acts of terrorism. If it weren’t for the Americans we wouldn’t be concerned here in Canada and it makes it difficult for us to comment appropriately on what happens elsewhere. We don’t comment on the Irish Question much even though we have a range of opinions, especially those of us with relations from there. We don’t want a closer experience. We wring our hands with sorrow when we hear of these events and offer help from afar. (I don’t know how much help our Intelligence groups would be to MI5 and 6, but our PM did offer.)

  17. John Howard says:

    Who needs to read a newspaper when we can get the stories from your blogs? 🙂
    Thanks and here, here, for vocalising clearly what i was thinking

  18. KatieR says:

    I remember being indoors and hearing the bomb go off on the bus in Tavistock Square, and thinking – wonder what that was…And Sadiq Khan is right when he says its what we have to live with. During the IRA bombing campaign we were more annoyed, that we were stopped shopping in Oxford Street sometimes, due to a suspect parcel somewhere, it never occurred to us that we should run for cover, we’d just mooch around around until it was all clear..

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