Rick Reports from London — One Week After
It's July 14, a week after "the incident of July 7" in London. I'm just back from a very busy day of sightseeing and researching that took me all over the city: inside the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, whispering across the Whispering Gallery with turbaned Sikhs; cruising the Thames — sitting next to a veiled Algerian woman and her kids — in a WWII-era amphibious personnel carrier turned tour bus/boat; jockeying with Orthodox Jews for a photo with the Beatles at Madame Tussaud's; and checking out the Queen's fancy carriage in the Buckingham Palace stables with an American school group. The city feels as diverse and vibrant as the world itself.
It's extremely hot. The parks are jammed with sunbathers. Brits are proudly pink in their new sunburns.
I used an all-day transit pass today, riding the bus and Tube at will. A few bits of the Tube are not working as the bombed stations are rebuilt. This causes extra congestion on neighboring lines. When the Tube is jam-packed it is sweltering.
The papers are filled with the unfolding investigation into the bombing. The mayor and prime minister are drawing great praise for not over-reacting. And everyone is proud not to be terrorized by the terrorists. There's not a hint of retaliation in the air.
Echoing the feeling I get from the Londoners I've met, the home secretary Charles Clarke declared, "In this appalling tragedy, the courage and strength of the people of London has been an inspiration. We will never allow terrorists to destroy the democracy, tolerance, multicultural vitality, and vigor of London or the rest of our country."
London has always been a great city to me. Today, the entire city came to a standstill for two minutes of silence. As I stood in the street with hundreds of thousands emptying out of their offices and stores, as not a car or bus moved, as even boat traffic stopped on the normally churning Thames, London — residents and visitors alike — remembered the victims of July 7. One hundred and twenty seconds later, the city heaved back into motion, and life goes on.
Safely and sincerely,