So another Nervy Thursday successfully negotiated. There were police everywhere – including an armed one at Highbury and Islington this evening. That must be the first time I’ve seen anyone openly carrying a gun in this country since I was in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles (where I found the army’s habit of using their rifle sights as telescopes to keep an eye on passing pedestrians rather disconcerting). Fortunately the guy at Highbury was just doing the ‘relaxed but vigilant’ standing around pose that they must teach them at Hendon and not pointing his weapon at anyone.
I was expecting the train to be a bit busier, full of tube refugees, but it was if anything quieter. The only difference was twice the number of bikes on the train and more than twice the number of cars on the road. I wonder how many extra cyclists have been killed on the streets of London since the bombing campaign began? It shows how bad we all are at judging risk that a bike seems safer than a train, even a train with a one-in-however-many trains there are in London risk of having a bomb in it. In the whole of my life in London I’ve known no-one – not one person, not during the whole of the IRA terror campaign or this one – who’s had so much as a hair ruffled by a terrorist bomb. But I’ve known two people killed and several seriously injured on their bikes. You do the maths. If the terrorists can’t get us by blowing us up wholesale, maybe they should just buy a load of old white vans and start picking us off one by one on the zebra crossings. The sad thing is, nobody would even notice.
I suppose I’m lucky. I’m taking the overground, not the tube most days. The terrorists are aiming to strike fear in the heart of London, so a half-forgotten train line that dribbles aimlessly round the north of the city is not going to be a high priority. My most overriding concern this evening was keeping track of what station we had got to without catching the eye of the garrulous drunk opposite who was trying to engage people in conversation about, variously, colour therapy, the IRA ceasefire, and the sayings of Thucydides – the latter a bit of a challenge to pronounce with a skinful. Maybe the reality hasn’t sunk in but I’m not yet frightened enough that a bicycle looks like a sensible alternative.
On the other hand, Silverlink and I passed a small yet important milestone today – a full working day wasted over the course of the last three months. It would matter more, I suppose, if I ever did anything productive at work.
Total time wasted today: 7 minutes
Total time wasted to date: 8 hours 6 minutes