It is 9:20am on Friday 7th July 2006. At this time on Thursday 7th July 2005, I had been hunting around the interweb for quarter of an hour, trying to find out whether the bang that I’d heard tell of was anything sinister. It soon became clear that it was. Meanwhile, across London, Rachel, Holly, Steve, Mitch, Bumble Bee, Hamish, Weaselbitch, Yorkshire Lass, Andrew and countless others were having a rather worse time of it, stuck in the dark deep underground, many surrounded by scenes they’ll never be able to forget.
Make no mistake, being in a city during a major terrorist attack is not much fun.
Though the response on the day from the emergency services and volunteers alike was hugely impressive, the last 12 months have not given much room for hope that anything has been learned. A public inquiry has repeatedly been ruled out, despite so many questions still left to be answered and so many reccomendations ignored. Those in charge of the Metropolitan Police have, throughout this time, done little other than repeatedly shooting an innocent man in the head, stirring up anger and resentment through raids based on little evidence, crushing political dissent near Parliament, making repeated public statements of their inability to prevent further attacks, and taken to pointlessly whacking huge numbers of officers in tube and mainline stations on random days (often Thursdays), ostensibly “to reassure”.
Today, central London is packed with police. Thousands of them infest the city in their luminous jackets, milling around aimlessly – and scaring the living hell out of everyone chugging in to work and trying to forget the events of last year. Do they have torches, first aid kits and breathing apparatus so they can dash below ground and help out at the first sign of a repeat performance? No. Are they searching everyone trying to get on the underground? No. Is their presence on the streets today anything other than a pointless, wasteful PR stunt? No.
Because how can the police and security services prevent further attacks when they still have no idea quite what caused the last lot? Nobody has any idea what made four Muslims with British passports become so filled with hate that they wanted to kill and maim indiscriminately. There may be no answer to the “why?” – but there’s surely a better one than the standard “they were eeeeeeeeeevil”.
So, while we sit back at midday for the two minutes’ silence and think about those people a year ago whose lives were ended or forever altered through the actions of a small group of maniacs; while we ponder what life must be like in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan and the Sudan, where events like 7/7 come almost daily; while we think how grateful we are to have got through it – think also about how little we know about that day and the events leading up to it, and call for a public inquiry.
And then, once that’s done, let’s get on with our lives – the best possible way to stick two fingers up at the tiny minority of bigoted, faith-drunk totalitarians who want to change the way we live with bombs.
Update: A reminder.