Being surpised by the inevitable

This post was written by Friday blogger Annie Reid.

Over at the Guardian, Ian McEwan asks, “How could we have forgotten that this was always going to happen?”

Police were fanning out through Bloomsbury closing streets at both ends even as you were halfway down them. The machinery of state, a great Leviathan, certain of its authority, moved with balletic coordination. Those rehearsals for a multiple terrorist attack underground were paying off. In fact, now the disaster was upon us, it had an air of weary inevitability, and it looked familiar, as though it had happened long ago. In the drizzle and dim light, the police lines, the emergency vehicles, the silent passers by appeared as though in an old newsreel film in black and white. The news of the successful Olympic bid was more surprising than this. How could we have forgotten that this was always going to happen?

Also in the Guardian, James Meek notes that in a contemporary urban disaster, cell phones become icons of security and connection:

Walking down Essex Road, which leads from the border of Hackney through Islington towards King’s Cross and the western edge of the City, everybody was talking; sometimes to each other, mostly to their loved ones on their mobiles. The networks were strained but just about coping. You kept hearing snatches of conversation as the news spread and people confronted the sudden reduction of London to a pedestrian city. “… bus is blown up …” “… really nasty …” ” … I’m just waitin’ …” “” … they’ve all got bastard attitudes … “.

Even those who weren’t speaking on their mobiles were holding them in their hands, expecting them to ring, waiting for a signal, or just as talismans of the idea of order, of the idea that this last electronic totem of technology and civilisation would lead them through a rude intrusion of chaos.


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