Thursday, July 07, 2005

Report from London

I have been in London this week. Last evening my hotel was full so I went home for the night, returning on the 7:11 train that arrived in Paddington Station just before 9 a.m. As is usual I aimed for the underground (Bakerloo Line) and joined the streams of commuters going to work in Central London. The second stop was Edgware Road and (though I may have imagined this) I seem to remember a strong smell resembling burning brakes. Only when I arrived in the West End did I find out there had been a series of bombs, including one at Edgware Road but on the shallower Metropolitan Line.

Now I'm stuck here as all public transport is shut down and taxis are like hens teeth. I did flag one down for a colleague going to Calgary via Heathrow and he was happy to take someone out of the city (but not apparently within the city). So I am not sure how I will get to Paddington later this afternoon. And even then I am not sure that there will be any trains.

The scary part of all this has been that the communications we take for granted have all just about collapsed: not only the trains and buses but also the cell phone networks, many key web sites, and of course the emergency services are entirely focused on what they have to do. The not so scary part is just how well the general public has reacted to all this. A stoical sftiff upper lip. Churchill would be proud.