London will never bow down

In a week when my Yorkshire-based family's disdain and confusion over my life choices (moving to London / not being married and squeezing out kids yet) has been at the fore again, I'm grateful to Darryl for pointing out Ken Livingstone's speech after the 7th July London bombings:

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports
and look at our railway stations and, even after your
cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain,
people from around the world will arrive in London to become
Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because
they come to be free, they come to live the life they
choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because
you tell them how they should live. They don't want that
and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight
to our city where freedom is strong and where people can
live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you
kill, you will fail.

My first reaction to the bombings – a reaction I still have, come to that – was pure fury. How dare they attack London. How dare they imagine, for one tiny second, that we would be cowed. You want to start a fight do you? You want to start a fight with London? Come on then: I'll put myself in the front line and we will destroy you.

This is the greatest city in the world and I love it. Passionately, fiercely. London stands for so much freedom and openness; things that extremists, and the BNP, and those relatives of mine who say things like 'you don't see a white face in Lewisham' despite having spent time here, evidently with their eyes closed, will never understand. It's why I will never leave. And why I am still very angry.

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3 responses to “London will never bow down

  1. Nick July 8, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Out of curisoity how do you feel, or would of felt, had you been living through the PIRA attacks?

  2. Rachel July 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

    No idea. I wasn’t expecting my reaction to be that, even though I’d been expecting an attack. The PIRA generally avoided people so I suspect I would have been less outraged but still fucking angry that my beautiful city was being blown up. However, I don’t think you can equate the two. The 7/7 bombings were futile; whatever they thought they were achieving was so fuzzily thought out it was just wanton destruction of life and liberty. The PIRA at least had a defined goal, even if they went about it in a way I cannot condone.
    Also remember the London bombers came from my home town, so to me this was a doubly personal attack on my freedom.

  3. Nick July 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Fair enough. I don’t think the two can be equated either.
    The randomness and deliberate targeting of civilians was what struck me. Terrible, terrible day. Made me very angry as well.

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