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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

One week later, and everything seems to be going back to whatever passes as normal in London. We've all finally stopped staring at each other on the tubes, returning to studying our feet and rustling our newspapers, but new behaviour is beginning to creep through. There seems to be an understanding that the people who are left to crowd in the doorways and at the ends of the carriages carry the responsibility to "vet" everyone who gets on and off the train, watching bags and studying faces for religious rapture. I would suspect that the underground are experiencing a severe drop in the number of commuters at the moment too, since I keep having the strange of experience of sitting down while travelling. This morning, in fact, the carriage was half empty. Which is unnerving during rush hour, like you've missed an announcement that everyone else heard.

Otherwise, life trundles on as usual, although I have started to take extra care not to rush goodbyes, and to answer text messages and emails as much as possible. The idea that four young men were willing to strap explosives to themselves and look directly at the faces of strangers they were about to murder is one that I can't seem to shake, particularly when I'm going through the rituals of getting on the tube. Everything I do, I can't help but reflect that they did exactly the same. They bought travel cards. They put them through the machines. They went down the escalators, possibly standing to the right to let other commuters pass them by. They stood on the platform. They chose their carriage. They boarded the train. They stood in the gangway, holding on to the rails. They knew that they, and many of the people around them, were about to die in an incredibly horrific manner.

These are my thoughts. This is what I'm dwelling on. And I'm getting increasingly irritated by the continued insistence in the press that we're not afraid and we're all defiant and we're all carrying on as usual. Patronising rubbish like werenotafraid.com can go swing, as far as I'm concerned. I am afraid, and I don't mind admitting it. I refuse to be pressurised to laugh in the face of danger. I'd rather avoid danger if at all possible, please, and if it's not possible, I'd like to be allowed the indulgence of feeling the fear that these four men have inspired in me. What's wrong with admitting to being afraid? It won't make them more powerful. It won't mean I'm going to lock myself in the house and never go out again. It doesn't mean anything's changed, for the better or the worse. I would just like to say for the record, here and now, that they've frightened me and I do still feel scared. My response is not inappropriate. My response is not un-defiant. My response is not giving in to the terrorists. My response, I feel, is one shared by so many people here and everywhere else.

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