Alternative Perspective

A look at British culture from an outside perspective and a look at American culture from an outsider living within it's borders.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ugly Awakenings

You go a few days with little to talk about and something like this happens. Of all the things I thought I'd be talking about in my little 'how the other half lives' Blog, I didn't think I'd get to talk about international responses to terrorism.

I was in England when 9-11 happened. I was in America when 7-7 happened. While the scale of the attacks in London is smaller than 9-11 the degree of co-ordination seems greater. But when comparing loss of life it's no game of Top Trumps.

After 9-11 I started making it a habit of checking the news every single morning. 'To see if the world is still there' I used to put it.

Yesterday, we got home late, and Katy had been painting the wall that my wireless router and cable modem plugs into earlier that day, so they were both unplugged. As we were going to bed she asked me if I wanted to go on the internet in the morning, and I said she needn't bother. I was tired, and my morning newschecking ritual didn't have the urgency anymore that you can feel when an ocean away from loved ones.

Funny then that I should wake up to a message sending me 'commiserations' and hoping that none of my family lived in London. They don't fortunately... but just yesterday after the olympics announcement I was being asked if I knew anyone who lived in London, calling to mind the people that I do know that live in and around the city.

As I write this, I don't know how devastating it's going to be in the long run. The UK firecrews are still going into some of the train stations with cutting equipment and oxygen masks. It was 5 days after 9-11 before they pulled the last living person out of the wreckage. Hopefully no family in England will be put through that special kind of hell.

Two years ago, I was working in England, and a minutes silence was held on 9-11. Some of the more ignorant people in the office were voicing complaints afterwards. 'They wouldn't do this for us.'

I mean ignoring the dozens of British people that died that day for a minute, I just wanted to paint a simple picture for those people living back in Britain that seemed to think America wouldn't bat an eyelid if something like 9-11 happened there.

This morning, the radio show I normally listen to on the drive into work was cancelled. Instead they were covering the events in London live. Patching from one news station to the next, following the story. Jay Sevron, who normally does the 3-7 pm slot was in. He'd presumably pulled himself out of bed and hauled ass to the station.

The guy at the army base this morning who checks my ID and drivers license every day (I drive through the army base to get to work... it's much shorter. I don't work in the army base) just waved me through today, with a sympathetic smile. No joke about my English accent today. No asking for my ID, just a brief moment of eye contact and a wave. He probably didn't want to ask me if I had any loved ones in London.

The first person I met at work this morning asked that question, and people have been asking me so far if I'm okay.

I am okay. I'm not pulling my hair out over a missing loved one, but I haven't managed to get in touch with my family yet to make sure that they're doing okay too.

For anyone that thought America wouldn't shed a tear for us Brits, I just wanted to show you that you were wrong.

45 Comments:

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