Life has taken on the logic of a dream.
There are approximately five hundred persons on a Docklands Light Railway train, fewer now because of circumstances. Yesterday a young man from Rwanda, new to London, got stuck in the doors; they close so fast at Canary Wharf. The driver said on the loudspeaker: 'Get away from the doors!' The train emptied.
Next to me a young black girl cried 'Not me, not now.' An elderly woman pushed over a suited, briefcased man to get onto the escalator. The driver on the speaker shouted 'No, no, no!' The running seemed like underwater.
Later a student wearing a rucksack left a tube station downtown singing. It was Bop, Bop, Bop, Barbara Ann. His mobile began to beep. A hundred people scattered. A black cab rear-ended a white van. A television crew arrived.
I think it is partially due to the constant repetition of disappearing news. The official news is that there is no news. Everything is proceeding cautiously and according to facts. Can the public help to identify this plastic container, this rucksack, this blurred face? The official news is supplemented by strange people. They are “security analysts”, “terror experts” and a number of witnesses all called Robert Jones. Robert speaks perfectly and concisely. You see them once and then they disappear.
Police have things under control. The Prime Minister is resolute. He does look tough, younger. His pictures in the papers are in profiled. Is he travelling on the tubes. Every day the news is faster moving. Less substantial. Better. Bad. Psychologists warn of reality.
Worse is the incredible shifting terrorists. Ten arrested. All disappear.
At first, dressed in a heavy coat he ignored instructions, leapt over a barrier and flung himself into a subway carriage filled with innocent people including Robert Jones. He was Asian (that’s what the British call Middle Eastern says FOX). He was shot twice to stop him from detonating a bomb.
You know the rest. Information begins to drip, twist and fog. First off he was shot eight times while being held down screaming. He was Brazilian. He not only had no bomb he had no coat. He did not leap over a barrier he paid using his travel card, like I do. He did not flee police; he took a bus to the station. He was not an illegal immigrant. He was given no warning. He was not even the man the armed team was following. He was hurrying to get in the car before the doors closed. Everyone must agree it had to be done.
I think it may also be the sirens. There are the streets closed because of incidents you never hear of again. There are daily raids of kabob shops and Internet cafes. The machine guns everywhere. There to reassure. Abandoned cars, each with a helicopter overhead, litter the streets. I cannot find a route to Lewisham. Red buses have grown in size. They fill my windscreen like a wall. Their route numbers have horrible significance.
The Prime Minister, dream-like, calls for an alliance of all civilizations to meet the threat. He says we had all gone to sleep. That is why it happened. He will wake us. He warns of twisted logic.
There is a whisper we will leave Iraq. I don’t remember falling asleep.