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A Londoner's Reaction

I've lived here in this wonderful city for thirty years, long enough to learn to love it and its terrible summer weather deeply, to hear stories of wet Wimbledons in the past and recollections of The Blitz, when German planes rained their firepower on London.

I've also been here long enough to have lived through the bombs of the Irish terrorist group, the IRA. And now here we are with an apparently indiscriminate bombing campaign being waged upon us by, well by who?

First we assumed it involved people who were born here, people with British passports. But then the police arrested a bunch of suspects, who had each come to work in this country as doctors from overseas.

In the end, most of us probably don't care where they're from, because there are three shocking aspects to this latest campaign that makes it so different from what has gone before.

Firstly, these vicious attacks were aimed at killing and maiming as many people as possible, entirely arbitrarily -- car bombs loaded with nails, outside a nightclub, for Heaven's sake.

Secondly, because these people, unlike the more pragmatic IRA, don't give warnings and don't seem to care if they die -- in fact they seem to welcome it.

But most of all, it's the emergence of trained doctors as the main suspects in this case, that has stunned us here ... the idea that professionals dedicated to saving life by day could plan on destroying life by night.

But despite this, the attitude taken by Londoners, the real Londoners, not the sort of people you see quoted on TV, is much as it has always been. It's a sort of grumpy acceptance that this is the next phase this two thousand year old city has to go through, and that we will have to put up with the screaming police sirens and the inevitable delays to the transportation system caused by false alarms.

And maybe there's a slight sense of relief in the response to this horror from our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He's appeared more downbeat and realistic than his predecessor Tony Blair, avoiding his theatrical, hammy, Churchillian tones.

Mr. Brown has simply adopted a gruff approach which seems to chime with the British people. Just cope with the situation, get on with life, and live it in the way that Londoners always have.
By Simon Bates

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