My ride to work on the Tube yesterday was different. Commuters on London’s Underground don’t normally make eye contact, let alone speak to one another, but yesterday morning they were smiling and chatting as the front pages of their papers celebrated how London had scooped the Olympic prize.
But by the time I’d got to my desk, the tunnels beneath London had become the scene of tragedy. Today London is a desperately sad city.
Prime Minister Tony Blair returned from the G8 summit yesterday to pledge that the terrorists will never change our way of life.
Yet the truth is that they have, and they will. As the people of cities like New York, Madrid and London know, worry, fear and suspicion are now part and parcel of daily life in a major city. Most days we conclude it’s a price worth paying. But what must the families and friends of the 50 people killed yesterday be thinking today?
However, like New York and Madrid, London will recover and rebound. A few years ago I interviewed John Toner, the general manager of the Europa Hotel in Belfast, which has been the subject of terrorist attacks on more than 30 occasions. “I sometimes think how much easier this job would be if we were in a different situation,” he told me. “But we pick ourselves up each time and say, ‘Let’s have a good day tomorrow’.”