Thursday, July 07, 2005

# Posted 1:53 PM by Patrick Belton  

SO NOW AL QA'EDA HAS ATTACKED THIS COUNTRY. Perhaps now is therefore not the most inappropriate moment to do something which under ordinary circumstances would be decidedly un-English; viz, to express my real affection for the country in which I have chosen to live. It has become, in a way I never expected it to, home. And where the virtues of other countries fetishise a Romantic, Wagnerian heroism, those of England are unassuming: decency, carrying on, and in direr hours humour, stiff upper lips, and the ironic, benevolent wit of fellow-sufferers talking to one another. These are adult virtues, by comparison to which the others seem adolescent; by them one might live a daily rather than a cinematic life, share pints with friends, and when public duties call, do what they require with quiet steely determination and self-effacing humour. In unglad moments, these are sterner stuff. On this point I find Andrew is quite apposite: ‘Right now, a million kettles are boiling. Stoicism is not an American virtue. Apart from a sense of humor, it is the ultimate British one.’

The numbers were mercifully smaller, though by a certain logic of perception it was 9/11 all over again; the same day of thoughtful and concerned telephone calls to friends, from friends, an eerily familiar difficulty with the mobile network over the metropole. These numbers are currently 33 (the number of confirmed deaths) and four (the roster of confirmed attacks: a tunnel near Liverpool Street metro station; a tunnel between Russell Square and King's Cross stations; an Underground train at Edgware Road station; and the bus near Russell Square) Perhaps the more gratifying aspect is that thanks to the members of the security services, they were not higher, and it all hadn’t happened long before: a security source who briefed The Economist last year gave details of several attempted terrorist attacks on the capital that had been foiled before fruition. (Economist). To each of them, then: well done, you.
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