When yesterday’s attack happened on Westminster Bridge and Parliament I was at Tate Britain, about half a mile away. But I didn’t know anything had happened until I cycled home to Clapham, about three miles away, and turned on the radio. I carried on cooking dinner for friends, and when they came round we talked about many issues but didn’t mention the attack. This wasn’t conscious avoidance; it just didn’t come up.
This morning I cycled back to Tate Britain for another meeting. My friend and I discussed the attack briefly, but in the busy members’ café there was no sign of anything being abnormal. Although it’s horrible for the families of those who have died and although there’s tremendous media clamour, there’s no reason to be fearful. It’s nothing to do with bravery but simply a matter of statistics. The chances of being killed or injured in an attack are tiny compared with the many other ways of meeting disaster.
Sadiq Khan, London’s major, has been criticised by Donald Trump Junior for pointing out that “terror attacks are part of living in a big city.” Khan is, of course, right, as is shown by the table in today’s Times showing all the attacks in London since 1971 (see figure). There have been many.
I have close associations with several of these:
December 1973: Chicken and I were in Harvey Nicks, about 600 yards away, when the Harrods bomb went off. We were shepherded away.
April 1993: A friend of ours, Edward Henty, was the one person killed in the Bishopsgate bomb. We went to his funeral in Sussex.
July 2005: I heard explosions but didn’t know what was happening and cycled home through nearly empty streets when suicide bombers attacked the Underground and a bus. The bus was blown up outside BMA House, where I worked for 25 years. Good friends attended the injured on the bus. Several people were killed.
There will, of course, be other attacks.