Thoughts on ordinary people and terrorism

Returning from an appointment in North London this morning, I turned on the car radio to hear that London was once again in the throes of dealing with another four bomb alerts.  Although none of us were on the Tube network or near the stations affected this time, the No.26 bus that was attacked was not too far my eldest’s school. 

It was only a couple of days ago, BBC4 sent a film crew and director to interview me about my reaction to being in fairly close proximity to the terrorist attacks two weeks ago and another nine years ago.  Like many others, I blogged the experience and posted an image to the We’re Not Afraid web site.  It was this image, along with others, that caught the eye of Alison, the director of BBC Arts Television, who contacted me through the press team at We’re Not Afraid.

The documentary, which is to air on the BBC4 digital channel on the 7th August (one month after the explosions), is to focus on why people posted images to the site and the story behind those images.  Over a couple of hours, the small crew filmed me and the area near my home, which is a few hundred yards from the 1996 IRA bomb at South Quay.  Ian, the cameraman, like a good friend of mine at Associated Press TV, had covered civil unrest in the Eastern Bloc and various conflicts around the globe and I was amused to learn that, whilst he didn’t get paid ‘danger money’, he had been allowed to claim overtime where appropriate, which seemed delightfully English to me.

During the course of the interview, I explained that I didn’t post the picture as an intentional act of defiance or as some knee-jerk nationalistic reaction. To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought at the time, pretty much taking and posting the image before I had even had time to ponder why I was doing it.  Upon reflection, my feelings in the wake of the latest attack are similar to those I had nine years ago and I would sum them up in this way.

I am an ordinary person with a wonderful family, good friends and trusting colleagues.  Just as I rely on them to be themselves, they all rely on me to do the same: to be the husband and father that provides a loving home and security; to be a friend who will be there in times of need and celebration; to be a leader, a peer and a team member who has integrity.  To let the actions of terrorists change such things would be to allow the perpetrators and those that guide them to alter the most fundamental and important elements of who I am.  Quite simply, that is not something that I can permit for, as well as the great, the good and the worthy, this world needs ordinary people because it is ordinary, everyday folk that we turn to first in our lives.

I hadn’t planned to write in this way and my thoughts are far from the polished platitudes that we are used to hearing these days but I felt that I needed to put a stake in the ground to mark my feelings on this.

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