I had a post scheduled today that I have shifted to tomorrow as I wanted to say something about Wednesday’s terror attack in London.
When the images flashed into the TV screen, minutes after it happened, my initial reaction was “I was just there a month ago!” I was in London on business and while there had a private tour of Parliament. I have a couple of half-finished posts on that visit I plan to roll out in the next month or so.
My mind then flashed back to October 2014, t the day a terrorist attacked Canada’s Parliament buildings. I remember that event very well as I was locked inside for 10 hours, waiting for the all-clear.
As soon as I heard the news, I sent an email to the staffer who showed me around Westminster last month. No reply, but news reports said those in the building had been grouped into a central location while police secured the area. I presume he didn’t have access.
Being in a lockdown is not a fun experience. It is the not knowing that wears on you. Staff at Westminster were locked in the building, as we had been, probably just as unaware of what was going on outside, and wondering of this was something small or a major attack. Thankfully, in both instances, loss of life was minimal. As I write this the death toll in London stands at four, with another twenty injured. Too many, but not on the scale of September 11, 2001.
Police labelled it a terrorist attack after only a couple of hours. On the face of it, it looked that way, but as the days pass, and we get a fuller picture of just what happened, that assessment might change. In the immediate aftermath you just don’t know.
Watching on television it looked to me like Britain’s police and security forces were better prepared than Canada’s had been three years ago. Mind you, they’ve had more opportunity to practice having had to deal with the IRA threat for years. Still, once the area was cordoned off, there was I am sure a lot of uncertainty as to when it would be safe. Just because something looks safe doesn’t mean it is. You always wonder if there are more people involved than you have identified already.
We live in uncertain times. Those of us who work in government know about the risks involved in our work, but you cannot live in fear. You go about your day to day activities expecting them to be normal. When the exceptional does happen, you deal with it. Dull and boring is what you hope for – you don’t want to wind up on the TV news.
Today I’m sharing a few pictures from my day at Westminster, just an ordinary February day. Quite like yesterday when you think about it. You just never know how the day will end.
Since posting this I have heard from my friend, who describes himself as “safe but shook up that an attack could happen so close to our office.” I know how he feels.