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Laurel & Jihadi

I suggest a new word for kids who dream of emulating terrorists but haven’t the faintest idea what they’re doing: terrorettes.

I left my flat at about 1.15 yesterday to discover a world of police vans and fluttering cordons. As I rounded the nearest van and saw the entire road cleared of traffic and filled with about 70 police in full dayglo, I began to realise that I was smack bang inside the cordoned area. The police stared at me as I walked, unnerved, down the centre of the street, in my own pocket-sized that-bit-in-Vanilla-Sky moment. Eventually one of them had the wit to call me over, and we were able to establish that I was merely a confused resident and the bag slung around my shoulder only contained books. We also established that there was no way on God's earth that I was going to be allowed back to my flat.

I went into a web café down the road, checked what little news there was, posted my rather bewildered comment, and then had to leave as we were evacuated further down the street. This happened twice more, as buildings were cleared and the crowd swelled, until we were fully half a mile down the road, my block now completely out of sight.

I spent three hours at that police cordon, wondering uselessly if I was suddenly going to see a plume of smoke where Oval tube—and my flat—used to be. We were told precisely nothing. After a while we began to hope they weren't setting up a controlled explosion, but checking the site for any traces of chemical agents, or indeed of the terrorette. People following the news knew long before us that the attacks seemed to be a lame copycat effort, with only one injury. As elements of the story filtered through to us—the small detonations, the attempt to replicate the exact pattern of the previous bombings including the fuck-up on the bus, the fact that these particular “jihadis” apparently didn’t want to die—it became clear that it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d feared, or as it actually could have been. The moment this became a certainty was when I saw the Channel 4 News anchorwoman sitting near me turn to her colleague and say “England are 39 for 5!”

I don’t know at exactly what time the cordons around my house were removed, because I went to the Palace of Westminster and got drunk. strictlytrue was already there, and kindly offered to let me sleep over at his (thank you again to you and yours), but the nightbus route we took happens to pass by mine, and we found that the flat was now unsurrounded. Words truly can’t express how it felt to be back home, having possibly had to wave the bloody thing goodbye twelve hours earlier.

So: the little fuckers who did this are still at large. Everyone who was arrested, or even suspected, has been released. For all that police are saying that the devices were similar to the ones used in the earlier attack, though, it’s clear that something was a little different about this one. The terrorettes’ apparent variety of methods for trying to detonate the bombs, for example, similar only in their failure to work. Is it really conceivable that this is the same group, but they’ve run out of actual detonators?

Then there's the fact, as I mentioned, that this lot demonstrated absolutely no desire to be Islamikazes, while apparently trying to make the death of Hasib Hussain slightly less ignominious by making out that he’d intended to bomb that bus after all. The fact remains, though, that an 18-year-old kid, memorialised by those who knew him as a "dork", managed to blow up a bus by accident, while this bloke yesterday couldn't even do it on purpose.

The police are, laudably, saying they’re keeping an open mind about who did this. It could be a rival group to the one that sent its idiot warriors to die in London a fortnight ago, one less inclined to suicide; they might not even be sympathisers, but people acting as agents provocateurs. Or perhaps it was a sarcastic impression of the original attacks.

Right now, I don’t care. I only know one thing: my home is still standing, and I’m in it.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2005 07:25 am (UTC)
On hearing that the incidents were caused by detonators only, my first unworthy thought was that it was a News of the World/Sun stunt. "Our Man Takes Bomb On Tube! NOTW/Sun Exposes Terrifying Security Lapse Days After 7/7"

Of course, not even those papers would have been so stupid. Would they?
Jul. 22nd, 2005 09:18 am (UTC)
It's the new series of MacIntyre Undercover.

That, or it's the same Channel 4 crew who squirted Tom Cruise.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)
In navigating your area last night I ended up going through Kennington Park. Interesting place. Not unlike Babylon.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
I thought my area felt pretty thoroughly navigated this morning.

Did you come across Kennington Park's fucked fountain? It's an old municipal bit of stonework, given over to rust and algae, strongly evoking Brezhnev-era Moscow. It would almost be a shame if they did anything about mending it. Almost.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 10:16 am (UTC)
Oooh were's that then? I went past a big yellowing grass patch on my left and some considerable soundsystems.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC)
On consideration - and having passed it again today - it may be stretching it to say for sure that's an ex-fountain. What it is is a plinth of some sort; possibly one that used to support a fountain, but equally likely to have once borne a statue. Whatever it is, it's knackered, and its elegant dilapidation is far closer in spirit to Highgate Cemetery than the dumpy utility bunkers that murk at the fringes of Kennington Park.

Possibly what put me in mind of the fountain idea was the disappointing fountain at the junction of Kennington Park Road and Camberwell New Road. Three ground-level fountains grouped together, it's meant to produce an impressive spray, maybe six feet in height. However, a combination of poor water pressure, bad planning and consumption restrictions mean that for the vast majority of the time it just dribbles away pathetically. This is compounded by the fact that it's on an outsize traffic island and hardly anyone sees it, making it one of the most pointless water features ever devised by man.

Jul. 22nd, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC)
I meant "lurk", not "murk", but to be honest that kind of works too.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
Exquisite. I shall moon around them.

Superb use of the dropshadow, there. I feel like I am actually flying.
Jul. 22nd, 2005 09:33 am (UTC)
Maybe the difference this time round is that the explosives they were using were two weeks older, and hadn't been kept in the fridge. That TACP stuff they are supposed to have used last time goes off pretty quickly according to the Guardian.

Presumably the guy who went "Tsk" when his backpack blew up was expecting to die.
Jul. 25th, 2005 08:31 am (UTC)
Didn't your house get blown up in the war? If so you could have predicted this - they always come in threes.
Jul. 25th, 2005 08:47 am (UTC)
So to beat the odds, I should set off two minor explosions in my flat, and then there's no way it can ever be affected by another explosion? Is that what you're forcing me to do?
Jul. 25th, 2005 08:48 am (UTC)
It's either that or let the terrorists win.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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