Yesterday I observed the two minutes of silence to remember those killed in last week’s bombings. After work I walked to Trafalgar Square to take part in the vigil. I arrived just after it had started but heard a lot of the speakers. There were moving speeches, prayers and poems from across the political and religious spectrum. There were leaders from the major churches and religions showing a united front. There were London celebrities with sincere words calling for a united city. Sebastian Coe spoke of the Olympic bid and how we’ll build a fitting tribute to the people who lost their lives last Thursday. There were union leaders and politicians who uttered words of support.
But the biggest applause went to members of the transport companies whose buses and trains were attacked and for the emergency services who attended the sites to rescue victims. For once were were not a celebrity-obsessed nation but were there to support the people who keep London moving and safe.
The vigil seemed to go on forever. Perhaps it was too long but when everybody’s words were sincere how could you stop it? It was a united city saying ‘we will not back down in the face of your bombs. You will not break us’.
Sadly, for the media, it was just another news story. There were camera crews from across the globe at one end of the square and various reporters were applying their make-up or dabbing the sweat from their brows as technicians plugged in things and waved cues. Behind all the the tributes coming from the front of the square were a selection of “Londoners are gathered …” and “back to you in the studio”. Reports were being filed in a number of languages via a fleet of satellite trucks being powered by noisy generators in the corner of Trafalgar Square. Maybe it’s because I was right beside the media as I couldn’t get further into the square but the chatter (and the smiles and laughing of some of the production staff) seemed inappropriate somehow. I hope they got their story.