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Muskrat Ramblings for Now People


July 7th, 2005

Much hurt, much defiance @ 10:54 am

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

I had some good news to post, but today isn't the day for it.

Scott Haring is perhaps the single individual most responsible for my entry into the gaming industry.

A long time ago, he produced a magazine called The Gamer. I met him at GenCon, and liked the magazine. A lot.

Being a writer for the Wisconsin State Journal at the time, I offered to do some reviews for the Gamer. Frankly, it seemed a top-notch way to get free games.

These reviews were my first "professional" pieces in the biz. (Even longer ago, when studying astrophysics at Queen Mary College, London, I did a comic strip for a Traveller fanzine called "Alien Star." But that's another story entirely.) The gig at the Gamer led to work for "The Unspeakable Oath," and also provided the connections that would eventually see me picking up the reins of Murphy's Rules, at SJG's Pyramid magazine.

Scott's not just one of the best editors I've ever had the pleasure to know, he's also a hell of a good guy. Though we haven't worked together for a while, we've kept in touch on and off over the years. We'd jaw, when we'd come across each other at cons. Or he'd drop me a comment on a particular cartoon from time to time, and when he'd write to say he enjoyed something I did, well, that would make my week.

I thought of Scott and his love of baseball and ballparks on Monday, July 4, when, at the last Madison Mallards home game for three weeks, I found myself wishing I could drag him up here for a really great time at the Duck Pond.

Today, on Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator, I read the following:

July 7, 2005: Scott Haring In Tragic Accident

We're very sorry to report that Scott Haring, our e23 editor, was in a serious traffic accident while returning home after July 4. His youngest boy was killed, and Scott required immediate surgery. Our thoughts are with Scott and his whole family right now. When we have more information, we'll share it.


Words can't express my deep sorrow for what Scott and his family are going through right now. His love and pride for his kids really did shine from him, and this is simply terrible news on an already bleak morning.

I feel gutted, and our family's thoughts and prayers are with Scott and his loved ones on this terrible day.

****

Those I know and love in London all seem to be OK.

Good God, am I proud of the city, and how it's coping and reacting, right now.

To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: "I've been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!"

London is a tough old town, and will bounce back just fine. Which is not in any way, shape or form to diminish what happened today. Indeed, I wish I was there now, to be with friends and family. Or just as a defiant "in your face" to the killers who did this. I recognize all the areas from the clips American television replays (and replays, and replays), and I want to be with my city while it's hurting.

If the Luftwaffe couldn't bring the city to it's knees, these pathetic penny-ante cowards certainly won't. I lived in the Commonwealth Hall dorms just off of Russell Square at the height of the IRA campaigns. It's surprising how quickly one adapts, in a way, to life with bombings. If the IRA decides to bomb Harrods every Christmas, you just don't go to Harrods at Christmas - no matter how good the flapjack is.

One of my friends at Queen Mary College was Anthony Allen. Not "Tony" - AN-thony. Though slight of frame, he was, to my mind, the quintessential Englishman: the True Brit, in a stiff-upper-lip, sophisticated, Etonian kind of way. I'm quite sure he didn't go to Eton, but dammit, he should have.

A crystal-clear memory from college was when Anthony and I popped into the McDonalds by the Tottenham Court Road tube station for a milkshake.

This was in the day when a McDonald's was still a novel thing in London, so it was a bit of a treat. I mean, up to that point in time, ordering a milkshake in Britain meant getting a glass of milk with a little froth on the top that might - might - taste vaguely of strawberry, banana, chocolate or whatever, depending on the mood and generosity of the server at that moment..

Now, you must know this: to eat food in a British restaurant, you had to pay a Value Added Tax. Somewhere between five and ten percent, I believe it was. It could have been less. This was before my economics degree, you understand. If you wanted the food to take away, though, that was easier: there was no extra charge.

Well, Anthony and I decided to take a break from the summer heat and pay the VAT on a couple of milkshakes and fries (a significant decision, when you're on a college budget). We took our trays upstairs, to the second floor seating area, and grabbed a table by the window. Not that the crossroads of Oxford Street, New Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road offer spectacular vistas, but there you go.

We were a few bites into our fries before we noticed police outside slowly but surely cordoning off the McDonalds.

I look around, a little nervously, bomb squads not being a London sight I had any prior close-hand familiarity with.

A woman came up the stairs.

"The IRA phoned in a bomb threat," she said. "They said they're going to blow up a fast food restaurant on Oxford Street. Everybody should leave."

Everybody left in a very English, orderly kind of way.

Except Anthony, who chewed calmly on his fries.

"Uh, Anthony," I prodded. "We really should get out of the building."

Chew, chew, chew.

Swallow.

Pause.

Antony picked up his shake, and took a drink.

"No," he said, in that particularly reasoned and responsible voice the English do so well. "I paid to drink my milkshake in, and I am going to drink my milkshake in."

There really was no arguing with that.

****

As it turned out, the IRA blew up the Wimpy's, further down Oxford Street. Nobody was hurt, but the restaurant was destroyed.

If you, like me, had ever eaten at a Wimpy's, you, like me, might consider that a mercy killing, also.

****

I think it was ten years ago or more that I found out Anthony had died of cancer.

With luck, if an afterlife exists, it has really great milkshakes. I'd love to share a couple more with him again.

And should there be such an afterlife, one can't help but hope the Onion's famous, utterly brilliant "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell" article holds true for all terrorists.
 
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From:ctrlalttabby
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC)

Funny...

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"If you, like me, had ever eaten at a Wimpy's, you might consider that a mercy killing, too."

My first thought was "No great loss," assuming that all the people got out first.
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From:angusabranson
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:11 pm (UTC)
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I couldn't believe it when I read about Scott earlier today.

London will be fine (as always). Years of attacks has given us all a certain constitution to weather these things. Luckily no one I know was directly hurt although three of my friends seem to have had very close shaves (one on one of the trains which became very smoke filled; one on the bus 'behind' the one that exploded and another in the Square at the time of the explosion).
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From:thothmeister
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
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So far I've heard back from one of my London friends, so I know they're okay.

With cowardly, evil acts like this I truly hope they get caught - and I also hope that Onion piece proves true. Anyone who thinks such acts will get them into heaven don't deserve it.

My heart goes out to Scott Haring too.
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From:nuala
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry to hear about Scott Haring. But I'm glad to hear your family and friends are ok on this side of the pond. It's been a really weird day to be a Londoner.
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From:oneshallstand
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:16 pm (UTC)

Well Said

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Your thoughts on the London attacks seem to sum up the way that most of my friends over here have been thinking, and largely what I've just scrawled in my own LJ.

These were works of cowardice, and unlikely to cause the "Burning Fear" it appears the perpetrators were hoping for.

You know us well, and I appreciate the way you said it. Good man, I'll have to buy you a drink next time you're over here.
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From:knell
Date:July 7th, 2005 06:10 pm (UTC)

Re: Well Said

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Hear, hear. I was out of town myself today, but I've been so proud of both the quiet competent professionalism of the emergency services and the reactions of Londoners. Although the end of World War II was sixty years ago, it's amazing how there's this kind of folk memory of the Blitz - our ancestors defied Hitler, more recently Londoners defied what seems now like an earlier, gentler form of terrorism, and it's unlikely that now they're going to be cowed into that "Burning Fear" the alleged perpetrators claim to have caused.

It's amazing, really. Despite my moaning about Londoners regularly being a moaning, miserable lot who spend all their time complaining, when stuff like this happens - "Oh. Well, I'd best put the kettle on, then." I never thought I'd say it, but I'm proud to be a Londoner today.
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From:thomryng
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
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if the Luftwaffe couldn't bring the city to its knees, these pathetic penny-ante cowards certainly won't

I hope you don't mind I'm quoting you on this.

Sums it up brilliantly.
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From:silmaril
Date:July 7th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)
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I second the quoting request. I linked this entry from my journal with that quote; if there's a problem I can edit it out.
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From:xuenay
Date:July 7th, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
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I quoted it as well, in a comment to another post.
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From:ffutures
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC)
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By one of those odd coincidences I was going to be posting something to Scott today. Heard about the accident just before I left for work, and intended to pick up a condolence card to go with it, then we started to hear about the bombs and that put it out of my mind. What a bastard of a day.
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From:seanpatfannon
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)
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I feel gut-punched.

Strangely enough (or perhaps not so; Scott has a long legacy of bringing folks into this business), my first professional work in this industry was through Scott and the Gamer. If you have a means of getting in touch with him (not now, but down the road), I will beg it off of you so that I can contact him with my heartfelt warm wishes and a bout of shared crying.

We had some bonding during the Obsidian Studios days. I've missed him. I can't imagine the pain he must be in.

As for London... I only hope they sic the SAS on the bastards and the body bags are piled high.
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From:bitterbert
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)
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Peace be with you, John.
Peace be with all of us.
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From:lagattamobile
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
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God bless, Got 2 in London myself, both checked in. Traffic moving already, an extraordinary people.
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From:johnckirk
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
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And should there be such an afterlife, one can't help but hope the Onion's famous, utterly brilliant "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell" article holds true for all terrorists.

I liked Peter David's idea on this, in the context of the trio from Buffy: "[it] almost makes you wonder if that's how terrorists imagine the eternal award that awaits them (serve 'em right to be stuck with Jonathan, Andrew and Warren. You wanted virgins? You got virgins)"
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From:griffen
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for writing this.
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From:k_kinnison
Date:July 7th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
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More and more as terrorist attacks become a more and more common threat I think our society has learned to adapt and gets stronger and more stubborn. YOu make a great point about Nazi WWII attacks on britan, especially London.

In times of crisis we allways think of friends and family that know someone or themselves might be involved personally in times of tragedy, and offer our support and strength to keep them up.

We need to remember that the colors that make up or flags, Red white and Blue. Then don't run and hide. They defy
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From:exmoor_cat
Date:July 7th, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC)
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I was living in Connaught Hall til 2003, eyebrows were raised when the news came in.
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From:clanwilliam
Date:July 7th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC)
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Also, comments in the pub about chins up, stiff upper lips and "we'll all be fine after a singsong".
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From:thewayne
Date:July 7th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC)

I, too, know Scott

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Very sorry to hear his happenings! It's been a bit of a tragic year: Kaja Folio's grandmother is passing, my F-I-L died 11 days after my wedding, and now Scott's accident.

I cannot claim he got me into gaming, I was already working for Flying Buffalo at the time. But FBI and SJG were pretty close and I ran into Scott, Aaron Alston, and Steve Jackson on numerous occasions at an uncountable number of gaming conventions.

It justifies my decision to not travel on the days closest to the holiday, I came home on Saturday the 2nd rather than courting certain frustration and more than a little increase in danger by coming home on the 4th.


My condolances go out to him, I doubt he'd know me from Adam as I haven't been active in the industry for a while (though that's changing), I'll try and get a card off to him anyway.
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From:1knighthawk
Date:July 7th, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
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I'm sure I speak for us all, when I say that we share in your sympathy. Losing a child is a very difficult thing to deal with.
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From:karzender
Date:July 7th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Wow. My condolences to Scott and his family.
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From:hedgetrimmer
Date:July 7th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
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I hear about Scott this morning - it's such a tragedy. All we can do is be there for him. And our thoughts are with you as well for sharing the tragedy of a friend. I am sure you will be strong for him. hard day.
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:July 7th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC)
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Sympathies man. Seems like the world is having a bad day today.

London is being remarkably English about the whole thing right now, no screaming, no panic, just lots of people quietly and politely walking home. Perhaps the most reassuring thing I could have seen today really.
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From:makeitepic
Date:July 7th, 2005 09:29 pm (UTC)
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"London is a tough old town, and will bounce back just fine" I couldn't agree more. Peace be with you :)
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From:savannarama
Date:July 8th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC)
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I was comforted by the story about Anthony...thanks for writing that.
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From:agent_23
Date:July 8th, 2005 03:34 am (UTC)
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Thanks for writing this John. I have two kids myself and I cannot even begin to imagine how Scott and his family are feeling right now. I'm just glad to hear your family over in London is safe. I have some friends over there and they assured me through Messenger that they were ok. Your story about Anthony sums it all up. We shouldn't change the way we live because of these slinking cowards.
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From:mphopcroft
Date:July 8th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC)
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This brings to mind one of my favorite Sylvetser McCoy Doctor Who quotes: "You can judge a man by the quality of his enemies". These days, NOT going up with the charge you've set is considered bad form among terrorists.

The same day as the bombigs, a different branhc of Al Quaeda said tehy had killed the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq.

This may be the war of the flea, but there is always bug spray. Simply surviving may be the most effective weapon against these thugs.
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From:arasirsul
Date:July 8th, 2005 04:07 am (UTC)
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I was in Britain on 11 September 2001, and everyone I met was quite sympathetic. Flags over there were flown at half-mast, and many businesses hoisted American flags at half-mast as well. London firefighters were at Victoria Station, collecting loose change in their boots for their New York brethren who died when they were trying to rescue people from collapsing buildings. I hope we Americans can figure out how to be at least half as classy as the British were when the terrorists got us.

I have to agree, John: Whoever bombed London picked the wrong town to mess with. This recent batch of penny-ante cowards won't even make a footnote in the history books.

-J.D. Forinash
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From:jedit
Date:July 8th, 2005 10:04 am (UTC)
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I'm not entirely pleased with the punchline to this strip, John. This is not the time to be making light of people's bravery in the face of scum, particularly when you consider how Americans would have reacted to a similar line after 9/11. I know you mean nothing by it, but even so.

Also, your food references are off - with the exception of bubble and squeak (boiled potato mash and cabbage, refried), they're all dishes that are well loved, not tolerated. Toad in the hole is sausages baked in a batter pudding, and is very nice (especially with beef gravy). Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding with currants; I personally don't like it, but I know many people who do. And, while I've never tried eels myself, I understand that they taste far better than they feel and many seaside towns have eel shops.
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From:lederhosen
Date:July 8th, 2005 10:20 am (UTC)
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Erm... you're aware that muskrat_john is English by birth, and by a sizeable chunk of family and upbringing, yes?
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From:jedit
Date:July 8th, 2005 12:57 pm (UTC)
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Having unaccountably failed to read John's best selling autobiography or see the billion-dollar grossing movie starring George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Paul Newman that was based upon it, that factoid has escaped me until now.

(Not being fluent with the LJ controls, you'll just have to imagine the tongue I'm sticking out at you right now. I hope that isn't too inconvenient.)
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From:purrdence
Date:July 8th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC)
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Well, Jedit, you must be a new reader to John's lj, as he mentions stuff to do with England on a regular basis.

Next time, do *your* research before spouting off.

And I'm poking my tounge out at you to. see. ;p
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From:jedit
Date:July 8th, 2005 09:53 pm (UTC)
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You're right, I didn't do my research. It was Brad Pitt in the movie, wasn't it?
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From:muskrat_john
Date:July 8th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC)
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With my luck, it'll be Andy Dick...

:-)
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From:cu_chullainn
Date:July 9th, 2005 12:30 am (UTC)

8/7 Cartoon

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John, hope you don't mind but I've put the .gif file up on my geocities address and put it in my LJ (I didn't want to be a bandwidth thief) because it summed it all up perfectly. I was also very touched and inspired by the class shown by Anthony in your anecdote and the quote from the old Londoner that you referenced. I agree that London has (on several occassions) been blown up by a better class of bastard than these "penny ante" arseholes. My ha'penneths worth. C2
From:kallisti_daoc
Date:July 9th, 2005 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Hey can I have Tom Cruise playing me in the QMC section of the movie? He's about the right height :D
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From:cavalorn
Date:July 8th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
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John - just had to say many, many thanks for today's DT.
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From:muskrat_john
Date:July 8th, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
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Many thanks. I appreciate it.

This one was an emotional one for me...

From:kallisti_daoc
Date:July 9th, 2005 12:01 pm (UTC)

London will bounch back

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I live about 300 yards from the LIverpool Street bomb and I THINK I heard it - difficult to tell with so much banging and crashing that goes on in the middle of London. I did hear the Canary Wharf bomb go off and it shook my house so much that it broke crockery. Also saw the aftermath of Bishopsgate and numerous other bombs that the IRA tried to redecorate London with.

As John said (I was the year above him in Astrophysics at QMC) you got used to it eventaully and didn't let it freak you out.

I remember ANthony ALlen, he was a good bloke and I didn't know he'd died :( that saddens me as he was a spiffing chap...

It was interesting to see the differing reactions from the native Londononers to the more recent arrivals. THe Natives sort of tutted, and said "Bugger this, not again!" and started planning how to walk home. The more recent arrivals in London tended to freak out somewhat.

Then again, the natives are pretty much descended from people who survived the Blitz, so we have rubble and cordite in our blood! I've lived in London for 25 years and before that in a village on the outskirts that was under the flight path of the Luftwaffe, so when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s there were still signs of the war around - gaps in streets where bombs had landed, derelict runways out in the fields of Kent, and lots of memories. When I came to London to go to QMC in 1979, there was large gaps which were being used as car parks that were invariable bomb sites. A large one was right next to Liverpool St & Broad Street stations. That was eventually redevelopped into Broadgate.

I now live on the outskirts of the City of London and Shoreditch and there are still some spots nearby that are large gaps between buildings where if you look at the walls, you can see the ghosts of the rooms that originally existed - the impression of a staircase, a fireplace and so on. These scars are 60 years old and are still used as car parks.

London will survive. At the moment however, its goign through a bit of a twitchy phase with stations, roads etc being closed down constantly because of "suspect packages" - ie someone left a crisp packet somewhere. Things will settle down eventually and life will go back to normal.

I won't get too political but I firmly beleive that it would be foolish if the government tried to use this as an excuse to justify Identity cards. IMO this type of terrorist act is impossible to stop in a free and open society. You cannot stop lunatics who what to do insane things such as this in a society that allows freedome of travel and freedom of thought and expresion. To allow this lunatics to end up infringing our civil liberties is tantamount to surrendering to them

We MUST preserve our freedom - it is what makes us who we are, and not some brain washed peasant who has been told that blowing up the bomb strapped to his chest will guarantee his place in paradise and that all those he kills will be his slaves forever. Knee jerk reactions to "tighten security" will accomplish nothing - this type of attack is impossible to prevent and if we'd had ID cards they would not have stopped them doing this - it just might have been easier to identify the bodies afterwards. Yes that is a crass thing to say, but I beleive it to be true.

I grieve for the losses, but this wasn't on the scale of 9/11 so I think London got off lightly. In some ways its a relief because we all know it was GOING to happen, it was a matter of WHEN not IF.

Cheers John
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From:wire_mother
Date:July 14th, 2005 07:14 am (UTC)
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just so you know, this entry has earned you a mention on snopes.
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From:muskrat_john
Date:July 14th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
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This has, indeed, come to my attention.

I e-mailed snopes the source of the quote. We'll see how long it takes to update...

John
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From:wire_mother
Date:July 14th, 2005 10:06 pm (UTC)
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it seems to be updated now, with a special thank you to you (though i'm sure you've already seen it by now).

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Muskrat Ramblings for Now People