Thursday, July 07, 2005

We are all Londoners now

My wife Meaux and I were in London just two weeks ago. We were only there for a day, which was much too short a time to indulge in the pleasures of that fair city. We stayed at the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, just down the street from Harrod's. With only a day to kill, we ordered a few items from the appetizer menu: we took a walk around the perimeter of Hyde Park, where we saw the stage for Live8 being raised; we spent a few hours in the National Gallery, where we saw enough paintings of Christ on the Cross to last us a lifetime, but also saw dozens of exquisite portraits from Rembrandt and the other Dutch masters; had a pint at a gay bar in Picadilly; and had dinner at the Capital Hotel restaurant, where we were treated like royalty.

We rode the Tube twice that day. The next morning, we took the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station. You see, when you visit London, you have little choice but to use public transportation. There's simply no other way to get around, unless you want to cab it everywhere. Which I may do from now on.

The London bombings today hit home for me. It's not just because we were just there, and that there's no reason other than timing that we weren't on one of those subway cars or two of the 37 confirmed dead. I have a deep and abiding love for London, you see. I love New York, don't get me wrong. But London was the first world-class city I ever visited outside of my home town. I spend the summer there in college: my best buddy John and I living on Kensington Church Street, absorbing the city into our pores, spending the afternoons tracing Mrs. Dalloway's path through the city, visiting Keates' house, trying to find Muswell Hill because the Kinks wrote a song about it. We were Londoners, at least for that summer.

Later, I got to spend some time in New York, and fell in love with that crazy fucking town as well. But you never forget your first love.

So I take the attacks personally. I'm not going to get all political on you here. Whether you thought invading Iraq was essential to the War on Terror, or you don't, is immaterial. What we saw today was an act of pure, distilled, extra-virgin Evil.

But my city can take it. This may have been the worst attack on British soil since World War II, but Londoners survived the Blitz, and they will survive this. I saw a picture today which pretty much sums it up for me:

God save the Queen.


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