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West London

Posted by Helen Friday, July 08, 2005

I am delighted to inform our readers (many of whom will perhaps not be all that delighted to hear this) that all the Muslim owned shops, cafes and restaurants in this corner of West London were open last night and doing excellent business, helped by the fact that many, though not all, of the chain supermarkets, bars and cafes were closed.

The reason for the latter must have been staff shortages or worry how the late evening shift would get home. Otherwise, one would have to conclude that they were not showing the proper spirit.

Actually, they lost rather a lot of money. Bombs or no bombs, we in West London want to do our shopping at nine o'clock in the evening because we did not get round to it before. That’s just the way it is.

It seems that Muslims around here did not really obey the instructions to stay at home but, on the other hand, there seemed to be nobody after threir blood either. The mosque round the corner was quiet and the North Africans were drinking their coffee and discussing football as usual.

This rather unexpected situation did not develop because we are particularly dopey (well, actually, some of us are, but we'll draw a veil over that) but because most people understand quite clearly that the waiters in the Lebanese restaurant or the Moroccan café or the cashiers in the Pakistani shop (that bears an Arabic name for good business reasons) have little to do with the murderous thugs who planted those bombs.

The pubs and bars are full and those that decided to close early have missed out on the usual evening bonanza. (If any Al-Qaeda operative is reading this: hey guys, you are not going to stop us going out.)

I must admit the streets do seem a tad quieter than usual. It maybe a reaction to the shock or it maybe due to the fact that many people are very tired having spent hours not getting to work today.

Tomorrow will probably be quiet as well, especially as the transport situation remains unclear. (Well, that is nothing unusual in London but this time it will be more unclear that the norm.)

In fact I did not realize how tense, emotional and triumphant the situation is until I got home and read some of the American websites, all of whom salute the British spirit and are certain that we shall overcome. Thanks guys.

Somebody on the National Review blog quoted the song "There'll always be an England" and the latest Heritage Foundation paper talks of the British bulldog rising to the challenge. I am not sure bulldogs rise to anything, being rather barrel-chested and much more likely to sink their teeth into somebody's calf, but it is a nice thought.

The paper goes on to extol the virtues of the Anglo-American alliance, maintaining that it will go from strength to strength. Those of our readers who have been following our postings on defence might have noted that the alliance is being sundered by many cuts and the fact that Britain is unlikely to follow Spain's example after the bombs is not so important from that point of view.

I do fear that today's events may have raised Tony Blair's standing in American eyes. This may result in unnecessary agreements from President Bush tomorrow at Gleneagles, but fortunately the most important one, Kyoto is not in his gift. The Senate has to decide and it did vote the whole shebang out once already.

Let us also hope that President Bush will not depart from his line on aid and the need for democracy in Africa either.

However, we may no longer be able to explain to our American friends just exactly what Tony Blair is doing in his dealings with the European Union. One can but hope that as the dust dies down on today's appalling tragedy, political clarity will assert itself.

And that, dear readers, is that. Unless something dramatic happens overnight or in the morning (and one hopes it will not happen), normal service will resume. In the well known words: "That's enough bombs. Ed."