Russell Square: Keep Calm and Carry On
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 4th August, 2016
I heard about last night’s bloody knife attack in Russell Square, Bloomsbury, as soon as I logged on to the computer early this morning. The location had a sickeningly tragic ring, as it was just off Russell Square that a bus was blown up on 7 July 2005 and Russell Square tube station was one of the ones affected by coordinated Underground bombs that day, with significant casualties. This time, fortunately, the death toll was much smaller, but still one poor sexagenarian American lady tourist lost her life and several other people were wounded, all of them apparently selected at random. A 19-year-old man who has been arrested under suspicion of murder is reportedly a Norwegian of Somali origin, who has been in this country sine 2002, though police believe there was not necessarily a terrorist motive to the attack, citing possible mental heath issues. It may be some time before the full facts are known. When I arrived at Russell Square shortly before 10am, to give classes at a summer school at SOAS, there were numerous television crews from around the world, not least the United States, and indeed at noon I had to give a stand-up interview myself for a Lebanese Arabic language channel, Al Mayadeen. I stressed that although the security forces had stepped up their activities just yesterday, deploying armed officers in several parts of London, partly to reassure the public, there can never be total security in a city like ours, especially if one is dealing with a lone attacker whose only weapon is a knife. However, it was impressive to see how both locals and visitors in Russell Square today were determined not to let the outrage vanquish their morale. As I sat having lunch on the terrace of the Caffe Russell in the gardens, life was going on as normal, a gentle but strong example of the British spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On.