Thursday, July 14, 2005

London's silence

At 12 pm, exactly, Londoners were asked to keep 2 minutes of silence in memory of the victims of the bombings last week. Rather than just stand by their desks or stop what they were doing, people streamed out into the main streets, and stood there together. Near my workplace, in Chancery Lane, there were thousands; so many people that hundreds overflowed into the side streets. It was amazing to watch the usually bustling central London coming to a complete, utter standstill. Because there was no siren, the silence was particularly sharp. As someone pointed out, there was a strong sense of 'there but for the grace of G-d' -- almost everyone there uses the tube daily to get to work. But there was also genuine grief and shock, with people visibly emotional. At the end, in a strange moment, people started clapping -- I think people wanted to say something, not just be silent, but didn't know how.
I've stood through many silences in Israel, but something about this one, with thousands of people streaming down the streets and crowding together, was very powerful.
You know what? I'm actually beginning to like the (sometimes strange...) people of this city.

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