Friday, July 08, 2005

British resolve: the view from the Goose

The library closed last night at 10.00pm, and I headed over with a friend to The Goose--a big pub right in the heart of Oxford.

Yesterday the terrorists were crowing about spreading fear across Britain. Not a sign of it. The crowd was young, carefree, and much more interested in their beers than their fears.

The television sets hung on the walls, SkyTV (a British channel) running tapes of Rudolph Giuliani--who was yards away from the bus bomb in London. Underneath, SkyTV ran a tickertape of families with requests for missing loved ones: Joe England, please call your or parents. Or again: Jill Scotland says she's okay. The rips and tears in the holes of human life transmuted into streaming video.

Apart from the television, nothing about the demeanor of the crowd showed any sign that Britain had just suffered its worst terrorist attack. The British calm came in clear contrast to the riots of only a few weeks before: across the Muslim world, rioting and protest and mobs and death had greeted the rumors that the Koran had been in abused in Western prisons. Yet now, faced with the fact that terrorists had murdered dozens of Britons and maimed hundreds more, there was no hate, no fear, no rioting, no wild crowds ranting for revenge.

Only the carrying on of the quiet constants of British life: good friends, good beer, and a good pub.


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