Sunday, May 27, 2007

London 1973 – 2007

Friday evening I returned from a short stay in London. My first visit since 1978 when I drove my little Fiat right through London.
Mind you, I passed my driver test just a few months before and everyone told me I was mad with no experience in left hand driving at all, challenging the traffic in Central London.
But I was determined to go to Somerset by car and definitely wanted the see some of London on my way to the West.
I survived and enjoyed it!!

My first time in London was May 1973 and the second and more memorable, in September 1973 at the very same day there were two bomb attacks. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out the attacks. At 1.00pm a small bomb exploded at King's Cross Railway Station, London. At 1.05pm the Press Association received a phone call warning of a bomb at Euston Railway Station. At 1.15pm another small bomb (estimated at 2-5 pounds of explosives) exploded outside the Rail Bar at Euston Station, London. There were no deaths but 12 people were injured in the blast.
I was going by Cab from one station to another and it was chaos everywhere. Not something you forget for the rest of your life.

During my third visit the year after, safety was still high on the list of the UK and you could not enter a public building without handbags and pockets thoroughly searched.

And now it is 2007 and again visitors of the UK are searched for explosives.
You are not allowed to take any liquids in containers above 100 ml. I had a little bit of hair gel left in a container of 125 ml you could see right through but had to hand it over to customs.

Custom control at Schiphol Airport is strict but leaving the UK even much more.
We even had to take our shoes off and walk barefoot through the alarm system. Due to my two hip replacements, the alarm goes always off and apart from the usual search by hand by a female custom employee, they also used a small detector that screened every inch of my body and yes, it beeped at the appropriate places. (I am afraid I wait for the beeps with a wicked sense of humour…..)

The technique changed but the fear for bombing attacks has not.

Well, what did change over all those years?
Still businessmen with news papers but without the bowler and now well equipped with laptops and mobile phones.
Newer cars but still traffic jams. Newer buildings but still flocked by visitors., The famous cabs but with better payment systems. Newer trains but the same drafty Underground. Modern girls but still wearing Hot Pants and Boots. Newer Police cars but still in the same hurry on their way to whatever needs assistance.
And above all, the same noise and the same smell of all fuel.

Amazing, everything in a new coat, occupied with new generations but deep down, unchanged.

I plan to grow old, staying as fit as possible so be ready for my next London update around 2036, I might blog with the same “back to the future” feeling.

No comments: