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An American in London

I generally let you know when I'm going to be away, just so you don't think I have completely abandoned posting. It has been fairly busy around the office these days – the summer is our busy season. Regardless, I took some vacation last week as I traveled to London for a family friend's wedding. The wedding was wonderful, thank you very much. (I'm a big wedding guy, so… just try to keep me off the dance floor!)

Luckily I did not get caught in the entire British Airways mess. Heathrow Airport is big enough that we flew out of another terminal, but it was a mess.

It is always interesting to come through Customs and see the technology we write about. More on that in later posts… First off, London itself.

London, of course, is still reeling from the set of bombings on its subway system on July 7 and July 21 respectively. The city is still jittery. Just one example: I was at Harrods – of course – and I was carrying around an empty soda bottle. While I was at the watch counter, I saw a trash can and I tossed the soda bottle into the trash behind the counter. Now the guy working the counter saw me, but he became enraged saying that they were sensitive to the issue because of July 7. Hyper-sensitive, maybe, but I understand.

My sense of Londoners is that they are going about their business, although there is a much greater level of awareness. If you see a bag just sitting there, people react.

I really noticed is the number of cameras. They are everywhere. That has long been the case – I have noticed it on previous visits – but it is even more noticeable today. Cameras, of course, don't prevent terrorism. Yet they can help prevent other crime. But one friend who lives just outside London noted that suicide bombers actually want to be known. That allows them to be martyrs.

Brits are still shell shocked that the bombers on July 7 and July 21 came from their own ranks – they were British. Unlike the terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001, they were not merely al-Qaida that had been trained in Afghanistan, they were Britons who had lived and grown up in the culture. The Brits I spoke to uniformly credited the United States for doing a much better job of integrating its society overall.

It is always interesting to travel and see how others view the United States, but just weeks after the bombings, it was particularly interesting.

More from the travels as the week continues.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Aug 15, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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