Keep calm and carry on: The London Bridge attack

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

05 June 2017

A third terrorist attack in as many months and it brought with it all the usual emotions: disbelief, anger, pride at the way the emergency services and the people caught up in the carnage reacted and, of course, ineffable sadness.

Not just for the victims, but for what seems to be the new reality of Western Europe.

Nice, Berlin, Manchester… the gallery of pain and infamy stacks up, washed by the tears of the innocent.

But this latest attack at London Bridge was – from the point of view of this magazine – very different. It was the first time that any of these self-styled soldiers of religious indignation have targeted people in the UK on a night out in pubs, bars and restaurants.

For the first time ever, this was an attack where the on-trade – our readers – were directly affected. Can you imagine turning up to your shift on a Saturday night, and not returning home on Sunday morning? Or every time you close your eyes seeing someone you’ve just served a round of drinks lying bleeding on the floor?

The London Bridge attack wasn’t, fortunately, as well planned as the Paris attacks 18 months ago, which were also aimed at people having the temerity to enjoy themselves. But for those caught up in it, it must have been truly terrifying.

The eye-witness stories coming out of Saturday night are gut-wrenching, and the bartenders, waiting staff and publicans caught up in the eight minutes of terror and madness have our unequivocal sympathy.

These attacks cause fear because are almost impossible to predict or plan for. What advice can you give your staff? What can you yourself do to mitigate against them?

The answer is not much – and that same powerlessness makes us afraid.

And yet, paradoxically, that lack of power also makes us strong.

Britain has many faults, but a lack of backbone is not one of them. And in moments like this our national character – so often a source of jokey frustration to us as well as the rest of the world – is a real bonus.

It’s important that we don’t over-react; that we allow ourselves to grieve for the victims and the attack on our way of life; that we allow ourselves the odd flash of anger and righteous indignation.

But it’s important, too, that we don’t allow this awful event to shape our future, whether that’s in approving knee-jerk legislation, engendering a suspicious or fearful mind-set or simply how we personally act and feel.

Over the last 10 years, the country has been littered with ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ paraphernalia – from ‘Keep Calm and Drink Gin’ tea-towels to ‘Keep Calm and Go Surfing’ bumper stickers. They’re a post-ironic commentary on our very British stoicism.

But on occasions like this they come into their own. At this sad, sad, time, through our grief, fear and frustration, we need to keep calm and carry on…

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