Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Red Alert!

I'm very glad I'm not getting on a plane today. And despite having only just returned from a greenhouse boosting jaunt of my own, I can never feel much sympathy for "stranded holidaymakers". Travel is all about disruption and chaos, and if you really think you're going to get on a metal beast the size of a street and go 30,000 feet in the air without any trouble at all, then you really haven't understood how implausible this whole aviation business is in the first place.

But still, terrorist alerts are the scariest form of disruption. Everyone stuck on the ground will be wondering if it was their flight which was targeted, and everyone in the air will be gazing at their fellow passengers with just a little more suspicion than usual. As they clutch their Scotland Yard issue plastic bags and miss their water and mobile phones.

The problem with this is that the public really don't trust the police on this sort of thing anymore. No matter how scary the news appears, we all remember the Stockwell suicide bomber, the ricin plot, the tanks arriving at Heathrow shortly before they went on to Baghdad, and the countless highly publicised terror raids where the suspect is quietly released without charge a week later, but not before his character has been thoroughly destroyed and his religion further defamed.

So is this the one? The best thing we can do is keep an open mind, not panic but not automatically believe everything that the press have been told. We've made that mistake once too often, but the truth will out in a month or so.

Still, it's nice to have peaceful skies overhead. Shame we only get to enjoy peace and quiet when there's a terrorist plot.


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