Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Ripples of 7/7

Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David writes…


An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization.

Had one yesterday. A London one. A recent London history one.

I was in our local chemist’s. On West End Lane, in West Hampstead. The customer ahead of me was a tourist. He was in the dark about what was special about the date – the tenth anniversary of 7/7.

Chemist was explaining to him. What had happened. What the significance was.

And then cometh the epiphany. A flash of local understanding, of direct, personal experience – as opposed to the “mediated” stuff (by mediated stuff I mean the television coverage, the front page newspaper stories, etc. back then; and indeed the sombre marking of the anniversary – the let-us-not-forget commemorative occasion this week).

The chemist – a really fine guy from the Indian sub-continent – said, “let me put it this way, you see those shelves over there…”

(Gave a sweeping gesture to a good size set of shelves – occupying fully a fourth of that wall of his shop.)

“They were completely empty ten years ago today.”

“Yes, those shelves – the razors, the Gillettes, the men’s shaving kits.”

“Completely empty. Sold out in a couple of hours.”

“Muslim mothers coming in here and buying them and making their sons shave off their beards.”

What makes the “news” – a big story – is like a stone dropped into a perfectly still pond. Where it enters the water – where it impacts – the splash – always gets our attention. 

We too often forget – or don’t see – that when a stone gets dropped into a pond there are ripples that go a long way out from the splash. We see the splash. Can’t take our eyes off it. See the splash and maybe the first ripple out. Don’t see the further out ripples.

There’s something to be said for seeing them.

Fear, anxiety, apprehension sweeping through a big subset of our neighbours – our fellow Londoners – that’s “a bell that tolls for us” as well.

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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