Today it was fucking scary to ride the tube

South Kensington Tube Sign

I have to write this because writing is how I process these days. What happened in Paris is horrific, there are no words. This blog is meant to be a place where new London expats can get a high five, a kick up the butt or a hug; but today it’s about the scariest side of living in a major city. What do you do when terrorism is too close and all you want to do is hide?

Terrorism is such a tangible part of living in London. There is no sugar coating this, the current UK terror rating is ‘severe’ which means that an attack is highly likely.

Earlier this year a rumour went round social media that all met police had been called off holiday because an attack on London was imminent. I remember everyone in the office looking at each other helplessly because no one wanted to take action based on rumour and terror, and yet we were all scared. No one wanted to seem like they were overreacting by walking for an hour and half instead of catching the tube, but what can you do? If you catch the tube and something happens what then? It’s not like any of this is distant either, I work in Aldgate where one of the 7/7 bombings were just ten years ago. In London every ounce of terror is so close.

When you are in New Zealand and hear about acts of terrorism overseas your heart bleeds but you don’t change the way you live, you simply don’t think that it could happen to you. It’s partly that for all we like to dream big New Zealand is not a major world power so the likelihood of an attack on home soil is lessened. Probably the bigger reason though is that New Zealand is damn far away, it seems unimaginable that any terrorist would be bothered to fly all that way. In New Zealand you feel sorrow and disbelief but that terror does not take hold, that terror is a world away.

What can you do when all you dream of is moving to or living in London? The most kick ass, beautiful, confusing, fierce, creative, hard and amazing city; the concrete love of my life. Do you let terrorism stop you living your life, stop you dreaming? I don’t want to let fear stop me from going to the theatre. Stop me celebrating in crowds. Stop me taking the tube. If you let it, the fear of getting hurt, the fear of these immensely evil people could stop you leaving your front door.

What can you do when it seems too scary to leave your house? What did I do when all I wanted to do was stay inside and protect myself? I went out. I went out and had breakfast with a friend and made plans for the future. I got on a tube full of strangers and just stood there ignoring everyone like I would on any other day. I got on the tube even though it was the last thing I wanted to do because the terrorists can’t win, they can’t fucking control my life. In the face of terrorist acts like this all we can do is stand together, continue living and loving in London and plan for the future and hope. Hope that it will all be ok.

7 Comments

  1. November 15, 2015 / 2:07 am

    Such a powerful and honest post. It seems we are living in frightening times and trying to carry on as normal isn’t always easy. L x

  2. November 15, 2015 / 6:06 am

    This was the post I have been waiting to read. It sums up exactly how I felt in London when horrible events or scares happened. I was never 100% happy about taking the tube, especially after 7/7 but even more so once I had kids – the constant thought of what if was always back there. You are exactly right – you can’t let terrorists rule your life because that’s their core aim – to scare the crap out of us – they win when terror gets in the way of our everyday lives. This is our generation’s Cold War in many ways. You ride that tube without paranoia and with that gorgeous head held high.

  3. November 16, 2015 / 11:32 am

    I love this post so much. A friend of mine works for the government and after seeing how exhausted he was back in the summer (he spent weeks not leaving the office before 2am, every single day), and seeing the fear on his face when we spoke about what’s going on in the world, and hearing about how he wouldn’t let his girlfriend take the tube right then, for months I refused to use the tube also. I walked everywhere and didn’t care that it meant I had to get up super early.

    Eventually the fear wore off and I went back to my normal routine, but Friday’s events scared me. I was supposed to be going out Saturday night for my friends birthday, we were going clubbing near Regent Street, and I was scared. But I did the same as you, I thought ‘fuck them’ and went out and had fun.

    They will not win, not now and not ever. And in January I’m gonna go back to Paris and have a fucking great time.

    C x

  4. November 16, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    It’s so weird because I didn’t hear about Friday’s event until Sunday because I was in Northern Scotland without a tv or internet. It was so weird because I felt both – I felt like it was far, like this would never happen in Northern Scotland, but at the same time it’s so close, I go down to England and London so often to see friends. I love Paris and that’s also so real. It’s weird but I felt for it because I could see myself walking through those streets and yet I can’t imagine the terror. It’s horrific.

  5. November 17, 2015 / 5:34 am

    Hi Rebecca

    My name is Sarah and I host a podcast called Two Fat Expats, we currently have the #1 episode in our category.
    Next week we are recording an episode about expats that are caught up in terror attacks and what that looks like for an expat. I’d love to share your blog post if that’s ok?

    Thanks
    Sarah

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      November 17, 2015 / 9:01 am

      Hi Sarah, no problem at all that sounds great!