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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cheers...and tears....

I am a New Yorker by birth (well, Brooklyn actually, but the difference is important mainly to us natives), and some would say by disposition and inclination as well. I am heading to the very long side of my 50s (actually, let's just say 59), and over the years I have been fortunate enough to have visited many of the most interesting (by reputation) cities in the world -- and actually lived in or near a few. That said, London stands out for some reason -- perhaps because I've had the pleasure of wandering about as a tourist but also (at times without purpose) when I had a few hours to kill on 'business visits'. It is one of the few places I'd choose to go to just for the sake of spending hours with no particular agenda....

All that is probably why I actually felt personally pleased at yesterday's news that London had won the 2012 Olympics bid. During my stay in Belfast I found myself fixated on the coverage of the bid, and especially all the effort put into preparations for the visit of the selection committee team a couple of months back. My New York roots aside, it just seems that London would make better use of the opportunity to host the games -- and despite my generally skeptical outlook on such things, I really do think the city itself will improve as a result.... And then there was my sense that it would be a pity if Paris got the bid....

And then this morning's news turned my elation into sadness. It has only been four or five hours since the explosions in the Underground and on the double-deckers were reported, and one can hope for the best -- that the celebrations of last night delayed the morning commute for many, that by some happenstance no trains were in the attacked stations, that the attackers were inept and incompetent -- but I have my fears for those Londoners and visitors who might have been in the tubes or on the attacked vehicles this AM.

But this is London, after all, a city that has suffered its share of terror and others attacks over the past six or seven decades. I am especially anxious for my friends at the Fulbright House who might have been coming to work this morning, but there is some comfort in knowing that it takes quite a bit more than this kind of terror attack to bring a city like London to a stand still....

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