We’re back in London, after a few days in France, and while we were having fun in Brittany, murderers struck on London Bridge on Saturday night, killing innocent people at random, in the name (one assumes) of religion.
This evening, despite the chilly wind, I went for a slow run around the Tower Bridge area, where we are airbnb-ing.
As I trotted along, it soon became clear something was afoot.
Huge police presence. Roads barricaded. Press vans & TV crews everywhere.
For a split second I feared the worst, but a policeman told me it was the London Vigil.
So, I paused my run and followed the hundreds of people pouring into Potters Field for a dignified memorial and tribute to the people who were killed for absolutely no reason other than being in the wrong place when these fanatics decided to kill them.
What I found heartening was the number of Muslims proudly – but in silence and with great dignity – affirming their Muslim identity:
The Mayor London, himself a Muslim, spoke eloquently:
I’m not particularly patriotic, to be honest, and having lived outside the UK for so many years, have affinities and love for so many countries, all the wonderful places where we have lived.
But tonight, standing in the chill at the foot of London Bridge, with the Union Jack and the flag of St. George flying at half mast, surrounded by hundreds of calm, respectful people, all there to defy the terrorists and honour the dead – well, I felt hugely emotional and very much one with my fellow countrymen.
After the ceremony, as I left Potter’s Field, what did I spy but this fabulously named van:
2 chirpy Sikhs – both as British as I am – were handing out free water to passers by and when I greeted them with a “Sat sri Akal” (the traditional Sikh greeting) they looked happily puzzled.
Having declined their offer of water (I had my own bottle) one of them offered me a leaflet about Sikhism, which I declined.
I think the young man was a bit taken aback at my refusal, until i told him my husband is a Sikh, at which point I got a huge smile and a “Great! Wonderful! Cheers!”
But the lasting impression from a short but highly charged run was of the crowds there to defy the evil that was unleashed in them on Saturday: