Reporters on the Job

London Exchanges: Staff writer Robert Marquand, who was in London this past weekend, says that at Knightsbridge crossing, resolute Londoners climbed onto double-decker buses, and small talk rarely touched on the bombing. As Jason, a clerk at Harrod's Department Store who was born in Northern Ireland, told him, "London's too big. What, are we going to shut down the city like New York did [after 9/11]? We can't afford that."

Bob says, though, that a silent question mark hangs in the air around London. "There is some kind of uncertainty beneath the stiff upper lip. The perpetrators have not been caught, and there is worry both officially and unofficially about another blast.

Still, there are many stories of people drawing closer, Bob says. There is a "warm feeling in spite of everything," Keith Hughes, a US lawyer who lives in both London and New York, told Bob. Hours after the blasts, his counterpart in the Paris office called Mr. Hughes. The Paris lawyer was in a high-level meeting but dropped everything to find out if all was well. The Parisian lawyer told him that, like many French, "yesterday we were very angry with the British. We thought you ripped off the Olympics. But now I feel like we French are standing shoulder to shoulder with the British." Hughes said that the man expressed his appreciation for those in the London office. "These are things he wouldn't have said before," Hughes told Bob. "I have a feeling that that kind of bonding of people can help defeat this terror."

Strangely enough, Bob says, a new play, "Talking to Terrorists," opened in London last week at the Royal Court Theater. On a bleak set, it uses dialogue based on research conducted in the past year with victims, officials, and radical cell members. One theatergoer said that before Thursday, he would have been more interested in trying to understand the point of view of the terrorists, but that it was difficult after the bombings. Others said they felt the play was more important after the bombing.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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