Sunday, August 13, 2006
'Hello, Bonjour, Willkommen, Salaam Aleikum'
I set out on a walk of central London to gauge the mood. I began in Soho and went south toward Westminster.

Regent Street, with its high-end stores, was bustling. Hamleys toy store was packed -- sardine tight-- just like FAO Schwarz in New York City. Tall men dressed in pirate costumes engaged the children. I was struck by a young Muslim girl, her hair covered by a traditional black scarf, working the cashier.

I passed Picadilly Circus and stopped at Trafalgar Square. People were lined along the railings outside the National Gallery. Others sat at the base of Lord Nelson's column watching a modern dance recital performed by an Asian women's group.

The narrator welcomed everyone, saying, "Hello, Bonjour, Willkommen, Salaam Aleikum" -- a multicultural greeting for the tourists and Brits who had stopped to see what was going on. No one seemed worried. No one seemed afraid. They felt safe enough to stop and linger.

The sound of Indian music boomed over the loudspeakers and women in brightly colored saris walked out in a traditional bridal procession. It was a dance about women who crossed the ocean to have a different life than the ones they might have lived in Asia and the Pacific.

The roar of an airplane came across the speakers, and a voice talking about women's struggles and challenges said, "Fasten your seat belt there is turbulence ahead." Having spent the last 72 hours immersed in covering the jetliner terror plot, I smiled at the irony.

I was surprised to see only four policemen outside 10 Downing Street, where Prime Minister Tony Blair lives. An American man turned to his son, who looked to be about 10 years old, and said, "There's lots more security outside the White House." Though in all fairness, it could be due to the fact the prime minister and his family are on vacation in Barbados.

Reaching Westminster Hall and Parliament, I smiled as families snapped photos with Big Ben in the background. Millions of people from around the world must have that same photo of themselves from the exact same street corner.

It wasn't until I stepped off the return bus at Oxford Circus that I was yanked back to reality. A poster from the Evening Standard with the headline -- "TERROR PLOT: NEW DETAILS" -- in capital letters. I asked a shopkeeper whether business at 4:00 in the afternoon was slower than normal and he said, "Actually it's busier. People can't leave. We can't get rid of them." With that, he smiled and I walked back to the office.
Posted By Deborah Feyerick, CNN Correspondent: 9:06 PM ET
  21 Comments
Sometimes reality can slip away in the glimps of beauty from a breath taking city.. But the truth is the world goes on. Thank heavens that the terrists were caught just in time.
Posted By Anonymous Joanna Parker, Millsboro, DE : 1:16 AM ET
It must be strange to be in London right now; you're in the center of the biggest news event at the moment. If it were me, I would be excited and scared at the same time. I can't wait to learn of the new details on the show. Also, does this mean more funding will be approved to improve US airport security, which is badly needed? I heard that the list of items restricted in carry-ons was slightly changed; will this confuse passengers? How are the airports handling the longer lines and slower flow of passengers resulting from the new rules? I'm a little concerned because I have a loved one who'll be travelling in a few days. I figure she needs to be at the airport 3 hours before her flight instead of just 2 hours so she doesn't miss her flight. I hope the dust settles soon. For those who travel, this is an inconvenience to say the least.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Edmonds, WA : 1:36 AM ET
Why don't you just invite some terrorists to visit the Prime Minister's house for the weekend? And how do you know how many security agents are keeping his home under surveillance. I assume there are security people you can see and don't see. How about security cameras? I bet he has a few of those, and I am certain he has sensors. Further, I bet he has all types of security measures other than the four guys you scoped out. Use a little discretion in what you chose to blog on. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Steve Roger, Denver, Colorado : 4:01 AM ET
I was living in DC on 9/11. As affected as people were, what stood out to me is how life continued as normal. People still went to work, tourists still strolled the Mall, traffic still filled the streets. It's impossible to tell how scared or upset people are on the inside, but there's some comfort in maintaining a normal exterior.
Posted By Anonymous Molly, Richmond, VA : 7:22 AM ET
It is amazing how fast we tend to return to our normal lives even in the face of looming terror.
Posted By Anonymous Kat Cirelli, Michiagan : 8:39 AM ET
This is our ultimate victory over Terrorists/Potential Terrorists: To continue our day-to-day lives not ignoring the past but remembering and going forward with our lives without fear.
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Wichita,KS : 8:52 AM ET
Hi Deborah

I am pleased to see that you took the opportunity to walk around London. It is certainly safe to do so and take the time to enjoy our multi-cultural society and the sights.

I am a British citizen and have worked in central London (near Piccadilly Circus) for 8 years. I am no more worried about the terrorist threat that I was before the latest events or indeed the July 7 bombings. We are a extremely resilient nation and it is in our nature to "make the best " out of a situation.

With regard to the security on Dowing Street, I think the visible security is one thing - rest assured you and the rest of us are being watched all the time !!!

So, welcome and enjoy one of the greatest cities in the world.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Canterbury, UK : 9:09 AM ET
Deborah,
Looks like the British "stiff upper lip" is alive and well. Take care

Susan
Posted By Anonymous Susan Prock, Fort Pierce, Florida : 10:52 AM ET
I'm glad to hear that all is back to normal in London, as it should be. In this case, "all's well that ends well" and we can only hope that the international intelligence community can keep on top of the terrorists to keep us all safe in the future.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Minneapolis, Minnesota : 10:52 AM ET
Life must go on, we have no choice in spite of these intermitent shocks back to . . . ummmmm reality?.

I don't know about all of you but as far as I'm concerned I've been in a state of mid-level terror for 3 days now. Not from the terrorists but from the news.

The authorities have not released much information to us us other than to say there are a group of men who may/may not have plotted to bring some kind of liquid explosive combo on board some planes that could have blown us out of the sky.

The news (cnn, bbcw, itv, abc, xyz, . . ) together with their paid experts have shown us an unending list of ways we can be blown to bits by the products we keep in our bathrooms and kitchens. Dumb question here but like should you guys be giving out these ideas, and not the ideas so much but how easy this stuff all is? That's not really news, it's more like scare-mongering. Hell, I'm starting to think my kitchen could kill me if I put the Drano too close to the soap or worse some meany might sneak into my house and rig a Prell-cornflakes-yogurt bomb that will clean my hair, lower my chloresterol and seperate most of my body parts from each other.

There is some good news though, I just saw on CNN that lipstick will be allowed on board airplanes. . . whew!, at least we've cleared that hurdle.
Posted By Anonymous Lou M. , Lake Forest, Illinois : 10:57 AM ET
Hi Deborah,
I think deep down most everyone knows that life can never be altered for long..We each want our OWN normal to return as soon as possible..And thank heavens we all can agree on that...Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:28 AM ET
How interesting... Life really does go on... Thanks for the report...
I pictured the hustle and bustle, the happy tourists and then I remembered the picture of the women from southern Lebananon with her hands on her head as she returned after the cease fire to her home that was in rubble... Sad...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota Florida : 11:41 AM ET
It never ceases to amaze me the power of the almighty buck! (or pound!!) In the moment of crisis, there's always some entrepeneurs ready to profit from it!! Glad the tourist industry in Britain is not suffering from all this.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, San Francisco, CA : 12:04 PM ET
Thank you, Deborah, for your vibrant description of the many sights and sounds you experienced on your walk through London.

Your account is very engaging, and having spent time in London before, reading it made me feel like I was there again, walking the streets just as you did.

It is always fascinating to read perspectives such as this one that go beyond the surface and technicalities of a given situation, and cover the atmosphere and unique aspects of a given city and culture.
Posted By Anonymous Ruth Malhotra, Atlanta, GA : 12:20 PM ET
Deborah,
Glad you made it safely! I find it interesting that the human population can still go about its daily business while all this is going on. There is something calming about ones daily routine. Almost as if you can still go about your daily routine then the threat isn't there. Maybe this is naive. After 9/11 the best thing to do was get back to my normal day; work, picking kids up, cooking, and reading bedtime stories, etc. I don't know if my kids needed it nealy as much as I did! The distraction of the everyday can certainly help. Besides, if we can go about our day interacting with the masses, different races and religions, without fear then maybe we can help change the future a little at a time. Our actions speak louder than words ever could.

Peace and safety to all and may your flight back land safely! Keep looking under your seat!

Kim
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Novi, MI : 12:27 PM ET
Your account is what I like about living in London. Despite all the madness, people just get on with the business of life. Oh sure, they are concerned about potential terrorist activity, but to let it control your life would be a victory for the enemy. And that we just cannot do.
Posted By Anonymous Ursula, Wimbledon, UK (fomerly Chicago, Illinois) : 12:46 PM ET
Deborah, I'm glad you discovered that life goes on quite well in merry old England. In discussion with friends around the world I've found that Americans tend to be the most fearful of all nationalities. Fear-mongering by government and religious organizations seems to run rampant, and many people cower in the face of it.

I refuse to live in fear. I will not abdicate control of my thought processes to people who are on these power trips. America is not a land of lemmings, jumping off of a cliff because our leaders guide us to it. I'd like to think we have a bit more spunk than that!
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 12:58 PM ET
Thanks for your blog. My only comment, is "what else can you do?". I don't mean to be blase about threats of terror, but living in fear isn't living. I think the citizens and tourists you encountered weren't ignoring anything, I think they were making the best of a bad situation, getting on with their lives. Sometimes, that's all you can do.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa Saratoga Springs NY : 1:40 PM ET
I'm glad to see that the people of London are not living in fear. Terrorism only works if we become afraid of it. It is interesting how this trickles down across America. Two friends asked this weekend if I intentionally planned to fly across the country the week of September 11 and if I was going to keep my plans with increased threats of terror. There was fear for my safety and flying in general. Maybe I'm too trusting, but I still feel safe flying that week. I will still feel safe when I go to Europe. I refuse to give into fear of the unknown and uncontrollable. London's reaction is setting a good example for us all. Thanks for the continued coverage.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 2:10 PM ET
Bonjour Deborah,

We have to go on with our lives when something bad or frightening happens. Especially now, it will become our way of life to live with terrorists threats. But if we freeze in fear, they win.

I have British blood in my veins, so maby that's the part of me that is resilient. I was raised around old British aunts and was "drilled" to the ceremony of afternoon "tea brake" where everybody would stop, sit and talk away in that brithsh accent. No rush. They are laid back and stoic.

For my part, since I became a mother I have to admit that I am more fearful. More because I don't want anything to happen to me and leave my child behind. But, I am independent and don't like to be told what to do, so in that sense, I tend to go about my day normaly. I live accross the bridge from MOntreal, I take the subway. Of course, it is always in the back of my mind that an attack could happen in the subway. There as been plans of the Montreal subway found in the hands of potential terrorists after 9/11. Montreal is very multicultural, but I refuse to walk the streets of that city looking over my shoulder and looking suspicially at everyone that I cross on my path. Of course, I take normal precautions and stay aware of my environment. But I refuse to be hold back even when I get so afraid just thinking of the "what if"..

Have a good stay in London. Bonne Journee.
Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 2:54 PM ET
It sure doesn't sound like a country under the threat of a Terrorist attack. They seemed determined to show the world how to act under the circumstances. It sounds like they are thumbing their nose at terrorists.
I think the American people should take a page out of their book, they should be cautious, not foolish, but enjoy every aspect of their life that they can and put the rest behind then.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ontario Canada : 8:45 AM ET
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