I thought of adding an extra Blog entry yesterday -- then I thought, nobody is going to turn to Jean's Knitting for breaking news.
All my London loved ones are safe and well. Indeed, I first heard the news in a phone call from Rachel. Only two of them -- Alexander's wife Ketki, at her bank; and Rachel's younger son Joseph, at school -- were remotely in the affected part of London. Both will have had a lot of trouble getting home. I haven't heard about that yet.
Hellie (pictured here recently) is finishing school, waiting for her A-Level results. She was at school yesterday, in south London. Their Leaving Ball, scheduled for yesterday evening, was cancelled,and the annual prize-giving likewise. "What we can do," the headmistress said, "is stand up and sing 'Jerusalem'." So they did, and Hellie says it was very moving.
I wondered, when Tony left Gleneagles yesterday to fly to London, whether G.W. Bush thought about 9/11 as he waved goodbye. He was in Florida when the news reached him, and he spent the day, as I remember, flying to Nebraska or some such place, to save his skin, just in case it was in danger. I was surprised then, and since, that nobody seemed to mind. His job was to go back to Washington, I think, at whatever risk to self, and do for the nation what Mayor Guiliani did for New York. (Guiliani was in London yesterday, not far from King's Cross.)
Of course 9/11 was a terrorist attack on a far greater scale, but yesterday morning we didn't entirely know, even Tony didn't, just what had happened and was happening in London.
It is not easy to do the right thing in a sudden, totally unexpected crisis. A person who got it right was Prince Charles, on the day the first Princess of Wales died. They were completely divorced, and I am sure he hated her as bitterly as anyone could hate a divorced spouse -- and, like most of us, I have some experience of those singe-ing emotions. But he figured out at once, with no time for second-guessing, that he must go to Paris that day and escort her body home. I think I read somewhere that officialdom tried to make difficulties, and treat her as the corpse of any other Briton dead abroad might be treated. I can't remember what that treatment would have been, but paper-work and perhaps coroners and perhaps even a police mortuary were involved. Prince Charles knocked that aside, and brought her back to lie in a royal chapel until the splendid funeral.