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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Lovely day today.

My folks drove across here this morning, and we all went to Symonds Yat Rock. It's only about three miles away from us, and it's absolutely beautiful. We walked along the cliff-tops, then walked all the way down to the river, and back up again - we definitely earned the hearty lunch we ate back at home.

Right now, I'm all alone. My parents have just gone home to pack - they move house on Wednesday - and Bobby and the kids have gone back to Symonds Yat to do some climbing. Part of me is regretting not having gone with them. I know I would have enjoyed it once I got there, and I don't like feeling that I'm missing out on a good family experience. But most of me is enjoying this rare time on my own. These last six or seven weeks we've pretty much all been together, all the time, and I have been getting a bit desperate for some solitude.

I've been reading news online, and I'm horribly worried by the silence from the police about that guy who they shot dead at Stockwell. It seems to me that if he had actually been a suicide bomber, they would have made that fact public, to vindicate themselves. Their silence raises the horrible possibility that he didn't actually represent an imminent threat; even maybe that he was an innocent person in the wrong place, at the wrong time. I can't help but feel that, if there is no proof that he was a potential bomber, the outrage might tip people on the fence into siding with the bombers - that they might feel so angry and alienated that they would feel that the whole country is against them, and feel justified in attacking "the enemy" ...

I hope I am wrong.

I have been struggling to understand the mentality of people who, having been born and brought up here, could kill their fellow citizens in cold blood. I would find it easier to understand - though not condone - people who kill strangers, because it's easier to demonise foreigners, easier to hate them, easier to deny their humanity. But how can you cold-bloodedly kill people who you live and work with, people who are just going about their everyday lives? Perhaps they feel so alienated from the larger society that truly do feel no empathy at all. Or perhaps this is a kind of Columbine mentality - disturbed people wanting, one way or another, to go out in a blaze of glory. Neither explanation seems very satisfactory, though.

Meanwhile, here I sit typing at the dining-room table in the late afternoon sunshine. I can see tiny brown birds fluttering in the hedge outside the sliding door, and I can smell jasmine. Someone has just ridden their horse past the house; I can still hear its hooves on the ground. It is completely tranquil out here in the countryside. A world away - seemingly - from any hatred and violence. But what do I know, really ... there are probably all kinds of tensions and conflicts out here that I'm completely oblivious to.

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