A week since Parsons Green

The air is a little chillier and the nights are becoming longer. The summer is over. And over the summer that just was, I have done and pondered on a few things that I should have jotted down, but somehow I have been unable to do so. It is a strange state of affairs, in that I did waste a copious amount of time on frivolities, yet at the same time I felt busy most of the time. But perhaps there is a one-word explanation: laziness. Another might be procrastination.

Anyway, the world is looking a more menacing place than a few months or a year ago. A thermonuclear war seems just a little likelier compared to a few months ago (though it is still an extremely remote prospect) and there have been a catalogue of extreme weather events. Terrorist outrages continue. Last month, there were attacks in Barcelona and at other locations in Catalonia, and a week ago on 15 September, London became a target again, this time the tube at Parsons Green. Mercifully the explosive device did not detonate and caused no deaths, but it injured many people.

Southfields is the closest tube station for me. When I head into central London on the Underground, I take the Wimbledon branch of the District Line. For this reason, my family and friends called me to enquire whether I was safe. I was at home. If I had to be in central London on that day, I could easily have been on that train. Those calls made this terror attack more personal, if that is the right expression.

This latest attack seems similar to other recent attacks, in that it looks to have been executed by a relatively small but not particularly well-organized or highly-trained group. More pieces of information will undoubtedly emerge over time as the investigation progresses, both on the process of radicalization and the manufacturing of the device. If it turns out that there are a quicker pace of radicalization and an increased readiness to use various – or any – means of terror, from knives, guns, vehicles, to crude bombs, then the intelligence services may have more difficulties in identifying the potential dangers and preventing attacks.

On 15 September, there were no trains to or from Southfields. The information board at the station referred to a security incident at Parsons Green. I took this photograph in the afternoon, so it could have been updated or altered as it had become clear by then that it was a terrorist attack, but I do like this kind of somewhat phlegmatic understatement.

Notice board at Southfields station