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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 01:30 GMT 02:30 UK
Seeking normality in the city
By Mark Easton
Home editor, BBC News

It was a largely invisible outrage; the horror hidden beneath the streets of London.

CCTV footage outside King's Cross after the 7 July
King's Cross in the aftermath of the 7 July bomb

On the surface London looked like a city determinedly trying to act normally on 7 July.

I was at King's Cross as the first survivors stumbled up into the July sunshine a year ago. Their faces blackened with soot. Their eyes witness to what we could not see.

Even today, 1,000 people are said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress as a consequence of what they felt and what they saw in the half-light, deep underground. More than 50 families still grieve.

For them, 7 July was the day life changed.

But for the rest of us?

Looking around King's Cross a year later, there is little to suggest the terrorists have affected us psychologically.

The station is bustling, a cosmopolitan crowd much like the one that spilled out onto the streets 12 months ago.

The Tube network has never been busier.

More than three million passengers every day, with indications that the network is more crowded this week than it was in the days leading up to 7 July.

Do passengers travel with trepidation? No.

Crowds gathered on 14 July, 2005 to mark the bombs at King's Cross
Londoners showed their sympathy for the victims outside King's Cross in July 2005

Security alerts are back to the level prior to 7 July.

Are visitors put off coming to Britain? Not a bit. Last year saw a 7% rise in visits. More than 30 million arrivals - the highest ever.

More Europeans, more Asians and more Americans coming to the UK.

In the three months following the attacks, spending by overseas visitors was at one of the highest levels ever experienced.

These are not statistics of terror.

They are evidence that people take terrorism in their stride. An inconvenience.

Security checks, immigration controls and the threat of attack from al-Qaeda sympathisers do little to counter our urge to travel.

It is not international terrorism that is changing our behaviour, it is globalisation.

Nor has the "politics of terror" changed much in the past year.

The government may wish to change the rules, but Parliament and the courts appear unpersuaded on the need for a significant extension of powers to detain suspected terrorists without charge.

The former Home Secretary Charles Clarke argues that 7 July was "the actuality" that revealed the nature of the threat.

Community catalyst

The claim that "the government lied to us about the threat from WMD and is lying about the threat from al-Qaeda" no longer holds water, he told me recently.

Mr Clarke believes that the tragic events of 7 July were a catalyst for community action which will have long term benefits for our multicultural society.

Artist's impression of the renovated King's Cross frontage
King's Cross station is being restored to its former glory

But opinion polls suggest familiar divergence in the views of Britain's Muslims and the wider community on the need for more police powers to deal with the terrorist threat.

A year ago, I watched the injured emerge from King's Cross; flesh tattered, eyes glazed.

I saw the professionalism of the emergency services. I witnessed the determination of the public to search out normality.

On the anniversary of 7 July, King's Cross sports an optimistic face as redevelopment of the area continues.

The scene is of regeneration and renewal - of cranes and hard hats, of plans for a better tomorrow.

It appears the effects of the outrage are almost as invisible as the outrage itself.


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