Shaken but defiant, London’s workers get back to normal

PAYING RESPECTS: Construction workers lay flowers at the pedestrian crossing on the south side of London Bridge, close to Borough Market in London, where the attacks took place at the weekend
Picture: AFP

Londoners went back to work yesterday with a spirit of defiance after the terror attack at the weekend that killed seven people, but commuters at the scene of the rampage spoke of fears.

Saturday night’s atrocity weighed heavily on the minds of people walking across London Bridge and those trying to navigate around the cordon screening off Borough Market, where dozens of others were stabbed in the attack.

A twisted traffic light at the south end of the bridge, almost completely knocked over, revealed where the van crashed after hitting pedestrians before its occupants began their stabbing rampage in the market.

“It’s quite chilling,” Jessica Bony, who could not get to her office due to the police cordon, said.

“It’s usually quite busy, everybody is walking across the bridge to get to work,” she said.

“They are still trying to get to work, but the atmosphere is very different today. It’s not a nice feeling.”

Grace McGillick, who works in human resources, said the attack was really scary when she heard about it.

“Now there is no reason to be scared. You have to be defiant,” she said.

Echoing that spirit of resilience, images of a man holding a beer while being evacuated from the scene of the attack among hundreds of other revellers went viral on social media. Elsewhere, others voiced defiance. “I am not afraid. They [terrorists] won’t change my life,” Oliver Sayers, a 27-year-old consultant, said.

Alister, 27, a lawyer, said: “It’s business as usual.” But Italian student Maria Cristina said: “It’s scary. I avoid going to the centre as much as possible.”

On a weekday morning, the bridge is filled with workers trudging across from the London Bridge railway station, on the south side of the Thames, to the City of London on the north side.

Borough Market, at the south end of the bridge, is a world-famous food hall and a trendy nightlife area.

Within five minutes’ walk is the riverside location used by tourists for photos of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

Charly Doy, who owns a news stand at the south end of London Bridge, said the atmosphere was strange as people returned to work.

“There’s nothing, I only had one customer. I’ll close earlier,” he said.

“Normally there are a lot of people here, buying cigarettes.”

“I was scared but now I’m not, because there are lots of police, safety and security. I’m more comfortable.”

London police chief Cressida Dick visited the scene, along with London mayor Sadiq Khan, as lines of passersby stood at the police cordon to hear.

“London is back at work. People are getting on with their lives,” Dick said.

“We know it is the public, it is communities that will defeat terrorism.”

Amid a political controversy over cuts in police numbers, one heckler shouted: “More police on the beat!”

Though the bridge remained closed to traffic, pedestrians and cyclists could make their way across, and people left bouquets of flowers.

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