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The anthrax scare

A commentary in the Independent:

CNN's Anthrax through the ages

I was going to do a page of useful information about the current anthrax crisis. But when I got back from Belgium, I was told that the crisis was over. What next?

We've all learned in the last few months how easy it is to cripple a society. Anything that moves is under threat. To live in terror means to live in anticipation of disruption to service. We Londoners know all about this.

I can't remember when all rubbish bins got removed from the Underground. It was the turning point. You can't throw your trash on the tube, the trains, buses, or on the platforms. So these places are littered with newspapers, canned drinks, and other waste. In time, we got used to this.

Disruption to service means extra time to get to where you need to go. Signalling problems, suspect package, person under a train -- there are any number of acceptable reasons. Over time people got used to it and internalised such excuses to legitimise being late for work. Trains can be delayed due to unswept leaves on the train tracks as well as the wrong kind of snow. I wonder whether this is the reason why working from home has become so popular.

Strikes also disrupt service - and they seem to be timed during the rush hour or peak season. But we've never had an anthrax scare in Great Britain. So it's hard to imagine how much more disruptive life in London can be.

7 November 2001 Wednesday

Related Links:
Freedom of speech: links to speeches, articles, emails post-Sept 11th
Black Tuesday