The Circus

The Circus

Pp 242-3

21st C

Last Wednesday, in fear and trepidation because the news media was full of accounts of London's burning buildings, homes in flames,rioting gangs, shattered shop fronts and looted homes and stores, I travelled up to the capital by train.

To my amazement everything at Paddington railway station seemed to be normal: the usual fast-moving queue for taxis at the station, a leisurely drive to Chelsea where I was staying, no sign of anything remotely resembling the chaos reported. There were no police about, no rampaging hoodies in sight, no sirens screaming, nothing but people calmly going about their normal business, hampered only by crowds of rubber-necking tourists enjoying London in warm sunshine on the King's Road.

I spent three days in London, travelling around Chelsea, the Strand, Piccadilly, the West End and Westminster, day and night, and saw absoloutely nothing unusual, nothing remotely resembling the scary images filling the newspapers and television screens.

Yet, living only 120 miles away in Bath, I had the impression from the news that London was burning. I can't imagine how many people in countries all over the world were as apprehensive as I was as they gazed at images of the devastation caused in areas outside central London. And I wonder how many intending tourists and business people immediately cancelled their plans to visit the UK because of those alarming photographs and their accompanying reports.

I am not, in any way, belittling the horror faced by so many families in the aftermath of the death and devastation that occurred elsewhere, but the media has, in my view, given a totally false impression that the whole of the capital is a no-go area. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Bath I have heard from friends that the many Language Schools teaching English to foreign studients in this city are suffering a marked loss in cancellations for the new term because of the way in which the new of the events last week were reported. If this is so, I can only assume the tourist industry as a whole will be similarly affected.