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This report is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

A Few Days in July Neil Powell

Summer in England is usually a strange time. As soon as July arrives, I can't help looking forward to September, when things will begin to seem more purposeful and less frazzled: that's when projects get started, or re-started - a legacy of the new school year, perhaps, or of some deeper instinct that links creativity with the onset of autumn. But July, now, who needs it? Especially this one, with its unmanageable lurches of weather and emotion.

In front of me are two successive days' editions of The Independent. The first has a wrap-around picture of jubilant crowds in Trafalgar Square and the strap-line 'Britain's Golden Day'; more than twenty pages about London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games follow. The other has a picture of an injured passenger being helped from the bombed bus in Tavistock Square; the front cover copy, in reversed-out black on white, like the masthead, is 'Terror Comes to London'; more than twenty pages about the London bombings follow. Another day, another story. Another world. At such times, art can only stand back and view reality's capacity for dramatic juxtaposition with awe and astonishment. And at such times, even the most sceptical observer will want to applaud the stoical resilience of his fellow citizens. I'll not easily forget the eighty-year-old, in London for the celebrations to mark sixty years since the end of the Second World War, whom Channel 4 News picked out in the crowd outside ...


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