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Home --> Questionable Quotes --> The Balming of London

The Balming of London

Claim:   E-mail lists reactions to the London subway bombings purportedly collected from Londoners.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2005]

When the news reporter said "Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea" I just smiled. It's like yes. That's Britain for you. Tea solves everything. You're a bit cold? Tea. Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You've just been told you've got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? TEA DAMMIT! And if it's really serious, they may bring out the coffee. The Americans have their alert raised to red, we break out the coffee. That's for situations more serious than this of course. Like another England penalty shoot-out.



To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: "I've been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!"



We took on the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, the French, William Wallace, the Black Plague, the Roundheads, the Great Fire, Napoleon, the Nazis, and the Blitz, and we're still here. You terrorists are bloody amateurs.



From the BBC website: statement from Al Qaeda:

"Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters".

Erm really... where? I think you will find that's a reaction to the winning the Olympics bid or perhaps just the effect Bush has on us when he visits?!



I will admit, the first thought that flashed through my head were images of angry French nationalists in very silly berets and overlong cigarette holders, muttering angrily about losing the Olympics, sneaking through the tube planting bombs...

Origins:   On the morning of 7 July 2005, as the morning's rush hour drew to a close, London's transit system came under terrorist attack. Suicide bombers detonated explosives on three Underground trains
Cup of tea
Jess MacNutt
and a bus, killing 49 commuters and injuring more than 700 others.

Britain has served to amaze the watching world by its reaction to this assault — it has calmly gone about the difficult business of burying its dead, treating its injured, rebuilding its transit system, and returning to a state of normalcy. As was said by The Times on 9 July 2005, "Terrorism will not defeat a way of life."

The Times also said, "Britain is at its best when it demonstrates, in its daily routine and lives, the values of humor, moderation, reasonableness and imperturbability." These characteristics are showcased in the Internet-circulated list of quotes purportedly gathered from Londoners in the wake of the
bombings.

However, while the traits so adroitly demonstrated by this pithy collection of sayings are real, some of the quotes themselves may not be. The first four appear on "Steve's Random and Often Beligerent Journal," a growing compendium of remarks about the bombings in London compiled by Stephen Ball, who in the online world goes by the moniker Uncle Steve. He began this collection on the day of the attacks, gathering these utterances first from friends' posts on LiveJournal, then later from the replies others were moved to add to the first published version of the list.

As to who wrote each of the five remarks, here is what we have been able to determine:
When the news reporter said "Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea" I just smiled. It's like yes. That's Britain for you. Tea solves everything. You're a bit cold? Tea. Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You've just been told you've got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? TEA DAMMIT! And if it's really serious, they may bring out the coffee. The Americans have their alert raised to red, we break out the coffee. That's for situations more serious than this of course. Like another England penalty shoot-out.
The brilliant "Tea solves everything" quote issued from a blogger known as jslayeruk who posted it to the Metaquotes LiveJournal under the heading "Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network....? TEA DAMMIT!" jslayeruk gives her location as Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, which places her in England's northeast, well away from London, but says in e-mail that she lives in London.
To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: "I've been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!"
The above is a mutation of a post made by quintus to the LiveJournal kept by s0b: "I recall a quote from an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary wharf explosion: 'I've been blown up by a better class of b@stard than this!'"

quintus (who gives his location as in "Britain, rather rural and extremely scenic") further explains its origins in his own LiveJournal:
There is a quote I like to use in these circumstances. About 10 years ago, there was an IRA attack in London and one of those slightly hurt was an old man who had lived through the German bombing of London.

He said this:

"I've been bombed by a better class of b@stard than this!"
quintus does not now remember where he picked up that bon mot, only that it was common currency among his circle of friends at the time of the 1996 failed IRA attempt to bomb Canary Wharf and the bombing a month later in South Quay. He thinks there may have been an interview with a survivor of the attack, with the quote coming from there.

(A special thank you to John Kovalic, a former reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal who now runs the web site dorktower.com, for helping us unravel the origins of the 'better class of bastard' quote.)
We took on the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, the French, William Wallace, the Black Plague, the Roundheads, the Great Fire, Napoleon, the Nazis, and the Blitz, and we're still here. You terrorists are bloody amateurs.
Sadly, this comment has yet to yield up its authorial secrets to us.
From the BBC website: statement from Al Qaeda:

"Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters".

Erm really... where? I think you will find that's a reaction to the winning the Olympics bid or perhaps just the effect Bush has on us when he visits?!
The "Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters" portion of the above entry comes from the statement issued by the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaida of Jihad Organisation in Europe, the terrorist group claiming responsibility for the blasts. The second half of the entry was penned by a blogger who goes by the name of sugarjunkie02 and posted to her LiveJournal on 7 July 2005. sugarjunkie02 gives her location as London.
I will admit, the first thought that flashed through my head were images of angry French nationalists in very silly berets and overlong cigarette holders, muttering angrily about losing the Olympics, sneaking through the tube planting bombs...
The above was an utterance of Chris Pipinou, a user identified as cpip on the Metaquotes LiveJournal, who lives in Louisville, KY. He posted it to the Metaquotes LiveJournal on 7 July 2005.

In summary, of the four quotes whose history is known to us, two did indeed come from Londoners and another from someone in an unnamed rural part of England, but one came from the U.S. Three of the four remarks were elicited in response to the London bombings of 7 July 2005, but one was not contemporaneous to that event — it dates to a 1996 IRA bombing and might well be apocryphal, a matter of something someone ought to have said rather than one of something actually uttered by a real person.

Barbara "stalked quotes" Mikkelson

Last updated:   14 July 2005

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  Sources Sources:
    Connor, Alan.   "Blogs on the Bombs."
    BBC News: The Magazine.   11 July 2005.

    The [London] Times.   "Hate and Hope."
    9 July 2005   (Features; p. 25).