2006, 223 p.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the London bombings. A memorial has been unveiled in Hyde Park this year, and I have no doubt that every passenger on the Underground today will think of the bombings, even if just to push the whole idea away as too terrifying to contemplate (or maybe I’m projecting my own claustrophobia here.)
John Tulloch, an Australian academic, became one of the ‘iconic’ images of the bombing as he was led from Edgware Road, a bandage wrapped around his head, with eyes darting sideways. His studies specialized in the media and risk, and he brings this perspective to his experience of the bombings. This is more than a survivor story- although he writes graphically and minutely of the bombing and its aftermath- but the real strength of his telling is the intelligence and insight he brings to the experience and its portrayal in the media, theatre and literature. Here he is able to step away and analyse the intent and techniques in the narrative as it is portrayed through different media. He puts his politics upfront: he is vehemently anti-Blair, anti-Bush (and anti-Howard); he is convinced of the relationship between our involvement in Iraq and the bombings and clear eyed about our own complicity in allowing the war to continue. Ironically, he found himself used as a political image to further Britain’s involvement, rather than to question it.
John Tulloch is obviously a sharp and rather irascible ‘older’ academic, and he puts his wisdom, experience and deep knowledge to its best use by adding shades of complexity, contingency and nuance to events that are too easily depicted in only black and white language- something that I’m pleased to see our Federal Government is moving towards consciously expunging from the political lexicon.