Living on borrowed time (the London Car Bombs)

I'm sitting here in my room at the London Heathrow Hilton awaiting a flight back to the US after spending two weeks in London and surrounding cities.  (I was visiting GlassHouse's UK offices and clients, and giving the first London Backup School.)  One night that I will never forget was being only a few blocks from one of the two unsuccesful car bombs that attempted to kill hundreds of people in central London.

The car bombs were going to kill hundreds of people with a car, a full tank of petrol, several propane tanks, nails, and a cell phone detonator.  Current information is that the cell phones were actually called, but the bombers didn't rig the device properly.  Of course, it was shortly thereafter that a car did explode in the Glasgow airport.  These guys weren't fooling around.  (Neither were the Glaswegians, as one of them hard-tackled one of the terrorists even though he had set himself on fire.  I love that part of the story.)

I wasn't in one of the evacuated hotels, but I was blocks away.  I was also standing right where that car bomb was set to go off only hours before it was discovered.  (Me and thousands of others, of course, as it was right next to Picadilly Circle.)  Since they still haven't discovered when it was put there, I could have been standing right next to the actual car bomb for all I know.  So I feel like I'm living on borrowed time.

It was quite bizarre watching the British people continuing on with life walking in and around these buildings, using the tube, etc, after all of this happened.  They've been through this before, of course, but this is the first time I've been able to witness it — and I was impressed.  I think the British should take great pride in their ability to do this.  Just keep on living your lives while diligently looking for things like cars that smell of petrol and have things in the back covered with blankets.  Because getting scared is exactly what they want and giving them what they want is, well, bollocks.

----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

One thought on “Living on borrowed time (the London Car Bombs)

  1. grammar says:

    I think Bruce Schneier’s discussion of those bombings (, while it’s absent your first-hand and interesting description of the events, makes a good read.

    Essentially, the Scotch dealt a lot better: "Nothing bad actually happened, these people are incompetent, and now we’ll go mop them up. But, please don’t freak out, this was an unusual occurrence, and we know the vast majority of you people aren’t whackoes, so we’re not instituting any police state hijinks."

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