Take Courage

Lynne Kiesling

Tunku Varadarajan is a charming writer (and just as charming in person), as is evident in his regular De Gustubus columns in the Weekend Journal section of Friday’s Wall Street Journal. His most recent Friday column typifies his elegant, touching style in talking about the London bombings:

My friend Q.’s response to my note yesterday was a very British jewel: “Yes, tin helmet firmly affixed on bean, sandbags at the door, sticky tape on the windows, but the kettle is on and we’ll soon have steaming mugs of sweet tea to hand. Don’t panic!” …

It really is considered unseemly to complain, or to feel sorry for oneself, among Britons: This aversion to self-pity is bad for the terrorists, who thrive on attention and the sowing of chaos. They won’t get much satisfaction in Britain. Londoners will not retreat into their shells, and they are unlikely to do as the Spaniards did and draw out the tragedy with a lot of public recrimination, or to capitulate in any way.

The secret of British composure is that Britons really do feel proud of their civilization. On the whole, they apologize for very little, which is as it should be. Their message to terrorists is always likely to be straight and robust: “How dare you! I’m British!”