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Tuesday 16th March 2004

I spoke to my old mum over the weekend and, in the wake of the events in Madrid last week, she tentatively suggested that I don't take any trains in London any more. Which would be all well and good, but how am I meant to get around? Even if my mother was prepared to pay for me to have my own personal chaffeur (which selfishly and hypocritically she is not), I would still use the tube because most of the time it is the quickest and least hassling way to get round the capital.
I could just stay at home all the time and avoid all the problems, but then with all the people who know where I live and want to break my limbs, I think I'd rather take my chances in the anonymity of the big city.
Today I took the tube and the overland train to go to Streatham to see my friends' new baby. Although the heightened awareness of the possibility of attack did make me feel a little bit nervous and possibly slightly more vigilant, I was aware that I really had no option but to use public transport. And so if some maniacs think that killing other human beings is the best way to get their point across then there's nothing anyone can really do about it. The very randomness of any attack makes it impossible to predict and so we can only carry on as we would always have done. There's millions of people in the city, so statistically it's unlikely to be you who is amongst the unlucky few hundred who get on the wrong train. There's no point in worrying about it; you are still much more likely to die in a motorway pile up or because someone mistakenly thinks you are part of a film company that used to operate out of your house and wants to hurt you.
The fragility of our lives should give us a little sense of frisson. We should be living each day to its maximum.
Of course we fail to do anything of the kind, because we are lazy idiots.
But at the very least we could view the current appalling and sickening threat as a very elaborate game of Russian Roulette. But we're playing with a gun with half a million chambers and only one bullet. And the person in charge of putting the bullet in the gun, as often as not, forgets to do his job or is stopped doing it by the police.
It's a game of Russian Roulette for pussies. If the Deer Hunter had been about a bloke who played a game with such rubbish odds I don't think it would have made such a splash - though the half a million chamber gun would be probably worth the admission fee on its own.
It's actually quite a thrill to feel like you are endangering your life, with the additional security that you have next to no chance of actually suffering any harm. I think London Underground should start charging extra: now going on the tube is like going on a rollercoaster or ghost train. Maybe they could get a few of their staff to dress up as skellingtons and run through the carriages going "woooooh". Or possibly give employ the Comedy Terrorist to wander the corridors holding a big cartoon style fizzing black bomb. Or they could not bother doing any maintainance on their trains, so that bits were falling off them and carriages were jumping off the tracks - oh hold on, they do that already.

So I felt pretty brave today, going against my mother's wishes and taking a ride into almost certain death. Especially given that I generally use public transport outside of peak times, when the carriages are pretty empty. No self respecting terrorist would waste his semtex on killing three Japanese tourists and a comedian.
It's the commuters with the humdrum lives who are the really brave ones. Their gun has only 450,000 chambers. If I was one of you, I would try and get a job in the media via BBC Talent. Then you wouldn't have to get up til midday and you'd be nice and safe.

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