In case you were wondering, it hasn’t passed me by in any way, that a couple of weeks ago I was in Japan. A couple of weeks before the earthquake, and then the tsunami, and then the nuclear reactor potential meltdown threat, and then the snow. Two weeks before all British nationals were urged by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to leave Tokyo. Two weeks before everything changed entirely.
It’s more than incomprehensible to me, especially as people keep asking ‘How does it feel?’ and saying ‘You could have easily been in the middle of all that.’
I could have very easily been in the middle of it all, in the middle of the misinformation and conflicting reports, a twelve hour flight and several thousand miles away from home.
But, by the grace of God, I wasn’t.
What’s the right response to all the people who were there, and who are there still? It’s difficult to judge. As fellow city-dwellers, the idea that nature is bigger and stronger and more powerful than the edifice of our metropolis is pretty terrifying. The horror of a giant wave piling up the Thames, sweeping away the Southbank Centre, and the Shard, and the Tower of London, and Westminster, and Battersea Power Station… well, it’s hard to imagine.
In typically novel, if slightly trite, fashion, London is rising to the occasion, hosting Japanese themed club nights and film nights to raise money for the Red Cross Appeal. And today, at Maiden on Shoreditch High Street, there was a giant bake sale of Japan-themed cake. Some followed the theme in flavour – wasabi and ginger featured fairly heavily – others in appearance; there were pacman biscuits and cake-y shortbread with red velvet circular centres imitating the Japanese flag. Possibly a little lighthearted considering the dire state of affairs around Sendai. But people were queuing round the block to get in and buy cake. And, since I don’t really know what else to do, I queued too.
After all, it’s by the grace of God that I’m able to queue to buy cake, rather than to queue to buy bread.