It’s almost dinner time in London and like most of my neighbours, I am wondering what tonight will bring.  So far, my location in Islington has been spared any major damage, as have most locations HTH members frequent in Central London.  Nevertheless, over the past few nights, even those of us lucky to be far from the turmoil have heard more police and ambulance sirens than usual as they rush to their colleagues in the more peripheral parts of Greater London where most of the violence has taken place.  On Monday night, no fewer than eight fully loaded police minibuses erupted from the UCLH area on Tottenham Court Road just after 8 pm to head east towards the melee.

The Prime Minister and Mayor of London both returned to the UK from vacation last night to be personally briefed by their crisis management teams, but no one is sure what will happen tonight.  London hospitals have increased their security guard cover from 8 pm – 8 am.  There was apparently a bit of a skirmish at Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill last night, but services have not been interrupted in any way. 

In Central London today, the riots were certainly a subject of conversation, but in their typical fashion, Londoners were keeping calm and carrying on.  When I popped out at lunchtime for a manicure appointment, I found the door of the salon locked – the reception staff had secured it in case of any trouble – they used this opportunity to personally welcome clients at the threshold.  Although I appreciated the additional care they were taking to ensure the security of their staff and customers, I shared a good laugh with them about the added precaution.

While walking through Kings Cross Station today, there was an announcement on the loudspeaker, imploring the owner of a suitcase left unattended to please return to it immediately before the authorities would be forced to evacuate the building and close London’s busiest train station.  A bobby in a bulletproof vest was monitoring the ticket turnstiles for the Underground, but train and tube passengers carried on without any sign of unease.   Tonight, central London is strangely quiet.  Stores on Oxford Street, a major shopping and tourist thoroughfare, have closed early.  Traffic is light and sidewalks are empty, apart from a few bemused tourists, hoping that this temporary lull in activity might mean a shorter wait for a table at the Hard Rock Café.

The bottom line is that  London isn’t burning much if at all right now; central London is rather pleasantly empty as long as you don’t want to shop; everything still works here; the hospitals are OK; and unless you really work hard to find trouble, it won’t come and find you.

Photo by belkus.

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About The Author

Laura Hilton serves as head of International Provider Network Development. Laura oversees all HTH international medical assistance operations and leads development of HTH’s international provider community and online databases from her office in London. Laura joined HTH in 2000 in the role of international provider recruitment and relations. She has extensive experience in emergency assistance operations and has developed medical evacuation plans for over 500 corporations. Fluent in five languages, she has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the former Soviet Union to evaluate international medical facilities and design healthcare solutions for travelers and business expatriates. Laura is a graduate of Yale University with a B.A.

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