Steel

Bombing London is not the same as bombing New York. This is a city that has had to live with the threat of terrorist attacks since time immemorial. Some people have actually been through more than one bomb attack in their lives.’ The Brits have perfected the art of the stiff upper lip against adversity. Partly it’s the legacy of the Second World War and having to deal with bad weather and the daily unexpected. Like the rest of the world, glued to a TV set, Max watched the lack of panic as people who had been within seconds of losing their lives walked away from nightmare sites that had just been bombed.

There’s something intrinsically British that Max admires deeply. It’s the reason why Max married a British woman maddeningly different to him, why he took up British citizenship when he could, why he still regrets finally giving up on the grey and leaving the UK for good.

It’s that element of cool. The one which says ‘you can get this close to me, but beyond that, it’s my territory.’ It’s about being civilized. It’s about having a system to make sure things work. Sometimes at the expense of warmth and Latin tactile. Sometimes it can seem heartless.

It’s about British steel.

Al-Qaeda can try and bomb the UK to bits. It will never manage to intimidate anybody. It will never get to the core of what makes Britain tick.

And Jacob and Liz, in the meantime, are bunkered in the relative safety of Alton Hampshire, among the lawns and the village pubs and afternoon teas and the tick tock of grandfather clocks in spotless, silent halls.

Max feels very alone.

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