HAS there ever been a more topsy-turvy, steely-nervy day?
At eight yesterday morning there was a hush down my way, the kind of hush you only get on the first morning of an Ashes series when the egg-and-bacon ties come streaming into St John's Wood, more in hope than expectation. It is 20 years since England last won the Ashes at home, 70 since they beat Australia at Lords.
Yesterday, though, was different. There was a spring in the step, a sense of tides turning that swelled into an ocean roar when Harmison hit the Aussie skipper on the helmet, drawing blood, and dismissed him soon after. By lunch, England had half the Aussies back on the pavilion balcony with the score still in double figures.
But before sweet chutney passed lips, word thudded through of further bomb attacks, three Tubes and a bus.
Smoke billowing from the mouth of a station, casualties unknown. The players - did they know or not? - resumed battle in an atmosphere charged with an ulterior tension. Sirens screaming up and down the Finchley Road, shadows across the ground.
Parallel realities came into play. "What does he know of cricket who only cricket knows?" said the Caribbean Marxist philosopher CLR James, arguing that even flannelled fools must awaken to social revolution. Yesterday, we were so grateful that they ignored it.