Yet another car was driven this morning into the security barriers protecting the Houses of Parliament.
Before swerving into the barriers, the driver negotiated a path that took him through a crowd of cyclists, most of whom must be blessed with lightning-quick reflexes and managed to jump out of the way.
Only this can explain why, of the 10 cyclists hit, only two victims ended up in hospital, presumably St Thomas’s just across the river. However, this assumption isn’t entirely safe: knowing how the NHS operates, they might as easily have taken the victims to a hospital in Muswell Hill or Richmond.
The police say their minds are open, which is a good thing – provided their brains don’t fall out. They didn’t specify what it was that their minds were open to, considering that every eyewitness stated unequivocally that the act was deliberate.
Those familiar with the geography of the area will know that there’s so little room in which to swerve at 50 mph that such a manoeuvre couldn’t possibly have been executed accidentally – especially since the driver was only conning a Ford Fiesta, hardly the most powerful car out there.
Are the officers’ minds open to the perpetrator’s identity? That’s highly unlikely, considering that they arrested him on the spot. Ask him nicely, and he’ll be only too pleased to introduce himself, thereby closing all those inquisitive minds.
However, even if the police know who drove that Fiesta, we don’t, not at the time of writing. We do know the car wasn’t a self-drive vehicle. One newspaper mentioned in passing that the driver was black; the others didn’t volunteer any information at all.
And we still have no inkling why that black gentleman chose to write off his car in such a spectacular fashion. It couldn’t have been insurance fraud because he made no attempt at subterfuge. Nor was it a suicide attempt, for otherwise he could have simply driven the car off the cliff somewhere upcountry.
As always, police reticence under such circumstances leaves the door wide-open for speculation. And here we must decide which great English mind we should look to for inspiration: Bertie Russell or Sherlock Holmes.
Russell believed that, no matter how regularly and for how long the same event has been happening, there’s no guarantee it’ll happen again. The sun may have risen every morning as far back as anyone can remember, he said, but we can’t infer on that basis that it’ll rise again tomorrow morning.
His near contemporary Sherlock Holmes would have disagreed vehemently. Abstractions aside, he’d say, in a world of solving practical problems, when something has always happened for a certain reason, one can confidently predict it’ll happen again and for the same reason.
This morning’s incident at Westminster definitely falls into Mr Holmes’s area of expertise, rather than Prof. Russell’s. And it’s Sherlock Holmes’s practical approach to such matters that can help us come up with a credible hypothesis on the nature of the Fiesta fiasco.
Mr Holmes himself would have had it all figured out before even arriving at the scene. He’d dismiss out of hand as utterly improbable any motive other than vehicular terrorism.
And he’d make a mental note that so far every such incident involved a Muslim perpetrator – including the attack on the same target 17 months ago that left five dead.
Ergo, the great detective would explain to his hapless sidekick, Dr Watson, the black driver of that Fiesta is a Muslim, doing what he did because he’s a Muslim. Elementary. (Speaking today, Holmes would probably say something like “Sor’ed” instead – tempora mutantur, and usually for the worse.)
After an earlier such incident I proposed that every Muslim driver should be made to take a remedial course in keeping the car on the road.
If you want to hit a cyclist, Ahmed, get out of the car – most of us other drivers would cheer you on, what with cyclists tending to be sanctimonious pests. I for one have lost my voice on several occasions, screaming irate obscenities at those road menaces.
And Ahmed? Think twice before driving at full pelt into a concrete and steel barrier: in that crash there can only be one winner. Get yourself a Challenger 2 battle tank if you want to take a security barrier on.
Building on that didactic initiative, I’d suggest every Muslim car owner display on his rear window two stickers: ‘Muslim on board’ and ‘Learner terrorist’.
(I realise that most Muslim drivers aren’t going to use their vehicle for the purpose of terrorism. By the same token, most Rottweilers aren’t going to attack a pedestrian. However, they’re all muzzled in the street just the same: better safe than sorry, what?)
You may think that two such messages would be redundant, and either one would do the same job because they are interchangeable.
Well, this is up for discussion. My mind is open too, even though I’m not a cop.