Events which appear loosely connected are usually not.
A week ago, my attention was drawn to an appeal by Sussex police for residents in the Eastbourne to Birling Gap area on the coast to keep their windows and doors closed because of the impact of a chemical haze which had come inland from the sea. The BBC also carried a report which said that the number of people affected and requiring attention had risen from 50 to 150. Kent live reported that 200 people had been decontaminated at hospital.
There was a news report in the Telegraph which stated that scientists believed the cloud had been created from shipping and not the continent. The Guardian presented the views of several experts. One suggested it could have been a discharge from a water treatment works but this was immediately dismissed by Southern Water.
One expert pointed to the similarity with chlorine gas and Sky online included a notice to the door of a McDonalds saying the store had closed because of a discharge of chlorine gas. Another reported said this was not chlorine gas. While police investigations were reported to be continuing there appears to have been no further report explaining what had happened. Fortunately, the cloud had dispersed sufficiently in time not to affect the expected numbers coming to the coast on the Bank holiday and the stay home request was lifted.
My first reaction at the time was that this was a terrorist attack from a craft off the coast.
Yesterday, I went to the new Cineworld Cinema at the Gate restaurant, and entertainment centre in the heart of the City of Newcastle to see the second performance of the new British film directed by Simon West called Stratton and based on the novel series by former special boat services officer Duncan Falconer who since his service with the British Security Services has become a specialist for a British based international enterprise and which includes outsourced work for government intelligence and defence departments. The extraordinary aspect of my attendance at on an evening opening performance at the start of the weekend is that I was the only person in the theatre.
I was not aware from what I had read beforehand that the plot involves a terrorist creating four drones to disperse clouds of a lethal gas in an attack on a major city. I am tempted to explain in more detail but given the negative review by Mark Kermode, in the podcast checked this morning will say no more. In fairness it is an old fashioned British action film divorced from the sophisticated CGI technology we have now come to expect with Derek Jacobi playing an old sea dog anchor father figure for the hero. The Danish actress Connie Nielson plays the MI6 chief in a stilted and slow English way which I interpreted as the attempt by the director to create the illusion of a real-life documentary but which only added to the lists of negatives which make Kermode’s criticism valid. However, I looked beyond the film as a film or coherent and plausible story into the potential reality that Terrorists would attempt this kind and level of atrocity if they have not already thought of it. It is however the kind of attack which the authorities will have anticipated, monitored and planned to defend against. In the film, it is said that the only way to prevent the airborne generated number of fatalities is to incinerate the device before it can be used but I wonder if this can be so and that while it should eliminate most of the toxicity is not possible to prevent some damage using such a method.
It is noteworthy that coinciding with the Bank holiday weekend the public were reminded to be vigilant and a senior counter terrorism specialist said there appeared to have been shift to using social media to incite existing UK based fanatics to commit atrocities in part because of the extent to which those returning from fighting in Syria and Afghanistan are being monitored The implication is that local fanatics were being shown how to make simple but lethal explosive devices or to use simpler weapons such as knives. I am taking the warning seriously, paying close attention to what is happening around me when I am out and about.