SCOTLAND yesterday woke up to the chilling realities of the terror threat that has haunted London since the terrible atrocities of July 7, 2005, when 52 people died.
Video cameras that should have been used to record holiday scenes for hundreds of passengers heading for the sun at the start of the school holidays instead captured the chilling scenes played out at Glasgow Airport. Those shaky images of a blazing jeep slammed into the front of Terminal 1, of panic spreading throughout the building and of cold passengers huddled together in the Glasgow rain provide a vivid reminder of the ever present dangers we face as we go about our everyday business.
Whatever the explanation for the attack - whether it was the work of international al-Qaeda terrorists or a maverick copycat group - the first terrorist attack on Scottish soil since the Lockerbie disaster reinforced the words from the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, spoken on Friday after explosives returned to the streets of London, that we must be ever vigilant, working together to defeat those who would bring chaos and death to our country.
Strathclyde Police last night indicated that they believed the Glasgow attack to be linked with the discovery of two cars packed with an explosive mixture of petrol, gas and nails in London's theatre district. These two vehicles appear to have been positioned to cause the maximum damage, the first deliberately targeting a nightclub packed with late-night revellers. The second positioned to rip through the emergency services as they attended to the victims of the bombing. Details of what was on board the vehicle that suddenly swerved and crashed into Terminal 1 were still unclear last night. However, in a chilling development the hospital where one of the individuals involved in the attack was being treated had to be closed down after a suspect device was found on his body.
The choice of Glasgow for a terror attack may have been arbitrary, but it may also have been in response to a Scot becoming Prime Minister. It may also have been timed to coincide with the Queen's visit to Edinburgh for the opening of the Scottish Parliament. One thing is sure, the attackers cynically calculated that the airport was at its most crowded as families were preparing to leave on holiday.
What also can be certain is that our airports will never be the same again. Parking will be limited, access will be restricted, more CCTV cameras will be deployed and automatic number plate recognition technology can be expected. Police will also be more visible at other public transport sites in Scotland. While these measures will create more delays, there is no alternative in the short term and we must bear these frustrations stoically.
Last night, after a meeting of the Cobra emergency contingencies committee in Westminster, the security setting across the United Kingdom was increased to critical, indicating the authorities are prepared for further attacks. Airports across the country were shut down as a precautionary measure. We must all wake up to this threat without reacting with hysteria.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, spent yesterday morning in the company of the Queen celebrating the installation of an SNP administration at Holyrood. He waved to well-wishers and thrust his thumb into the air in characteristic fashion as a procession representing all that is good about Scotland passed in front of the Parliament. By evening all the pomp and ceremony had been long forgotten. Political animosity between the SNP and Labour had also been set aside as Salmond spoke with the Westminster Cabinet by video link and held a press conference in Edinburgh to react to the Glasgow attack. The First Minister reiterated the need for vigilance and unity against the forces of terror and rightly praised the work of the emergency services.
He also had one other important message for the country: terrorist acts are the work of individuals not communities and the arrival of terror on our soil must not result in racist attacks on ethnic minorities whose only crime is to share the same religion and colour as the bombers.
It is to be hoped that yesterday's attack is an isolated incident, but the reality is that we will have to deal with more in the future. We must not allow terrorists to stop us from going about our lives as we always have - to do so would be to hand a victory to the men of terror.
You can tick Bridget Jones off the list
HOW whiny Bridget Jones could ever be seen as a "heroine" for modern-day women is anyone's guess. Sitting by her phone, blubbing into her Chardonnay and waiting for Mr Right to come and sweep her off her feet, she was never exactly an inspiring role model.
Happily, sociologist Dr Roona Simpson has discovered real thirtysomething singletons are far too busy with their hectic lives to count calories, worry about alsatians eating their faces or phone 1471 over and over again on the off-chance anyone has called. Far from pining for marriage to latter-day Mr Darcys, they are pursuing successful careers, while enjoying a dynamic sex life with a series of "buddies".
In fact, today's sassy bachelorettes are much more likely to be worrying about ticking off items in their hectic to-do list than the ticking of their biological clock.
This means the image of the hapless Jones in flannelette pyjamas singing along to 'All By Myself' can be expunged from the minds of all so-called "spinsters" forthwith. And that can only be VVG news.
Hidden perils of child safety
TENS of thousands of Scottish pupils started their summer holidays on Friday with the rest looking forward to that 'school's out' feeling later this week. But where, 30 years ago, they would have whiled away their days climbing trees and building dens, many of today's youngsters will spend their break at council-run clubs and micro-managed playdates. According to a Scotland on Sunday survey, parents are increasingly unwilling to let their children out of their sight. Where they themselves were cut loose to explore parks and woodland, their offspring are lucky if they are allowed to play in their own street unsupervised.
Of course, parents' desire to protect their children is understandable. The volume of traffic has increased, making it more difficult to cross roads, while the decline of the extended family means there are fewer trusted adults around to keep an eye out for trouble. But some of our concerns are overstated. The publicity that surrounds child abductions generates a hysteria out of proportion to the true scale of the problem (and we the media must share some of the blame for that).
The danger is that, in surrendering to our fears, we deny our children the chance to learn lessons in life. Young people need to be allowed to strike out on their own; to find out how to overcome everyday hurdles. Teaching them to identify and deal with potential threats is a more valuable gift than merely keeping them out of harm's way. It would be counter-productive if, in seeking to keep our children safe here and now, we jeopardised their long-term health and happiness.