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Ken Livingstone has appealed to Londoners to come out of their workplaces and homes and on to the streets of the capital on Thursday at noon for a two-minute silence in memory of the victims of the bomb attacks.

The London mayor said the gesture would act as the city’s defiance “of those who try to change the character of our city through terror”.

Buses will come to a halt and businesses will be asked to stop work. The day will be marked by an evening vigil beginning at 6pm in Trafalgar Square where books of condolence will be opened and readings and poems will be given by Londoners, as well as communities, transport and emergency services representatives.

The vigil, the mayor said, was intended to demonstrate “that London will not be moved from our goal of building an open, tolerant, multi-racial and multi-cultural society showing the world its future”.

The mayor began on Monday by allowing himself to be photographed travelling into work by Tube, emphasising his call to Londoners to show their defiance by returning to normal activity. Mr Livingstone was joined by Tessa Jowell, culture secretary, and Lord Coe, the London 2012 Olympic Games bid leader, for the first official memorial for victims at the London Memorial Garden in the Victoria Embankment Gardens.

They were joined by faith leaders to sign a book of condolence and lay bouquets at a beech tree planted to commemorate the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

No speeches were made. Instead, participants just bowed their heads and observed a moment of silence on an afternoon punctuated by the occasional police siren.

“The city will endure. It is the future of our world – tolerance and change,” wrote Mr Livingstone in the condolence book.

Ms Jowell wrote: “The strength of London and her people is in diversity and tolerance. Our deepest sympathy is with all the grieving families.”

At City Hall, passers-by left messages of grief and solidarity in another condolence book. Bill Goldsmith, a 60-year old usher from Southwark crown court, said: “I heard about the condolence book on the radio and wanted to show my solidarity with the victims. It’s my little gesture.”

The sentiment was echoed by Helena Horwath, a trade union worker in north London. Having been caught up in the Birmingham pub bombing in 1974 as a student, she urged all Londoners to come out of their offices and take part in signing the book.

“Some people have asked me what the point is in signing a condolence book but I think it is important to express my sadness and solidarity.”

“Having lived in Birmingham, I have experienced first hand the effects of the pub bombing. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved.”.

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