Today is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, and here in the UK the news is naturally full of national remembrance and personal memories of that awful day. Even for those of us working in the capital who were thankfully far enough away from the danger zone of Central London, it was still a terrifying time.
As I casually stepped off my usual busy train to work at 8.50am that morning – the actual time the three main bombs were detonated on three separate tube trains – confused rumours of disparate fires/ accidents/ unexplained delays across the tube network spread like wildfire, and soon escalated into real concern that these separate incidents may somehow be linked, with the final, fourth bomb on the double-decker bus at Tavistock Square almost an hour later making it clear that something was indeed seriously wrong, shocking the city into shut-down.
We monitored the breaking news unfolding throughout the day from our office in East London, watching, waiting, disbelieving. Public transport stopped, and London came to a virtual standstill. As the afternoon progressed, exposing the full horrors of an apparent terrorist attack, those with cars offered to take others home – while many other commuters, silently pensive, walked for miles, unfamiliar city streets eerily empty.
Fifty-two innocent people lost their lives that day, and 700 more were injured. It was nothing on the scale of 9/11, but nevertheless it touched us all, and it stays with us, especially during those uneasy moments when we find ourselves crammed like sardines on yet another packed commuter train stuck in a tunnel somewhere, wondering…