7/7 – A Date Londoners Won’t ForgetJuly 7, 2010
Before I started this blog, my friends would receive my musings and rants by email. Most of it was personal, but sometimes I would comment on a news event. London became big news on the 7th of July 2005, as it faced the wrath of four suicide bombers blowing themselves up on three underground trains and a bus. I wrote the following, the day after what soon became known as 7/7…
It’s been an incredible week here.
It started on Saturday July 2nd with the Live 8 concert, Gay Pride parade, Cricket and Wimbledon. For those of you who managed to get to a Live 8 concert world wide, I hope you enjoyed yourself. I was at Whitehall taking photographs, as I did last year, of the pride parade. It was very good too. I spent most of the day wandering around central London taking in the atmosphere in a way I hadn’t done before, because it was a little quieter due to the main action at Hyde Park where the Live 8 concert was happening.
Then on Wednesday, our City erupted as we heard the news we were to host the Olympics in 2012. I happily put aside my gripes about paying for this gig for the rest of my life, about London paying for it and not the rest of the country (apparently). I even put aside my biggest gripe, which is that the promised improvements will probably not benefit the original residents of Stratford East London and surrounding areas. They have lived in what is considered the arsehole of London for several years and once it becomes shiny, they’ll be pushed aside. If you think I am cynical, I present to you members of the Jury exhibit one: The Docklands. Yes, I was feeling pretty good about being in dirty old London Town.
It all changed.
My morning was pretty usual, other than hearing the joy of radio presenters talking positively about the Olympics and this is how I left it when I turned the radio off for an hour from 9am. When I put the radio on again at 10, I heard a different thing altogether. Within five minutes I got a call from a concerned friend who thought I might have been on the way to work (I was not). Then the texts started coming in. I stayed glued to the radio at home and later on at the dentist as the story unfolded about the attack on London. I was due to go out that evening but that clearly wasn’t going to happen as the whole transport system had gone down. The part that disturbed me most was the news of the bus explosion. I use buses a lot and I always go on the top deck at the front like a five year old whenever possible. When I finally saw the first pictures of the bus, I was beside myself. No one could possibly had survived it. That bus was totally finished.
We’re a complaining lot in this country and Londoners have that added ingredient of hardcore cynicism. We complain about the emergency services that we have to wait a century for before we receive attention, the buses and their surly drivers, the tubes not working (again and again), the police spending more time dealing with chasing rogue drivers than protecting our streets etc. ad infinitum. But on this day, they all worked like Trojans in a very calm, professional way, above and beyond duty. The people of London helped each other out, again in a calm professional way. I listened to people calling in on talk shows that were at the scene or had an opinion and there was a growing feeling of bulldog spirit within the sadness. There’s been the bombing in the Second World War, the IRA bombings over 30 years and now this. There was a strong resolution that we will carry on and not be defeated by these people. They will not win.
I am a Londoner, born and bred and I have never been more proud of being a Londoner than I have been this past week, especially now.
My gaff. My Manor. My Town.