Five years ago today
, I was a first year PhD student who already hadn't done as much as I knew I had to on her project. I was sitting in the near empty PhD office in the Eareth Science department at UCL, listening to music on my iPod, when someone came in from the office next door and said, "Did you hear that bang?"
I hadn't. Later I might wonder if I had heard it and dismissed it. It had been a very loud bang, by all accounts.
Shortly afterwards, all I could hear in my office was the sound of sirens and helicopters.
We turned the radio on.
All the internet news sites were overloaded and wouldn't load.
Apparently there had been an accident on the tube. Which was apparently being blamed on a power surge. No, not 'an accident' - lots of accidents. Tubes blowing up all over. The explosion my colleague had heard was a bus, just a block over from college. For the next hour or so the official line on the radio was 'power surge'.
As soon as I worked out there had been a disaster in my city, I phoned my parents. The mobile phone network was down like it was midnight on 01 Jan, so I used the landline.
Mum and Dad had been in the garden. I called to say I was OK, and they sounded confused and I said "I'm OK
" and told them to turn the TV on.
The power surge story didn't last long, but it was soon replaced by paranoia and mixed up stories and apparently a massive coordinated attack. It would turn out later that there had been three bombs - two on the trains and one on the tubes.
A couple of weeks later, when I heard that the bus bomber had wanted to catch the tube, found the Northern Line was down because it's a London Tube Line, and run to blow up a bus instead, I actually had the thought "Oh, what an impressive display of initiative. Well done that man!"
I'm British like that.
Five Years ago today I spent the day sitting in my office, behind a cordoned off area, drinking tea for my nerves and trying to find out what was happening at the same time as worrying about people worrying about me. I would later find out just one of my friends had been on the tube, but at the time I had no idea and was just grateful for the eerie silence that meant we were just in the clean up stage.
I used online gaming to relieve my stress, and that's how my friendship with weaver
made LiveJournal's offical quote post
, that made the rounds, and that's how I discovered one of my favourite London-based bloggers.
When the news reporter said "Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea" I just smiled. It's like yes. That's Britain for you. Tea solves everything.
You're a bit cold?
Your boyfriend has just left you?
You've just been told you've got cancer?
Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt?
And if it's really serious, they may bring out the coffee. The Americans have their alert raised to red, we break out the coffee. That's for situations more serious than this of course. Like another England penalty shoot-out [in soccer].
At 4pm I left the secure area and went to the local pub where I met some good friends and we used alcohol to drown the nerves tea couldn't fix. We told jokes, we made fun of the TV and we saw the footage of that guy in Canary Wharf in the 80s. "I've been blown up by a better class of people than this!"
For obvious reasons, Central London was off limits for London transport, so I walked in the pouring rain (of course it was raining) to Camden (zone 2). On the way, I stopped at an internet cafe to use the loo. They had dropped all charges; phone, internet, tea and coffee were all absoltuely free.
I got a bus home, and rode on the top.
At home, my online game coping mechanism was clogged to the gills with people using the tragedy for their own entertainment. But I managed to get some escapism in anyway.Five years ago today.
I can't even name the bombers, but I can tell you that my city is fucking ace.
I'm going to miss her.
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