2 minutes

Jul. 7th, 2006 12:05 pm
jfs: (ghosts)
I was reading this and listening to this.

So ...

Jul. 7th, 2006 10:32 am
jfs: (ghosts)
A year ago today, I was starting an IT induction course at a Housing Association in central London. I'd got to work on time, leaving Ilford about 8.20am, getting to Liverpool Street and transferring to the Circle Line, getting through Kings Cross to Euston Square, and then round the corner to work.

The bomb in Tavistock Square wasn't going to go off for another 40 minutes or so.

I'm aware that if you plotted a map of the trains where and when the bombs went off, and if you assumed that the fourth bomber had got onto the Northern Line heading to Edgeware or High Barnett, and then drew a circle around those four points, that at 08.50 I was inside that circle. King's Cross station was being evacuated as my train went through, so we didn't stop, but station evacuations happen frequently enough on the Tube that you drift back into the comfort of your music, carry on reading the paper, and give thanks that some stupid fool hasn't left an unattended bag at your station. After all, that's what, statistically, it's going to be. Not a bomb. Not four bombs.

So the training course started, and we broke for coffee at 10.45 and I checked LiveJournal. And then I checked the BBC website, and I made my first post of the day. "Still alive." Not often you get to say that with meaning. And just like 9/11, where I was sat in an office in Hastings, Blathering(tm) and catching up, the web became the way that we let each other know those two important words.

"Still alive."

Reports came in in comments, in mine and in other people's LiveJournals. [livejournal.com profile] jimfer was in Nottingham, [livejournal.com profile] westernind had got to Liverpool Street at 9am and was sitting in a coffee shop there, having been shopping in M&S because there was nothing else to do. She was still being told it was "power surges" by the police while LJ was telling her that it was 'much worse'. [livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead was at home and [livejournal.com profile] charlie_mouse was still stuck in Central London, as was [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject.

Eventually, the roll-call was complete - everyone in our extended family was okay. I walked from Euston to Liverpool Street, got home, and went for a meal with my friends. It was a sunny day, and there were a lot of people out on the streets, peering around like slightly myopic moles forced to navigate by a whole new, unfamiliar geography.

My journey home
A week later
Ian's description of London
Ken Livingstone's statement

I started writing this at 9.20am. It's taken me 70 minutes to write, because of reading what was going on back then.

Still alive.
jfs: (Default)
"He wasn't wearing a heavy jacket. He used his card to get into the station. He didn't vault the barrier. And now police say there are no CCTV pictures to reveal the truth. So why did plainclothes officers shoot young Jean Charles de Menezes seven times in the head, thinking he posed a terror threat?" Special report by Tony Thompson, and Tom Phillips in Brazil. (Link to the Observer - work safe.)

Some questions answered - the reason that the police didn't arrest de Menezes before he went into the station was because they were hoping he would lead them to someone else involved in the planning of the bombing, and because none of the tailing officers were armed, they had to call in SO 19 (who are all armed) before stopping him bording a train. The figure seen vaulting the ticket barriers was probably one of the following police officers.

So the SO 19 officers were rushed, to say the least.

And their radios weren't working on the Tube platform, meaning that the arresting officers were acting soley on their own initiative. There's also talk about a checklist of 'bomber-like' behaviour which the team would have been briefed on, with the implication that de Menezes was exhibiting some of that behaviour.

I'm very glad I'm not in a job where I have to make snap decisions like those officers do. Because I truely believe that de Menezes was shot out of fear, and because the officer who pulled the trigger believed, at that moment, that there was a risk that he was going to set off a bomb.

And yet an innocent man died.

And I cannot say in all honesty whether, in the same circumstances as the officer in question, I wouldn't have done exactly the same thing.

Edits: for clarity, and because my spelling and grammar it sucketh this morning.
jfs: (Default)
because, like many other people today, I head about more bombs, did a quick mental match of the locations to my own location and shrugged. Not near enough to worry. Callous, perhaps, but it wasn't going to affect me as much as it could have. None of the closed stations were on my journey home; I'd be fine.

And then, just as I was leaving work, reports of University College Hospital being sealed off by armed police started filtering through, but that's also fine because I'm certain that I don't have to go anywhere near UCH to get home, so what's the problem?

Anyway, the Northern Line was out of action, so rather than departing from Euston station, I'd just walk a little bit further and get the Metropolitan line from Euston Square. After all, it's what I do most night anyway because it goes direct to Liverpool Street.

Oh.

Euston Square.

The one opposite University College Hospital.

I must have been through Euston Square 800 times. Why did I never notice the huge hospital just outside it?

The BBC, that bastion of understatement, said "Police sealed off the hospital" - what they forgot to mention was that the police also sealed off Euston Road for about half a mile, centred on my bloody tube station home.

I'm reasonably certain that the police didn't do this to piss me off.

Anyway, my Al-Quaeda sponsered tour of the streets of London* continues; I now have a greater knowledge of the backsteets surrounding Euston Square and Great Portland Street. The buildings aren't as nice as the ones on the way to Liverpool Street via Greys Inn Road, but I did find a nice looking pub hidden away, so I might have to try that one at a later date.

If I don't get blown up first.


* Streets of London by Ralph Bin Tell.

*sings*
Have you seen the young man, in the jihad jumper,
playing with his bombs, that fail to go off?
He'll just keep on trying, the Prophet wasn't lying;
Virgins in heaven his reward soon enough.

And how can you tell me you're lonely?
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me drive you from the tube and force you through the Streets of London;
I'll show you something that will make you change your mind."
*sings*
jfs: (Default)
but today I was travelling from one of our offices to another, and I happened to be on the Northern Line heading towards Euston Station as we approached Noon.

The train in Camden was quiet when the driver made the announcement. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the next station is Euston Station where the last set of doors in the last carriage will not open. Please be aware that the 2 minute silence for the victims of last Thursday's bombing will start in approximately one minute."

The doors swished shut and the train started up. A few seconds later, the driver said "Ladies and Gentlemen, the two minute silence is about to start."

And in the carriage I was in, everyone fell silent. People put down their papers, some closed their eyes, others looked around to see if they were the only ones not talking. Through the glass door at the end of the carriage I could see into the next one, where a child was talking and gesticulating and the child's mother was saying something quietly but firmly to the child. No one seemed willing to tell the child to be quiet - perhaps people realised that it doesn't matter if you're the only one - the important thing is your own silence.

I never know what to think in 'silences' - like meditation, I have a monkey mind which jumps from place to place, chittering at thoughts and getting distracted by butterflies. Prayer is easier, because it has a focus. But I tried to think about what happened, and how I would have been distraught if I'd known any of the people that are missing or who are confirmed dead. And I managed that for a while; a short while.

And then the real world intruded; my eye distracted by an advert, my head turning to see movement at the other end of the carriage. Monkey mind.

The train pulled in to Euston Station and as the doors opened the driver spoke again.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the London Underground staff I would like to thank you for observing the silence with us. This is Euston Station. Passengers should be aware that this train is not stopping at King's Cross."
jfs: (Default)
It seems to have been accepted by all relevant agencies that the identities of the 4 London bombers are certain; they have the dubious distinction of being the first suicide bombers active on UK soil. And worse, they're British, 'radicalised' in this country. It's a scary thing, that someone  brought up in this country can come to hate it so much that they'd be willing to kill themselves and others. And it plays straight into the hands of the BNP of course - we wouldn't have any Muslim terrorists in this country if we didn't have any Muslims.

Unless they were white, of course.

[livejournal.com profile] cavalorn posted yesterday about Londonistan - the US and UK press's reaction to Liberal London becoming the home of radical terrorist groups because of our willingness to host them. " London has been an indoctrination and recruiting centre for many years."  What I thought interesting, however, knowing almost nothing about Arabic politics, was [livejournal.com profile] hairyears rebuttal, about London being a centre for Arab politics of all stripes, including the moderates.

It's the price we pay, of course, for having a liberal country. I really hope that the government don't use this as an excuse to crack down. After all, if the 4 suicide bombers were British residents and so called 'cleanskins', it's not like ID cards would have made a significant difference to last Thursday.

Here's hoping that the Government think carefully about £6 billion, and what they might do with that in terms of security other than hanging all their hopes on a piece of plastic. 
jfs: (Default)
And I saw some beautiful buildings of all ages; Tudor half timbers next to Victorian mansions next to 21st Century towers.

And I saw a gaggle of Muslim girls in headscarves and with Estury English accents, walking through their city and discussing whatever it is that teenage girls discuss.

And I saw people with maps offering help to people without them.

And I saw high-visibility jackets everywhere, as police and emergency workers and London Underground staff stood by their posts, ready to help.

And I saw posters with the Olympic rings flying high, exhorting the people of London to "Make Britain Proud".

Yesterday I walked home from work, through a city I swore for many years I would not live in and now find it difficult to ever think of leaving. I walked home from work and I enjoyed the walk.

And I made a pledge to my self, that as best I can, I will not hate.

The people who plant bombs on tube trains want to be hated. They want to be attacked. They want to be feared. They want us to lash out in anger at anyone who has a funny name, or the wrong coloured skin, or an accent that isn't our own. They want us to push more young men and women into their arms, to opress them so that they see their only redress to take up arms and hurt the people of my city and my country.

They want us to hate, and I will not give them the satisfaction of my hatred.
jfs: (Default)
A few people have posted about giving blood, and it's a fantastic thought, but if this crisis is like the others that we've faced in the past, the time to give isn't now, when there will be a rush of people doing so because they want to help; the time to give blood is in 2 weeks time, or a months time, when stocks will be low, when people won't be able to give because they gave this week.

I'd urge all of you, if you don't give blood already, to think about popping in next week to help.
jfs: (Default)
Still alive - impossible to get through to anyone on the mobile phone though.

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