200 HP

Thursday, November 17, 2005

We're only human after all...

For just today I'm going to put mad horsepower and great cars aside, I'm sure the same thoughts similar to mine have been posted across the world on other blogs and websites across the world and I feel it's now my turn.

I watched a very chlling documentary on the BBC last night titled "7/7: The Days the Bombs came to London" if you did'nt know already on the 7th July this year London suffered it's worst peacetime attrocity, 4 suicide bombers attacked the capital and bombed, 3 tubes and 1 bus.

Watching it brought back some terrible memories and images but nothing compared to what the emergency services had to endure. I was broadcasting and doing a normal shift and I still remember being told at 8.52am that a major electrical surge had knocked out Liverpool Street and then broadcasting it on BBC Essex and BBC Three Counties (I work as a travel news broadcaster from London and broadcast to various stations across the South East)

My shift was due to end in an hour, little did I know I wasn't even going to go home that day.

The situation developed very quickly and before I knew it I was broadcasting news every 15 minutes outside of rush hour to plenty of stations across the South East, that something more major had happened and that the tube network had been shut down.

It's strange, it must be instinct but I didn't get scared, I just sat down and did the job that was asked of me, I broadcasted for 18 hours that day, I usually broadcast for 4-6 hours, I also tried to reach family and friends, luckily they all tried to reach me and I received a flood of text messages asking if I was OK. I could not reply as the mobile network was jammed, probably with people doing the same thing, even the landlines were jammed. (although looking back I'd rather the emergency services used them as they really needed them that day)

We are located in Farringdon and I could not believe how near the attrocities everything was, in fact they were less than 3-5 miles from our offices near Smithfields Market.

The atmosphere was hectic but tense in the office, TV's blaring news, editors being drafted in make sure our information was getting out. I really felt for our TV travel presenter, her boyfriend was taking the tube that day, she broke down and I don't blame her, luckily we managed to reach him and he was OK, another colleagues cousin was also admitted to hospital with injuries, I know it's seems selfish but the stations needed a service and our afternoon shift staff rota had been obliterated - no one could get in and the morning shift couldn't go home (my route was a 45 minute tube journey), eventually it was decided that more experienced morning broadcasters should stay on with a break.

In a small pub in Farringdon (the Bishops Finger - great little place) I was met with the strangest sscene, hundreds of office/city/market workers and various other tourists all completely transfixed by the BBC news channel, in fact I think it was catching as myself and four of my colleagues were also caught up by what was going on, but I felt alot more confortable plus people were alot more open and welcoming.

It was also a chance to debrief with friends and colleagues, which was a welcome relief away from the office before I went back to do another gruelling 8 hours on air, I did try everything to get home and my thanks go out to Pete and Alistair who offered me every option except flight to get me back to where I live, I decided to hotel it like many others in the capital that evening, with an ex-member of staff turned cabbie driving us everywhere.

I was in the company of 3 great people that night, Max, Kelly and Steve, good friends and just the right type of people you need in times like this.

Watching that programme brought back these memories to me, it was kind of upsetting, but also a stark reminder on how vulnerable this world now is, but London did stand firm, and I got back on the tube the next day to finally get home after doing a another morning shift. Papers were filled with haunting images I'm sure none of us will forget like the people who died doing the thing they do everyday.

They tried again two weeks later and thankfully failed, it still caused disruption but nothing has as bad as the first time.

Looking back nearly 5 months on, I'm sure I would of rather been off and been away from London, and yes these were terrible attacks, but it certainly makes me appreciate friends, family and everything else I have.


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