Today marks a totemic 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on London’s transport – and naturally lots of people will be reminiscing on the events of that day.
Obviously, when the attacks took place, there was the usual confusion and eventual realisation of what had happened. At work we followed the news as it unfolded during the day, with rumour and misinformation slowly being replaced with cold hard facts.
It was slightly closer to home than for many as one of our work colleagues was on a train following one which had been attacked – and he was quite shaken when he finally made it to the office.
For me though, the biggest memory of the day wasn’t the events themselves, which have slowly blurred into an overall impression of the day – but the journey home.
At the time, I worked in Nth London, and live in Docklands, but was also recovering from a serious illness which meant I was physically weak and needed a walking stick to help me walk.
With all the trains and buses shut-down, like most Londoners, I was faced with a very long walk to get home again. The office, quite naturally sent most of the staff home early.
Although the lack of buses was an obvious issue – it wasn’t until I got down to Oxford Street that the sheer surreality of it all finally hit home. The shops were all open, the crowds were as normal – but something was very strange – and then it hit me, Oxford Street was half empty due to the lack of buses. That was probably the first moment that I really saw the difference the bomb attacks were having on the background landscape of the city.
I was slightly lucky as by the time I got down towards Charing Cross, they were just starting to resume overland trains, and I was able to get to Greenwich, then walk home from there.
Thanks to being unable to walk at a normal pace, a trip I can today walk in a couple of hours took about five hours all told.
However, as I got home, I was uplifted by a sight at the riverside, where a fleet of tourist boats were queuing up at a pier they never stop at to collect stranded office workers from Canary Wharf and help them get into the centre of town.
That was a nice sight to end a dark day.