Monday, October 31, 2005

Final media push

Tomorrow is the Memorial Service at St.Pauls for the victims of the London bombings. I'm going with two girls from kingscrossunited andwe'll meet up with other passengers at a pub for lunch. Then we'll all go to the service; many of us sitting together in a long row. Jane has made some little badges for us to wear. I am very proud to be in the group, now there are 50 joined and 19 waiting to join , so we have reached 10% of the people on the train.

This is what happened to make the group for Piccadilly line passengers start up

The first thing was me writing about what had happended on the urban75 website - the posts that started it all when I first sat down and had to write what had happened on my train to work on 7th July
Then the BBC diary that ran in the week of the bombs ( they picked up on the posts on U75 message board & asked me to write for them. They kept the bloglink up and still archive that diary I wrote for them on the main bombing news part of the site. People still visit from there.

The Sunday Times was the first thing I ever wrote professionally, based on the diary kept since 7th July. One of the features team, Deirdre had come across this blog and asked me to write a piece about compensation. I said no, but that we at Kings Cross United (KCU) would like to let -passengers on our train, those trapped underground for half an hour with the choking smoke and the screams, know we were here so could I write about that? I wrote a tribute to the bravery of my fellow passengers. They put the blog address and the KCU email

Grazia* - then asked me to write a feature having read the Sunday Times thing. I was most proud of that piece, it was 2000 words and they didn't cut a thing.

Then BBC 5 Live - made a whole evening programme about the bombs. Other passengers and people were involved on 7th July spoke in this moving programme, and they offered to put a link to this blog after I called in and said about if anyone listening was on the train we had a group of passengers so they could meet up if they wanted.

Nest, a GMTV interview with Lorraine Kelly on LK Today. That was mad. We weren't going to do it, and I said no, because we didn't think people from the train would be watching her. We thought they'd all have left for work. But loads of new KCU people joined because of that 3 minute interview and I think we got more response from that than anything else.

London Tonight ( ITN) did a short piece on the evening of the 25th October, then I had a call from

BBC World Service Everywoman: they got in touch after having seen Lorraine Kelly I think

The Evening Standard *asked me to write the story of several of the passengers - it was not only the people in carriage one who were deeply traumatised - (both this and Grazia pieces on the blog)

and finally, on television BBC News/BBC News 24 where the interview I did will be repeated tomorrow . Main showing is 12pm BBC News 24 and 1pm News, and will be repeated on BBC News services throughout the day. The BBC are covering the whole service live on BBC1 from 2.40pm until 4pm, and simultaneously on Radio 4 .

It was only the BBC that was sensitive enough to say: we won't interview service attendees - bereaved and survivors and emergency service/police/London Underground staff on November 1st. We realise that this is a big day for you and want to leave you in peace.

You can listen to the service live on the internet stream of BBC Radio 4 and if you are in London , then you can gather in Trafalgar Square to watch the service live, where we all gathered on 14th July Vigil, and when the Olympic result was announced a week before.


Every piece that was done with the media had the same rationale behind it: we discussed it all as a group and we said we wanted to to get the email address out and tell survivors we existed, so they could come to the pub if they wanted. Everything else, and there were a lot of requests, we turned down. If we didn't think that it might reach people from the train, no dice.

I won't be sorry when this is over.

I am fronting the media, but this is a team effort. One of the group set up the website, another, who is convalescing from an operation ( his 4th since the bombs) is manning the kingscrossunited@yahoo.co.uk email, loads of people in the group are welcoming new joiners, sharing info, making phone lists. This is by a group, for the group and for others who are joining. God, sounds like a cult. It's not. It is just people from the train, going to the pub and emailing, because it was terrifying and it is isolating, and it shouldn't have happened, and it did, so let's look after each other.

It's not only me being a media tart, thank god.Rich ( aka 'Ian') who was badly injured from the group did a fantastic interview with Frank Gardener on BBC Radio 4, ( Gill Hicks also spoke and it is one of the most moving interviews you will ever hear) and Paul from the group has done something with the BBC about what to do to be helpful in an emergency ( a campaign to encourage people to learn practical skills and offer practical help rather than clog up emergency helplines for desperate relatives offering useless help, which is what happened on 7.7)


I am having tomorrow off and even if it would reach more people, I can't do any more, because I need the time to think and grieve privately and can't do that if I am on media duty. No-one wants to, tomorrow is a special day, and I want to be there, present, feeling it.

I am proud that Kings Cross United has orchestrated a PR campaign worth thousands - hundreds of thousands - and that we have tripled in size as a group - and we've done it all by ourselves. It has worked almost faultlessly.

Just one thing went wrong.

I am gutted, and so is everyone else in the group about the Evening Standard choosing to superimpose the picture of us smailing in the pub onto the bombed first carriage where 26 died and dozens were maimed. It was extraordinarily callous and tasteless and distressing, and there have been many anguished and angry emails to me and the rest of the group about it. People were in tears. I feel terrible; it was the only thing I couldn't control. We posed in a pub specially, we had men and women of all ages volunteer to turn up to show that we are an ordinary group of survivors who meet in a pub - to encourage others to feel comfortable about coming forward. (So many people, especially men, dislike the idea of counselling, but coming to a pub for a drink is an easy, natural thing to do. We had full agreement from the Standard team about where we posed). And then to have us all pictured smiling against the background of a mass murder scene! It was really upsetting and I am so angry and disappointed, after working so hard all weekend to make the feature right. And the people who trustingly posed and told me their stories, feel dreadful about it.

Still, even despite the awful picture, a good many people have found us and for that I am grateful. We are going to write a letter to the Standard, dozens of the group want to sign it, they were all going to write individually but we decided one letter would be better. And meanwhile, I heard yesterday from the girl who I stood next to when the bomb went off. We talked to each other on the train, she walked behind me on the tracks. I am so happy that I have heard from her. She found me through this website, and urban 75, where it all started.


After tomorrow is over, I can write about other things on this blog. I had a Halloween party at the weekend. I have some wonderful pictures of us in fancy dress. Next weekend I have an urban/dance music awards do to go to. I'd like to write about them. The bombs have been so much a part of my life, and after tomorrow, I hope to take some steps away from them. They an dthe after effects willl always be with me. But there are so many more things I want to live, and think about, and write about. And after tomorrow, I can.

9 Comments:

Blogger Clare said...

I didn't get an Evening Standard for that day for some reason and didn't see your article but that's terrible what they did with that picture. I hope you will let them know your feelings and the hurt and pain they have caused people by doing that.

Clare

October 31, 2005 9:08 pm  
Blogger Annie Mole said...

Rachel - my thoughts are with you and the rest of Kings Cross United later today. I have blogged your useful details about where people can listen to the memorial and also the screening in Trafalgar Square.

Thank you so much for being an online voice for us.

November 01, 2005 12:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel - thinking of you all today.

It's going to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster I guess but ignore the politics. Todays service is all about paying tribute to the victims, their families and loved ones and showing our respect and gratitude to the AMAZING people from the emergency services (and also the Cabbies who spent much of the day ferrying people to safety)who risked their lives to save others.

Be proud - unite not only in your grief but also in pride.

All my love and thoughts will be with you - wish I could be there but will be watching and thinking.

Jo. xx

November 01, 2005 9:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel,
Like so many other people have said, all I can do is echo what has been said before.

The Standard's picture doctoring is incredibly crass and insensitive and totally inexcusable - end of story.

On the other hand, what you and KCU has achieved is cause for pride and, despite the circumstances, celebration - both of being alive and of human compassion and understanding.

I guess you wont read this until after today's service, so I really hope you've survived the ordeal, which I can only guess at being incredibly straining and sad.

One of the good things about these services is to help us put a dividing line in our lives and to give us a starting point for the rest of our lives - much easier said than done but, with the courage you've shown, the love and suport of your family, friends and KCU I'm sure you'll get there.

All my love and best wishes on a difficult and emotional day.

Gary

November 01, 2005 9:14 am  
Anonymous D said...

I too was appalled by that Standard pic. Associated Newspapers at their exploitative worst. And I'd broken a lifelong personal rule of NOT buying the Standard just for that day because I knew your piece was going to appear. It grated particularly because you all had obviously made a conscious effort to smile for the shot, as with the Grazia pics, to send out, I imagine, a positive message.

November 01, 2005 1:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel

Like many others have said already, my thoughts are with you on what must be a really difficult day for you.

You and your KCU friends should be so proud of yourselves - you're all amazing. I saw the Grazia article last week and you all looked amazing too.

Take care and much love.

Nicky

November 01, 2005 1:39 pm  
Blogger Leigh said...

Good luck today. Y'all are in my thoughts and prayers; and remember--this too shall pass.

L.

November 01, 2005 4:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi

Just to say you are in my thoughts today. I saw a piece by you on the BBC -where I first started reading this diary which felt like coming full circle. I hope today wasn't too hard for you and wish you all the support in the world. Some days seem to bring up a lot of memories for many of us living in London. Luckily no one I know was hurt but it is hard not to be haunted by how close we were to everything and the pointlessness of it all.

Anyway hope the thoughts help

S x

November 01, 2005 6:05 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

UPDATE: The Evening Standard APOLOGISED!

For the picture!

Amazing!


Everyone in KCU is very happy

November 29, 2005 7:37 am  

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