Kings Cross United 6 months on
Photo shows The Wounded Angel of St. Pancras church, dedicated to the victims of the 7th July bombings, and flowers underneath left by some of the passengers of the 8.50am Piccadilly line train 311 that was suicide-bombed, ( 'Kings Cross United') the staff of Russell Square and the British Transport Police officers who rescued the passengers, and the drivers of the train.
Yesterday, we all met at Kings Cross station at 3.30pm, carrying our flowers and trying to look inconspicuous, fearful of the media. There were about 30 of us. We were fortunate, the press and TV cameras had all gone to a 7/7 Remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph, organised by People In Common I think. At least, that was where I suggested ITN went. We did not want publicity, and they did, so it worked out well.
At Kings Cross, we met Ranesh and Allen from LU, who explained that they had cordoned off a part of the Westbound Piccadilly line platform for us to say the words I posted in the entry below. We met up with David, the station manager of Russell Square, who ran into the tunnel to rescue us, and Tom and Ray the drivers of train 311, and Steve and Gerard the police officers who conducted the rescue & evacuation operation of the passengers entering from Kings Cross. All are now members of KCU. And we are very proud to have them in the group.
After a scare about football fans surging noisily and aggressively out onto the platform, we all went down. Even going down the escalators was emotional. Some of the group had not been to that station, or that platform since July 7th. We stood, protected by LU staff, right where the bomber and the 26 passengers who died had boarded the train. We read out the words, and we said together how 'We hold you in our thoughts'. We held our flowers. Many of us wept.
Then we left the station - still protected by the LU staff who were very kind - and we walked to the Parish Church of St.Pancras, where we were met by the vicar, Paul Hawkins who led us through the church to the garden where there was a statue in memoriam of the victims of July 7th. The statue was called the 'Wounded Angel' - a calm face carved in ( I think) quartz, wings suggested behind, the other half of the profile still unhewn and so appearing shattered.
Here we left our flowers and wreathes, and we repeated the' We are all fellow-passengers' meditation. I left 26 roses, one for each person who died.
We spent a little time in the church, sitting in pews and thinking or praying. Then we went to a pub on Euston Road. It felt for me, and for many, like a release of something, something that had needed to be done, that ceremony, standing together. I felt better afterwards.
Afterwards we went to a different pub in Islington, and had dinner together. New members, and people I have known since July, all laughing and chatting. We'll meet up again in February. One of KCU took more pictures; on our website there is now a gallery, carriage by carriage, of smiling faces from the train. We are lucky to be here, lucky to have each other, when we read out the list of the dead yesterday, when I spent yesterday morning re-reading about their lives, linking them on the blog, looking at their glowing, smiling, hopeful faces, I was so struck that it could have been any of us.
The bomber hated us all, he didn't care who died, he wanted to kill as many as he could. The more I know of people from my train, the more I look at strangers - anyone - and see in them a fellow passenger on a journey. One man on a train with hate in his heart and a bomb on his back, seeking to divide and kill, versus dozens of passengers drawing together, caring for each other, comforting each other, remembering the dead and injured and bereaved - and celebrating life with new friends.
Out of such terrible darkness, light has come.
As we said in the pub 'Take that, terrorists. Cheers'
UPDATE: You can read fellow-passenger Holly's account of the ceremony here.
And thank you for the picture of the Wounded Angel of St.Pancras with our flowers left underneath, Holly.
I was very honoured to be contacted by the New Zealand family of one of the passengers, who said that it meant a lot to know that their lovely daughter was commemorated by her fellow passengers six months on.