Sunday, June 04, 2006

Making terror a teacher

I have written another piece for the Sunday Times News Review, a follow-up to this.

On Friday night a determined group of survivors and bereaved from Edgware Rd, Kings Cross and Aldgate met to discuss how best to manage the intense media interest of the next 5 weeks as we approach 7th July . I am getting dozens of emails and calls a day, which is getting very hard to manage, as I am at work and I have to do all this in my lunch hours, evenings and weekends. I pass requests round the survivor groups, as requested. Some I am asked to do myself. I am getting a bit spooked by the levels of personal exposure, it's impacting on my job and personal life, and I can't wait to go back into obscurity. But there is such a big public interest in 7th July, and those of us who are campaigning for an independent enquiry know to get our message across we must work with the media and explain why we want one, and tell our stories. So we're doing so, and those who can't stand to be in front of cameras are doing written interviews, or radio, or writing letters, or helping with organisation and administration.

I've asked for a public inquiry since last autumn, and the momentum is gathering, so I can't walk away now. And we won't stop until we get there. Not whilst the tubes remain as unsafe, the survivors still wait for counselling, the dreadfully injured struggle to comprehend lives without limbs on a pay out of just over £100, 000 to last the rest of their lives, and have to pay for their own prosthetic limbs and care. Not while the communication between Government, police, security, emergency services departments doesn't happen properly, the question of where the radicalisation comes from isn't discussed, not whilst the important, unanswered questions remain.

I, and the others I have spoken to, are very sure that much, much more could be learned from July to save lives and spare suffering in the future. We do not want this for political reasons - this is completely above party politics. We don't want it for 'blame' reasons - if people cocked up, but they are the most experienced person for the job and can put it right, they should stay and do so. We certainly don't want it for ''therapy/ closure'' reasons - each time I speak or write about 7th July it takes me back there. I certainly don't like the media attention, but I am quite good at talking and writing so that's the skill I offer the group. I'm rubbish at admin, so thankfully I don't have to manage that. We all do what we can to help.

People have asked about my plans for the anniversary. I absolutely do not want to talk to the media on that day, for me, it is an important private day. I want to be with the people who were on my train. On July 7th 2006, I will pay my respects to my fellow passengers who did not finish their journey, and for all the victims of 7th July, and of all bombs, and I will lay down my flowers and stand in silence for those lives so cruelly cut short, and think of those who suffer still, the grieving, the injured, the traumatised. I will be grateful for the life I still have, and for the privilege of meeting so many incredible people this year, the strangers from my train who have become my trusted friends and companions on a journey we never throught we would take together. I will give thanks for the help that came and continues to come, from individuals who are committed to rescue and healing. I will raise a glass to twelve months having passed since I walked away from death and destruction. And I will hope, and keep asking, for an independent enquiry as to why all this happened, because in that analysis lie the seeds of hope for the future, by understanding and learning, we can take the terror and make it a teacher, and so do our part to ensure that our experiences on 7th July do not happen to others, again and again.

And then, on the evening of July 7th, I will fly away on holiday with my beloved J, and for the first time since he asked me to be his wife in February, we will have some time together to relax and to plan our wedding, which we've moved to next spring. The campaigning for a public inquiry will continue, and I will do what I can to help with it on my return. But I hope the anniversary will mark the end of a personal journey for me, and I will be walking into the sunlight at the end of the dark tunnel, leaving the darkness, the smoke, the screaming behind. I will continue to write, though. About whatever interests me, which is more than 7th July. For now, this is a campaigning blog.

Five more weeks. I'm not facing them alone. There are many at my side. Thank God.

If you want to add your support, please do so, by signing the petition here.
The petition says'' We the British Public'' but there were people from all over the world on the trains and buses, and anyone who wants to sign, wherever you live, please do. (I am sorry that some conspiracy theorists have tried to hijack the petition and say it was an 'inside job'', but please ignore them...) and if you want to, add your name to the survivors and bereaved and the public who think the enquiry needs to happen for sensible reasons.

Thank you.

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