Sunday, July 31, 2005

Hello Americans

Seems I 'm being written about.
Nationally syndicated and picked up by several other places/papers, including the interestingly-named site/organisation 'Veterans for common sense' .
And the Tallahassee Democrat, whatever that is. I wonder if the writer told/asked the BBC before quoting so much of the diary? I never signed a contract with the BBC and I was never paid for it, which I suppose makes the copyright thing rather a grey area.

Anyway. I'd have died if it had been 'kin Republicans, making right-wing political points about stupidly misnomered 'War On Terror', but everything in the article is heart-felt and hopeful.
It's nice to know that people care and that my diary that week struck such a chord. And it was a lovely, well written feature. So I'm pleased really. Just a bit shocked that I knew bugger all about this and it has been syndicated all over the place.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Kings Cross United drinks evening

Last night, Kings Cross United ( the people who have got in contact with me who were on the same train) met up for drinks in an Islington pub. 8 survivors and 2 partners/friends

It was a great night. Much drink was taken, everybody talked like mad, hugs and stories were swapped, and it was a huge relief to meet other people who had the same experiences and the same symptoms since ( dodgy hearing, shakey, tired, nervous, angry, not at all keen on tube travel etc).

A relief for me to have everyone there and drawing strength from each other. We will go out for another drink in the future and keep tabs on how we are getting on.

And today two more 21/7 suspected bombers were arrested. The Oval bomber and the 26 Hackney bus bomber. I have been watching the news all day with a hangover.

And now it seems that the last one, the Shepherd's Bush one has just been picked up in Rome.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

7/7/05 victims - get help here. I did.

I have just come back from visting the Family Liason Centre at 80 Vincent Square, Victoria. You can find information about it here from Disaster Action.
I've put info here too. If you were involved in the 7/7 attacks, please do drop in. It has a lot of useful resources and helpful, kind people. And free cake and sandwiches. Open 8am-10pm.

7th July Family Assistance Centre
Who is the centre for?

The centre is for all those affected by the events of 7th July.
In particular it is for relatives and friends of those who have died, or are still missing, and survivors, whether or not physically injured.
It has been set up by those responding to the disaster, as a single point of information and assistance.
The centre is secure and private.
It is where:
Information about those who have died, are missing or were injured can be given and received by the authorities
Updates on the investigation are made available
Those who have been affected can get access to support services such as financial, legal, emotional
What else is available?
The opportunity for a personal meeting with a police family liaison officer
Regular updated information
Help with accommodation and travel can be arranged
Assistance in making contact with appropriate agencies and resolving problems
Multi-faith and multi-cultural contact
Emotional support
Internet and telephone facilities
Medical care and mobility aids
Financial help
Legal advice
Information leaflets about bereavement and further sources of support
Travel advice can be obtained from the TfL travel informationcall centre tel 020 7222 1234.
Among the agencies represented at the centre:
Metropolitan Police Service
Family Liaison Officers
British Red Cross
CRUSE Bereavement Care
Health Service
Salvation Army
Social Services from Westminster
City Council and surrounding boroughs
Transport for London Incident Care Team
Victim Support
The Family Assistance Centre has now relocated to:
Lindley Hall (Royal Horticultural Halls and Centre)
80 Vincent Square

They were very good indeed at the Centre ( hint: look for the yellow signs to find it) . I spoke - well, ranted - to a lady from Victim Support about how I was feeling, got a leaflet about how to claim for compensation for injuries and trauma sustained via a criminal attack ( which 7/7 was). I had several cups of tea and a cake, and was made to feel most welcome. I was also given a hand and shoulder massage by a nice Red Cross lady. And they paid for a cab home.

More victim info: You can also get information about C.I.C.A ( Criminal Injuries Compensation authority HERE ( Click this)., You should think about seeing your GP if you haven't already, so your medical records show that you have been involved in the trauma of the bombings.

I am going to tell the other survivors about it tomorrow when we meet for drinks in Islington at 7pm. If anyone reading this was on the Kings Cross train please leave a message on the blog and I will get in touch with you about the drinks if you want to meet other survivors who have made contact with me via this blog and urban 75 and the BBC website.

I am hopeful that discovering the existence of this centre will allow me to be relieved from some of the duties of being a bit of a focal point for survivors and mean I can pass them to a place where they will find help that others are better qualified to give. I have been overwhelmed to have other survivors get in touch, and it has been very moving. It has been quite a responsibility though.

I am feeling better today for having shared some of my worries with others, and I am hoping that at the drinks tomorrow I will be able to become just someone who is part of the group of survivors rather than the organiser, since organising people is something I find quite stressful. But I think that talking to others from the train will be good and it is something that I have heard from many people - they want to talk to others who were there. So hopefully we can all lean on each other a bit tomorrow evening and it will help us all move on.

I want my life back! But I know it will take a bit of time and I need to be patient. The holiday will help, I'm going to look at places in Turkey tonight.

NEWS FLASH:Police have just caught one of the would-be bombers!


I am feeling happier today. Seven hours sleep, thanks to Nightol. Had a nightmare about the smoke on the train which woke me up, but it was still much better waking up this morning than it has been for a while.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jon Stewart 7th July satire

I loved this. In a terrible way. Oh yes.

Time out needed. Sorry for myself.

I haven't posted for a few days. It all got a bit much. The news that the police had shot an innocent man saddened and frightened me, my constant headaches and tiredness worried me, the resentment that this had happened and was still affecting mine and other people's lives so much was making rigid with anger. I noticed I have been chewing my inside of my cheek until it bleeds.

Young men, who live a few miles away, tried to blow up my route home two weeks after other young men blew me up going to work. I have felt too despairing to post, because, what the hell do you say to that? What do you do? What do you write?

And work has been really busy. Straight back on it. I've been working on a big pitch and there hasn't been much room for anything else. Last night I couldn't get to sleep til 2.30am. Today I was up at 6am and in the pitch meeting at 8.45am and the adrenalin which has been running me for the last week kept me going, but I am almost hallucinating with tiredness, my eyes feel raw and itchy and I can't get rid of the ache in my back and neck. I am feeling very sorry for myself.

Another email from another survivor, telling me terrible things. I have pulled myself together and arranged a meet up at an Islington pub on Thursday, so people can meet each other, so we have a group, instead of individuals contacting me. The responsibility of helping and emailing and worrying about them all is heavy on me. I would like to draw strength from a group, instead of trying to give out strength to individuals. I would also like to have a rest from all of this for a while.

I am fed up of media requests, all of which I decline. I've done one anonymous BBC interview with a journalist I respect, no surname, I've written my anonymous diary and had this amazing, undreamed-of response, and I've done a bit of BBC radio, still no surname - reading out my BBC diary.

That's it. It was all unpaid, though the BBC Radio 4 people gave me a small fee which I've donated to charity. It was all meant to be anonymous. I didn't know it would have this effect and whilst I want to help people if I can, and of course I feel I should, I am also feeling very tired and need to pull back a bit.

I am also angry at the idea that I am loving all this attention. Which somebody accused me of. That I am somehow being 'self indulgent'. This doesn't feel self indulgent. It feels like a full time job, and that other people are getting a lot more out of it than me. Self-indulgence would be doing what I really want to do. Which right now is, drinking some iced pink wine, running a rose scented bath, climbing into clean white sheets with the cat plonked at the other end of the bed, snoring furrily and starting to read a trashy magazine and falling asleep and sleeping for 12 hours.

I'd quite like someone to look after me. Self-pity is oozing in. It is the lack of sleep. I need 8 hours. I've been averaging 5. I look shit on it.

I need a holiday. The trauma therapist pointed out that I am manic, smoking cigarettes again, quivering with with tension, talking much faster than is normal and seem preoccupied with wanting to 'do the right thing' and 'not let people down'. I think it is survivor guilt, and my internal need to please, to help, to make people proud. I am the eldest daughter of a vicar. This stuff is hardwired into me.

I bought some Nytol today. I'm going to use it. And damn it, I am going to drink the pink wine and have the pink bath. And probably a self-indulgent weep as well.

Good night.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dying for freedom

A poster called peppery posed this question on the urban 75 boards where much passionate discussion continues about recent events.

'Would you be willing to live with a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist if it meant your liberties were untouched?'

I posted this in reply.

'Oh God. This is the question I've been thinking about non stop.My life feels 'free' to me if lived without fear. At the moment, I and many other people feel fearful, which is a (self) limiting way of being. But that fear can be mastered and my reactions can be controlled. I can feel the fear but do it anyway: get dressed, get on the tube, go to work, go to the pub...despite the fear.

My sickening fear at the moment is like an injury; I know in time it will heal, it will fade but it is somewhat incapacitating right now. I am aware of that and I can keep a careful, compassionate watch on my reactions to events/other people because I know I am suffering from fear, like suffering from flu and my judgement is therefore impaired.

I can also make small but necessary changes where necessary to try to protect myself and minimise danger. And I can try not to fly off the handle, because that is dangerous and destabilising for myself and others.

I believe that this line of reasoning applies not just to me in microcosm but to everybody, citizens, politicians, police. It's what we said to each other in the bombed train. Keep calm. Hold hands. Don't panic. We will get out of this darkness. And we did. Nobody panicked or stampeded, people helped each other. In a dangerous, crisis situation, the will to help each other and protect each other, not just the selfish urge to survive, was stronger than the fear.

There's a jump from there to 'Would you die for freedom?'. I don't know how my death would further the cause of freedom. I would rather think about ways of living for freedom . Living freely. Living collectively, sociably, compassionately, responsibly. Calmly. Trying not to live as if maddened and ill with the sickness of fear. Of terror. Because that's no way to live. If you live like that, you are not free. The terrorists and all of those who feed on the fear have won.

Terrorists are not the only ones who feed on fear; many rulers, many politicians do. In fact, anyone who wants to have power over other humans, to feed their ego by feeling powerful themselves, will try actively to encourage fear or to exploit it once it takes hold.

But balanced against that, the desire for freedom is so strong that people still say they are willing to die for it. And many do die. I suppose the suicide bombers convinced themselves they died for it.

Yet I know, I have seen, I have experienced that the desire to look after each other is stronger than the selfish desire to fight for individual survival and to stampede off the bombed train first.

I hold onto that. I would die, I think to protect that, if my death would do anything to aid it. But I don't see how any death does much, if someone cares so passionately for freedom that they are willing to die for it, then I'd rather that person lived and used that passion in their life: I work on the assumption that we only have one and that all lives are precious.

I would rather live as if what I just said is true: that the darkness and the fear can be beaten. That there is always hope. That collectively we are sane and civilised.


Would you be willing to live with a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist if it meant your liberties were untouched?

Yes. And by living this way, by as many as possible of us living this way, I believe that we are actively helping to reduce the chance of being killed by a terrorist. Actively choose to live as if you are not terrorised. Use your liberties to live freely. Then you've won. Then we've all won.'

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Deaths in Egypt. And the 'logic' of suicide terrorism

Many dead. 83 in fact. Ordinary people, Egyptians, holiday makers, divers, tourist industry workers. An Al-Q hate group claims responsibility.
There is no glory in bombs, no 'warrior' would use such a weapon. There isn't even a coherent philosophy behind this murderousness these days. Just hate and maiming and death and and fear, and the innocent 'soft targets' shocked and bleeding and dying. Murderous death-fetishists: where does it get you? What are you hoping to achieve?

Edit: As it happens, people were talking about this on Urban 75 forums. And this interesting link was given ( From 'American Conservative' of all places).

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism
It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism

Last month, Scott McConnell caught up with Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, whose book on suicide terrorism, Dying to Win, is beginning to receive wide notice. Pape has found that the most common American perceptions about who the terrorists are and what motivates them are off by a wide margin. In his office is the world’s largest database of information about suicide terrorists, rows and rows of manila folders containing articles and biographical snippets in dozens of languages compiled by Pape and teams of graduate students, a trove of data that has been sorted and analyzed and which underscores the great need for reappraising the Bush administration’s current strategy. Below are excerpts from a conversation with the man who knows more about suicide terrorists than any other American

A family feast

My parents came round and we sat in the garden. They wanted to talk about the train bomb. I drew the diagram of the train, where I was, where Mark and Leo and Patrick and Eamon were. Where the bomb was. Where people were hurt and where they were killed and where and how they escaped. I have drawn that diagram many times at the request of many people. I remember how much I wanted to 'place' myself in relation to the bomb in the early days following 7/7/05 and how confused and angry I was when the media reported the bomb as being right where I was standing.

Mum and Dad had brought me a present of a bag of well-rotted ten year old horse manure for my roses. (This must strike non-gardeners as a completely strange thing to give as a gift - a bag of shit - but if you are a gardener, it is Black Gold. Take shit, turn it into black gold, and then smell the roses, there's a maxim to live by, hmm?)

Anyway, this got us off the subject of terrorist attacks and onto the subject of gardening, and Mum and Dad watered and deadheaded and tidied the garden. You cannot stop gardeners doing that kind of thing; if pots are drying out or tomato trusses flapping or flowers need deadheading, then their fingers itch and they become twitchy until you give them a pair of secateurs.

I poured fragrant rose wine in deceptively huge glasses filled with ice. Mum and Dad drank 1/3 bottle each per glass without realising. It worked, much jolity ensued. They excitedly showed me the plans for their new house which they will move into at Christmas time. They are moving from the country to the city. Much more civilised. I tell them that I could never live in a village now, the city is where I belong now. This city in particular.

John returned from work and we went to Yildiz. At first glance this looks like an ordinary kebab shop. Ah, but enter, and there's a restarant at the back and you find the tenderest cuts of chicken and lamb grilled to perfection over a huge roaring fire.Flat bread so fresh and light it tastes of pancakes, tomatoes and coriander and olives and lemons, roast onions in a caramelised vinegar, ribbons of radishes in a tangy dressing all served up for free alongside your choices. We had feta pastries so fresh and hot that they burned the mouth, fresh calimari and the softest, tangiest grilled helim cheese. Plus 2 bottles of ice cold Chablis. A feast for less than £16 a head.

I have been craving fire-cooked lamb eaten with the fingers since the 7th July. The most ancient of all human meals, so legend tells us. The meal eaten since Abraham's time and by all his millions of descendants. Since the time of Abel, and Cain, the first warring, murderous brothers. For many, many thousands of years humans have lit fires and gnawed bones companionably, the feasting and the fellowship protection against the fear of the dark. And here I am, a 21st century woman, licking her fingers and gnawing the bones and nothing much has changed at all.

We drank to life. The fear banished by the simple acts of eating and drinking and gardening with those I love the best.

bee feast

bee feast

Ms. Bee kicks it, says it like it is, writes like an angel.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sod the fear

My friend Russell has just called and we had a quick chat. He has been phoning regularly and at the weekend we are going to go to a festival in a park and be happy and dance because life goes on. This fear is like an injury. When you break your leg, it aches when it is healing, but then it aches less and then it gets better. This fear is an injury, it will fade.

I am determined and I have a wonderful partner, friends and family. I am not going to have my day to day life poisoned by these death cult idiots. It is sad, it is frightening, it is unsettling but it is not what life is about. The best way to beat the death-merchants is to live and to love. And to dance.

Sickness and fear

I posted at 8.45am, then the TV and internet crashed. Recap of what I said.

John got home at 7.45am after working all night to finish a deal for his firm. He has to do this more often than I would like.Yesterday the fact that he had to do it was particularly hard: I didn't get to sleep til after 2am, I woke in a panic at 6.45am to find he was not there.

The inept bombers do not seem blackly funny but frightening today. I recognise yesterday's euphoria as a re-run of the initial survivor reaction. Numbness-euphoria-sadness-anger-anxiety-numbness; the same reactions I had on Thursday 7/7 move through through me again and again and again, like the ripples from a rock heaved into a still pond. Repeat to fade.

Looking at myself in the mirror I looked older, with dark rings under my eyes and a pale puffy face. I was able to get a couple of hours sleep by John's side.

Woke up to find no TV, and still no internet. The radio runs off the TV as well, we were without news. The jumpy mind leaps to the wildest conclusions: terrorists! power surges!...then the communication was mysteriously restored at 12.30pm.

Police have shot dead a suspected suicide bomber on the Northern line. This morning, not yesterday. Shot 5 times by plain clothes police with a hand gun, having bundled him onto the ground. On the tube. The Victoria and Northern lines have been suspended. That means they were trying again. This time the police killed, not the bombers.

It strikes me as unbelievably brave and also absolutely terrifying, that the police would sit on a man they believed was a bomb - so he couldn't detonate it - and then kill him in cold blood at point blank range.

But I am also afraid: this is new territory. Police storming a tube carriage shooting a man in front of the passengers, that happens in American movies not real life.

I feel the lurching sensation of fear in my stomach, under my ribs, like being in a lift that drops too fast. Fear is literally sickening.

John and I were making dark predictions when he came in this morning and we watched the news, bug-eyed.

8/8/05 for the next big attack. Jubilee, Northern, Central, Bakerloo still to be bombed. Stratford, Euston were my predictions. It is sick. It is sickening. It is frightening to think what this sick sense of foreboding and suspicion and barely-suppressed fear will do to our busy, tolerant city.

Well, if they were attempting to strike the next day then all bets are off and we're looking at a landscape subtly changed by fear. A toxic, invisible gas.

John has got to go back to work. I don't want him to. I can't stop him.
This has not turned into much of a day off.

My parents are on their way from Norfolk; I asked them to drive here. I want to see them but I want them to be safe.

I'm trying not to start crying; tears are no damn use at all at a time like this.

12.45am John still working. Can't sleep.

Can't relax as I am worrying. Even though I don't think they'd bomb at night, and he's in the office.

Well, they'd possibly bomb a bar or club, maybe bomb Soho this late, but not an office in the city. Even if it is near the Old Bailey.

We spoke. He has to finish some work for a client. He wants to come home but can't.

I had better try and sleep I suppose but I'm still too wired on adrenalin.

Can still hear sirens; they make me jump every single damn time.
I hate it when John has to work late normally, but right now it is super-hard.

Suicidal 'martyrs' foiled by ineptitude

It has to be said: that was a completely rubbish attempt to blow up London. It is blackly comic that the bombers failed and ran away. Trailing wires.

People in London appear to be fed up at having to walk home again but are already laughing at the hopeless 'bombers'. As a 'wave of terror convulsing infidel-infested London at all four points of the compass' goes, that was a wet fart.

The whisky is having a cheering effect and Jane is coming round for tea. The fact that the bombers tried and failed has made me feel much more positive, more positive than I have felt for 3 days. In a slightly hysterical way.

And now the police have 4 devices made of the same stuff as 7/7 to examine, in semi-working order. Which must be handy.

John still at work though. Says it'll be a late one. Damn. I could rather do with him here. To say the least. I want to hug him.

More damn bombs.

Got a cab into work with John, 9.10am. As we went past University College Hospital at 9.30am I burst into tears and felt terrified. The reaction I didn't have , but should have had, except I was in shock, when I went there at exactly the same time two weeks ago today. Covered in soot with blasted hair and a bleeding wrist.

I had actually forgotten that it was 2 weeks ago that the bombs went off.

Got out of cab in Gower St by Shaftesbury Avenue and cried. I was crying with fear. I never cry with fear, I cry with anger and frustration.

Even though there was no danger, I was merely passing the place in a cab. I felt physically sick with fear, as if I had eaten ice cubes and they were cold and cramping my stomach. I was shaking. I needed the loo. My breath came in short gasps. My lips felt numb and I could hear my heart banging in my chest. The street started shimmering and moving as if I was under water.

Ten minutes later, after I had finished saying good bye to John ( 'Please, please please honey keep your mobile on you...') and hugging him, I walked into the office. I absolutely did not want to be there. I felt like throwing up and bursting into tears. Still, there is nothing like vanity and pride to get a girl's back up so I powdered my pink shiny nose and wiped the mascara smudges and went in, jaw clenched.

Talked to my boss, who was sympathetic and gentle, which nearly set me off again. It is very hard to explain why getting a taxi past a hospital A&E department should reduce me to tears. But hey. Strange times.

Got head down, dealt with stuff. There was a lot of it to deal with.

Caught up with Patrick the young man from work who was in Kings Cross train carriage 3, encouraged him again to get trauma/shock couselling and see his GP and get an official note for PTSD and ear damage symptoms; it would help if/when he filled in a CICA ( Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) form to have it recorded properly. He has been reluctant to seek help/ask for time off out of a sense of not wanting to look weak, or let the side down. He's been very brave. But he is clearly shocked and his hearing is damaged so I wish he would see someone about it.

Lunchtime: was exhausted, thinking of going home, ( boss had said: you look terrible, go home if you need to). Going home involves walking up to Victoria line, Warren St tube. Decided instead to go and get a back rub at the Neals Yard walk in back rub place near work. I could feel my back rigid with stress and a headache starting to pound over my right eye.

As the massage therapist started to rub my back I started crying again.

Got back into office at 2pm, and News 24 was on. Everyone was gathered around the TV instead of sitting at desks. More bombings. Warren St and 2 other stations, plus a bus in Bethnal Green. (Reports breaking that the Warren St tube bomber fled into UCH a 6 foot 2 black/Asian male carrying a backpack with wires sticking out, pursued by armed police. Un-bloody-believable.)

Burst into tears, I am not having a good day. Started to shake again and Jenna and my colleagues clustered about and patted me. Called parents and John. Called Patrick; he'd been trying to get hold of me. All the Kings Cross survivors were frantically trying to get in touch. Leo from the train called ( man I met who got in contact through BBC blog), emailed Jane ( woman who was on train), Mark thankfully on holiday with Sarah. Team Kings Cross United all ok, then. Phew. We made tentative arrangements to meet for a drink in a weeks time.

Command decision made by me and Patrick to go home. It's been a hell of a day. Did a quick work handover. Hailed cab after 15 minute anxious wait. Raced to Finsbury park, avoiding the log-jam. Got home.

Adrenalin pumping, eyes starting, heart pounding, and this time anger rising, rising like a wave.

Bastardscumbagshitheadidiotsickoterroristwannabe little bastards
I don't want to be a hater, but for crying out loud

Hit net, pour stiff whisky. Bloody hell. Not again

5.49PM: Update: called John, with internet -gleaned news that Ludgate Hill was sealed off and a helicopter hovering. He said he couldn't see anything from his office ( which is by the Old Bailey). Then called back and said it was indeed sealed off, but that he was staying in work, as he had a deal to finish. Said to each other that we loved each other. Can't say it enough at the moment.

I wish he could come home.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Saying No

Mimi Someoneorother, posh bird, keeps getting in contact about some play she is writing for the Edinburgh Fringe about Thursday 7th, can she use my blog? Would I 'get involved in rehearsals? ' Would I record a voice interview? '

No, no and no. Argh and eurgh. No.

I saw a trauma specialist yesterday. He pointed out, gently, that ever since the bomb went off and I started to calm people down, help them off the train, and give the witness statements to the media, (so they didn't go hassling the more traumatised/injured), write the blog and help other survivors who've contacted me, I've been 'on duty', getting people off the damn train, making sense of it, leading them to safety, protecting them, helping out.

It's a full-time job. And I'm exhausted. I have had some time off work but I felt like I was working, not resting. And I haven't had time to grive much, or deal with it. Or even have a rest from it. Apart from 5 hours reading a kid's book at the weekend. And now I'm back at work, and it's relentless.

I need a holiday. I need out. I need people like Mimi to go away.

I had lunch with Patrick, a young man from work, he was clearly still shocked, afraid to ask for time off, afraid to ask for help, afraid of being seen as weak. He would only talk to me ( 'because you were there'). He wouldn't even talk to his mum, poor soul. He finally accepted that it was okay to ask for a bit of time off. So that was a good thing.

Still can't sleep myself though, despite paying £55 for a massage. John on way home from work, it's 10.10pm now, will be here by 10.45pm, so no point trying to go to bed.

Managed to finally talk to Ronan, the partner of one of my best friends, Ian. Ian's mother died of cancer a week ago. Ian is round his sister's house; the funeral is tomorrow. We've been texting almost daily, but it's not the same, need to give him a hug. Hard when they are up in Yorkshire. My heart goes out to Ian and Ronan . Sent them a case of wine, because dammit, we all need a drink after this week.

Whilst I have been caught up in this bomb stuff, Ian has been caught up in his own private grief of his mother's dying. One of the things that I am angry about is that this bomb got in the way of us being there for each other when we needed each other.

The wine I am drinking tastes sour. Which feels appropriate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Work is very busy. I am still very tired.
I had a massage. I needed to connect with my body.
It helped. A bit.

My ability to write is negligable right now.
Just checking in.

W.B Yeats on my mind. And on the money

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Drinking to the dead

Yesterday I had my stitches taken out. I am a good healer; they had got a bit stuck in the healing wound so I looked away whilst they were extracted


And then I got the tube to work. The tube was empty-ish, it was almost lunchtime. Once again I got into the first carriage. It was my first time getting the tube on my own. I noticed that I was checking the place out like an SAS officer: who is on the tube? Description? Demeanour? Where's the exit? I sat by the door ( for easy exit) then moved one place ( because close to the glass partition: might get cut by flying glass)

I got off at Warren St; couldn't face changing tube lines, so I walked the last 15 minutes above ground. I must have looked a sight as I strode down through the West End, lips pressed together, looking like a Valkyrie on a mission to punch dozy wandering tourists out of the way.

Threw myself into work, but concentration still erratic; still, I tried. People came over and said they were glad to see me, then that they hoped I was ok, then that they were embarrassed because 'you must be fed up with people saying that'. It was so lovely. I've only worked there since mid May. I wanted to hug them.

I said, absolutely truthfully, that it was wonderful to have so many people wishing me well, and it had made a real difference.

Then I met my friend Dave for a pint ( he is something of an expert
on pints). Dave's friend Liz was the 39th victim to be identified; she was on my carriage.She worked as a manager in the neuroradiology department of University College Hospital. Liz's boyfriend Rob lived with her in Highgate, north London. Both of them were friends of Dave and contributed to Freaky, an excellent website, and also were contributors to ilx, another well-loved internet site.

We got drunk, and talked about a lot of things. Particularly the need to decide which side you were on: love or hate. Civilisation or barbarism. Nihilism or hope. Things have changed.

Liz, and Rob, I drink to you: you were full of love. I'm so sorry.

And tonight, I went to Kings Cross, and I went to the memorial garden, full of dying flowers, and messages, of outrage, and hope, and collective grief and determination. There were messages there from all over the world: all of the world is in London.

I put some blue cornflowers there, and a card, and I signed the book of condolence

To my fellow passengers. I got off the train. I am sorry that I had to leave you there. When we all got on the train we did not know that for some of us it would be our last journey, and that some of us would not come home.

We did not finish our journey together, but I carry you in my heart, and so do millions of other people.

To all that loved you, knew you, worked with you, miss you, my thoughts are with you. .

At the end of the journey, we are all fellow passengers,
and we can all hold hands in the dark,


Rachel, (a fellow passenger, on the 08.51 Kings Cross train)

Then I sat in a bar with John. And I drank again to the dead and injured. And tears dripped off my nose.

And we got a cab home.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hogwarts, flowers, sunshine, bird song. And reflection.

Yesterday more flowers arrived from BBC online team, who have been lovely. Then my neighbour from the upstairs flat called with a bunch of flowers. He had been sent the BBC diary link by a friend in California and had read it, then discovered my full name in other reports, and realised the woman he had been reading lived on the ground floor flat below him!

The sun baked down all day and I read Harry Potter 6 in the garden. I needed the literary eqivalent of a white bread and sausage sandwich with ketchup. Took 4.5 hours to read the adventures of Magikal Mallory Towers. I sunbathed, in a slow daze, drank beer and 'John' did the same. Birds made a racket in the ivy smothered garage. Local kids played football in the street on the other side of the garden wall ( the ancient wide wooden door set in our back garden wall functions as a 'goal' for all the local 7-10 year olds. Often I find them climbing over the wall or clambering precariously on the rotting garage roof to rescue their footballs).

Today I have done much the same thing as yesterday. Sunbathing, mind drifting like a raft on a lake, reading the papers and catching up with my family on the phone. And dashing in and out to finish the blog off. I needed to paste all the back-posts from the BBC site.

Another message on urban 75 arrived from someone whose boyfriend was on the train. That is ten people who've got in touch who have been directly affected. I am glad that reading the diary is a small help to people. I've emailed back.

This weeks events have affected so many people.

'Last Thursday, I wasn't on the train with the bomb, but my boyfriend was. After a phonecall from a stranger who had found him wondering the streets I walked from Finsbury Park to Kings Cross and found him in a cafe. He was black with soot, his clothes were torn and splattered with blood, and one side of his face was covered in cuts. He was clearly deeply traumatised. His phone was broken in the blast and he barely knew who he was. As you have described in your diary, he found talking about the experience helpful and I believe a piece he rattled off quite quickly for one of the papers was one of the most therapeutic things he has done. But he is still profoundly troubled [...] I do think talking to people who were there may help him considerably. He appears preoccupied with the missing, seemingly convinced he may recognise them, and I know he is haunted by the conversations he had in the dark with his fellow passengers. I know you, or [the other survivor who posted] or anyone else who was there will want to get on with your lives, but if there is anyone out there who may be equally troubled and seeking opportunities to talk it through with someone who was there, a therapeutic pint on a certain weekday evening may be just what we need. My father has lost his colleague to this atrocity and my friends' mother is missing. For some reason this has touched our lives from many sides, yet if I go into work or walk [road mentioned where she lives] it's like it happened in a different country.'

In Iraq, the bloodiest week so far. A doctor from Iraq was on the same BBC Radio 4 Broadcasting House describing how dealing with blast victims is a daily occurence. People are maimed and blasted to pieces every single bloody day there. Many of the bombers are foreign fundementalist militants.

A surge of attacks in the Gaza Strip. Kurdish miltants behind bomb attacks on tourist area in Turkey

In the U.S, meanwhile, further revelations of abuse and sexual degradation of Islamic prisoners at Guantanomo, were 'authorised by the Pentagon'

Hate upon hate, violence upon violence, degradation in the name of 'revenge'. And ordinary people all over the world watch, wait, try to go to work and bring up their children.

More than ever, what we think, how we act in our daily lives,

what we believe, who we blame,

whether we act on our anger,

whether we can hold onto hope of peace,

or succumb in impotent rage and despair to nihilism and anger and furious bloody revenge

is not just important.

It is vital.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The media interest and the inspirational Fergal Keane

I was determined to remain anonymous with the diary,( it was meant to be 'anyone's story' and I cannot think of anything more stupid than wanting to be a 'celebrity') so I was wary of media requests.

But I could also see that the story seemed to have taken on a life of its own, and was helping people to understand what had happened. The bombs had exploded underground; many people use the tube and could imagine my experience as their worst nightmare - a hundred feet below, the choking smoke, the terror, the screams of the dying. Yet there was no camera-friendly moment of destruction as in 9/11. And 54 people were dead. 700 injured. Many more very frightened. U.K Muslims began to fear the backlash, and attacks against people and Mosques began to happen.

I turned down most requests, but I remained hugely impressed with the BBC so agreed to do a short interview for the BBC World Service, which has an Islamic audience of a million and talk to its News programme which also goes out in Arabic translation. I wanted to let people know that I was not angry at Muslims, that I understood that the Bible, Qur'an and Torah could be interpreted to fit many political and personal agendas but that all of these holy books talked of the sanctity of life, the need to look after each other. I wanted to say how I and others understood that these attacks were not Islamic in the true sense of the word.

Fergal Keane, a wonderful multi-award winning journalist and a man I had admired for years for his reports on South Africa and the Rwandan genocide then got in touch and wanted to film me for the BBC News at 10, a week after the bombs. I agreed provided I remained anonymous and was known only as 'Rachel'.

The report he made on the London Vigil was as good as I hoped it would be and Fergal was inspirational. ( Click on the top right audio/video link , then select 'see the Vigil for London bombing victims'/ ' Vigil scene s from Trafalgar Square'') to watch the Fergal Kene report).
We talked for nearly 2 hours, whilst we waited for his cameraman Fred to join us in the Dorchester hotel and the interview was 10 minutes or so, edited for the BBC to a short but powerful clip. He told me I was a writer, and that I must keep writing. It is because of him, and the BBC News website team that I have started this blog.

I also agreed to read extracts of my diary for BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House, a superb news and current affairs programme that goes out at 91m-10am on Sunday morning ( and is much admired by my mother and partner's mother!) I've just finished listening to it and it was very moving and thought-provoking, especially the brave, dignified Iraqi doctor. 'We are a civilised people' he said, passionately. If he can cling to civilised values whilst treating the bombed and maimed and dying - including little children - every single day, so can we, damn it. So can we.

Writing for the BBC - 1 million hits on my diary. And the Mail on Sunday can sod off.

The diary moved to the BBC news home page and I began to write every day, sometimes twice daily. I had to slightly censor myself, for swearing and overt politics, but by and large the story flowed from the heart.

The comments that began to flood in were astonishing. Survivors of the train began to get in touch, partners and parents and friends and colleagues of the survivors said they felt they could start to understand, people all over the world sent their best wishes. Many people made their way to urban 75 and 500 new posters registered in a week, some sending private messages of support to me via the site. (Ten people from the train have now made contact with me, and I have met several of them and email corresponded with others.)

Media requests began to pour in and journalists began to call me and the BBC online team who were hosting the diary. Some of them were so silly as to deserve contempt, notoriously the Mail on Sunday ( see below). I wrote up their exchange with me and emailed it to the BBC team, ( not for posting!) and to friends. I also posted on The Friday Project talk forums, a site I have posted on for several years, and they gleefully put the exchange on their media blog . Then the journalist's trade press bible Press Gazette picked it up

Just posted this on the urban 75 forum and thought you chaps would
enjoy. Well, I was just contacted by the Mail on Sunday - wait for it - to see if I would like to do an 'upbeat, positive feature'.

'Like what?' I ask, suspiciously.

He explains that 'maybe a birthday? wedding? pregnancy? A happy
occasion, post the bombing.'

'Perhaps 'Bomb victims: What are they wearing this week?' I suggest. Or' Blast Fashion Tips: Match your lipstick to your stitches!'
Or 'The Kings Cross Diet: I lost 3lbs in 3 days with PTSD!'

'Are you, erm, taking the mickey?' he asks. 'It's, erm, not a fashion piece.'

'Look, I say. 'I'm writing anonymously for the BBC. I've posted on a London community website. I should have thought that anyone who'd read that would see I have no interest in appearing in a paper that peddles race-hate. And slags off Ken Livingstone, whose speech was inspirational. And what I and the other survivors are trying to do is get on with our lives. Not wheel out made-up feel good women's magazine bollocks to make Tory housewives feel good in Cheshire...'

'We're, um, not as bad as the Mail, ' he says, 'We're the Mail on Sunday, um, we'd take, um, a different tack...'

'I wouldn't, 'I said, getting into my stride, 'wipe my arse on
the Mail if terrorists had blown up every bog roll in London'.

'And the Mail on Sunday?' he says. 'You're, um, not keen on us either?'

'What do you think?' I say.

'Hmm, well, in that case, I wish you well', he says, 'and I hope that you, um, feel better soon...'

'Oh, I do, ' I say. 'I feel much better'

Best moment of the week

How the blog began - the need to tell the story

The need to tell my story of what happened last week in the terrorist attack on London of 7/7/2005 was overwhelming. The tube bombs went off at 8.50am during rush hour on London's public transport; by 9.16am I had walked off the destroyed carriage, shocked, with other survivors to Russell Square tube and was calling my partner, family and asking my friend from the office to take me to hospital in a cab to get stitched up. At the hospital I told my story to the staff, who wanted to know what was happening as they readied themselves for the flow of injured who were about to arrive; outside the hospital I told some journalists who had started to gather ( from the Financial Times and the Sunday Times ('Shattered: Chaos and Carnage a Hundred Feet Down') and the Telegraph. ('We Were Like Sardines in There, Just Waiting to Die')

Once home, hours later I sat down at my computer, unable to sleep and began to write my story and to search for other people's accounts and for news. The internet was coming into its own as a news source, and soon I left the established news channels and went to London websites looking for eye-witness accounts which were posted much faster.

My first post was to a busy London community and action website called urban 75, which I had registered as a user on months a few months before. Here eye witness accounts and travel information were being regularly posted by Londoners in a thread called 'LONDON BOMBING INFORMATION: NO DISCUSSION - UPDATES ONLY'.

The Editor of the urban 75 site spotted my post and put it in a separate 'thread' called 'Kings Cross Bomb: An ( Urbanite) Survivor's Account' and dozens of people began to read it and ask what happened next, how I was, so I continued posting updates. The site Editor began to collect my posts and to put them as a narrative thread on the home page, which was viewable by the general public and did not require registration. The story began to have many thousands of hits...and then the BBC News website contacted me. One of their journalists was a regular poster on urban 75, and said the BBC wanted to host my story.

Another survivor read my story and he posted his account on Urban 75 as well. You can also find this inspirational speech made by London Mayor Ken Livingstone. He spoke straight after the bombs when he was still in Singapore, where he was waiting to fly home after the successful London Olympic bid.

Murderous death-fetishists

Posted a few days after the bombing, before I knew it was a suicide bomb and I'll pick up on this later, because I've been thinking about it since.

'The murderers wanted to have the effect of people being scared to go in buses and trains. They wanted tourists not to come, people to be scared, terrorised. That is the aim of terrorism, to cause terror. Most of London couldn't see the bombs as they were underground, the bus I think was there to provide a TV-friendly moment of carnage, pictures to drive the message home, the iconic red bus in bits, and the immediate selfish thought 'but that happens in Baghdad, not London'.

Well the murderous death-fetishists can fuck off. How they think frightening people is going to lead to the achievement of their aims of an Islamic Fundementalist state? They know it won't. It can however work to their advantage by stirring up race and faith hatred, and thus recruiting more nihilistic young fools to their death-cult. The best way to defeat them is thus to go to work on the tube, to dress and work how I want as a woman, to enjoy the rich social life that London offers, to have no fear of other cultures or creeds, but only to be wary of the hate-filled, the nihilstic, the furiously angry who won't listen or enagage. By which last I mean fundementalist anyone; not just Death-cult 'Muslims'. Frothing right wingers, implacable Born-Agains, 'fuckthapoliceandpoliticians' anarchists, the whole fucking lot. Don't presume that you fight your 'cause', your 'wars' for me and others on that train.

You don't. I want life, not death, peace, not war, multiculture not monoculture, multitheism not monotheism, and the police and tube staff and emergency services to be left alone to do their jobs without dealing with idiots. Good. I feel better for saying that.'

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Silence and Things

Strange times

The Friday Project was soulful and heartfelt. Normally it is devil-may-care and fesity, bordering on pleasingly rude about everybody and everything

Friday, July 15, 2005

Crowded together with other Londoners, a week after the bombs

So, the diary ends as it begins, crowded shoulder to shoulder next to other Londoners.
I am at the vigil in Trafalgar Square. This time, sun beats down and we stand in the open air, listening to speeches and poems from the Mayor, clerics and religious leaders, union representatives, TV personalities and news-casters, and most movingly, the train driver of Edgware Road.
We are told how we are united, how we are unbeatable, how we will rise. We are urged to be strong, to show tolerance, and to love and respect each other. Tears fall.
The diary began in a crowded carriage, crammed with people, with an act of murderous barbarity.
With a bang, smoke, shock and fear.
Yet almost immediately, even in the choking darkness, in the almost-animal panic, we remembered our humanity, that we were human beings. We stood up, we comforted each other, we held hands, and if we could, we led and carried each other to safety.
The selfish need to claw and fight for survival, to stampede, to free ourselves at all cost did not win; instead, the learned behaviour of city dwellers, who must live in close proximity with strangers took over.
And that has been the message of the week. We are a civilised society; we live closely and socially in crowded cities. We do not always agree, often we do not talk to each other or look at each other in the face.
Londoners are often accused of haughtiness and coolness. But this week we felt what it is like to come together as a city.
Now we need to remember what this sense of unity feels like; we will need to remember it in the difficult weeks and months ahead.
We are a civilised people, we will not fall victim to paranoid anger and selfish nihilistic hate.
My thanks to all who have helped me, listened, sent messages of support, followed my story. I am not a writer, but this week my writing what has happened to me has made a difference.
To my family, John and my friends, to my fellow passengers, to my neighbours and fellow citizens in London: I am so glad to be here and I wish us all calmness and hope as we continue with our daily lives.
Crowded together, shoulder to shoulder. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Crying properly for the first time

John and I were quiet, thinking of how I had got on the train with all the other people. We tuned to BBC Radio 4 at 8.50am, the time of the explosions.
We listened to people's witness of how they had been on the train, rescued people from the tracks, searched for the missing and how they had not been found. We were both in tears.

Last night I managed to speak to my parents. They had been teaching a painting course in Norfolk, and whilst we had been texting regularly, we had not been able to talk to each other.
They talked of their shock and sadness. It had been very difficult when they had to look after course students all day and evening, giving them little time to deal with the news of their eldest child being on the bombed train.
Later on, another man who had been on my carriage and found out about me from this diary managed to get in contact and we talked for a long time and agreed to meet for the silence tomorrow with some of the other victims.
My friend and neighbour Jane came round and cooked us sausages and we all sat in the garden feeling shattered. After she had gone I began to cry, properly, for the first time. I couldn't stop sobbing and shaking. John held me.
I wept for the poor people who had been standing behind me who had died and been injured. A hundred feet down in a narrow, dirty, smoke-choked dark tunnel, I had to leave them there, screaming and crying, dead or dying and I could not help them.
I wept with despairing anger at the men who had done this, how could they hate so much? How could they think this was glorious, or just?
I wept because I had been so afraid, and because I had survived, and I had walked away from the train and my fellow passengers had not.
Tears are in my eyes again now. It's almost more than I can bear.
I must get ready to go to Trafalgar Square to observe the silence with the other people from my train.
After we will go to King's Cross to lay flowers, then to a pub where I will meet some friends. And at 6pm we will go to Trafalgar Square again for the Vigil.
And I hope I and other Londoners will find some peace and resolution there, standing together.

So the bombers were British

So, the bombers were young British men, and they killed themselves along with their fellow passengers. I'm sad, but not surprised.
They killed Londoners and people from all over the world, including Muslims.
It is terrible to think about why they chose to do such a thing. I cannot imagine what it must be like to hate so much that you are willing to blow yourself and other people to pieces to prove it.
I studied Theology at University, and I know that the Bible, the Torah, the Koran all contain passages that can be interpreted to back up all kinds of personal and political agendas.
But I also know that all the major world faiths teach of the sanctity and value of life, of how love is more important than hate. I have had many messages of support from friends and strangers, of all faiths and backgrounds. And everyone has said the same thing: how sad they are, what a despicable criminal act the bombers performed, and how futile it was.
Bombing, hate, murder and evil happen all over the world. Here in Britain we are not immune from it. This is unutterably sad, but like everywhere else, we will pick ourselves up and go on. I don't want to meet hate with hate.
Hate feeds hate. I've had enough of it. I'm scared, but not that scared.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Getting into work really took it out of me. Time for time off.

Getting into work really took it out of me. I arrived something of a nervous wreck and stayed wobbly until lunchtime. I was very pleased that I had got on the Tube and faced the fear but my attempts at being efficient in the office were rubbish.
I caught up with e-mails, that kind of thing. It was very hard to focus. Twice I had to hide in the loo and have a quick weep for 10 minutes.
I told the girls on my team about Thursday and they were full of support. Colleagues came to my desk and told me they were glad to see me. I've only worked here since May - it is lovely to know that people are looking out for me.
My lovely friend Susie just called to see how I was and to get some advice on her love life. It's good that things are starting to get back to normality.
I've had another message from another person who was on the train who stood opposite me and got on at King's Cross. I'm very happy that I am able to find out how more people escaped from Carriage One and that we who were there are able to find each other.
He had read my blog and about how I had met up with Mark and Sarah. He also had felt a need to talk to others who had experienced what he had in the dark carriage and tunnel.
He described what he was wearing and I remembered seeing him at Russell Square ticket hall.
Mark and I both e-mailed him back and we are hoping he will be able to join us and other Londoners on Thursday at noon when there will be a two-minute silence. There will also be a vigil in Trafalgar Square at 1800 BST. Hopefully, he will be able to meet for a beer as well - it really does help to talk.
If anyone recognises some of the feelings I have described - numbness, euphoria, guilt, anger - can I ask you to think about talking to someone about it? I've learned this week that while your body might come through an accident in one piece, your mind and memory can be very shocked and also need help to get better.
I'm still watching the news. There were some developments tonight that made me agog at the speed of the police investigative work. But the numb news junkiedom has gone. The attacks are no longer the only thing I think about.
I still lit another candle tonight though. I did so in thankfulness for being alive on a warm summer Tuesday night.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I realise how frightened, shocked and deep down tired I am

I talked to a counselling service on the phone (work gave me the number) and then to my boss and we all agreed that taking a bit of time off would be a good idea.
I'm feeling very, very tired indeed and I'm still not sleeping very well. I am starting to cry at odd times. I will go back to work on Monday after I have had my stitches taken out.
It was good to have faced the Tube journey and to have got that over with, but doing so did make me remember the events of Thursday morning all over again and has made me realise how frightened, shocked and deep-down tired I still am.
I need to rest, rushing about trying to get better using sheer willpower isn't going to make my body heal any faster and it isn't going to make my mind heal any faster either.
So I am going to spend the day in the garden with my tomato plants and pots of flowers and the cat, being quiet.
Tomorrow I am going to Trafalgar Square for the two minute silence and I am going to meet up with Mark and his wife Sarah and hopefully the other two people from the bombed train who have got in contact.
Messages of support continue to pour in. My local mini-cab firm who know me well, and the local Turkish shopkeepers, who are all Muslims, have all passed on best wishes and told me how the local mosque is raising money for those injured.
I told them I was happy that people were all standing shoulder to shoulder to condemn the bombers and to encourage each other.
More bombs went off in Iraq, I just saw on the news, killing many people including small children.
All over the world ordinary people try to do their best in a frightening world.
I'm thinking about all of those who are terrified, injured, caught up in events beyond their control. I'm thankful for the peace and quiet of my little sunny garden where I can have some time to myself.

Drinks in the garden with a survivor from the bombed train

Mark and his wife Sarah came round tonight, strangers who are neighbours who are now friends, because we are survivors of the bomb.
John and I poured wine and we four sat in the scented garden and listened and talked with the instant confidence of shared experience.
"Where were you? So the bomb was there? Do you remember this face, that sound, what did you do when you heard the driver, did you break the window?
"Did you know it was a bomb? Did you think we were going to suffocate in a fire? Did you think we were going to die?"
Neither Mark nor I had cried properly yet. Both of us very badly needed to hear from someone else in the same carriage, with the same experience.
Both of us spoke of the flashes of shocked memory, the guilt, the elation, the desperate trying to make sense of the senseless. The incomprehensible fact that we were both still here.
Sarah and John talked too, of the worry and fear, the relief and anxiety, the happiness held to the heart, despite the realisation of the damage done to other homes, other families, as the missing never came home.
All of us felt as if we had come on a long journey together by the end of the evening.
Mark told me and John of how he had faced his fears since and boarded the Tube with Sarah at his side.
I realised I had seen him on TV and told him how his determination to "get back in the saddle" had inspired me to get back to work.
He confided how hard it had been, how he, like so many other commuters now dreaded the bang of brakes, the slowing down in a tunnel, the crowding in of bodies, the lack of air.
I thought of the journey by Tube I intended to make tomorrow, and how frightened I felt at the thought.
John had told me how afraid he had felt this morning.
I looked around the table at the four of us, and I thought of Thursday 7 July.
I said I was determined to look into the faces of my fellow travellers tomorrow. Something Tube travellers never do.
As we left the station, I would be thinking, like everyone else in the carriage, of a bang, a cloud of smoke.
Of whether the face opposite me would be the face that looked into my eyes and held my hand if the unimaginable happened. Of whether the stranger on the train would be the guide in the panic and the voice in the dark.
If these bombs make us realise that we are all fellow travellers, that we all need each other and can rely on each other, then something very good will come out of all of this.
I was going to listen to music tonight, something I haven't been able to do since Thursday. But I'm still not quite ready. I can feel the tears there, ready to fall. I am going to light a candle instead. For those who didn't come home.
I am so glad to have talked to someone who was there. It has really, really helped.

It's back to work - and back on the tube

I got to Finsbury Park station with John, who'd managed to wangle coming in late so he could travel with me. I was feeling very frightened but determined.
As I got to the station I discovered that the staff had closed the grille and people were milling about unable to get on the Victoria line train. It turned out that the line was so overcrowded that they weren't letting any more people onto the train.
I almost burst into tears. It brought back many unwelcome memories of Russell Square grille being closed and the commuters milling about outside trying to get onto the train whilst I and the other survivors staggered about trying to get out of the station.
"Do you want to get a cab?" asked John. I said no. "I won't be able to have you next to me next time I get on the Tube, and I've got to get on it, otherwise it will just get worse and worse."
We went and had a coffee and I began to cry with frustration and fear. I didn't want to get on at all but I knew I had to, and the delay was making it harder.
We paid for the coffees and I called work again to let them know I was still trying to get in. Then I pressed my lips together and walked to the platform, turning right to the Victoria line instead of left.
And I got on the first carriage, by the first set of double doors just as I had done on Thursday. But this time I got a seat.
As the train set off I began to well up and shake. I held John tightly. As we approached Kings Cross a man leaned towards me. "Is this your first time back on the tube?" he asked, having noticed my distress and looking a little shaky himself.
I said yes. We began to talk. His name was Eamon and he had been on the same train as me on Thursday! I recognised him from the newspapers.
We talked of how frightened we had been. We both talked in a rush and the journey passed quickly. We exchanged numbers and shook hands. I surfaced at Oxford Circus, with John, in tears of relief and amazed yet again that I had met another survivor.
I arrived at work and had a talk with my boss who was sympathetic and kind.
My team were glad to see me. I'm glad to be here. Made it. Cups of tea all round.

If I'm scared on the Tube, I'll break the Don't Talk rule

Right. Time to go back to work. On the Tube.
I texted my boss last night and said I would be in, but would it be ok to avoid the rush hour?
So instead of setting off at 8am like I normally do (or 8.20am, like I did on 7/7) I'm going to leave the house after 9am.
I'm feeling very quivery at the thought of it, the sensation of fear is like a shaky feeling in my chest and a watery feeling in my stomach. I'm going to take my heels in a bag and wear flat shoes. In case I need to run. And carry a bottle of water, but I normally do that in hot weather.
The way I am going to manage the Tube journey is to think of getting out the other end and how pleased with myself I will be when I get off. And how much I like my job and want to get back to it. I've only been in my new job since May. Nearly being blown up is not really the way I wanted to raise my profile in the office!
I'm going to look at my fellow passengers, as I said last night, and if I start to have a panic attack I will just break the Don't Talk We're Londoners rule of London Tube-travelling and say "I'm feeling scared, can you help me?".
And if I see anyone leaving their bag unattended I think I will probably slap them.
I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Another survivor has got in touch

I've come back from seeing my GP, who was more shocked than me when I told her what had happened; I had to tell her to pull herself together as she was starting to flap!
She checked my lungs and breathing and everything is fine. My stitches need to stay in another week.
An amazing thing happened today: Mark, a man who was on the train in the same carriage as me got in touch. He had read my account on the urban 75 community internet site where I was originally posting my experiences before I moved to the BBC.
He posted his story too, and we got in contact with each other. It turns out that he lives up the road from me, and when the bomb went off, was one of the people sitting just in front of me behind the driver's cab.
He was the man who spoke to the driver and passed the message back to me: "The driver is going to get us off this train, but we need to make sure that the track isn't live first".
I passed the message to the women around me and we shouted it back into the darkness of the train, to try to stop the panic and screaming.
Because of that communication, many of us escaped calmly and walked to safety. His story exactly matches my story. It is quite incredible to think that we have got in touch. We spoke on the phone, and he and his wife are coming round later to have a glass of wine in my garden with me and John, my partner.
His calm voice in the darkness was one of the things that kept me calm and gave me hope; I had been wondering if I would ever find out about him, and then he gets in touch!
The internet is really coming into its own with people sharing information and comfort and news.
John made it into work safely and called me to say he had arrived. It is hard for him as well; he has been supporting me unstintingly and has had to deal with the information that I escaped death by yards and so nearly didn't emerge from such a hellish scene.
He says it is rather hard to concentrate on the minutiae of work at the moment. I'm not surprised. I also spoke to Jenna, the colleague from my office who I called when I emerged from Russell Square in shock.
She rushed over in a black cab with a first aid kit to Russell Square and took me to hospital. She had only qualified as a first aider the week before, and here she was, helping survivors of a terrorist atrocity!
She was a wonderful comfort to me and others at the hospital and she stayed with me until I found John and we could make our way home.
Then she put on her trainers and jogged back to South London, as all the public transport was in chaos. What a woman. So many ordinary people, who have faced extraordinary things. So inspiring to talk to each other and share our stories.
The fear is leaving me and the sense of pride is growing, proud of myself for holding it together, proud of all the people who helped, proud of London, my adopted city. We're going to put on one hell of an Olympics after this.

A million poppies fell over a bombed city

Still watching the news. A million poppy petals fell today in memory of those who died in the war 60 years ago.
I couldn't help but think of how it must have been when Londoners endured daily bombings and fear.
Many people have talked of the 'Blitz' spirit being present over the last few days.
If what they mean is a determination to continue with our lives and show compassion, friendliness and humour when we are frightened, instead of hatefulness, then perhaps something of the Blitz spirit is with us still.
I don't want to live in a suspicious, paranoid, angry city. I love London's diversity and tolerance and zest for life.
I want us to get back to normal as soon as possible. If the World War II generation coped with bombs with style and bravery, then, damn it, so can we Londoners of 2005.
I'm going back to work on Tuesday.
I'm going to sleep early tonight though, and rest tomorrow. I feel absolutely shattered.
I think I'll be able to sleep tonight without drinking alcohol to numb myself. The sickly fire smell is fading from my throat and nose and I've hardly coughed at all today.
I'm starting to feel more connected instead of disassociated and I am starting to allow myself to feel deep sadness for what happened, instead of the outrage/ numbness/ euphoria states I have been flickering between since the blast.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

About 10 behind me walked to safety. Many others died

After a detailed anti-terrorism staff interview I found out some stuff I needed to share.
The King's Cross bomb was placed at the end of the first carriage, not the first set of doors on the front carriage as reported on the news.
The Tube tunnel was very narrow here and the train was very crowded, which was why most of the people were killed and hurt at the back of carriage one and front of carriage two.
From being there about seven to 10 yards from the blast, I can say that there were people behind me who may not have got out alive.
About 10 behind me walked to safety.
I can also say that when I was at University College Hospital there was one woman at least that I saw with total amnesia who had no idea of her name, address, anything, so please therefore do not give up hope, if you are searching.
There is a small hope.
I can also say that the blast was very intense, so if you were right next to it, it would have been almost instantaneous, because the tube tunnel was so small, and the train so rammed, those next to it would have taken the full force of the blast. I do not know what else to say, I am sorry.

I'm alive because others took the force of the bomb.

I poured myself an enormous whisky after the police had gone on Saturday evening, taking the sealed forensic bags with my sooty stinking suit and blouse that I was wearing on Thursday morning.
I hugged John, my partner, and we stood in the garden, listening to the bees in the lavender bushes. My mouth felt numb.
We looked at each other and we talked of those who were missing and the people who had been standing behind me who took the full force of the blow.
I thought again of the terrible screams I had heard.
The black man covered in blood who was being half carried, half dragged by the white man walking behind me on the tracks to Russell Square.
He had groaned all the way whilst we were walking in silent single file to the Tube.
I thought of how the people behind me had died.
It was a lot to take in.
I had a dizzying sense of vertigo, as if I had stepped back from a sheer cliff and the ground had rushed up to meet me.
I went back into the flat and found the BBC News website and looked at the diagram of my carriage and the train and the bomb. I kept staring at it.
Then I looked at the diagram in the Times of the carriage and the bomb and the little escaping people.
I still couldn't see why I was alive and had escaped with a cut wrist and scratches.
I decided to go out of the house.
I put on lipstick.
It was a beautiful night, warm and soft, and I could smell cooking and the scent of flowers.
The streets seemed quieter than normal, the usual crowds of young men who hang around outside the cafes of Finsbury Park were not there.
John and I held hands tightly.
I met my best friend, Jane, who lives close by, in a nearby bar and suddenly a wave of joy hit me again, and none of us could stop talking, and smiling at each other.
We left the bar and picked up some wine from the off licence and I found myself beaming at the Turkish shopkeeper as if he was a favourite uncle
He looked bemused but smiled back.
We sat in Jane's garden downing glass after glass of cold wine and eating mango salad that her next door neighbour brought over, all of us babbling with happiness - and getting completely drunk.
I walked home, still holding John's hand and I fell into bed at 0300, saying to myself again and again "I'm alive. I'm really alive. I'm still here", and I hugged myself.
Woke up this morning still in a disbelieving state, mildly hungover, with sun pouring through the curtains.
I've been sitting in the garden again still ploughing my way through the newspapers, still reading and re-reading other witness accounts.
I was reading about horror and death and maiming in the sunshine, with the cat snoring next to me.
I felt sick as I read, then that floating with happiness dislocated feeling.
I keep wondering at myself, why am I still reading the news all the time, when I know what happened?
I am a bit disgusted with my own reactions.
I suppose I am still shocked and my reactions still aren't normal.
I have only cried once. I don't think I can bear to cry properly yet. I suppose it will happen in time.

Pounding with anger and adrenalin, then feeling falling-over-tired

Yesterday was a weird day.
I felt sick all day, which I think was the smoke inhalation and the news overload.
Friends called and texted and several beautiful bunches of flowers arrived. I love flowers.
I felt overwhelmed by support and love.
Also felt hugely freaked out as I felt I could so nearly have died.
Couldn't stop watching news.
The rolling BBC and ITV news started saying the bomb at King's Cross was on the first carriage by the double doors going towards Russell Square - near where I had been standing.
When the blast went off I fell to the left into a heap of people, by the left-hand set of doors.
It was too dark to see what was smashed.
We escaped through the driver's cab and walked to Russell Square but the news said most people escaped out the back and walked to King's Cross.
When I started hearing the bomb was in my carriage, I flipped. I started pacing about.
I phoned the BBC to ask them where they got this information from, then I phoned the anti-terrorist hotline and gave a more detailed witness statement.
I was alternately pounding with anger and adrenalin, and having mini-flashbacks, then feeling falling-over-tired.
I drank several whiskies.
My sister came to visit, and I was so glad to see her, and we ate some pizza with my boyfriend - suddenly I was starving after eating barely anything for 24 hours.
I just had endless cups of tea.
I watched a programme about orphaned baby elephants on the BBC and briefly felt normal delight.
I tried to sleep and kept jumping up remembering the bang and smelling the smoke and hearing the screams.
I took a herbal remedy and calmed down and went to sleep about 11pm still feeling nauseous and utterly drained.
Today I feel much better. Not sick any more.
The best way to defeat the terrorists is to go to work on the Tube, to dress and work how I want as a woman, to enjoy the rich social life that London offers, to have no fear of other cultures or creeds.
We should only to be wary of the hate-filled, the nihilistic, the furiously angry who won't listen or engage.
I'm now drinking yet more tea and about to put my lovely flowers in vases.
My fingernails are still black, so I'm going to cut them off. My chest still feels full of soot and I'm still coughing a bit. My stitches are healing nicely.
Things feel a bit more normal but I think I am going to see about getting a massage or some trauma counselling.
I've had post-traumatic stress disorder before so I know the drill and how I react.
I am aware of how telling my eyewitness story to a couple of journalists outside the hospital helped me get the story out straight away.
My normal reaction to trauma is to tell someone, to share it.
More journos phoned yesterday. I must have given my mobile to the stringer who was asking questions when I was wandering outside the hospital getting fresh air after being stitched still in shock.
The Mail on Sunday and Metro wanted to send a photographer round! I said no way.
I said I felt it was important to get witness statements out at the time as I was there and felt relatively untraumatised so I'd rather they spoke to me than shoved their mikes and cameras in the faces of those who were shell-shocked or more injured.
Having done that I really do not want any more fuss.
I happened to be there, I said what it was like, that's enough.
I'm dumping on the internet under my urban75 [community and action website] pseudonym. I'm talking to people who love me, I'm doing what I need to get through this.
I was incredibly lucky but I have no desire to become a "Blast Survivor Girlie" one week on.
I still really, really want to know - need to know - if the bomb was on my carriage and if any of the people who I saw getting in at King's Cross were hurt or died, especially the laughing black woman with braids.
Her smiling face haunts me, as does the fact that someone may have got in behind her carrying the bomb.
If the bomb was that close why aren't I dead?
Keep thinking of WH Auden's Icarus poem about the banality of evil.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I was so proud of London yesterday.I still am.

I'm not going in today because I need to rest up but I will be getting on the Tube on Monday.
And yes, I probably will feel scared and I probably will remember the bomb, but as I said to someone yesterday, when we were on the train stuck underground we established that we could survive a Tube bomb.
I am going to travel again. I don't see what else to do really.
Today, lots of people on the Tube will be worrying about what if and whether they'd cope, and I'll know I did cope, we all coped, which is kind of empowering really.
I'm scared but I'm angry, so I'm using the anger to get through it.
We all need to go to work. Life goes on.
I am angry at those who planned and executed this.
I would like to thank the police officers, CID forensic team, the train driver, all at University College Hospital including the x-ray team, hospital support staff, doctors, nurses, the volunteer nurse Faith who rushed in on her day off to staff the outpatient ward.
You were all absolutely wonderful and magnificent and I take my hat off to you. Thank you for looking after me.
You stitched my wound, x-rayed me, cheered me and calmed me and cared for me. And hundreds of other frightened, hurt people. Big up to you!
Sharing what happened helped.
I am feeling a bit hungover and my arm aches but apart from that I am 90% fine.
I was a bit traumatised and shocked yesterday and kept smelling the horrible smoke smell.
I coughed a lot and blew my nose and it was black, so after that I felt better because I realised I wasn't going mad, the smell was real and would go in time.
Putting a cold decongestant stick up my nose was a good idea.
I am going back to work on Monday regardless of the bombers.
I was so proud of London yesterday. I still am.
Peddling hate-filled nihilistic clap trap is never going to get very far with us.
I am still feeling glad to be here and glad to be alive and grateful to the emergency services and the hero train driver and the police.
I'm going to sit in the garden today and look at the flowers and the sun and appreciate everything.
Personally I would like everything to get back to normal as soon as, with perhaps a deeper understanding of how great being alive in this diverse and beautiful and proud city is.

I'm ok, starting to 'crash'

I'm okay, just starting to crash.
I am keeping calm, but unable to get the horrible smell out of my nose, even though I have had a bath.
I am getting a bit tearful but I had this overwhelming need to get the story out, so everyone owned it and it wasn't just jammed in my head, freaking me out.
It helps to say what happened

Kings Cross Bomb - my eyewitness account from the bombed carriage

I was on a crowded train to work. It was 8.40am when I boarded the rammed Piccadilly line train at Finsbury Park.
Normally I board half way up the train, but the train was so full, I walked up to the front of the train.
I was in the first carriage, behind the driver's carriage, standing by the doors - it was absolutely packed.
Even more people got on at Kings Cross. It felt like the most crowded train ever. Then, as we left Kings Cross, at about 8.50am, there was an almighty bang.
Everything went totally black and clouds of choking smoke filled the Tube carriage and I thought I had been blinded.
It was so dark that nobody could see anything.
I thought I was about to die, or was dead. I was choking from the smoke and felt like I was drowning.
Air started to flood in through the smashed glass and the emergency lighting helped us see a bit. We were OK.
A terrible screaming followed the initial silence.
We tried to stop ourselves from panicking by talking to each other and listening to the driver who started talking to us.
There was screaming and groaning but we calmed each other and tried to listen to the driver.
He told us he was going to take the train forward a little so he could get us out, after he had made sure the track wasn't live.
We all passed the message into the darkness behind us, down the train.
After about 10 - 20 minutes we started to leave the train.
We were choking and trying not to panic because we knew that would mean curtains.
We tried to keep each other calm, I remember saying: "If anyone's boss gives them grief for being late, we know what to say to them, eh, girls?"
People laughed and we kept saying, "not long, it's the long walk to freedom, nearly there".
I knew if we panicked we'd trip on the - possibly live - tracks and it would be hopeless.
So we just tried to stay cool, and trust we'd be safe soon.
We'd escaped from the smashed carriage and just had to stay calm and escape from the dark tunnel too.
We walked carefully through the semi-darkness - we didn't know if the tracks were live so we walked between them - the emergency lights were on in the tunnel.
We walked in single file to Russell Square station and after what felt like half an hour we were lifted off the tracks to safety.
Then I was in a lift, euphorically calm, then in the station foyer, surrounded by filthy blackened shocked people and someone was handing me water.
My mouth was so dry. My lungs felt full of choking dirt and I became aware of a bleeding gash full of glass in my wrist and that I could see the bone in my arm, and then I felt sick.
I realised I needed to clean my cut as it was full of grit, and I was bleeding, so I held my arm above my head and breathed in and out hard.
But I also knew I didn't need an ambulance - it was a nasty gash, not a maiming.
I staggered about outside the tube and no-one seemed to know what to do, least of all me.
I called my friend who works in Shaftesbury Avenue and she came in a cab and she took me to University College Hospital.
We asked if anyone wanted to get a lift to the hospital but people seemed too shocked to respond and I started to faint.
I just wanted to get my wound cleaned and stitched and get home.
I was feeling sick and worrying much worse casualties would be coming later.
I was walking wounded, not really badly hurt, and I felt almost bad for having survived and got off so lightly. I knew others behind me were so much worse off than I was.
The hospital staff were so lovely I kept wanting to cry but I knew I needed to stay calm and get home.
I got treated, my cut cleaned of glass and x-rayed.
Hours passed.
I felt even more calm and light-headed as people started to flood into the hospital covered in glass and blood.
The police talked to me and gave me a forensic bag for my clothes.
I felt like I got into the hospital so fast and the emergency services staff weren't quite in the rush hour yet.
I was so very lucky.
The emergency staff were clearly shocked but doing all they could and rose to the occasion so bravely.
I can't thank them enough. They were magnificent.
They kept me in for four hours with shock and they stitched me up but they wouldn't let me go because I had gone deaf and they weren't sure if I had broken my arm.
X-rays proved it was just bashed.
Eventually I got out and met my partner and we walked to Camden as there were no buses or trains and we were desperate to get home.
Seeing his face was wonderful. I started to shake with the relief of being alive.
In the pub I found out there had been many bombs.
I went into shock - I probably still am in shock.
It took another two hours to get home after a friend managed to pick us up in her car.
I am very lucky. I feel euphoric. I'm sure I'll crash soon, but right now, I'm so glad to be alive.