Thursday, July 27, 2006


Edited: repeated entry because blogger went down for an hour and my post below wouldn't go up . But Hooray! I am still very happy! xx



Hurray! We're off on holiday after all!


Thanks so much to everyone for your lovely messages. You are great. I am extremely happy to say that I have good news. I called the helpful people at the Passport helpline, and they advised me to go to Peterborough, (the London office appointment having been a failure yesterday.) So I asked my team if it was ok to leave work and take the day as holiday, and then I rushed out and got a train. It was the world's slowest train but I got there at 12pm. I managed to get an emergency appointment, and I waited, and queued, and produced reams of documents, travel documents, letters, explained some more, and I stayed calm and mega-polite and humbly grateful, and explained the whole saga, and at Peterborough the staff were kind, and human, and lovely and they said they'd try to get me a passport using the emergency premium £96.40 service on compassionate grounds. Then I waited for four hours in a bar, biting the inside of my cheek whilst it threw it down with rain and thunder and lightening outside, and then queued some more for ages and just before the office closed - I got it!

I've just got back home and I had to tell you all. I am beside myself with joy and I love everyone. Especially everyone who was brilliant during the passport nightmare.

Poor J has to work all night, to finish a deal that should have finished first week July because it all got snarled up and went slow, so I need to go and iron and pack for him. But I had to rush to the PC first and type out my happiness and gratitude.

I'll pop into an internet cafe and update this blog when I am out there to let you know how it's going. Here is last year's holiday to give you an idea of why we're returning to the same place, because we love it and we're friends with lots of people there. I will be with them on the memorial on Saturday. ( See photos of some of my Turkish friends - we keep in touch by text and email, and we have vowed to run a shisha cafe together one day when we are old and doolally. Somewhere warm with cheap cold beer. And another branch in Camden

And when it opens, drinks and hubble bubble fruity narghiles aare on the house for all of you.)



Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lost my passport. Losing it generally.

J and I have 2 weeks in Turkey booked and we are meant to leave on Friday.

But I cannot find my passport, despite searching the flat forensically for 2 days and getting up at 5am and searching after work until 1am. I last had it at the 7/7 Memorial Commemoriation in Regent's Park where we were advised to bring ID. I must have lost it, or it was stolen then. I didn't notice, because it was such an emotional day.

I am devastated. I have kept going and going and going all year because I knew that J and I would be going on holiday, soon, soon, and then we could finally relax and plan our wedding, which has been put back to next spring because of all the anniversary/public inquiry stuff. We wanted to fly out on 7th July evening but J's work wouldn't let him ( he has resigned and has a new job to go to in a few months when he has worked his notice). Then I wanted to fly out last week, but last night there was a Home Office meeting with Tessa Jowell and Dr. John Reid which I needed to go to ( more on that later). So I waited, and waited until I could finally let go, and have a holiday, and I began to pack, because I was so excited, and it made it seem nearer and now I cannot find the stupid bloody passport, so I can't go.

I have kept calm, and I have kept searching methodically, backs of drawers, bags, bag linings, coats, clothes; as careful as a crime scene officer. Nothing. I searched very slowly and thoroughly. I didn't want to stop searching because then I knew there would be no hope.

Now I think it has gone into the 5th dimension, because I have looked everywhere. There is a same day replacement service, but they will not let you use it if the passport has been lost or stolen or damaged, unless it is an emergency. The helpline people have been very helpful; and they got me an emergency appointment, today, at 2.15pm and I went along, with all the forms, and the lady could not help me. I am supposed to go to a memorial service on Saturday as well, the beloved lady I was hoping to visit when I booked the holiday a few weeks ago has since died of breast cancer but as she has already been buried, it does not count as an 'emergency'. I am going to see if I can get another emergency appointment and try the Peterborough office tomorrow, in case they can help, or at least start the process so I can go next week, but I bet they can't because rules are rules.

I said to J to go without me, and I will try and join him in a week or when I have my passport, but he says he would rather not go without me and have a week on his own, and it is only money. I don't think we can afford to pay twice though; we are saving for our wedding. The holiday was to be paid for from my on-it's-way-apparently £1000 Criminal Injuries Compensation ( CICA) money which I've been told I am eligible for because of the scar on my wrist.

I keep crying. I look like a boiled owl. Everytime I look somewhere I see the things I have been getting ready for the holiday; sun cream, a new novel, a cheap and cheerful pink cotton skirt I got for a tenner. It was what I did when things were hard over the last few months, buy something small for the holiday, and put it away, ready, and I'd go and look at it when I was fed up and it would cheer me up.

Why, after everything that has gone on, does this feel too much to cope with? Much worse things have happened, to me and to everyone else, and it's not the end of the world, but this feels like something that I have no defences against. It's the final bloody straw. I am extraordinarily sorry for myself. Damn. Bollocks. Argh.

I'm going to go and look again. The flat has never been so tidy.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bomber background

How they brainwashed my friend, ( Sunday Times) and news on a possible 5th bomber. Meanwhile the train time in the narrative was wrong, as we know, and now one of the other bomb sites groups meeting Reid and Jowell has just pointed out that one of the bombs is described as being in the wrong place as well. I deliberately haven't gone into all the other disrecrepancies on the narrative and ISC on this blog because I don't want to attract the conspiracy theorists back here. I will be raising the issues instead at the meeting on the 25th July with Dr. Reid and Tessa Jowell and the Kings Cross survivors. ( Tavistock, Aldgate, Edgware, Kings Cross/Russell Square are all having seperate meetings with the Home Secretary and Tessa Jowell and ours is next week).

And before anyone starts up, no, I do not think it is right that survivors should have access to special info behind closed doors, which is why I am campaigning for a public inquiry, but nor can I be bothered to wade through zillions of posts about psy-ops, Scotland Yard exercises, bombs placed under trains by Zionist lizards and all the rest of it, as I am sick of all this nonsense all over my blog, so narrative disrecrepancies will have to be discussed elsewhere to guard against these pages becoming a fruitloop magnet yet again.

Links round up

Fellow-passengers Richard and Gill on the Forgiveness Project, blogging from Lebanon, the Sharpener is looking for your recommendations for new British blogs ( I recommend Holly Finch).

N&P's wedding celebration

N&P are our dear friends and last month they eloped to Rome. Their story is immensely romantic. P loved N from the moment he saw her, when they both worked on the graphics & production desk for a TV company, in the mid-nineties, and they started going out just before J and I did. They moved in, and then they moved again and bought a flat near us in Wood Green. We were neighbours. Then N became ill with ME. She couldn't go out, then she couldn't work, then finally, she could barely walk. It was to their flat that we fled when I was attacked, and N made me a bed and gave me clothes - ''soft things'' - and Bach flower remedies to cover my battered body and heal my bruised soul. As N's illness worsened, they moved out to the quiet of Hertfordshire, and N undertook a long, painful programme of injections and limited diet to help her get better, as her condition worsened and she grew weaker and weaker. All through this, P loved her and cared for her, and kept her safe. They sold their house to pay for her treatment, and I never heard either of them complain about anything.

And now they are married, and they returned to host a tea party in their wedding things. N looked beautiful, with P glowing and handsome beside her, the pair of them in white, luminous with love. On their return they called all their friends to a summer celebration, and we went to a manor in Tring, Hertfordshire, and had English high tea, cakes and scones and finger sandwiches on a blazingly hot day. And N was walking, and laughing, with glittering shoes and her hair piled in curls. Children ran about and rolled on the grass, and the day was filled with joy.

Getting back was an adventure. The train stopped at the wrong platform, and left me, J, another guest, two young men who were en route to London for a birthday celebration stranded in the middle of a village in the vountryside at midnight with no train home and not a hotel room to be had. But we managed, a car full of wedding guests came back and picked up the lady who needed to go to Hemel Hempstead, and J and I and the two birthday celebrants all shared a cab back to London with a cheerful driver who used to live in Palmers Green, so knew all the back roads. He treated us to a guided tour of local places where exciting and terrible things had happened. 'Here's the bridge where the double decker bus got stuck, roof sheared off. People on the top deck screaming.' 'No, it was a fatal accident but nobody was killed'. 'Yes, here's the pub with a ghost, woman was murdered, and her baby too; they all ran out screaming one night, closed down for 12 years it did.' ' Here's the house where the man was murdered, millionaire, it was his wife did it, and her boyfriend, they went to Spain with all his money, blamed a burglar but we all knew it was her...'

We found the birthday boy a night club to go to, and he in turn retrieved my lost phone for me. Gentillesse in action, and it was like that all day, with people randomly helping each other, and being helped in return, and by looking out for each other, we all ended up with exactly what we needed. Hurray! And I met another man from the Piccadilly line train too. He's joining KCU - the 113th member.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Last night

Last night I was privileged to spend time with three extraordinary people, none of whom I would have met if it had not been for 7/7. Due to a series of problems I was very late for my drink with John, whom I had met when we both attended the CAMPACC meeting in the House of Lords last week. I had heard, read much about him, seen him on TV and vice versa, wondered if we might meet, one day.

I am reading his book at the moment, and it is enlightening; quite a lot of his experiences and many of his views mirror my own. He is hoping for a public inquiry, and as he had tickets for the theatre, and I had other arrangements too, we agreed to meet up on Monday so we could talk properly. I am looking forward to it; not just talking about the bomb, but the aftermath, the media storm, the bigger picture, the wierdness of being witness and victim and writer in the midst of what turned out to be an event given not just personal, but political, social, cultural resonance.

Then I raced to Finsbury Park to meet Kathryn and Linda, who I have been corresponding with for a year as they read my blog. Kathryn's daughter Shelley died on my carriage.

Their warmth and love was apparent from ten yards away; I cannot remember when I last met two such great-hearted women, with such big hugs.We went to a favourite restaurant, and ate fire-grilled lamb and salad. We laughed a lot. And cried. They told me about their home, in New Zealand, their trip to Prague, where Shelley spent New Year, showed me the lake where they live. It reminded me of the Lake District where we went for family holidays each year, where my uncle was a parish priest. Kathryn gave me a book of her beautiful poems that she had written For Shelley, I remember seeing and hearing her read one out at the Commemoration ceremony on July 7th 2006. About the moon, that shines over both sides of the world. Afterwards, we sat in my little yard and drank wine under the stars, and I lit small candles.

Shelley's was the name I said out loud as I let free my white balloon in Tavistock Square with Kings Cross United on the anniversary. The balloon flew straight up, though it was windy, and it flew close to the other ballooons, 26 of them, one for each person murdered on the Piccadilly train, released by other passngers who had escaped with their lives.

I was, I am, so desperately sorry, that all this happened. Shelley should still be here, walking home in the heat of the evening, after having a beer with her friends in town, looking forward to the weekend, as I am; and Kathryn and Linda should be watching the sun set over the lake in New Zealand, arm in arm. It should not be like this. And I can only stand in awe as people whose hearts and bodies have been so injured smile into my face, and ask how I am doing, with such compassion in their voices.

I feel humbled and glad to have met these people, and only sorry for the circumstances which made our paths cross. I cried before I went to sleep, at the unfairness of it all.

J had to work all night long; he came in at 6am. He has been late in every night; he is shattered, and has so much work to complete before we go on holiday. We are both very tired, but his work load is ridiculous and I am worried about him. I have bought him a shirt and the first half of the second series of Lost, to cheer him up.

Another person who is tired is Danny, who spent the day practising climbing stairs on his new legs. Yesterday was the hottest day for 90 years. 'No, there isn't any air con', he said, 'this is the NHS!'. I try, but I can't imagine. I'm running with sweat just sitting here typing.

I caught up via phone and email with some of the Edgware Rd people who attended a meeting with the Home Secretary and The Secretary of State Tess Jowell. Aldgate had their meeting last week, Kings Cross next week. We all tell each other what was said and keep in touch. Public inquiry stuff, who asked what, what was said, what was inferred, promised, denied...Danny and I caught up on the latest news, as he wasn't able to attend the meeting himself and Jacqui, a survivor from Edgware who took lots of notes is going to fill him in as well. I hope Danny gets to have a meeting with the Home Office soon. He can't get into London, so Jacqui suggested that the next meeting happens outide of London.

You give up being angry after a while, you just get more determined. It is good that senior people in the Government are engaging and talking and listening. Somebody said that we are helping them, the government - they want to listen and learn. I suppose so they can manage it better next time. Or maybe they want us to be placated and go away.

Private meetings don't seem to stop anyone whose after an inquiry wanting one, though, and that was made pretty clear by the sound of things. It's all very well meeting the victims behind closed doors, but we are just random people. This needs to be a discussion that is public, because the whole public are at risk, not just us. It's totally missing the point to assume we just want answers for just for ourselves, so we can shut up and go away. It's never been about that, closure. It's been about trying to use what happened to us to stop it happening to others.

And if we are angry, pesistent, keep asking awkward questions, well, that's what happens when you bomb a random cross section of the British public, it seems.

Tonight's news: more bombs. Every bomb I hear about, I reverberate, I remember, I feel the tug of empathy. Over a third of those killed in Lebanon, in the latest Middle East violence, are children. More than ever, this war on terror, these tactics, these beliefs and policies need to be challenged, and if by some fluke I, and John, and Danny, and Jacqui, and Kathryn, and Linda, and Michael, and all the rest of us end up being the pests who do the challenging, well, so be it. What else is there to do? Give up? Get scared? Back down?

Maybe nearly being killed, or losing someone you love, through the blowback of the war on terror changes you. Maybe you stop being scared of authority. You don't have a quiet life, even if you want one, so what do you do with the life you have? All this. And more.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Another anniversary

Yesterday, it was exactly three years since another anniversary - 16th July 2002.

The thing that was far worse than the bomb. The other time when I almost died. But that time, I came a lot closer. I had to fake my own death to live through that one.
My first murderous random stranger.
My first young man who hated and raged enough to destroy, in his arrogance, heedless of the fact that he wasn't hurting symbols, but people, people just like him, only he couldn't see that.

My first experience of the numb hinterland of PTSD.

But now I know this: that long night of degradation and horror, that shattered morning was my teacher. It saved my life, thirty-six months later. That knowledge so painfully won stood me in good stead when once more, violence was unleashed, blow to the head, overwhelming force, the world went black, blood on my face, choking, can't breathe, screams. Because when it happened, last year, this time I knew what to do. And what to do afterwards.

Last July, they were other people's screams. Three years ago, they were my own.

I only realised today that I'd completely missed the 16th July anniversary.

Which is one hell of a thing: that's healing for you. I am amazed, and delighted. Look at the circles, joining up. I am thinking. Ouroboros, the symbol I wear. It's almost perfect, how the two days have reverberated back and forth, each giving something back to the other, head to tail.

It seems to me that just as the 16th July 2002 prepared me for the 7th July 2005, so then 7th July 2006 rememberances cancelled out the old anniversary. This year, there was no blighting of another summer day. That was the gift of the bombing's anniversary, and instead, I had a Sunday afternoon of unheeding sweetness, without fear, without bad memories.

Enough tears have fallen and I so can let that date, the 16th July, that was haunted, and spoiled for me, become just another day again.

I am very glad that I can take it back. There aren't enough beautiful summer days as it is, without poisoning the few that I have with foul remembrances of mindless cruelty.

House of Lord's speech links

Last week there was a meeting about the lack of a 7/7 public inquiry. The speech given at the CAMPACC meeting at the House of Lords can be found here, Nafeez's speech here, Milan Rai's thoughts here and a report on the meeting here.

The speakers were all excellent and I was honoured to be invited. Thanks to all those who organised the event, especially Lord Rea who was the Chair. There were some interesting questions, it was a shame that we were pushed for time. What was meant to be 8 minutes each shrank to 5, then 3, then 2...

Unfortunately quite a lot of conspiracy theorists turned up and said the usual - that the bombers ( ''the lads, the gentlemen'') were innocent, it was all about 9/11 and yak yak yak as they have done before. One of them who should know better, heckled one speaker, author Milan Rai shouting that he was ''unintelligent'' and'' ignorant.''

It would almost be comical if it wasn't so incredibly frustrating, and so damaging to the sane, clear-eyed campaign, supported by many survivors and bereaved families, to be in any way associated with the tiny but determined ''lunatic fringe''. It is worrying too, because such protestations of conspiracies and cover ups do help to provide the swamp in which paranoia and extremism can flourish. It is deeply off-putting, I think, to ordinary members of the public, even more so for survivors and bereaved families, to turn up to show support and then to be confronted with this highly vocal, tiny minority, who are not young, and who should know better, all banging on away about plots and ''synthetic terror'' and all the rest of it. They are fundementalists. And arguing with them is as futile as arguing with any fundementalist.

And yes, I have checked out all the 9/11 and 7/7 theories and all the websites, and I have found that there is very little merit in them. (There's also a lot of pretty dodgey stuff in many of the sites as well.)

What little truth and information there is gets swamped by speculation and horrible, evidence-free exoneration of mass murderers. That the government or some shadowy network is really behind it seems an article of faith. There are many things wrong with the official responses, and there are many questions to be asked, and yes, the time of the train was given wrongly, in the Narrative, and the ISC report and the narrative contradict each other in parts, and yes, I have said they are not good enough for months, and months, and that is one of the reasons I have been asking for an inquiry since last autumn. But do me a favour... I just don't want to hear that ''the bombers were innocent'', because they weren't. The evidence that they suicide-bombed the trains is too overwhelming. To claim they were innocent, when I have seen the damage they caused to innocent people's lives and limbs angers and offends me more than I can say.

And yes, Khan and Tanweer should have been picked up before, and yes, there is much more to say about who were they in contact with? And about how many more plot murder and mayhem?And to say truthfully what is known about Islamic radicals in the UK?

And yes, there should have been better intra-agency communication, and at the centre of it all is the bloody, wounded, dangerous elephant in the room - the role of foreign policy ( a foreign policy ostensibly to defend us against terror, remember) - and its role in inflaming and recruiting terrorists ... which this wretched Government won't even talk about...

But, and this is an important but. It is not at all helpful to have people who claim to be ''after the truth '' and desirous of a public inquiry in such complete, horrifying, distressing denial about the fact that a) suicide bombers exist and b) young British men were suicide bombers a year ago.

No damn good at all. Of course there are many legitimate questions, but what is not helpful is appraoching them form the entrenched starting point that you already know the answer. Fundementalism of any kind if the enemy of grace and truth.

Cue venomous comments from conspiraloons, I expect. Well, too bad. I won't be publishing them. You have right of reply all over the internet, you've had my engagement and my time for months, but I am not going into the Rachel North vs. The Conspiracy Theorists showdown yet again. I have done my absolute damndest to make it clear that these people are nothing to do with the survivor/bereaved/Muslim campaign for an independent inquiry, to protect people from getting the kind of abuse I have taken ( and I've started kicking back hard these days, which helps) and I am not going through the whole business of putting myself in the front line to be harrangued and proselytised at again in my comments by people who in my opinion should get a less offensive hobby than playing spot- the -conspiracy in a murder investigation. Sorry, but there it is. Extremist conspiracy theorists can continue to slate me all over their websites or do whatever they wish. We're not on the same side, and I'm not indulging you. My blog, my personal opinions, my rules. Tough.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Help! Information needed...

To my blog readers. Please can you pass this on... I really need to talk to someone who knows about chemicals and explosions, particularly C4 and TATP. If you are that person, or you know that person, please can you get in touch? Obviously I am not about to make a bomb here - I need to ask a question about the 7/7 explosions based on some new info...
RachelNorthLondon (AT)

many thanks...


Sunday afternoon

I've come in to take a break from lounging about in the dusty back yard with the hot sun heating the leaves of the lavender and rosemary bushes, bees lingering amidst the Mediterranean scents. I've been reading the Sunday papers, about war and threats of war, about war correspondents and their music and their babies; humanity in the midst of inhumanity and chaos, the powerful pull of home that makes us remember who and what we are and where we came from.

My neighbour is playing The Clash, inside the flat there is the soothing murmur of incomprehensible cricket from the TV. Something I associate with J, who has had to go into work, poor thing. When he is away I often leave the TV tuned to the sports channel, because it makes it feel as if he is in the house. And it makes me feel safer if I am in the back yard, that passers by will know the house is occupied.

Miff is too hot to lie outside now. She has a summer routine. After following the sun for the early part of the day, and rolling happily in the dirtiest parts of the yard, with the heat on her belly, waving her paws like a manta ray, she then hides under the geraniums and clematis, in the shade btween the pots, before flopping prostrate under the sagging, weatherbeaten eyesore of a bench and wriggling in the gravel. Finally she slopes inside, and has now made a filthy nest on a pile of clean T shirts in the study. At night she sleeps in the bedroom, snoring, before rising at four and padding out to cry at the noisy sparrows she tries ( mostly) unsuccessfully to catch.

Even the goldfish and the koi carp are hot; they have started gulping at the surface which means they need yet another water change. If I turn their light off they sink down to the bottom of the aquarium again; they are attracted to the light. As am I, especially these days.

Two weeks until we go to Turkey; my sister has just returned from a last-minute break. Without knowing it, she went to the same place as I went to last year and where we will return soon. The narghile cafe by the beach, which we rechristened Cafe del Mar, where we made friends. The parascenders floating down from the mountains all day. I can't wait to return. I bought some books to read on holiday, and am trying to stop myself devouring them before I get on the flight.

I have just made late lunch: fried chicken breast, with half a lemon squeezed over it, rough-chopped and eaten with fat ripe tomatoes and torn basil between two slices of soft warm bread with caraway seeds. Then an over-ripe chilled peach. Breakfast was Turkish - olives , feta, tomatoes, cucumber, melon, eaten in the garden. My friend Nicola is on her way over, we will sit out the back and gossip until sundown. We will try to resist having a glass of cold wine until six. I have admin to do, but it can wait. My conscience is not soothed, but my body and my heart need the sun and the soft summer air, and the sanctity of the flowering garden.

Hang the filing: I will water the hanging baskets instead. There aren't enough days like this.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Islamic stance on the London bombings

This not directed at any readers who are Muslims, (and I freely admit that I am not an expert on Islam, only an interested outsider), but in response to the comments ( most of which are, unsurprisingly anonymous) which have come in over the last 12 months conflating Islam with terrorism, warning me all Muslims are not to be trusted, saying the Qu'ran condones killing and blah blah blah. I don't publish such comments anymore, nor do I publish anti-Semitic comments, oddball conspiracy theories ( such as ' the 7/7 bombers were innocent and the bombs were placed under trains by Zionists/Freemasons/M15 in order to discredit Muslims/impose a New World Order/get ID cards through/invade Iran'), general hate-speech, personal abuse and so on. I am sorry that free speech is the loser here, but there's enough places on the internet to spout ill-informed nonsense and bile, and I don't see why my personal blog should be one of them. I used to let any old thing go up, but comment moderator is now on and that is why. It's fine to disagree, but I'm not going to have my blog infested by bigotry.

Anyway. A good article from Living Islam. And if anyone feels moved to start sending me the bits of the Qu'ran which are fierce, and start arguing, then yes, ok, I can send you similar verses from the Old and New Testament and we can play theological ping pong to amuse ourselves and to make the point that you can find justification for extremist violence pretty much wherever you care to look, if you are so inclined - but it is a nice day outside and I'd rather not. And God, and his prophets, in all the holy scriptures of various religions I've ever read during my studies in Theology over the years, seems to make the repeated general point that by your actions and deeds shall you be judged. And I see no reason to argue to that.

And until I see the entire Muslim population of the UK daily climbing on buses and trains and exploding, I shall consider that those people who write in to say that ''Muslims = Terrorists'' are ignorant, foolish and hateful.

Christian readers might also find this interesting: the similarities between the Qu'ran and the Bible .

Also this: ( from Living Islam) 'Suicide/'Martyrdom' operations and the killing of civilians are Unlawful and Cursed.'

The Living Islam articles are reproduced for information and insight, and reflect the author's opinions, not mine, but I think they are interesting, and food for thought. Comments welcome.


The dreadful atrocities in India have saddened me this week. But this Independent article gave me hope.
I recommend it. Here's an extract...

''Whoever was behind the bombings appears to be trying to exploit those tensions. But this time, there have been extraordinary scenes as Mumbai's Muslims have come out in defiance to defend the unity of the city. Muslims queued for hours to give blood for Hindus injured in the bombings. Even the leaders of the hardline Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena, a party rarely given to praising Muslims, said they were "overwhelmed" by the reaction. "Hindus and Muslims walked hand in hand yesterday," said Manohar Kargaonkar, a party official.
Tanweer Sheikh, a Muslim from the Bandra station slum, said: "They are trying to split us, but they cannot. We are 99 per cent Muslims living here, but we were the first to go to help the people on that train. The police did a good job, don't get me wrong, but they don't have a police station here. We were the nearest so we had to help.
"We didn't care if we got Hindu blood or Muslim blood all over us. As far as we are concerned in this neigbourhood, we are Indians first, and Muslims or Hindus only after that.''

All along the tracks, it was the poorest of Mumbai's citizens, Hindu and Muslim, who were first to rush to the aid of the injured on the trains, the migrant slum-dwellers whose shanty towns lie alongside the tracks..."


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Walking into light

I have started walking ( most of the way) to work. Kiss J, stroke Miff's soft fat spotty tummy, set off. Pounding the sun-dappled back streets near Finsbury Park, listening to the birds singing, looking at everyone's front gardens and window boxes for ideas, then through the park where dogs are running, a few stops on the super-fast Victoria line, and then get off again, and walk the last part of the way in from Warren Street, enjoying the smells from the cafes, watching office workers sauntering along, with their croissants and lattes, stopping to buy a bag of fruit for a pound or so from the cheerful man with a stall outside Goodge St. Light flashing off the glass of Centre point, cyclists swearing at taxis, sun in my eyes, and I suddenly notice it. Normality. It's back. The unexpected, longed-for gift I used to take for granted. The absence of fear, the absence of anything but what is here, around me, right now.

The sun in my eyes, the people around me, the day's work ahead, the ground beneath my feet. A blessing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

7/7 Critical Perspectives

I shall be popping's a public meeting so anyone can come.

Before & After 7/7: Interrogating British ‘Security’ Policies
Why did the 7/7 terrorist attack happen?
Like the 11 September 2001 attack, was this a ‘blowback’ effect of government policy?
What is being protected by British ‘security’ policies? What alternative policies could protect us?
6.30pm Wednesday 12 July
Committee Room 3, House of Lords, Westminster, SW1
Hosted by Lord Rea

Nafeez Ahmed, author of The War on Freedom and The War on Truth and the new book
London Bombings – An Independent Inquiry,
Milan Rai, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness UK; author of Chomsky's Politics;
War Plan Iraq; Regime Unchanged; and 7/7: The London Bombings, Islam and the Iraq War
Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer
Asad Rehman, Chair of Newham Monitoring Project
Representative of Charles de Menezes Family Campaign
Saghir Hussain, lawyer and Stop Political Terror
Prof. Bill Bowring, Human Rights & Social Justice Research Institute
Les Levidow, CAMPACC

The meeting has been called by CAMPACC (Campaign Against Criminalising Communities)
and is supported by HRSJ (Human Rights & Social Justice Research Institute), Stop Political Terror, 1990 Trust, The Muslim Parliament
Information:,, Tel 020 272 4131, 020 7586 5892

Still taking liberties

Oh for heaven's sake. Yes, we've said it before, but it is worth saying again. What the hell is going on? I am ashamed that I ever voted for these people. More ID lunacy as the whole ridiculous and insulting plan is outed as being doomed to failure in the Sunday Times, and gets another good kicking in the Guardian today from the indefatigable Henry Porter. Nice to see an issue uniting left, right and moderates.

I still mean it, everything I said : Give Me Liberty.
Let's not shut up about it, and don't forget to pop into the nice people at No2ID
And here's a thought...

(Can't think why I didn't sign up before. Hat Tip Justin for reminding me.)

Sorry to everyone who has popped in expecting more personal stuff and found instead, political stuff. It is just that, at the moment, in my life, the personal and the political seem to be inextricably intertwined.

Okay, personal update: I still feel very tired. Even though I am sleeping better. I walked to and from work in the West End to home near Finsbury Park yesterday. Today I got a cab in again as I was too late to walk, and because I was conviced that there would be an attack today for various reasons I won't go into here. I have been convinced about the 11th July for weeks. Seems to be passing okay so far, thank God.

(18.38: UPDATE: Oh shit. This was exactly what I had the premonitions of, multiple bombs in trains, hundreds of deaths. I kept dreaming it. I even said to two journalists, 'I am sure there will be bombs on 11th July' - (BBC Asian Network and ITN news). But it happened in India, not here. My thoughts and prayers to the people of Mumbai. My heart goes out to them, and to all victims of terror. Those poor, poor people. There was such a lot of fuss made out of 7/7, so much political capital made on the back of the first suicide bombings on Western soil, here, in my city, London.

Which is why I am trying to fight back; if there is to be such a fuss made, and voices of 7/7 given such prominence, then know this. I'm not going to roll over and be part of someone else's agenda. I haven't changed who I am and what I believe in, and if you give me a platform, I will say what I have always said. I will say I want to try to cherish civil liberties, to show that you can be almost killed by random strangers - and life still goes on. To ask for lessons to be shared so that it might be stopped one day in the future, or the response improved, or understanding shared - and so lives may be saved and suffering spared.

Oh God, oh hell. I thought when I kept dreaming of the bombs on the trains I was just having a flash-back to last year, I didn't want to think about it, and what good would it do, what could I do about it? )

There have been a a lot of very disconcerting deja vu flashbacks of last year, randomly discovering I am wearing the same clothes, picking up the same book, even smelling the smoke and feeling the exact same feelings - a detatched sense of exhaustion and euphoria and odd adrenaline spikes and crashes. This, I am assured, is normal and is ''the anniversary effect''. For a better description of how I feel and how others seem to be spookily feeling the same, go and see fellow-passengers Steve and Holly's blogs. KCU noticeboard tells a similar story. It freaks me out sometimes how I can go and look and there is my day, my feelings, already posted up by somebody else.

But it's just a blip, this haunting I feel of last summer's ghosts. It'll pass. So I am told and so I hope.

I am very angry indeed towards the bombers, the young man on my train who murdered and maimed. It has taken exactly one year for the numbness to fade, and now I am struggling with nausea, vertigo and hatred whenever I think of them. Apparently this is a ''very positive sign'' that I am ''making good progress''. Fine, whatever. It's a damn sight easier right now to write about politics than feelings, that's for sure.

(18.38: But right now, if I were to name my feelings, they would be anger, and frustration, and anxiety. And pity for the victims of the bombs, as I watch the news, with a heavy heart.)

Craig & the bloggers vs. the FCO

I was going to post about this story today, but Craig's linked it, ( police report - foreign policy helped make UK a target) so please go and see him and his commenters instead. Craig Murray, deserves your support generally, and now particularly, as the British government are threatening him with an injunction for publishing an expose of what happened when he was the Ambassador to Uzbekistan and was asked to turn a blind eye to torture. Not-quite-all is revealed in his book, Murder in Samarkand, and the pieces he was forced to remove have been published on his blog.

He is being told to take them down. He is refusing, and bloggers, led by Ringverse at Blairwatch are supporting him by publishing them and linking. Go look, go link, go leave a supportive comment and so help to cherish freedom of the press and freedom of information. Even if it is embarassing to those in power, and their American friends.

Final word from Craig...

''I am sorry to trouble you, but believe that we now face a threat both to the Web and to Freedom of Information in the UK which must be challenged.The British government is arguing that government documents, even if released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act, cannot be published, on the web or elsewhere, as they remain Crown Copyright.They have required me to remove documents from my website on that basis, under threat of legal action - see the attached letter from the Treasury solicitors.If you think about it for a moment, the government could thus cancel out almost the whole purpose of the Freedom of Information Act; information released would be just for the private use of an individual. Newspapers - or bloggers - could not publish it in any detail.
If accepted, this extraordinary use of copyright could give the government completely arbitrary power to keep literally everything - everything - produced by government a secret for a hundred years.It is yet another assault on civil liberty by the Blair government, and in it's potential impact one of the most monstrous.
If the media do not react to this, they will lose the ability to report in any detail material released under the Freedom of Information Act.The documents in question are the supporting evidence for my book, Murder in Samarkand, which has just been released. The government continues to claim my story is untrue. There is one important advance in all this. Up until now the government refused to acknowledge the documents were authentic. Now Buttrill's letter specifically acknowledges all of the documents and claims copyright over them.Some of these documents have already been published widely on the web, particularly the "Tashkent telegrams" on CIA and MI6 use of intelligence obtained under torture. Those are now admitted as authentic, for the first time.Some are new to the web. Perhaps the most important is the chart of the changes the British Government insisted be made to the book.These are extremely revealing for what they admit to be true - for example, only minor changes are requested in the key meeting between senior officials on the legality of using intelligence from torture, at which it was confirmed that this is US and UK policy.Perhaps still more revealing is the insistence on removal of the assertion that "Colin Powell knowingly lied" when he claimed that bombs in Tashkent were the work of al-Qaida. The British government insisted on removal not because it was untrue - as detailed in the book, they know full well it is true - but because it would "Damage UK-US relations".The changes requested were made in the book, because my publisher would not publish without. That is why the truth needs to be out there on the web.It is on the face of it very strange that the British Government is going after me over the Copyright Act and not the Official Secrets Act. The answer is simple - under the Copyright Act there is no jury. A jury would never convict for campaigning against torture, and be most unlikely to accept that documents released cannot be published.The table of changes requested by the government is not even a classified document in the first place. But a single judge may be more malleable - John Reid has put a huge effort lately into browbeating judges over anything connected to the so-called War on Terror.As the government know very well I have no money to pay a large, or even small fine, they can get the book and documents banned and me in jail without having to convince any jury of pesky citizens.Finally, the government made plain to parliament that it would act against the book itself if it was published. As it only came out on Friday, no injunction yet but it could happen any time. So if you are interested in getting it, buy now and beat the injunctions!Many Thanks,
Craig Murray''
And here's the documents, hosted outside of the UK by Dahr Jamail

Monday, July 10, 2006


Hello, well, very few links today because my stupid mouse won't right-click any more.

However I did come across this, which I will laboriously type out by hand because it is important: the full transcript of the Tanweer video

And it is fair to say that is horrible stuff. Please. Don't read it if you think it will upset you; it upset the hell out of me. Which I suppose was its point.

I did get to see as much of the video as ITN had at the time when I went in last week to comment on the thing for ITN Evening News. I wanted to see it. Well, I didn't want to see it, but you know what I mean. The part of me that is grimly hyper-aware of this, that still tries to understand the incomprehensible (because how the hell else are we going to get through this unless we can attempt to understand and engage?) wanted to see it. The part of me that thinks like a journalist, a writer, someone who wants to know the truth, wanted to see it. The part of me that was almost murdered by these creeps wanted to cry and hide.

So I watched it, flinching. But dry-eyed, and calm.

Most of it was in Arabic, after watching it on a loop you could discern his words under the excited commentary. There was a vile Al-Jazeera visual of a train going into a tunnel and being completely engulfed in flames, like an inferno ( that didn't happen). Tanweer was referred to in the caption as 'The Martyr Shehzad Tanweer' ( that was how the tape was edited, not a caption put on by Al Jazeera, I'm sure of it) .

The video purported to show men rejoicing at the London explosions, firing machine guns into the air, capering about in what looked like a mountainous hot country. There was someone exploding a device via lighting a fuse and detonating something underground. The inference was clear: here is our camp full of happy would-be ''martyrs'', locked and loaded and ready for war. Suck it up, infidels.

A martyr by the way is someone who is killed for his or her religious beliefs, not someone who murders innocents and commits suicide. They're murderers. Murdering innocents, and suicide are condemned in the Qu'ran, as they are in every Holy book.

The other links I wanted to post were about how it appears that hard-core US gang members have joined the US army and are staking out their territories, sending kit home to their homies, and generally unleashing a whole can of criminal whoop-ass all over the traumatised Iraqi civilians. Gang tags and tattoos have started appearing with disturbing frequency, but are tolerated because the number of men who want to go and fight in a country that is dangerously close to civil war, (if not already there), is very low. Perhaps that explains Fallujah, the rape and murder of a teenaged Iraqi girl and the massacre of her family. Perhaps. What the hell will happen when they all get home again to the US, tooled up and trained to kill, staking out their turf in US cities, I dread to think. You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

An email from a far-right group praising the rapist as one of the ''good men'' who would be '''needed when the struggle to preserve the white race comes has started circulating the internet. Hat-tip Mark From Ireland ( more laborious typing, so no more links, though I have many. I will get a new mouse asap) .

So I look, and I read the news, this last week, and what do I see?

Blank-eyed young men, ranting, swaggering, in love with themselves and their self-image as 'righteous soldiers'. Inflicting misery, rape and murder. Common bloody criminals, not heroes.

What is this sickness infecting our young men? I've been at the sharp end of it twice. I feel old and sad again today.

''I would that there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting...'' 'SHEPHERD,' SHAKESPEARE'S ' A WINTER'S TALE ' ACT 3, SCENE 3.

Against this sadness, I'm thinking of all the young men who despise this ego-driven nihilstic violence. The man in his twenties who ran into the tunnel and tore off his clothes to stem the bleeding of the desperately wounded. The man who left the train to get help, unsure of what he was walking into. The young police officer who comforted the shocked. The thousands and thousands of decent, compassionate young men. Who love life, who care for their loved ones and strangers, who are brave and compassionate and honourable. Men like J. Men like my brother. Ordinary men, who hate this sick shit on the news. I need to hold onto that, because there are times when I am deeply frightened. I know why, if you know my back-story there's a reason for it. But I struggle to understand what makes people get off on this casual destruction, this strutting, selfish posturing, thoughtless, sadistic viciousness.

I can shoot. I'm quite a good shot. But I have never wanted to shoot someone in the face, or to laugh as I jabbed her with my weapon, or to fire a shot in pride or anger. I try, but I can't get there, to that place of semi-madness. I can't make the leap. I don't want to try any more. It's too horrific, to travel into places I can't, and don't, ever want to go.

I will go and stroke Miff the cat instead, and take a deep breath, and know that this, too, will pass.

On a lighter note, this blog is now being translated into Japanese and appearing on a Japanese website every day. So, hello to all my new Japanese readers. And thank you for taking an interest in the somewhat gloomy thoughts of a woman in North London on a rainy Monday evening.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A 'completely false' sense of grievance

BBC: 'Mr Blair told MPs: "If we want to defeat the extremism, we have got to defeat its ideas and we have got to address the completely false sense of grievance against the West...'

You see, though, I do feel angry. I am particularly angry right now at the rape and murder of a 15 year old girl and the massacre of her family by US troops. It is an abhorrent crime and has caused widespread rage all over the world. I am angry about Haditha, Falujah, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and all the other horrible litany of names that now stand for something wicked and wrong. I am sad and angry about the fact that every day in Iraq is 7th July, that Afghanistan is becoming yet again a brutalised battleground.

I am angry that despite the '7/7' bombers' videos explaining the July 7 murders were committed because of foreign policy, in Iraq, in Afghanistan - and far more importantly, despite reports commissioned by the Government themselves such as the Foreign Affairs Committee - the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary bizarrely still seem not to want to listen or admit any link between widespread anger amongst its citizens - and its own foreign policy.

If we have nothing to hide we have nothing to fear, we get told whenever new freedom-limiting legislation is in play. Why can our leaders not even listen at least, and be seen to humbly re-examine their own policies, and heed the counsel of calm voices who have useful criticism and advice to offer? Why do they seem to stop their ears? Why do so many of us stop our ears? Where does that get us all?

I have read with interest the recommendations of Muslims and other informed experts about how to tackle beligerent Islamic extremism, and how understanding its roots is critical if it is to be rooted out. I have read the earlier warnings that the invasion of Muslim lands, especially if done illegally and without UN sanction and popular support and post-invasion planning, was likely to cause violence and only increase the risks of terror, and bring misery, here and abroad. I see the warnings were true.

Well, we are here now, and cannot turn back the clock; we can only try to make things better. That means listening to all sensible suggestions. What harm can it do? What good might it do? Even making the effort to listen is a healing thing that might defuse some of the tensions that make us all so defensive and yes, so frighteningly angry.

I am saddened that many informed voices, and the initiatives they suggested do not seem to have not been heeded or acted upon, despite promising early publicity.

Because whilst all this anger remains at foreign and domestic policy, more and more people, including me sometimes, miss the real debate. That there is a yet another new totalitarian, nihilistic ideaology abroad and what makes it so dangerous is that it uses legitimate grievances to feed its toxic agenda.

I am more than sad, I am deeply angry, that malice is in our midst, that poisonous paranoid propoganda is spewed, that an ancient religion is perverted by a few into politicised Islamic extremism via an action-heavy, theology-lite conspiracy-theory that preys on the anger and aggrievement of rootless adolescents and makes them into walking weapons of destruction. I am desperately sad that it is widely said that many adherents of Islam are not willing to use the minds God gave them to question how to live to the glory of God in a world where we are still at war with each other, and to work for peace and understanding.

I see that many are in fact doing just this, whether they are Muslim or no, but it is not so widely reported. I see that, yes, there are still those in denial, defensive, still hooked on foolish conspiracy theories and a sense of nihilistic self-pitying rage dressed up as 'concern' for the oppressed.
I am trying not to despair, today, as I read the news.
People like Hassan help.

I am still hoping that there is a better future ahead, a way for us all to honour each other, whatever our personal Gods, as fortunate custodians of a beautiful blue planet full of life and marvellous creatures and organisms, a place that so far seems to be unique in all of endless space.

I am fed up that completely legitimate criticism of current government foreign policy is portrayed by some as sympathy for terrorism and traitorous treachery. It is not. You can criticise the Government and remain a true and honest citizen. I am angry that real anger is now portrayed as' false grievance' and as fake 'victimhood'. I am frustrated that despite the exhortations by politicians to religious men and women, men and women who care passionately about justice, to 'look into their hearts' and 'engage' their minds, those representing me do not seem capable or willing to do the same - though they call themselves wise and well-counselled and even 'guided by God'.

I am sad, I am angry, today, and this blog is where I express my anger and sadness and my personal opinions. On Friday I remembered the dead, and the victims of bombs, here and everywhere else. Now I am thinking about the future, and I am thinking about how to use my life that was spared to listen and to learn and to work for hope and healing.

My leader seems, a year on from homegrown horror, to still be dismissing voices like mine as having a ''completely false sense of grievance.'' No, Mr Blair, there is legitimate grievance and illegitimate grievance. Legitimate protest was seen when millions marched against the Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands have protested against brutal policies in Chechyna, Palestine, Afghanistan. It seems to fall on deaf ears - and so people get frustrated and angry. But only 4 British citizens have so far taken this rage and made themselves into weapons of mass destruction an dsucceeded in killing fellow-citizens. And we do need to hold onto that fact.

I think a young man's sense of uninformed grievance that is hijacked by evil men's propoganda and lies to say that it is right to kill and maim in the name of God is utterly wicked and wrong. But I do not think that sadness and anger at bombings here and abroad is not legitimate. I do not think to say so is to act like a victim. I do not think to want to question the actions done in my name as a UK citizen is foolish, naive, or empathising with terrorism.

I wear no hijab, I attend no place of worship, I am white and well-educated and have a small platform to speak out here on this blog. I have seen close up the violence that al Qaeda-inspired idealogy brings. I have no sympathy for its idealogy, I hate it. I will aways hate it. And maybe, just maybe for a short while, people will read what I say, not because of who I am, but because of where I was a year ago.

I try not to hate those who espouse the murder of innocemts. I try to see the person behind the poison, to stay hopeful and calm. To try to think of the bomber who attacked me as the fatherless child he was before he became the fantatic killer, blowing himself and others to pieces. I try. Because where does hate and anger and vengeance get me? I cannot function if I am as consumed by hate and rage as him, if I swear myself to vengeance and only vengeance. I have to let the hatred go to survive.

I walk in the middle ground, with my questions and my anxieties like the moderate millions everywhere. I listen, I look, I try to learn and to understand. I do not think, after considering carefully for a year, that my personal position and opinions are wholly false or foolish, and I wonder, I wonder, how many more feel like me, and what it will take for leaders to listen to us .

I hope that it does not take thirty years of 'long war' and the endless horrors of bombs exploding in the midst of innocent civilans.

I think is the duty of every man and woman alive to seek justice and healing, to work for peace and reconciliation, to root out and report abuse and extremism, and to challenge and speak out what they find to be cruel and unfair. I do not think it matters what I call God, or whether I call on no God at all but instead look to a common humanity..

If my neighbour's house is burning, I will call the fire service, if my son or my neighbour's son is burning with rage I will listen to him and talk to him, if he is plotting murder and mayhem I must report him and stop him for the greater good.

For this is citizenship, this is civilised, and to frame the debate in terms of 'with us' or 'against us', as 'the Muslims' problem' not 'society's problem, our problem, is foolish, dangerous and arrogant.

Am I my brother's keeper? asked one of a pair of disgruntled warring brothers, Cain and Abel, in a story we have told for thousands of years. Unwilling to listen to the answer - which was of course, yes, you are your brother's keeper and he yours - he murdered his brother, and so the story tells of how division and hatred and war entered the world. There is a fundemental truth in this ancient legend, whch is why we remember it still. In this question is the root of all the cycle of bloodshed that convulses us as a species.

Your brother, my brother is the man on the London tube, the woman in Afghanistan, the child in Pakistan, the baby in Sudan. Religion and nationality shouldn't even come into it. Social problems are not religious problems, they are human problems. They are our problems. Our duty is not just to listen to what purports to be the words of God as interpreted by a few men, but to each other, to all of God's creation, not just to a select few.

If you believe in God, then why not trust that your God is big enough and wise enough to have given you the free choice to honour him with your life and your dealings and your doings? If you do not believe in God, (and I mostly don't, at least, not to a God I find in any organised religion) , you have your own life and deeds which define all that you are and all that will be remembered of you.

One year after I stumbled away, shuddering, from some of the worst that humanity could do to each other, I remember what I have written of time and time again, the voices and hands of strangers asking 'are you all right'. Instinctively reaching out, all of us our brother's keepers.

We're all on the same train, I know this now; we can choose to be suspicious and to attack each other, or we can help each other on our journey. We can refuse the ideaology that says to kill each other is somehow holy or we can hide from the questions, nurse the grievances, feed the anger and make victims of each other and ourselves. Our leaders need to help, not hinder in this, by showing they are capable of the soul-searching they demand of others, and by ceasing to frame the debate we all need to have in such unfair, and unhelpful terms.

' A jury would never convict me for campaigning against torture'

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCMENT via Ringverse @ Blairwatch

''For those of you not familiar with him, Craig Murray was formerly the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, until he took a stand over our use of intelligence obtained by torture that is.

Craig's book,
Murder in Samarkand has just been published.
This has happened despite the best efforts of the British Government to suppress it. In support of the points he makes in his book, Craig has published a number of documents online that the British Government does not want you to see. Yesterday Craig received a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of the Foreign Office demanding that he remove the documents from his website by 4pm Monday 10th July or he will be issued with a high court injunction.

Do take the time to have a look through the documents.

If you feel that this information is something that should not be taken offline by Monday, well, you know what to do...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Letter From Leeds, by Hassan

A year ago, Hassan wrote Postcards from Tavistock Square, which was published on this blog. Previously , his Letter to the Terrorists was published in the Guardian.

Thank you Hassan, and keep writing. Contact Hassan -hassanwillbeking at

LETTER FROM LEEDS by Hassan – July 6, 2006

Dear dead or alive terrorists (As Salaam Alaikum doesn't apply to you),

Just wanted you to know it’s almost one year since 7/7 and I’m a still a Muslim.

I did something today that I’ve thought about doing for the past year. I made the 15-minute journey from where I live in Bradford to Burley Lodge in Leeds. I actually pass by this area several times a week.

Number 18 Alexandra Grove is surreal to look at. No one is living there now. There are several small blocks of flats surrounding one another. And flat number 18 is on the ground floor. There’s a path beside the bathroom window that people use to get to the bus stop right beside number 18. Because of what was being made in the bathroom, the plants outside the bathroom window really have withered, but they’re still living, somehow. And the bus stop’s notice confirms where I am: Alexandra Grove/Hyde Park Road – School Services Only.

It would be so much easier for me to say I’ve never been to this area and that I don’t know it at all. It would be easier for me to say that when I was at Leeds Uni, a good friend of mine didn’t used to live at number 24 Kelsall Place, which is adjacent to Alexandra Grove. It would be easier to say that my best friend who now lives in London, didn’t used to live about 30 seconds walk from here at Autumn Grove. It would be easy for me. But I’m standing here again today, and I know that I really have stayed with friends who lived in these streets. So it isn’t easy. It’s just my way of trying to understand what’s happened here. That’s all.

I had a job in Dewsbury once. Worked there for almost a year. Used to visit mates in Beeston too. Musicians. Introduced an Afghani friend to a youth theatre class in Holbeck a few years back. Used to stay over with another friend in Huddersfield. It could be easier. But it’s not.

My diary from last year says I went to the cinema in central Leeds on Wednesday, July 6 2005. It makes me think about how I must have taken the journey home that night and passed alongside Burley as I always do. It makes me think about the final few hours that were remaining before you set off to London. It makes me think about death being assembled in the bathroom of this flat and sitting here, ready to be taken to London. It makes me think, that’s all.

The next day in last year’s diary says that I had an appointment at Russell Square on the morning of Thursday, July 7. But that this was cancelled against my wishes...

Life has changed so much in my short lifetime. I’ve learned that a war for peace can never succeed. That terrorism doesn’t build a better future for Muslims. And that voting alone doesn’t protect us anymore. I’ve seen terrorism put an instant cloud over the joy of Live8 and a winning Olympic bid. I’ve seen the sunshine torn right out of our July. But more than anything, I’ve learned this from what I have seen.

You terrorists, you can try to kill us all during every rush hour, but you can never kill our hope. Because it doesn’t just live with us when we’re on our way to work. Hope lives on during every single minute of our lives and it always keeps on going, it never stops. Hope lives in the women and men who courageously saved lives on July 7 2005. Hope is what being British is to me today.

Unlike all of you, I am hopeful knowing that more and more British people genuinely do care about the lives of Muslims they've never met, who live in countries they've never been to. So British lives should not be taken today by so-called Muslims who have no rules. Because parents are never supposed to bury their children. Going to a job in London will never be an international crime. And caring about Muslims everywhere in the world is never going to justify killing innocent people anywhere in the world.

Life is changing so much during my lifetime. Every time the calendars and diaries reach another July 7, you expect British-Muslims to feel wrong for peacefully believing in Islam. But I’d rather live a lifetime in hell, than spend one single minute in your phoney heaven. Terrorists will not stop millions of Muslims like me from achieving our ambitions. It just makes me more determined to succeed as a British-Muslim.

I’m British, me. And a Northerner yeah, too right. When me friends ask me how I’m doing, I say am doing fine, even during times when am not. But y’know something? I hope that someone remembers these memories of ours one day, and that they can find some way to stop this from happening again. Because one year on from 7/7, I’m standing alone out here I am.. I’m standing out here in front of this tiny little fucking flat.. number 18, Alexandra Grove.. and even though I don’t cry, I know I don’t know how to stop this from happening again.

I think about how badly some people have treated me in the past year because of what you've done, and I just want the whole world to know that not all Hassan’s are like you. I was born in the same hospital as one of you. In Bradford, West Yorkshire. And my Mother grew up near Brick Lane, and was born in Cardiff, Wales. I am Afghani-Welsh-English-Northern-Muslim-box-number-6-other-please-specify.

And as a categorically uncategorised citizen of my own country, I’m asking British people for just one thing. I want one single minute of freedom. Just one.. A single minute where someone can look at a Muslim person’s job or college application and forget that 7/7 ever happened. A minute of freedom for a Muslim on a bus, a train, or in a public place in London, where people remember that not all Muslims carry with them the evil that you made in this flat. Let’s follow silent memorials by speaking up for what we really want, loud and clear. Read The Qu’ran for peace. Or don’t read it at all. Be a Muslim who believes in peace. Or don’t be a Muslim at all. Live your life in this beautiful country for peace. Or get out, stay out, and leave us the fuck alone.

For all the tears one year on. For all the lost nights and days. For all our arguments and fear over what the future might bring, I know now more than ever.. that I’ve never even lived in a Muslim country. I was born in Bradford, me. And Britain, this is my country. And people always find a way to keep on going in my country, today and every day.. No matter what happens during one day on our way to work.

Hassan, Alexandra Grove, Leeds July 6 2006 © Hassan 2006
Contact: hassanwillbeking AT


Right. I'm slowly working through all the emails. Filing all the newspaper cuttings. Closing the lid. Or trying to. I want to write about other things beside 7/7. Though the public inquiry campaign continues.

Politics, current affairs, the news will continue to feature. I was a news junkie before all this happened and I still am. Personal stuff, things that catch my attention, now I can look up and out of the tunnel. Whatever interests me, I will follow it and try to catch it in words and sgare it here, as often as I have time.

Bloggers all over the world have the freedom to write about whatever they want. Whether anyone reads it is dependent on whether anyone is interested. Let's see how we fare, now the scope has widened, the vista extended and the smoke has cleared. Onwards and upwards. And thank you for coming with me on the journey so far.

Post Traumatic Press

Article I wrote for journalist trade magazine Press Gazette about the last 12 months and the media storm.
Dadgey on his experiences as an iconic photo of him helping a wounded passenger appeared all over the world.
Justin reflects on one year on in his blog and on The Friday Thing
And Holly reflects on how 7/7 was a day to feel proud in the Guardian Commentisfree . And gets lots of comments for her trouble, quite a few of which continue the grand Guardian boards tradition of being spectacularly mad and offensive, but there you go. And that is why I put comment moderator on: murderer-exonerating conspiracy theories, death threats and race hate propoganda don't get published, sorry free speech, but there are limits.

UPDATE: Site stats from BlogTopsites

Unique Visitors this Reset for Rachel from North London
Hits this Reset
Total Unique Visitors
Total Hits
Total Out


One year on

Picture from BBC website
Yesterday was a private day, didn't talk to any cameras, wanted to be with people who were on my train, and J, who has put up with all this for a year, and who was able to join me in the evening .

Got up early, thought about last 12 months, posted, then travelled into London on the Piccadilly line tube, in the first carriage, same spot that I had stood on 7th July a year ago. Just like last year, the weather was rainy, the carriages were very full, the trains were late. The first train I got on I had to get off again, before it departed Finsbury Park, where I start my journey, because there was an angry man with a rucksack who spooked me, but I did get on the next one. It was a hot, crushed, and for me, frightening journey, but it had to be done.

Nobody was reading about 7/7 in the newspapers. They all had the page open at a different story.

As we went through the tunnel, I watched through the window as we left Kings Cross until we got to the spot where the explosion happened. You can see exactly where it was, because the electric cables on the side of the tunnel which were destroyed by the bomb in the centre of carriage one, have been replaced and are a brighter, less dirty red. I said a prayer. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. It was so dark there. Then I got off at Russell Square, a bit shakey, feeling a sense of relief.

I met people from KCU. There were lots of police and some cameras and news crews, but we avoided the media. This was one day when I needed to be just Rachel.

We went back down to the platform. I stood with other people from carriage one at 8.50am in silence for two minutes, with Dave, who was the station supervisor at Russell Square on the day. There were trains running, instead of a bang, silence, then screaming.

We stood at the end of the platform, looking down the dark tunnel, where we had been pulled from the tracks by LU staff after walking 500m from the smoking ruins of the carriage a year ago.

We met a nice springer spaniel who was on bomb sniffing duty and his handler. (I used to have a springer called Dipper, she was a lovely dog but her contribution to public safety was minimal. But I loved her more than any other dog I ever had.)

Afterwards we went to a hotel with Dave. Dave wasn't on duty yesterday, but he had come in in uniform to help, as he had helped on the day, running into the tunnel when he heard the explosion, passing us all walking out led by the co-driver, and went into the carriage to give first aid, using his clothes as tourniquets to save limbs and lives until rescue came. Dave is one of the people who says 'anyone would have done it, and I would do it again.' London is a proud city because of people like Dave.

We talked to other people from carriage one and the families of those who had lost someone, dying feet away from where I stood. I met a lady who had seen me when I came out of the station. She had been shocked by my appearance, covered in blood and soot and glass. She told me of twelve months of nightmares and guilt because she had peeped inside the station ticket hall and seen people with terrible injuries, and dead bodies, lying there, and she had been haunted by it all year. We hugged. I didn't realise I looked so bad, back then. I thought I was very calm. She said I was too calm, that I was 'like a zombie', shuddering, 'and the whites of your your eyes were black, you looked half-dead. Like you had come out of Hell.' She cried, remembering.

Then we met up with KCU ( Kings Cross United survivor group) people from the rest of the train who had been to Kings Cross earlier, at a hotel near St Pancras church. At 12pm we stood near Tavistock Square away from the cameras and people in silence for 2 minutes. 26 of us held a balloon each, one for each innocent stranger who had died on our train. They flew away into the sky, staying together, until they were tiny specks that could no longer be seen. Tavistock Square is a place of peace, and between Russell Square and Kings Cross. I thought of the victims of all bombs, everywhere, especially those 52 who died a year ago.

At 12.30pm some of the group went to the inter-faith service at St. Pancras. I didn't, because there were cameras there and I am recognisable at the moment. I had been to a beautiful service in St. Ethelredas last night instead which was private, and attended by survivors, including seriously injured, rescuers and bereaved. And yesterday lunchtime, I had been to St. Pancras and heard a concert, and said a prayer for those affected by terrorism.

I stayed in the hotel instead and had lunch and drinks with people from the train who have become dear friends over the last year. It was an emotional afternoon, but mixed with the sadness and guilt and terrible memories was a sense of hope and of new beginnings, and relief that we had made it so far, together.

In the evening we went to Regent's Park where I met some bereaved families and survivors from other sites who I have got to know over the year. As soon as the London Community Gospel Choir began to sing Something inside so strong, I cried. I hid under my hands and hair but everyone was crying, and the cameras were not zooming in on faces in the crowd, so it was ok.

After the beautiful ceremony we laid flowers, and that was the hardest part of the day, walking past members of the public, when I could see so many of my friends were crying. Long lines of people, all thinking of those hurt or killed. J was with me. he held my hand. Tissues were passed up and down the row of survivors.

Then we walked away, walking through the sunlit park as evening fell. There was a tremendous sense of release. We went to a pub and bought each other drinks in the evening sunshine. A normal, jolly Saturday night, Londoners spilling out onto the pavement with pints, looking forward to the weekend.

It was over, now I can walk away from it all, I hope, and look to the future. Thank you for all the messages I found when I came home, a little drunk, hungry and with a lighter heart. Thank you for all the support I have had from friends and strangers over the last 12 months. It means a very great deal.

I will continue to ask, with others for an inquiry into 7/7, because I think it is the right thing to do. I will keep writing, and I am looking forward to a future with my family and husband-to-be, my friends, including new ones I have made.

For the next KCU social meeting we made plans to go dancing.

Friday, July 07, 2006


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 that was suicide-bombed, ( 'Kings Cross United'), the London Underground staff, from Kings Cross and Russell Square and the British Transport Police officers who rescued the passengers, and the drivers of the bombed Piccadilly train.

Six months ago we stood together, as we will stand together again tomorrow.
If you would like to think of us, I will share the words of 6 months ago again.

'We are here today in fellowship, to remember our fellow passengers from the morning of July 7th 2005. We think of them often, especially those who did not finish their journey. We think of all those who loved them and knew them. We think of the injured, the desolate and those who mourn. We think of the victims of the other London bomb attacks. We think of all those whose lives were changed by the events of 7th July. We think of the victims of all acts of terrorism'.

ALL: We hold them in our thoughts.

'We think of those who helped us on that morning and afterwards, the staff of London Underground, especially the drivers of our train and the staff of Russell Square and Kings Cross. We think of the police officers, the fire officers, the ambulance drivers, the emergency services, the doctors and nurses and surgeons. We think of the kindness of passers-by and we think of all those who love London and who thought of the people of the city on that day and who held us in their thoughts.'

ALL: We hold them in our thoughts

'We remember our fellow passengers from our train (* you can click on each name to read the obituary and use the back button to return to this page)James Adams, Samantha Badham, Phillip Beer, Anna Brandt, Ciaran Cassidy, Rachelle Chung For Yuen, Elizabeth Daplyn, Arthur Frederick, Karolina Gluck, Gamze Gunoral,Lee Harris, Ojara Ikeagwu, Emily Jenkins, Adrian Johnson, Helen Jones, Susan Levy, Shelley Mather, Michael Matsushita, James Mayes, Behnaz Mozakka, Mihaela Otto,Atique Sharifi, Ihab Slimane, Christian Small, Monika Suchocka, Mala Trivedi'

ALL: We hold them in our thoughts

ALL: When we all got on the train we did not know that for some of us it would be a last journey, and that some of us would not come home.
We did not all finish our journey together, but we carry you in our hearts. To all that loved you, knew you, worked with you, miss you, our thoughts are with you.
Wherever we travel, we know that we are all fellow passengers,and we are with each other on our journey.'

Silence for one minute

A short prayer from the gentle service of Compline, at the end of the day

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake.

ALL: Amen.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stormy Weather

The weather is the same as it was a year ago. Grey, rainy, muggy. Intermittent hazy sunshine.
Last night it was hot and my dreams were furious, violent, technicoloured: I woke covered in sweat. On Monday I took the tube again, sat in the first carriage, looked at everyone getting on and getting off. I wondered whether anyone else was nervous.

It was a lunchtime tube; not crowded. I don't think I can get onto a rush hour tube at the moment. I have been managing with varying degrees of success most of the year, but at the moment I am just too tired and it is too damn hard and I can't.

I can't wait for this week to be over; at the moment everything reminds me of what I want to forget.

I still think talking to the media about an inquiry is the right thing to do, because I still think that an inquiry will do a lot of good. It will help to restore trust in the security services and police, help to heal the rifts, help us to understand. If that means I have to deal with feeling exposed and exhausted at the moment then that is the price to be paid. I have had a lot of emails and support from others directly involved telling me that they are behind me, that someone needs to stick their head above the paraphet, that I am not alone. I hate the fact that to ask for an inquiry you have to always start with ''where were you, what happened, when the bomb went off in your train?''. But that is how it works. I hate the fact that maybe some people think I am doing this to'' raise my profile'' ( do me a favour, my career is not helped by this, not at all) and ''wave my wounds''. The distrust of the media is very strong in some people. There is gnawing uncertainty, anxiety, am I doing the right thing? Are we doing the right thing? For the right reasons? I have examined my conscience, I have asked myself hard questions. I think, I still think, yes, this is the right thing to do. How else are we going to get anywhere other than by talking to people and raising the issue so that people can understand, think, make up their minds? This is such an important thing. And the media is a powerful communication tool, it is the only way I can think of to do it. And there are other survivors speaking out, others at my side, many others saying, keep going.

I say no far more than I say yes. I do not think that there is any good to be had by shouting angrily at the media and accusing them of 'profiting from pain'. Some of them may be thoughtless and sensationalist, but this is an emormous and important story and it is normal for it to be covered because it affects all of us. The whole country.

I am not the only survivor talking to the media, and I completely understand why others do not want to have anything to do with it. It is frightening to feel so naked. I am quite a private person. I suppose this is where my desire to withdraw and protect myself meets my desire to do the right thing head-on, complicated by my survivor guilt. I couldn't help people on the day, but I can try and campaign for what is right, for what I think will bring hope and help and healing. There is blowback, there are spiteful attacks from ignorant people, but there is also kindness and encouragement from friends and strangers.

Not every minute of my life is taken up with it; this blog and the campaign are where I put it all. I am also trying to rest and look after myself. But when the weather is the same, the news is all 7/7, it is hard to get away and find a space where I am not Rachel North, Bomb Survivor, just Rachel. The person I was before all this madness started, when I could see without smoke and tears in my eyes, when I could watch the news without seeing my face and the faces of people I know, and care about; the person who got on a train a year ago on a wet summer morning, with a light heart and nothing to fear and everything to look forward to. It feels like a lot longer than a year. I wish I could turn back the clock, that I had never got on the train, that the bombers had changed their minds and decided not to go through with it. I wish.

Too late. I'm here now, so I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because I am alive, when I could be dead, I can speak, when I could be silent forever, I am not alone, and this too will pass.