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.


Blogger Bumble Bee said...

Oh hun.... remember you are coping the best way you can. For you the guilt is immense and to ease this you are fighting to make changes, good changes, positive changes.
Some may not agree with the fight but that does not make what you are doing wrong.
Those who know and love you know why you need to do this and understand.
Well done too for getting the tube onMonday, whether it be rush hour or not it's still a great step.
Big hugs hun.

July 05, 2006 12:13 pm  
Blogger nafeez said...

what you're doing rachel is a service to us all, the entire british public. there'll always be those who resent what you're doing, that's the way the world is. but your message and call for a 77 inquiry, your insistence on govt accountability, despite the trauma that you're going through, is making waves.

so thank you.

July 05, 2006 12:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should be proud of yourself Rachel. Nothing less than proud.

July 05, 2006 4:31 pm  
Blogger Mind Octopus said...

I agree with everything you are doing - I read your original bbc blog - and now a year later I read the new one and follow the links and poaths it takes me down on the fantastic thing the internet is for us that know how to use it in a positive way. I cried again at some of the stories and just want you to know how brave I think you all are for facing up to a government that wishes us to stay in the dark and continues to bizzarely deny any link with Iraq and the bombers. You are one very strong person and I salute you.

July 05, 2006 5:16 pm  
Blogger PJ said...

Rachel, you're doing the right thing for you. Sometimes the "why?" of things escapes our understanding and the only sane response is, "What can I do next?" Putting one foot in front of the other is more than just surviving. It leads to overcoming.

July 05, 2006 5:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writing from NY,from a crisis center here. I think you're doing very much the right thing. Everyone copes as they have to, in order to thrive & survive. You & your comrades are an inspiration which we're learning from. Thanks

July 05, 2006 6:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel - I have been reading your writing ever since the BBC online diary last year, and I think you are doing an incredible job. I will write more fully to you after this anniversary period is over, but for now I just wanted to offer you my support and admiration.
Deborah xxx

July 05, 2006 8:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi rachel,

i know that you are having a tough time with the anniversary just two days away. is there a chance you can go on holiday on the 7th? what are most people in london going to do? seth

July 06, 2006 1:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Keep going. I have a suspicion that we will all feel better after this week is over.

If it makes you feel any better, I was on the Aldgate train 52 Thursdays ago. I woke up today to find that we have exactly the same weather, we had the same failure on Bakerloo line that put me back on the same circle line train (albeit 2 hours earlier)> and then some poor Indian gentleman with a peaked cap and a rucksack got on. And started fiddling with his rucksack....

I have been surprised by how affected I have been by the anniversary and can relate to a lot of what you have written: maybe it is just the media coverage or maybe there is something to "anniversary syndrome" that runs deeper. You are doing the right thing in chasing an enquiry, but don't sacrifice yourself to it. Equally agree with the other poster's comments on critics!! I really hope things are better for you next week

July 06, 2006 8:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, you're doing the best thing you could do! Be strong!

July 06, 2006 3:32 pm  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

Saw your picture on the BBC's website today. Tomorrow will be one year after the London bombings so I know it will be a stressful day for you. It is remarkable what you have achieved in that time, keeping the issue alive and fighting for justice. So just to let you know I'll be thinking of you and hoping you manage to get some rest now and again and I wish you strength for the days ahead.

July 06, 2006 4:45 pm  
Blogger Legs and Wings said...

Hi, Just read a few bits of your blog and realize how painful this is for you. I picked up a link here in Canada from one of our national TV networks. Here's the link:

There is certainly good press about this. Please take care.

July 06, 2006 5:20 pm  
Blogger Jag said...

Ditto many of what the previous commenters have said. Have to be in town tomorrow - and will be travelling on the tube.

July 06, 2006 10:38 pm  
Blogger Absent Minded Confessor said...

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for sharing your story.

The UK was so very kind and supportive toward NYC during its darkest hour, and I wanted to let you know, on this anniversary, that your loss is not forgotten on this side of the pond.

I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow.

July 07, 2006 12:21 am  
Blogger fifipoo07 said...

Rachel I've just done my post on the outrageous lack of an enquiry. I was so inspired by what you have written about this and what you are trying to do. Furthermore, even though it might seem trite as we don't know each other, I hope all goes well for the anniversary and I will be thinking about you, your husband and everybody else. Pippa

July 07, 2006 12:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say that I think what you're doing is so brave, Rachel - you and all the others campaigning for this inquiry. You are endlessly rehashing memories that I am sure you would rather not rehash and opening yourself up to public scrituny for something you truly believe to be right.

Sod what the critics say. If you believe what you are fighting for to be right then you are doing the right thing. But I can't imagine how hard it must be for you.

I have never posted here before and I am not a survivor of one of the bombs, but I have been following your writing since reading your BBC blog last year. I am in fact (yes, I hold my hands up) a member of the media, though I've not been reading this blog for column inches, I promise. I'm a picture editor to be exact.

It has been my job in the past few weeks to research all the photographs for reports on last year's bombings for the publication I work for. In the process I have seen many photos taken on mobile phones, both from those on the trains and people nearby the bus, that were sent to agencies but will never, ever be published due to the horrors they show. I have found these images haunting my thoughts and dreams in the last few weeks and I wasn't even there. I can only begin to imagine what you and other survivors have to deal with on a daily basis.

You all have my wholehearted admiration and respect for the way you are dealing with living your day to day lives since last July.

I will be thinking of you all today, along with those who were killed and their relatives, when I light a candle for a former colleague of mine who died in Tavistock Square.

Best Wishes
JR xx

July 07, 2006 4:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You survived... time to move on now. Release the anger and rage and just move along. Your 15 minutes of fame have elasped.

July 07, 2006 6:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fame eh ?

No, not (just) for your campaigning, but for your ability to convey, consciously but spontaneously, your emotions and your humanity. It was that which drew us, via Fergal Keane and the BBC, to your original piece, and it is why we continue to read you.

So post-7/7 Rachel North, please: your writing. It's your vocation, it's what we all responded to, it's a rare gift. The domestic stuff, Miff the Fat Cat, your wedding preparations, the garden, your life with J, London and all, please. There's more, much more, to Rachel North than bloody bombs and their aftermath.

But first, get through Friday, and then have a great holiday.

Thanks for the first year.


July 07, 2006 3:51 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you, all of you.

I am really humbled by the comments and more grateful than I can say.


July 08, 2006 9:08 pm  

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