Tuesday 7th July marked the 15th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in central London. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Here’s a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago about my experience of that Thursday in the capital. I’m posting it thinking of all the victims:
Come on guys. It’s Thursday morning! The weekend starts tomorrow! It was summer 2005 and I managed a team of Recycling Officers for The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council. Our role was to promote recycling to the residents of this densely populated, ethnically and socio-economically diverse area.
The job was mostly lone working or in pairs and the easiest way to keep in touch was to text or phone. We usually started work between 8am and 9am. It was now just after 9am and I hadn’t heard from about half of my staff.
Kensington and Chelsea is the smallest London borough and I criss-crossed it on foot and bus several times a day. I’d heard from most of my northern staff but what about Recycling Officers off the Kings Road and in Knightsbridge?
It was a hot morning and my skin prickled under a dark blue aertex polo shirt. I stopped for a swig of pineapple juice. I was standing beside the town hall, the borough’s geographic and administrative epicentre, just off Kensington High Street. I started wandering south past Earl’s Court towards Fulham Road in search of missing team members.
As I walked I started to receive texts probably sent up to an hour earlier. Then Dad rang my personal mobile phone, “Are you okay, hinny?” He’d been watching the TV at home in Blaydon and saw breaking news about bombs on London’s transport system in the rush hour.
I thought about the night before when I sat in my Shepherd’s Bush flat watching the news report of London winning its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. My flat mate opened a bottle of cava and we toasted our city and Mayor Ken Livingstone.
By 11am I’d spoken to all my staff and they were fine. I decided to go to my Earl’s Court office for lunch. I waited at a bus stop beside the Royal Marsden Hospital on Fulham Road. I looked south down the street for a bus. A man walked towards me heading north. He wore a uniform including a short-sleeved shirt. His skin looked grey and I thought he was covered in dust. His eyes did not meet mine or anyone else standing in the queue as he walked past.
Later I read that the driver of the number 30 bus blown up in Tavistock Square walked home to west London in shock. Was it George Psaradakis? I wasn’t sure. There was such confusion in London that day.
The next morning fellow tube passengers and I scrutinised an unattended bag and laughed and smiled with each other when it was claimed by a traveller. Within days I’d stopped looking for possible homemade bombs in rucksacks and got on with living in London. We all had to.
I watch TV reports of bombs in Africa, Afghanistan, Europe, Iraq, Syria and the US. I imagine the chaos and confusion, reflect on the injuries and deaths and of a film of dust settling on everything afterwards.