On Thursday 7th July 2005, I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. I was in Sixth Form at the time, and had a day off (or it was already the Summer holidays. I don’t remember that part clearly.), and was enjoying a lie in. I was the only one home, and it wasn’t normal for the house phone to ring – if someone wanted to reach me, they would have called my mobile. I went downstairs to answer the phone, curious.
It was my dad. The building where he worked, and others nearby, had been evacuated, and he wanted to me turn on the TV and see if there was any news about why. I told him what the news reporter told me: there had been a power surge.
A few hours later, I had gone to meet my mum at my nan’s house for lunch. That’s when we discovered the truth. London was under terrorist attack. Bombs were going off on London transport. I remember sitting there in complete shock, absolutely terrified. We were all on our phones one way or another, trying to find out if our loved ones who worked in the city were ok. Thankfully, everyone we knew were alive and well.There was relief that my uncles and my cousin were safe, but that relief was nothing compared to the horror felt over what was happening.
Our eyes were glued to the screen all afternoon. With every new piece of information, the terror mounted. What next, and where? How long will this go on for? Our safety didn’t feel like a certainty anymore; it was something snatched away at the push of a button.
I remember hearing about the 38 bus, seeing the images of it without its roof, the remaining metal twisted and bent. If the bombings happening in London hadn’t rocked me enough, the sight of that 38 bus knocked me sideways. Part of the bus’ route is just a ten minute walk from where I live. I had been on a 38 more times than I could count. Everyone I knew had frequently been on a 38. It was one of the most common buses in my area. I was no longer walking on solid ground, I was sinking in my fear. That bus could have been much closer when the bomb went off, practically on my doorstep. This was happening to London, this was happening on a 38 bus, this was happening to my home. Later we learned that had my uncle not been running late that morning, he would have been on that particular bus.
And then there was the image that tipped me over the edge. The news reporter was talking over live footage of an ambulance arriving at a hospital. They had just taken the victim out of the back on a stretcher, and were just about to head inside when they stopped, and started performing what looked like CPR right there in the road. There was a real person on my TV screen, having hospital and ambulance staff trying to save his life in the street, right now. That wasn’t Casualty or any other hospital programme, that was real and happening as I watched it. It all got too much, and I broke down.
Tears of fear over whether that victim on the trolley would survive, and tears of fear and sadness over the whole situation. I was inconsolable, and even now, just remembering it, the tears are ready to fall.
At 11.30am today, I will be taking part in the minute’s silence to remember the 52 people murdered, those injured, those affected by the terrorist attack, to remember how this city and the amazing, strong people in it survived and moved on, but also to remember the people and places who are still being affected by terrorist attacks today. I hope you’ll remember with me.