I padded to work from Euston this morning, and saw that Woburn Place was finally open again, the shell of the bus from two weeks ago having finally been removed. As I mooched through Tavistock Square I noted that a service in remembrance of the dead was scheduled there later in the day. “Once that’s done,” I mused “I suppose everything will be back to normal”.
Later on, I was at my office which overlooks Tottenham Court Road when there was the sound of an approaching cascade of sirens. “Muh,” I intoned to my co-worker, not bothering to look out of the window “That better not be more bloody terror attacks”. Soon afterwards, rumours started to circulate in our building that the tube had been bombed again. Shortly after this, my Dad phoned. “You’re alright then?” He asked. “Yeah, just at work. Something going on then?” I asked
“Well, that’s what I was phoning you to find out. You’re there.”
“Well, I dunno, there’s nothing on Auntie’s website yet.”
“Er, no. I mean, you’re there” he emphasised. “Warren Street has been bombed.”
“Fucksocks!” I exclaimed, raising out of chair to peer out of the window. The normally bustling 3 lane Tottenham Court Road, and Warren Street tube which lays a couple of hundred metres up the road, was crawling with emergency services cordoning off the road and herding scores of pedestrians away from the area. Soon they were to erect tape in front of the doors of my building, forbidding any of us to step outside.
Shortly afterwards, the emails began to flood in with all the latest hearsay and rumour; my favourites probably being:
(1) a man with a smouldering rucksack had been seen at one of the bomb sites and was described by eyewitnesses as having a “dismayed” look on his face. I imagined him staggering through the wreckage and calling out over the sound of his ringing ears “Have I made it? Is this Paradise?” “Nah mate, this is Bloomsbury”.
(2) That the failed suicide bomber had emerged from Warren Street station and been set upon by an angry mob, who had pursued and beaten him all the way to University College Hospital. Knowing the type of people to be found immediately outside Warren Street tube – grizzled flower sellers and Evening Standard vendors spring to mind – I figure that, if true, this could have been quite a brutal incident, but I couldn’t help picturing a very British scene as a posse of Bowler hatted business men pursued this bloodied rogue through the streets, taking swings with briefcases and jabbing him with umbrellas whilst calling him a scoundrel.
Two weeks ago, I watched the hordes of London’s work force traipsing home, map in hand as they passed through previously unseen parts of London which lay on their normally underground commute between work and home. Tonight I would walking with them. The buses were running by the time I decided to head home, but I figured that with people needing to get to places as far away as Turnpike Lane and Manor House, they were in greater need of a place on the bus than me. It’d only take an hour tops, and it was a nice evening. But before I embarked on my trek, naturally I stopped off in the pub opposite my building, The Marlborough Arms, with my work colleagues to sink a few. In times of crisis, one has to prioritise. Two pints down, I stood at the bar waiting to order what I’d decided would be my last pint of the night; I didn’t want to get caught short on the way home. Well, at least, I didn’t want to get short too many times. Suddenly, a piercing scream cut through the air from behind me. The panic spread like wildfire through the packed in punters, and I heard more wails of terror. I froze and felt sick instantaneously.
“Shit the bed, this is it.” I thought. I slowly turned round, expecting to see a cackling terrorist in our midst, about to detonate his belt full of explosive. But no. A really manky pigeon had mistakenly fluttered inside the pub and was flapping in some women’s faces.