Five years ago today I was leading a really major project at work. Basically, I had just finished working with designers to re-fit and install an entirely new store for our museum collections and was now involved in the process of moving the entire reserve collection to this new store. It was a slightly unusual day then and for once I had the radio on. At first I didn’t really hear what was said, I had to take one of those careful stop and rewind listening moments. Then the horror of what was being said hit home and time sort of stood still. My heart literally stopped. I felt so shocked. London was being bombed. Two close members of my family were there, I immediately tried to phone them, again and again, until finally I got through. Thank God.
Life has not been the same again though, as a Londoner I have friends of friends that died. I had always felt safe when travelling about, despite the IRA bombings and various other events, like the fire at Kings Cross. However, there was something different this time. It struck a cord and I can probably count the times I have been on the tube on one hand since. On the whole, I drive into central London, if I take the train I go to Kings Cross and I walk. On that day I became a lot more provincial.
I think it was because this time, it happened on my patch. I went to UCL, my sister lived in Bloomsbury, the husbands office is literally where the bus bomb happened. The bombers travelled on my train line. It was all so close to home. In the last five years I have not stepped on a plane, despite being a regular traveller in the past. I don’t even have a passport. I hardly ever go to big shopping centres, I am alert to random packages. These things didn’t even occur to me before.
My life has changed and all that happened before children. Please take a moment to think of the people that didn’t survive, regular, ordinary people like you and me and their families. We must not let terrorists win, but each event changes us and once you have children its all re-enforced again.