… we were celebrating winning the right to host the Olympics in 2012.
Today, we are crying for our comrades who were either injured or lost completely on the tubes and buses in town this morning.
I would like to say that I am glad that I wasn’t there – or grateful for the kind comments that I’ve had from folks hoping and wishing that I’m OK. Of course; I am grateful. But I’m not glad – and the feeling of grief is greater.
I was in Munich earlier today. And now I’m back in London. But for some strange reason, when I heard the news breaking in Germany- I wished I was there. Right there. Because I *could* have been. Because in some strange sort of way – I *wanted* to be. Because I was due to be downtown tomorrow anyway. Because these are the places I know so well – and have travelled through so many times before. Because I wanted to feel like I could have helped.
I cannot forget the moment I saw the image of the ripped-up London Bus on the giant TV screen in the departures hall at Munich Airport. It twisted my insides for several long moments. I won’t forget the look on people’s faces as they shook heads in disbelief at the images on the screen.
In the one-and-a-half-hour flight from Munich back to Heathrow – where, rather unusually, I noticed that we veered way North of London on our final descent into Heathrow – it was clear that the emergency procedure was in place. I was sat in a window seat on the left hand side of the plane – and I spotted Wembley Stadium under construction way out to my left. Which meant that air-traffic control had enforced an emergency exclusion zone for flights across Central London. Which was why we had flown way North of London. We landed at Heathrow following a final approach from the West – which is very unusual. (See my earlier posting below for details about final approach) The landing was a fairly hard bump as a result. The Lufthansa staff had already warned us that there would be trouble getting home – as the trains and tubes were suspended – and the roads were gridlocked around the airport as a result.
The lady at passport control spent much longer than usual studying my photo on my passport. There were lots more police armed with sub-machine guns in the arrivals hall.
When I finally got my car out at the Pink Elephant car park, I managed to wend my way around the airport perimeter – and got onto the A40 from the Slough area – and headed back into town – towards home. I witnessed many, many police cars on emergency – all the way home. It just felt really weird. And I have to admit:I felt a little scared. In fact, the whole of today has been a scary experience.
I spent the entire day earlier trying to ring around people on my mobile phone – friends, family and work colleagues – making sure they were all accounted for. And thankfully they were.
But at least 35 Londoners were not. And the number is surely going to rise.
The news reports are only speculating about the numbers killed on the bus bombing – and there are reports of many survivors of all of the bombs in critical condition in hospitals – or of survivors who have had severe burns or their limbs amputated.
There is also lots of talk on the TV and radio about the “British resolve” – and how Londoners will proudly carry on etc. And no doubt we will.
But one thing is for sure: British resolve or not – we have been shaken real bad today.