London was under terrorist attack on the 7th July 2005. Four Islamist men detonated four bombs. Three with short intervals aboard trains across the London Underground across the city. A while later a fourth was detonated on a double Decker bus passing through Tavistock Square. 52 Civilians were killed. A further 700 were injured in the attacks. Becoming the United Kingdom’s first ever suicide attack.
Sitting upstairs, aboard the 247 bus on the 6th July 2005, sun rays beat through the window. Early afternoon was proving to be very hot. I was heading home from my part time work, a Planning Assistant in a sheet metal factory in Hainault. The bus stopped outside Tesco in Collier Row, Romford. Passengers erupted in cheer as a man boarding had announced ‘London has won the bid for the 2012 Olympics’ – as joy rang round, my heart sunk and fear set in.
The G8 Summit being held at the Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Scotland, began in the morning. Hosted by Tony Blair it was due to continue over the next few days. I had, had a strange feeling all day that something was to happen for the worse. It seemed my thoughts were now about to be proved right. Though nothing could have prepared me for the reality.
Celebrations had been taking place throughout the night in London. Uneasiness, hung like a cloud over my head when woken by the alarm clock early, Wednesday 7th July 2005. I rolled out of bed and dressed, putting on my trusty trainers, ready for my daily power walk, training to take part in the Aviva, Breakthrough for Breast Cancer 60klm walk in the coming September.
Walking my body felt unusually heavy, my stride wasn’t so strong, even though the weather was glorious. On my return home, I prepared breakfast for my twelve year old son whilst he showered ready to leave for school.
My husband, a Chief Inspector in The Public Order Operational Command Unit (CO11) – Central Operations unit of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. He had been involved in the area of major incident planning since 1996. He was also the National Emergency Procedures Co-ordinator for ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) from 2000. And he represented the UK on the Interpol Standing Committee on DVI (Disaster Victim Identification), which was one his specialty areas. His role included police family liaison officer (FLOs) in the disaster context, together with the humanitarian aspects of the disaster response; public inquiries; civil protection standards; and command and control of major incidents. He had already left for work before I arrived home from my work and was heading for New Scotland Yard.
I waved my son off to school, then showered, preparing me for another day at the office. Walking downstairs, towelling my wet hair, the television suddenly caught my attention.
Breaking news:- London in melt down. Horrific scenes filled the screen. Fatal and injured people stuck underground, unexplained explosions. The cloud of doom totally engulfed me.
The ringing landline broke my attention. My husband was at the end of the line…
‘Have you seen the news?’ he had just reached work.
‘Yes’ I gulped. Guilt pang, crept in. I hadn’t for an instant considered that my husband could be involved in all the carnage or worried that he was whilst he used the underground that morning. He had only just returned home after working away for 7 months, involved in the Tsunami.
‘Are you ok?’
He sounded excited, his next career move set in stone and debris alongside that of our already crumbling marriage.
I sat down and cried. Thousands of innocent people touched by this unnecessary devastation whose lives would never be the same, mine included. My tears for the dead and dying were still unaccounted for.