Westminster Under Attack                  22nd March 2017

Remember, Remember the 5th of November…

 

4653
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/22/attack-houses-parliment-london-what-we-know-so-far#img-1

 

Like many of you reading this, I sat glued to the screen yesterday. Westminster was under attack. When I turned on the television my initial thought was my son. I calmly dialed his father’s number and when he didn’t respond to the call, anxiety dug its nails in a little harder. I dialed my boy’s number and thankfully he picked up, sleepy even though it was the afternoon. My son works with his father, a Westminster licensed ice-cream seller. Thankful to the weather and the season not having fully started yet…

 

9128528516_487e8c31a31
http://www.flickr.com

Relief flooded through me like there was no tomorrow.

For some, this senseless act of terrorism has taken away their tomorrows.

For those that surrounded their lives, tomorrow will never be the same again.

article-1198010-059cbefa000005dc-566_634x445
http://www.idailymail.co.uk

As I sit tapping, the gloom in the air of London blows all around. Currently I’m house/cat sitting, in Hainaut, Outer London – for my mum, who is in America with her siblings, this will probably be the last time that all five of them are together. Thanks to media I was able to reassure her, all was ok

The truth is, all is not ok.

Watching ‘This Morning’ my heart went out to those the media had selected to share their story. I cried for the American lady who was on her way to pray in Westminster Cathedral. For the man who insisted he is not a hero after he had given the CPR to the Police Officer, one of four who lost his life to a terrorist. I listened to his only lifeline as he described the injuries, how he dealt with the dying man, following everything by protocol and that not being enough. The unassuming man, believing anyone else would have done the same.

My thoughts catapulted back to almost 25 years ago. Sixteen days to go to be exact, when I found myself in the same position, caught up in the destruction of the Baltic Exchange Bombing. The feeling of what to do.

The scene like something out of a movie, only you’re there living the worst nightmare imaginable.

 

1920917_bombing300pa
http://www.guypediham.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/1920917_bombing300pa.jpg

Cries for help!

The sound of Sirens coming from every direction.

People running like headless chickens.

Utter chaos.

My darkest memory, a young man running towards me, whilst I stood rooted to the spot, 5 months pregnant in Middlesex Street. My initial thought was my baby and as I looked up from my small bump, this frantic man was the first thing I saw.  Blood was streaming down his face like prison bars. His screams for help were piercing above all of the commotion surrounding us. He  kept on running, running, screaming straight past me, he could not stop.

Blinded by his own blood, he just couldn’t stop running.

quote-wanton-killing-of-innocent-civilians-is-terrorism-not-a-war-against-terrorism-noam-chomsky-218809
izquotes.com/quote/218809

There is no fight against terrorism.

It is not a war.

How can random attacks on innocent people be fought against?

When nobody seems to know what the fighting is about.

 

 

Burns’s Storm 1990

The Burns’ Day Storm, parallel with the strongest European windstorms on record, occurred on the 25th and 26th January 1990, covering north western Europe. The storm has been given no official name, some call it Daria. Starting on the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns and the birthday of my dad, it caused damage far and wide with hurricane-force winds. According to the Met Office the storm to 97 lives. Other figures have ranged from 89 to more than 100.

en.wikipedia.org-
en.wikipedia.org-

Severe weather warnings were headline news, I sat at home with my folks. I was 21 years old and had just started a job, working for Summers Henderson & Co, as an Insurance Loss Adjusters PA. I was due to begin some training only it never happened. The next day at work I was told to leave early. The storm was hitting London and our office in Shoreditch was shutting early in preparation. I was grateful to the coming winds, today was my dad’s birthday and we were due to order a Chinese meal for five, Stepping out onto Commercial Street the wind took my breath away. Rubbish was blowing down the street like it was in a race. I felt a taste of fear in the air. The street was unusually empty. Turning towards Bishops Gate I could see hundreds of people milling around Liverpool Street Station.

Keeping a steady pace I moved toward them. People in despair, every pay phone had a queue. A handful of people on the new technology called a mobile phone (cell phone) telling those at the other end of the line that the station had been closed due to the winds. Bus stops were a sea of people, stranded and trying to work out the best form of transport. People stood in the middle of the road trying to flag down crammed taxi cabs. The crazy thing was, my dad was out there somewhere in his black taxi, caught up in the jammed packed chaos.

dailymail.co.uk
dailymail.co.uk

Turning on my heels I thought rationally. I began walking back towards Shoreditch and others seemed to be following. People began talking, finding out about each others lives. People from all over the country who were supposed to be catching there connection to where ever they were trying to get to. The atmosphere was electric.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Street,_London
en.wikipedia.org    Commercial Street

I carried on walking towards my Nans’ who lived in Stoke Newington, place of my birth and thank fully only 3.7 miles away. Every pay phone was crammed so I kept on just walking. I walked some distance with a interesting woman of roughly my age until she realised she was going the wrong way. I helped an elderly man, who wasn’t sure of his way. Slowly people dwindled as I reached my destination and the comfort of my nans homemade chicken soup. My dad called my Nan and was pleased I had for once used my brain. He met me there a while later, I managed to walk from the city quicker than it had taken him to drive through.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoke_newington_coronation_avenue_1.jpg My Nans flat
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoke_newington_coronation_avenue_1.jpg                                                                     My Nans flat

We left my nans and picked up a takeaway en route home. It was lovely to have my birthday dad to myself for the journey back to Hainault in his black taxi.

http://www.4fiveone.co.uk/ill_taxi_london.html
http://www.4fiveone.co.uk/ill_taxi_london.html

On the 29th January I returned to SH & Co, the storm had passed for many. Not me, I was thrown right into the deep-end. The company was so busy from all of the insurance claims that I couldn’t cope and there was no time for training. The Burns Storm was my training and it was something they and I could do without. Blown away, I left amicably at the end of the week… little did I know the storm of 2013 would hit me like a tidal wave. The lack of lightening struck twice.

Tonight I sit and type this blog, thinking of my Dadzie on the eve of his Birthday. At this time 27 years ago nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, but my knight, my dad, was there to save me.

RIP Dadzie x x
                                    RIP Dadzie x x

Pan Am 103

On the 21st December 1988 Pan Am 103, a regular scheduled Pan Am translatic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and crew of 16. The terrorist disaster became known as the Lockerbie bombing. Residential areas of Lockerbie, Scotland, suffered as large sections of the aircraft crashed onto them, killing 11 more people on the ground.  In 2003, Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. He maintained that he never gave order for the attack, however, he paid compensation to the families of the victims.

pan-am-flight-103-a
Pan Am 103 – Lockerbie   Taken from History.com

In February 1987, I began working at Drexel Burnham Lambert, in the major Wall Street Investment banks’, London Branch. I was interviewd at 77 London Wall by Fizzy and C0*. I received the news that day that I was to be hired and began work at DBL the following Monday morning.

http://www.slideshare.net/santhiya1991/drexel-burnham-lambert
http://www.slideshare.net/santhiya1991/drexel-burnham-lambert

A few days after I began working at DBL as an admin junior  for the Treasury and Bond Trading teams – the two departments moved to a larger open planned office in Fenchurch Street. We began our first day at the new site together and  straight away felt part of the furniture.  I was lucky enough to work for Diane Maslowski, who was kind and generous and also made time to speak to me on a personal level,  even though I was 19 years old. Diane alongside Fizzy were my Icons.

diane-maslowski
Diane Maslowski                       Archives – Syracuse University

In early December 1988, I left DBL and began working for a marine insurance company, in Tower Hill, a short distance from Fenchurch Street. I had been advised by Fizzy and Co to jump ship as Drexel might be going down. I was devastated because I loved my job. Co organised a Rambo, stripagram, on my last day. Diane took great enjoyment along with the other employees of our office, who all crowded round watching my reaction with great amusement . He also arranged a drink for me in a bar next door called the Pump House which was a swanky place with a downstairs bar. We had a great time with my send off.

I was missing the company so much. On the 22nd December, during my lunch hour I headed to DBL, Fenchurch Street. Walking through the unusually quite foyer of the reception area I met a distraught looking face belonging to NB*. She took one look  at me and broke down in tears when she saw my excited face.

‘You don’t know do you?’ she said through her sobbing.

‘know what?

Diane was on board Pan am 103

In that moment my heart stopped. I couldn’t take in what I was hearing. Diane Maslowski was dead. I was never going to see her again. Her confident walk and wave as she spotted me across the office. Her voice greeting me personally.

In February 1990, due to its involvement in illegal activates, driven by Drexel employee Michael Milken and the junk bond market, the firm was forced into bankruptcy.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-drexel-burnham-oral-history/
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-drexel-burnham-oral-history/

At its height, DBL was the fifth largest investment bank in the United States.

The 10th August 1992, on what would have been Diane Maslowkis’ 32nd Birthday, I gave birth to my son. My tribute to such a well respected woman.

In February 2015, I began working at Bentley Country Park, under the management of Melissa Eagles who was born 2 hours after the Lockerbie Bombing. Little did I know that disaster would hit Bentley Country Park on the 6th December 2013, When the natural disaster of flooding in the SE affected BCP like a tsunami.

Today my thoughts are with the victims of the 21st December 1988. For the families that lost their loved ones. The emergency services and the International turmoil caused by such a senseless terrorist attack.

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/lockerbie/gardenofremembrance/
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/lockerbie/gardenofremembrance/

9/11

my-life_1993925b
http://www.i.telegraph.co.uk

I was at home in Collier Row, Romford. I had just set up the ironing board, ready to prepare my son an outfit for later when I was due to take him to Stratford station in East London to meet my sister who would be taking him off my hands for the evening. She was taking him to a ‘Here’say’ pop-concert (a group that consisted of five members – including Myleene Klass and Kym Marsh who are still on our screens today).   I had also prepared myself a nice lunch, a rare treat including a chocolate bar. Usually I would be working at 2 pm. However, family duties had called and here I was about to indulge in a rare five minutes to myself.

 

hear-say
http://www.femalefirst.co.uk

I was 32 years old and a wife, married for four years and one week. I was a mother of my nine year old son, and stepmother to a stepson, who would be celebrating his 21st Birthday in twelve days’ time. He had been living with me since he was 16.

For the past seventeen months had been leading a secret double life. Monday – Friday from 11am until 3pm I became ‘Louisa’ the Sensual Masseuse. I was also one-side of a ‘Loveless Triangle’ and a whole other chapter!

Flopping down on the sofa, I flicked the TV remote. Time stood still as I watched in absolute horror as a plane crashed into the North Tower of the Trade Centre in New York – The newsreader relaying what had happened less than fifteen minutes earlier at 1:46 pm (9:46 am (US time) to me was babble). The footage unfolding in front of my eyes left me shaking; I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I watched in disbelief as another plane plunged into the South Tower in live coverage.

wtc_seq_reuters
http://www.911review.com

I couldn’t eat and as if in auto pilot, moved to the ironing board. Trying to get my act together, I prepared to fetch my boy from school. I left the television-set running. As I was about to walk out the door at 2:59 pm I glimpsed the screen and stood rooted to the spot as the South Tower collapsed in a dramatic haze of dust and smoke.

wtc-041
http://www.scienceof911.com.au

I collected my son from school. Whilst he got changed I prepared him something light to eat, as my sister was going to feed him later. I left the television on all the while. As we prepared to head for the station, the phone rang – it was my husband.

Working in New Scotland Yard, he was 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.

ACPO meaning - what does ACPO stand for?
http://www.acronymsandslang.com

 

He was calling to tell me he would be home late. I don’t remember much about the conversation, we were both in shock!

After delivering my son to my awaiting sister at Stratford, I made my way to a friend who lived closer to where I was. I didn’t want to be alone, and I didn’t want to miss compelling footage. I stayed there until it was almost time for the return of my son. I watched the horrific sight as The North Tower followed the suit of the South Tower. My friend dropped me home and my sister returned my son to me shortly after. At nine years old, he didn’t understand what was happening in the world around him.

wtc_collapse
http://www.garlicandgrass.org

As my stepson and I sat at 10pm, our eyes glued to the screen, my husband returned home from work. Though it didn’t stop there. His mobile phone was a hive of activity; the landline began ringing non-stop as I answered call after call to officials whose messages I would relay back to him. As the dramatic events unfolded in my home, I would be watching them within five minutes relayed on our television screen. At one point he was ordering the body-bags which would bring home our UK victims.

Finally, at 4am the following morning all calls ceased. Silence fell upon our home. In a state of exhaustion, we climbed into bed and slept a fitful sleep, punctuated with dreams of the unfolding nightmare from the day’s event.

 

15180110775_2d2b4c8192_o
http://www.farm4-staticflickr.com

The September 11 attacks killed 2,996 people were killed by the September 11 attacks. More than 6,000 were injured. 2,606 people died at the World Trade Center.

 

Diana Dead (News of the World 6am Shock Issue)

Sunday 31st August 1997, Diana Princess of Wales died from injuries which she sustain in a car crash. Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul were pronounced dead at the scene in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France.

diana dead
http://www.pintrest.com

Woken by the ringing of the landline, I slipped out of bed leaving my fiancé unstirred on what was a rare Sunday lie in. We were due to marry in four days time and I was having my doubts. I made my way downstairs, whoever was on the end of the line, wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t best pleased as I answered the call.

‘Wil’ his pet name for all women ‘Turn on the TV – Diana’s Dead’

His words didn’t have time to sink in before he had hung up.

I turned on the television, every channel flashed with the news that Peoples Princess was gone forever.  Then returned upstairs to relay the news to my sleeping fiancé who had recently began in a new post, working at New Scotland Yard as a ranking inspector in CO11 (The Public Order Operational Command Unit) in the Metropolitan Police.

New Scotland Yard
http://www.wessexscene.co.uk

The nation mourned their Princess. I made the journey with my fiancé and walked round St James’ park. Heavy loss hung in the air People paying their respects feeling deep empathy from one another. I was amongst the thousands who lay flowers at Buckingham Palace.

Flowers at Buckingham Palace
http://www.alamay.com

Couples all over the country were cancelling their weddings. I wondered how many of them used the death of Diana as a get out of jail card. I’m ashamed to confess I did consider doing it myself.

We had met at the now famous Faces Nighclub in Gants Hill, Essex. He was one of the ‘famous faces’ as he was an Inspector at the local Barkingside Police Station.  He had tried to woo me for months before I excepted his proposal to date. His charm had worked.By the time he proposed marriage to me, he had left Barkingside and was now working in his new post and New Scotland Yard and I had felt a huge change in the  air. I put my feelings to him and he assured me that there would be no change between us. How wrong he was. Like Diana I was to face a three way marriage full of unhappiness. And a secret double life that would lead to shocking events.

 

Olympics – London 2012

Two days ago I was asked ‘How can you know nothing about London 2012?’they were dumbfounded.

After the announcement of London winning the Olympic bid during  the hot afternoon of 6th  July 2005 – I lived with anxiety for seven years. The terrorist attack on London, known as 7/7 did not divert my fear for the future. During those seven years, the old cliché ‘Life is a Rollercoaster’ springs to mind. Nothing could have prepared me for the outcome of  Summer 2012.

In 2007 my marriage had finally disintegrated to the point of no return. I plucked up the courage, a second attemp, after relenting eight months earlier when suggesting a separation. He had pleaded with me to give us a second chance. He even had the house decorated. Out went the previous owners carpets. We had moved in, back in May 1997. In his bid to save our marriage he also took me to Stroud in the Cotswolds for a short midweek break. Conveniently his friends who lived in the area, were away. I had never met them.  He would often visit them in his spare time. He had met them due to another major disaster and another blog –   All were away. except for Jess, who according to my husband, we didn’t need to see…

cider rosie
http://www.goodreads.com

Our separation started out well, I even helped him find a suitable home. He chose the beautiful medieval town, Saffron Walden, 46 miles drive from our marital home. I spent nights with him. We went away for a couple of days. He showed support when I took part in a 27 mile walk for Breakthrough. I attended Buckingham Palace with him in June 2009, where my estranged husband was awarded the QPM (the Queens Police Medal) for his services to policing, presented to him by Prince Charles.

Two weeks later he retired from the Metropolitan Police after 30 years of service. November 2009 was the last time I saw him or spoke to him again.

We went through an unnecessary, long drawn out process of divorce. Our Decree Absolute dated 31st October 2011. Ding Dong and all that Halloween stuff…

I believe he is now living happy every after in the glorious Cotswolds with his friend we didn’t need to see.

Sadly two weeks before the Absolute arrived in the post, my father was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. Everything else was put into perspective. I had just paid a deposit on my dream home and for the first time years felt I had some direction. My dad was told he had 3 months to live, a year tops with the help of medication. He endured months of chemo, sadly it gave him no extra quality of life.  When I arrived to stay with my parents in July 2012  -I knew I wouldn’t return home until after my dads passing.

My son who within a matter of weeks would no longer be a teenager, called me. He was as pleased as punch.

‘Mum, I’m going to be working the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics.’

I felt like I had taken a huge punch in the gut.

I begged my boy to not work, even offering to give him twice as much money as he would be earning. I was beside myself with worry in case terrorists attacked , but my boy stuck fast. My demon anxiety at the forefront. Fear gripped like a vice around my heart.

The opening ceremony passed in a blur. I was proud of my boy for sticking to his guns and not letting my unfounded fears stop him from being part of British history.

london 2012 openin
http://www.abovetopsecret.com

Sadly during the early hours of the 4th August 2012 my dad passed. I was alone with him (well that’s not strictly true,and over the next day or so I will blog some of the details, honestly you couldn’t write it!) And so I missed the Olympics.

My boy also worked the closing ceremony on the 12th August 2012 into the early hours of the following morning. He returned home and later that day we cremated my dad – his grandfather.

closing olympics
http://www.ibitimes.co.uk

Baltic Exchange Bomb 1992

Next morning I made my way home. As I stood on the balcony, outside my 4th floor flat, reality hit as I took in the view of destruction before me. I stood and cried. An eerie silence of devastation engulfed me

On the 10th April 1992 The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a bomb at 9:20pm. A large white truck  contained the one-ton bomb, made from 45kg of semtex. The explosion killed three people. Paul Butt, 29, Thomas Casey 49, and 15 year old Danielle Carter. Injuring 91 people.

At the time of explosion I was sitting in a Chinese Restaurant called Eat & Drink, in Artillery Passage, 1.2 miles away from where the explosion took place.

eat n drink
Eat & Drink http://www.yelp.com

I was 5 months pregnant and enjoying a night out with Jay, the father of my unborn child, and Freddie is 12 year old daughter. The restaurant was full with diners, many of them, city workers enjoying the Friday night atmosphere. At 9:20pm there was a Mighty, dooming sound, like nothing I’d ever heard before. Followed, by the window crashing in around me. Shards of glass covered the table, yet none of us were injured.

Moving out of the restaurant and into the street nothing could have prepared us for drama that was unfolding. As we came to the end of Artillery Passage and into Middlesex Street, there was bedlam. People were running through the street in shear panic. A man came towards me, his face unrecognisable, blood covered it. We stood frozen unable, to take in what surrounded us.

As we moved along Middlesex Street, heading for the flat in Petticoat Square, where I was residing at the time, the chaos unfolded like a film set, only the atmosphere intensified by magnitude. Reaching the entrance of the flats, a mile away from St Mary’s Axe, a policeman stopped us from entering. Residents were being evacuated.

petticoatsquare2
Petticoat Square http://www.manchesterhistory.net

We crossed to road making our way into the Bell Pub. Jay made a call to a friend who was living on the 39th floor, Shakespeare Tower at the Barbican. We were lucky to get into a taxi and stayed there for the night. I lay awake all night waiting for my unborn child to kick. Eventually in the early hours of the 11th April, I felt movement and was able to fall asleep.  About the same time the IRA detonated another bomb at Staples Corner underneath the A406 flyover. The explosion could be felt from miles away.

a406 flyover
406 Flyover Staples Corner http://www.placeandsee.com

Next morning I made my way home. As I stood on the balcony, outside my flat on the fourth floor, reality hit as I took in the view of destruction before me. I stood and cried. An eerie silence of devastation engulfed me.

st marys axe
30 St Mary’s Axe 1992 http://www.dailymail.co.uk

On the Monday morning, 13th April 1992, I decided to head to the safety of my parents home in Hainault, Essex. As I boarded a tube on the Central Line, I noticed someone had left a brief case on the seat. I immediately pulled the emergency cord. Without waiting I walked off of the train and I stride up the escalator and straight out of Liverpool Street station.

The fateful night of Friday 10th April 1992 has stayed with me forever. I flash back as if it was yesterday.  Sadly one of the residents from the flats also died that night from a heart attack. Was it due to the shock of explosion? Did the IRA kill four people that night?

As I post this blog my heart goes out to those remembering their loved ones, to the emergency services who fought a horrific battle and one I know, has battled with the images in his mind, since that night.  To the many injured whose lives will never be the same. And for who I am today.

memorial 1992
http://www.aldgatewardclub.org

Today at St Mary’s Axe the Gherkin stands proud, and is proof that life goes on. Every day I see life as a blessing. Twenty four years on I look at my son,  and  Ithank my lucky stars.

DSCF2452.JPG
Taken from outside my front door at 407 Petticoat Square (photo my own)