Westminster Under Attack                  22nd March 2017

Remember, Remember the 5th of November…

 

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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…

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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