Day after the Bombing
- For any who are interested here is an extract from an email I received
from my brother - we mail one another daily - who works in the heart of
London in a tall office block beside the Thames, giving an account of his
journey to work on the day after the bombing.
Quote - It was quite a strange day today with things still up in the air
but I got in and out safely, albeit slowly and by unfamiliar routes. I took
the tube as usual, passing a policewoman on guard outside the station, but
at Camden Town they announced that Euston and Kings Cross were closed due to
bomb scares so I had to get off or be dumped at Old Street, which is the
I caught a bus going all the way to Vauxhall but it went through
the West End and took ages so I got to work an hour late. I went upstairs
in the bus where there were hardly any seats taken and the first thing I saw
was a young woman in a Muslim headdress. I glanced at her and felt sorry I
did because she looked nervous and perhaps was wondering why there were so
many empty seats around her. The West End was absolutely packed with
people, including thousands of tourists. It made me realise the futility of
trying to destroy a city so busy and so vast with a few bombs. A Spanish
family got on and they were excitedly filming the soldiers on Horse Guards
Parade as if the bombing had never occurred.
Bill (my brother's boss) wouldn¹t let me take a day out of my
annual leave to make up for yesterday as he said I¹d tried to get to work
and nobody did anything there yesterday except wonder how to get home.
There were lots of stories about how people did get home and everyone seemed
to take a grim satisfaction from how far they walked and how long they
waited. I called an agency to book a temporary typist next week and the
young woman there told me she¹d passed along the line that was bombed at
King¹s Cross ten minutes before the explosion.
Young Dave, Bill and I left work at four o¹clock and walked to St
James¹s Park to see an exhibition commemorating VE Day, sixty years ago. It
was quite a good show, with lots of old army vehicles, a couple of planes
and various 1940s memorabilia. There were a number of old men there, all
wearing their medals from the war and one very old woman, tiny and frail,
walking alone with a stick, with a number of huge medals pinned to her
dress. Seeing the old people wearing their medals so proudly was quite
affecting and young Dave was particularly touched by it.
Dave has a certain way of expressing himself and when the old
woman walked past us he said, ³When those bombs struck yesterday I admit I
was shitted right up but looking at these old uns and what they did, I feel
unworthy². I said I supposed they were shitted right up too but they got on
with the job and it¹s lucky for us they did.
I¹ve been on two buses and two tube trains today and I didn¹t
notice any nervousness or strange behaviour. No doubt people were feeling
wary but you wouldn¹t have known it. I had my bag searched twice but I
don¹t mind that, nor do I mind seeing all the police on the streets.
Outside the Home Office was a policeman with a huge, slavering dog. Bill
joked to Dave, ³Put your bag down and run up the road². Dave declined and
the dog looked disappointed. Westminster absolutely creaked with police
and it was probably the safest place in England today.
The dreary weather seems to add to the general sense of gloom. Bill said
that yesterday the river was completely shrouded in mist. There was a great
deal of helicopter activity over the river (it seems they were flying in
medics from around the country) and he said how eerie they looked suddenly
looming up, very low, out of the gloom.
All the news from the aftermath of the bombs is dreadful, with
the death toll rising and the numbers slowly turning into real people.....