After the Westminster attack yesterday it made me remember the day that could have changed my life.
It was the early Spring of 1992. I was almost 5 months pregnant with my first baby and I was doing a job that that I really liked. life was good. I commuted to London in those days and my journey involved changing at London Bridge onto the tube. There were 2 trains that I regularly used, 20 minutes apart. If I was training I got the earlier train, if I was planning I had the option to take the later one. This particular morning I was headed out for the later train. It was fairly packed, as usual, and when the train came to a stop just outside of New Cross it wasn’t an unusual occurrence – there are lights there. Except, that morning we didn’t move – for minutes, then longer and a sense of unease went through the carriage. This was before mobile phones and tablets and Social Media, and we had no idea what was going on. After over an hour there was an announcement that there had been an “incident” at London Bridge and no trains could get past, so we would be heading back to Lewisham so people could make other arrangements from there. It took a while for the train to arrive back in Lewisham, everyone poured off of our train, and the platform was packed as more and more trains arrived. The queue for the Public telephone was very long, and a train headed back to my local station was due, so I jumped on that. There was some talk on the train that there had been trouble at London Bridge, but no one had any real information. I got off at my station and made my way home, thinking that I would ring my office and see if they wanted me to go into a local office for the afternoon. When I got home at almost midday there were over 30 messages on our answering machine – family, work, my husband all wondering whether I was safe. I switched the TV on to find that there had been a bomb on London Bridge Station. It was the IRA who claimed responsibility. If I had been on the earlier train I would have been on the platform. No wonder people were worried! I’d been oblivious and they’d all been scared because A) I hadn’t shown up at the office and B) I hadn’t contacted anyone – because I didn’t have the option. I rang my Husband first who had been beside himself and was really happy that I had got home. Then my Office who said to just stay home and recover from my ordeal – er, what ordeal? I had just been travelling for 4 hours and got back to where I’d started! – and then went through the rest of the people on the answering machine to let them know that all was well.
The station was a mess. It took weeks to sort out. If I had been on the earlier train I could well have been right there on that platform. It’s the closest I have been to a Terror Attack and the closest I ever want to be.
But the next day people just went about their business, getting on the same train they always did. Well, I didn’t…my manager said I could work at the local office until the end of the week.
In London we have lived through many attacks. We will endure. We will not let them win.
My thoughts go out to the Policeman’s family. He died doing his job. Not something many of us will ever have to face.
My thoughts go out to the injured and to the Medical staff who do their job to the best of their abilities – always.
London, my city. We will carry on as always.