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22 Jul 2005: Unnecessary Evil



A picture

Momentary Lapse

An ordinary British summer morning, overcast. I was on a DLR train heading towards Tower Gateway with Aki when they announced that no DLR trains would be going to Bank station because of a power failure. For those in the know, I usually change trains to go to Bank. Still, I took it in my stride and decided to stay with Aki all the way to Tower Gateway and get a train from there. My best option would be to go to Aldgate, a station I used to commute to almost every day before the Japan phase of my life. It took a little longer than usual to get to Tower Gateway as all the Bank-bound trains were being redirected.

I said my goodbyes to Aki outside her workplace and wandered up towards Aldgate. There seemed to be something going on; some police, a fire engine. Something had happened. A cordon was already being extended across the pavement beside the Kelly's sandwich shop, barring access to the station vicinity. People were standing and staring a little, but most were having to change direction sharply and work out an alternative route around the Aldgate cordon.

A tourist took a picture; it is not often one sees such a large gathering of firefighters, police and paramedic vehicles. I overheard conversations. An explosion was mentioned. I phoned Aki and told her that something was going on at Aldgate and I would have to walk the rest of the way to Bank. I thought it an interesting coincedence that I wanted to catch a train from Aldgate when the station was, shall we say, out of order.

I passed a crowd glued to a bank window. I followed their gaze to a large TV screen with news of an explosion at Liverpool Street. Ah, I thought, the problem is at Liverpool Street.

Perhaps you might think me stupid. I saw increasing numbers of police and emergency vehicles during my walk but thought it was a "routine" emergency. People wore the same city scowls, but perhaps wore them with a little more concern than normal. I tried to call my parents in Wales, but the 'phone just rang. I called my sister to leave a message with her in case my parents could not get hold of me after hearing the day's London news. Tell them I am OK.

When I got into work, the rest of my team were missing. I wasn't the only one having problems getting to work, it seemed. I checked out the BBC web site to see what was going on and the story was of "power surges" causing multiple explosions on the tube. People in the office were already talking terrorism but I discarded such fantastical thoughts. Multiple explosions on the tube? Don't be ridiculous.