Twelve years ago, I was living in London, riding the rail into work like any other morning. About halfway through my journey to Blackfriars, I heard some grumblings — again, a normal occurrence. I cannot speak of London today, but in 2007, the transport was often a mess and delays, cancelled trains and lineside fires (I never did quite figure out what those were) were habitual. Passengers didn’t pay much attention to announcements unless they affected one’s own journey.
Twelve years later, the events are somewhat blurred in my mind. I do not believe there was any official announcement while we were on the train, but people must have heard, via mobile phone calls (this preceded smart phones and push notifications), that something was underway. At that stage, I think most of us though it was just another Transport for London bungle.
We would all discover in due course how wrong we were —and we would wish for that quotidian bungle. Instead, it was a horrifying terrorist attack, launched against commuters, unfolding before our eyes. When 9/11 happened, I wasn’t watching TV when the second plane flew into the second tower. (In fact, to this day, I’ve never seen the footage.) On 7/7, something similar happened: After the terrorist attack occurred, and everyone thought it was over, a bus, the No. 30, was bombed.
Terrorism has wrought thousands of deaths since that fateful morning. On that morning, though, Islamic terrorism was still relatively new, and it hit so hard. It’s a day I’ll never forget.