9:05 am at Euston station. The usual crowds. People reading the Metro, basking in the glow of London's Olympic win. Then an announcement. "King's Cross Station is closed. Please use the Victoria Line and change lines for your destination." People groaned and grumbled. I said goodbye to my husband and made my way to the Victoria platform. And then another announcement. "Please evaccuate the station there has been an emergency. Please evaccuate."
Well that's a new one i thought as I trudged along with thousands of commuters to the exit. Outside Euston people crowded around London's trademark red buses hoping to get to work or atleast to the next station.
The 390 I was on was full of talk about what had happened. People guessing, surmising or just making things up. One man reading the news off his phone announced that a bomb had gone off at Liverpool Station because of a power surge. The bus stopped abruptly and we were told that it wouldn't go any further. Oh great, there goes my 9:36 national rail.
Euston Road, 15 minutes later. I'm lending my phone to people whos networks have collapsed. People calling in work, family and friends trying to get a sense of what was happening. More news of power surges and stations being closed. I stood on the corner of the road, wondering which way King's Cross was. And then it happened. I witnessed my first bomb blast. From a distance albeit. A bang. Alot of smoke. And a people running like mad.
Oh my god. This isn't happening to me. This is something I watch on the news. In other countries. I just stood there. Not knowing what to do. So much for my "I always know what to do in a situation." And no matter how prepared you think you are, your mind just shuts down.
You're just walking about aimlessly waiting for someone to come and take control. Sirens wailing. Police. Ambulance. Someone in a bright yellow coat comes up to me and tells me to move as far away from the area as possible. To where? I'm not even that sure about where I am, I think. I walked down the road and called my office. Some smart aleck suggesting I walk to King's Cross and find an overline to Hatfield.
More news pouring in. No power surges. All bomb blasts. Underground shut. No buses will run in central London. All you can do is wait.
Wait for what? Another blast? WHy hasn't my husband called yet? My own overwhelming urge to call my family. Call them and say what? Hi there have just been blasts across London, I'm ok but just in case I love you? Do i sound like I was over reacting. I was. Around me women were having panic attacks. Sitting on the ground. Breathing deeply. Breathe deep I told myself. Don't cry. Nothing's even happened to you yet.
I looked around again. No buses. No trains. My only recourse was London's notoriously expensive black cabs. I saw a man getting out of one a few yards away from me. As I approached the cab he rolled the window down "I ain't taken you to central London luv". Since I was trying to get as far away from there as possible I hopped in and directed him home.
All the way back the radio crackled out more news - of casualties, emergency efforts and possible suspects. The cabbie kept up a steady stream of chatter - whether to take his mind off it or mine I don't know. But I was grateful.
As we entered the sleepy suburb I live in, the difference was startling. The sreets were empty as always, the odd grandma walked her dog and that was it. Half an hour before I was in the middle of a swirling mass of humanity. And now nothing.
I'm back home now. The heating is warming me up but hasn't reached the chill in my heart. The news is on, family has been called and reassured, and chai has been copiously consumed.
There are people who won't reach home tonight. Fatalities of a senseless attack. Someone's parent, spouse, friend, sibling. Someone's child.
And to think yesterday all I was worried about was a clogged drain outside my house.