Ten years ago London, my home in pretty much every sense of the word you could possibly imagine, came under attack.
Given the circumstances, I doubt anyone who was in the city on that day will ever forget what they were up to/who they were with etc. For me, it was already an unusually stressful and memorable day, however, as it was the day of my university graduation ceremony.
I didn’t know anyone that was caught up in the attacks, but some of my friends were very, very lucky: Poor time keeping meant some were fractionally later to the Aldgate area than usual, while a number of my fellow graduates had passed through the station in the moments before the blast in order to get to the ceremony extra early. As i said, we were all very, very lucky.
Consequently, my memories from that day are a conflicted bunch. The morning was naturally dominated by a weird paranoid confusion. Not only was there the usual graduation faff to content with (gown hire, pictures to be taken etc) but there was a constant flow of conflicting information: First there was a massive power failure and fire on the underground, then explosions on the underground, then 10 buses had apparently blown up around town. All a bit worrying that.
After the initial panic, however, my memories for the rest of the day are wrapped up in a weird sense of pride. Even as it came clearer what had actually happened, the University and the students acted bravely and calmly. The ceremony went ahead pretty much as planned even though (in the ongoing confusion) our safety couldn’t be guaranteed.
The bombers may have wanted to sew chaos on discord, but for my chums and I, the afternoon of the seventh of July was a pretty laid back affair. With the ceremonial crap done and dusted and the local transport fully up the creek, we all retired to the local pub to watch England thrash Australia in the first ODI of the 2005 tour.
Looking back today, it’s good to see that, 7/7 monument aside, the horrific events of that day have not really left any longstanding marks on the city – both in terms of the physical landscape and the psyche of the people. Londoners, we might be a miserable anti-social bunch, but I am immensely proud of every single one of you. You are all absolutely incredible. Even if you do stubbornly refuse to move even a little further down the sodding carriage.