Explosions in London
There's a lot to say about the explosions that rocked London this morning. I'll leave it to others to say it. For the moment, I'm mostly writing to let my friends and family know that I'm fine. My story of the morning is fairly undramatic.
I'd left the flat a few minutes late this morning, as I'd taken a bit of time to talk to my girlfriend over AIM. In the end, I made it to Sloane Square station to find a train packed to the gills and unmoving. No sooner had I gotten on the train than the announcement came: "Due to a major security alert, no trains will be operating. Please exit the station."
It wasn't until a few minutes later--while I was trying to figure out which bus would take me to Saint Paul's--that someone passed me saying, "Explosion at Liverpool Street."
Since then I've walked over almost half of London, trying to get to work, before I got hold of the office and they told me not to come in. As I came closer to Westminster and then into Central London, sirens became a more frequent occurrence. You still hear them now. As I passed each office building, I'd see clutches of staff clustered around screens watching the BBC. Occasionally I'd pass a small huddle of people talking to others elsewhere in the city.
"Hi, darling. Are you OK?"
"Do they know who did it?"
"I just left from King's Cross. Is that where they said the bus was?"
"Now some idiot is going to say this was justice."
The last was the only close to political comment I heard, though. Otherwise, those I passed on the street seemed quiet, hesitant, processing.
Most of the walk was spent on my cellphone talking to my parents: I'd woken them to tell them I was OK. They told me most of the news, my father online and my mother in front of the TV: one irony of the modern world is that it's often easier to figure out what's going on by making international long distance calls. Right now I'm near New Oxford Street in a web cafe, obsessively refreshing the BBC website to see if they've found anything new.
As for what's happening, there will be plenty said by plenty of others in the next few hours. I'll just close by saying that my heart goes out to those who have been injured, and for my friends in London, if you have a moment, please contact me to tell me you're OK.
UPDATE: I've seen reports that the mobile phone network in London is taking emergency calls only. The notice comes from my webhost, so it's not 100% authoritative, but my cell phone isn't working. If anyone out there (especially over the pond) is trying to call someone on a cell phone in London and it's not working, don't panic.
UPDATE II: From the BBC website's quasi-blog of reporters on-scene:
In Tavistock Square the wreckage of the roofless red London bus sits outside the offices of the British Medical Association, newspapers blowing in the road. A symbol of an ordinary Thursday morning commute cruelly interrupted.
As I was talking to my parents this morning, having them relate the news, that bus represented a turning point in my thinking. "Something bad's happened on the Tube," I thought, "But it's old, and the Central Line's had some problems before." When I learned there were a number of tube explosions, Denial kept whispering in my ears. Well, maybe there's sympathetic explosions within the network. It doesn't have to be terrorism. And then my parents mentioned the bus, and the range of possibilities collapsed.
I haven't seen pictures of the bus yet. To be honest, I'm avoiding them. But my thoughts are with the riders and their loved ones, as I suspect are the thoughts of most Londoners.