“Well this is unusual”, someone said. “It’s not even 9am and we’re all here”. I remember that day.
I work now for the same company I’ve worked for since 2003 but our office back then was on the corner of Old Marylebone Road and Edgware Road. We had an even smaller team than we do now, and on that day there were 4 of us due in the office. My journey was to get on the Hammersmith and City line at Hammersmith, and take a train round to Edgware Road. Our office was not even 5 minutes walk from the station.
We were all at our desks, teas and coffees made and the radio was on on my PC. We used to listen to Capital FM as they had some dating thing that was always on at 9.30 that used to make us laugh.
Sirens were a fact of life, we were so close to Paddington Green police station that not an hour went by without hearing one. So when we heard siren after siren that morning we thought nothing of it.
Then the radio started reporting that there had been an electrical surge somewhere near Liverpool Street. We thought the sirens we heard were racing off towards that part of London because no-one yet knew what had happened. What was unfolding. The unthinkable, unimaginable horror.
We carried on working; laughing, chatting, not paying much attention to anything. And then the news came, relentlessly, never-ending. We stared at each other, refusing to believe what was happening. I use the word shellshock because that’s the closest I can get to describing that day.
Frantically, we made phone calls to people we knew worked in the affected areas. I knew my boyfriend was safe because he worked out of London but I couldn’t get hold of my friend Pete who worked at Liverpool Street. Eventually I heard from him that he was safe. I didn’t know it then but just two years later we’d be married.
The desk phone rang, sometimes I answered it, sometimes I didn’t. We couldn’t. We’d lost the ability to speak, to make sense, to understand. Our bosses from the US called to make sure we were ok; my Mum called, on holiday with my step-dad in Hong Kong. My Dad called, after not hearing from him for 2 years. “I’m alive” was all I could manage.
We were quarantined inside the building for fear it was too dangerous to go outside. We hung out of windows, watching armed police racing up and down Edgware Road. We listened to the news, we wondered when it would all be over. There were no tears, I think we were too numb to shed them.
Eventually, we went home. No underground, no buses, no trains. I don’t even know how the others got home but I was only a 40 minute walk away. I sat in my little studio flat in Olympia, waiting for my boyfriend who was walking all the way from outer London. People who worked for big corporations were being put up in hotels. No-one wanted to be alone.
I remember little of that evening but the next day is as clear in my memory as though it was yesterday. I set off down High St Kensington and what I saw amazed me. People were going to work, on foot, by bicycle, by pogo stick if they had to, but en-masse. London and all of its residents were sending the loudest, clearest message that we would not be beaten, or scared, into hiding. I saw business men in suits on the back of motorbikes. I saw people on bikes who looked like they hadn’t ridden one for 20 years, people on roller blades. And people walking. All of us, walking together. To carry on, to be defiant. The tears came for me then and I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
Today it’s 10 years since that terrible day. Our office is now at London Bridge and I’m ever so slightly more than a 40 minute walk away. Googlemaps tells me it will take 2 hours 46 minutes to walk, but I’m going to aim for 2 hours. I’m going to walk for all those who lost their lives, and can no longer do so. To honour the bravery of all the emergency services, the injured, the families of those affected. I knew then I’d always be a Londoner and so I’m walking because I love this city. Walk with me. Walk Together. 7/7/2005. I remember that day.
I saw your Instagram and now it falls into place. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years but I feel so proud of you all who came together and stood together defiantly xxx
Thank you so much Beth for your kind words, it was great to have so much social media support and see everyone coming together, just as they did all those years ago X
Very moving post. i moved to London a couple of weeks after it happened and I remember it was a scary time – cant believe 10 years have passed.
Thank you Lizzie, yes I too can’t believe it’s been so long. I definitely felt scared for a while afterwards but also determined too X
I had a day off from work on 7 July 2005 and watched the awful events unfold on TV. I remember feeling nervous when I had to get back on the Tube the next day but it was packed. People were talking to each other and making a point of showing that Londoners had not been beaten. I’m not ashamed to admit that it drove me to tears.
Thank you Dan – it’s sad that it can often take attrocities on this scale to bring people together but we all stand together x
I don’t think anyone who was in London that day will forget it. Not just the walking, but the loss of innocence. These things could, and did, happen here. Followed by the determination not to be beaten. Commuting the next day was an act of defiance. As well as scary.
I did the walk on Tuesday. I didn’t realise until I got home I did it in the same pair of black birkies.
Lovely post. I haven’t blogged about this. Still too hard.
I completely agree, I can’t possibly see how anyone could forget it, such a terrible day that clearly still lives with so many of us. Thank you so much for stopping by to comment I really appreciate it x
I remember the day well, its doesnt feel like 10 years ago. I lived near leeds at the time, and it definatly touched our community, I cant imagine how awful it must of been being so close. Thank you for sharing x
Thank you Hannah for reading and your lovely words, much appreciated X
This brought tears to my eyes, such tragedy and that vital determination by you all not be made to fear for your lives and to carry on, is so moving. Thanks for linking up to #brillianblogposts x
Thank you Vicki, it felt important and also cathartic to share those memories X
Oh, this made me cry. I lived in London until 2004 and I can clearly remember sitting at my desk that day, in Edinburgh, numb. Then madly phoning/emailing/texting to track down friends who I knew were likely to have been in the area. Seeing how the city reacted and got on with life in the days following was inspirational x
I don’t think any of us will ever forget how we felt that day, such an awful time. And yet, in the face of adversity the human spirit always triumphs. Thanks so much for stopping by x