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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Six months on from the July 7th London Bombings

Bombed Circle Line Tube TrainSix months on from July 7th and commuting numbers back to normal

It's hard to believe that six months ago travelling on the London Underground, buses and trains was very different than it is today. But it is a tribute to ordinary people's strength in London and across the UK that terrorism did not succeed it its attempts to have us fleeing from the streets and scared to travel on public transport. For a while the
numbers on public transport dropped, naturally, they would. Everyone looked at everyone else with an air of suspicion. Men carrying rucksacks were constantly stopped. Companies tried to capitalise on that fear and produced see-through bags (we met the man who created Freedom Bags) and survival kits. People who "looked a bit foreign" felt uncomfortable travelling on public transport and obviously we had that horrible day when the police with whatever error of judgements they had, shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes for supposedly acting suspicious and looking a bit foreign.

The bombed bus, one of the first horrific images we sawOn a personal level the London Bombings changed my life in a totally unexpected way. Believe it or not, prior to the bombings I was feeling listless, unenthusiastic, generally miserable and also pretty sick & tired of blogging too. Luckily I was working part time on the day of the bombings, and was at home. From a tenatative post that Geoff began about the day and "power surges", I was able to pick up from where he left off and on a rougly half hourly basis blog the events of that terrible, terrible day.

I was so, so, so, lucky. Many other people were not and their lives were ended or changed forever due to the fact that simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had never felt so aware of the lottery of life & death. I had never felt so pleased that my friends and family were all safe and well. I had never felt such pride of being part of a city that would not be beaten by mindless terror and cowardly acts in the name of politics or religion or whatever. Only a few days ago it was announced that a film The Sucide Bomber is being made about a disenchanted British Asian Muslim from Bradford and is set in the UK and India - so perhaps for a fictional point of view we may see what leads people to commit these acts.

After a tiring and emotional day of blogging I saw that my blog had been "elevated" to the status of "citizen journalism". I'd had emails and calls with international media throughout the day as initially ordinary people such as myself and contributors to the amazing Wikipedia were as frequent as journalists in trying to make sense and report on what had happened in London. There's a great site with a movie that shows how much that Wikipedia page changed thoughout the day.

Tube Relief chairty challenge for the victims of July 7th

Then I got involved in the publicity and PR for Tube Relief with Geoff and Neil. This invovled over sixty people including many other regular contributers and commenters to this blog (see this list which includes Fimb, the truly amazing Tami - hope Christmas in New Orleans was OK!, Jon Choo, Jenni Hardi, Chris Green, Chris Presswell and Jonny Lyon) we made a stand and we got local and national publicity.

For some the challenge part was fun & united way to show the world that we were not afraid to travel on the Tube for the hell of it. But we all wanted to raise money and help the survivors and the families of those killed. We raised around £12,000 for the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund. For many it was the first time they had done fundraising and even though I didn't do the whole challenge as I was blogging the day, I managed to raise over £180 to go toward the pot (my fundraising page is still open if you would like to donate).

Since then coming into contact with London Bombing survivors like the incredible Rachel and hearing the many stories about the courage and strength of ordinary people - transport staff, paramedics, the emergency services, the police and just ordinary commuters - I have never felt so good to be alive or determined to play my small part in reporting on life on the London Underground!

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, January 07, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE