Louder Than Bombs
Like I said, my brother-in-law was in downtown London during today's horrible events. He wrote us with his account of what happened. Chilling.
Okay, so here's my update from what is more or less the epicenter for two of the attacks. At about 9 AM, I was on a bus coming from Camden Town into Euston Station, which is a few blocks from the British Library and Kings Cross Station. As I walked east down Euston Road, I was struck by the swarm of people coming at me, towards Euston -- I realize now that the Kings Cross tube had closed (the bomb had gone off at 8:56), and these people were flooding towards Euston. These people didn't know what had happened, the Underground thought the first two explosions were the result of power surges.
The BL didn't open until 9:30, so I sat outside having a coffee and reading the Guardian -- a few people around me commented on electrical problems on the Tube. Then I went in and worked in the Manuscript room until a senior colleague told me about the bombs. At the time they had secured the BL, and we could not leave, which was fine, we just all went back to work. Luckily I had WiFi, and was able to e-mail everybody Stateside before they woke up, so they would know right away I was okay.
The BL closed early, and the transport in Central London is now closed down, so I am stuck here (though it's only a 45 minute walk north to my digs). So I am holed up in a collegue's hotel room who also has free wireless. By coinicidence, this hotel is a block from Tavistock Place, where the bus was blown up, one hour after the tube blasts (which was deviously clever, when you think about it -- they waited till the buses were jammed 'cause the tubes were closed).
I feel very lucky -- two blasts happened right where I was, more or less when I was there.If I took the tube, instead of the bus, I would have been coming into King's Cross right at the time of the blasts (albeit, on a different line). The bus they blew runs along the route of the bus I took this morning. In fact, I took a bus home from pub crawl with colleagues last night that stopped where the bus blew up (the bus blew near Russell Square, almost equidistant between the British Library and the British Museum -- one of the police officials on the news mentioned that an American university was also close by -- that would be the FSU London Centre, where I taught for two semesters before coming to Hood). The second tube blast, at King Cross, took place at 8:56, right when I was getting off a bus about 4 blocks away. At this point 33 are confirmed dead, and they didn't count the bus blast. The images of the bus are frightening -- the top is peeled right off -- so there is sure to be a higher count by the end.
Things seem to returning to normal pretty quickly -- I'm watching the news, and a BritRail train is leaving Liverpool Station, where they first tube blast was -- everyone here remained extremely calm, almost no panic at all, which has helped immensely. It made me wonder whether a city in America would have reacted the same way. I was going tonight to see an experimental musical based on Smiths' songs -- that's been cancelled, but the good news is they booked me in at a higher priced ticket for tomorrow.
So, for now, though the Starbucks are closed, the freehouse pubs seem to be open, and my colleague and I (as soon as he is finished being interviewed by his hometown paper about all this) are going to a pub for a pint and some dinner. We haven't been able to get in touch with another colleague of ours, which is a little worrisome, of course, but we imagine he is okay. We will, though, be walking right by the blast site of the bus, I think.
So for now, that's what's up -- I'll stay safe, and update again if need be. Take care, everybody.