Thursday, July 07, 2005

London explosions

I sent this email earlier today.___________________________________
Hi family/friends,
By now you have probably heard about the explosions in London.
Just wanted to let you know that Meredith and I are OK.
Luckily Meredith has been in Brisbane for 2 weeks to attend her brothers wedding but she is due to leave Brisbane for London tomorrow. She will try to delay the flight for a few days.
This morning I was on my way to work at the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, from where we live at Barking it is a 1 hour journey from east to west through the centre of London.
There are 2 routes I can make, either catch the district tube line all the way, or go overground rail from Barking to Fenchurch St and then walk 5 mins to get the district tube line from Tower Hill (near theTower of London).
Most days I catch the rail because it is slightly quicker and more comfortable.
Today I was running slightly late and got to TowerHill about 9am, the station had just closed and people were starting to bank up. Noone knew what was going on but I heard people saying the whole underground had been shut down. There were heaps of fire engines/fire command units and other emergency vehicles going past us.
I learnt later that they were going to Aldgate East station which is the next stop east from Tower Hill on the district line and only about 600m away.
After 5 mins I started walking towards what I hoped was another route to work, alot of people were queuing for the buses but I had no idea which bus to take.
I rang my boss to tell him I would be late and whether he knew what was going on, he didn't know anything soI rang another mate at work. He told me the tube website didn't say anything was unusual but he wouldfind me another route to work via the buses.
It involved about 4 bus changes and would take an hour and a half so I said forget it. I decided to walk to London Bridge which is a big rail/tube station.
I started off walking with lots of people but halfway through the trip there were considerably thousands more people walking the other way. Hmm obviously thatstation was not open so I joined their flow.
My mate rang up again and said that his missus - who works at the home office - had just told him there were explosions reported on the tube line and all tubelines were suspended.
I thought screw this, I'm going home to Barking.
On the way back to the station, helicopters started cruising around overhead and the mobile phone networkwas patchy as the providers canned non-essential mobile traffic for priority emergency services.
Fenchurch St was still open and the above ground rail service was still working so I hopped on board and got home about 10:30.
I understand the station closed not long after so I timed it well.
Only when I got home did I really work out what had been going on. The blast at Aldgate East station had occurred minutes before I reached tower hill and thanks God that I never catch the tube from Barking. I was on the different line approaching tower hill at the same time.
Reporting from Barking, London.

Now that more info has come out, I can make a correction to my email. The blast at Aldgate was between Aldgate East Station
and Liverpool St Station which is either on the Hammersmith line or the Circle line, not the District line like I thought before.
Thanks to everyone that has replied to my email, I know you are all shocked by this tragic event.
I was really impressed with London's emergency plan. The tube stations were shut down within minutes of the first blast and fire crews were on their way very quickly.
My feelings have changed about Barking and London, I am starting to like London and the people with their almost normal accents. Barking is still pretty crap but I am getting more comfortable with it even though there is not long to go here.
Our lease expires here in a couple of weeks, so I am looking forward to moving over towards Wimbledon way. Will start checking for places online next week.

I have the day off tomorrow as well, the museum is closed due to the explosions so its a long, long weekend for me. Its probably a good idea the museum is closed, means less commuters through the city - which is good while transport is still under the ropes.
I read that 3 million commuters use the tube underground system every day, thats a lot of people. How did they all go getting home tonight with the tube out of action?
My mate Shane works on Canary Wharf and lives way up at St Albans. He is staying in a hotel near work tonight - just couldn't get out of the city. They had a bomb threat at Canary Wharf today as well.
One of my Kowie mate Dan's friends was at Edgware Rd station during the blast, he spoke to her this arvo and she said it was horrible, with lots of blood and stuff.
Sad thing is that yesterday was such a happy day with winning the 2012 Olympics, everyone seemed really stoked about it.
Then today was a tragedy.
But something like this can really bind people together, I really feel for my fellow Londoners now.

Talking about the Olympics, the 200 hectare Olympic park is going to be near Barking!
It will be in the borough of Newham which is pretty close to here, people that own property in the area are really happy cos they think prices will skyrocket. The current site of the park is a crappy, slummy looking place. Newham is the third most deprived shire in Britain. Plan looks quite awesome.

Hopefully tomorrow is a bright, sunny day.


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