|Duckworth Publishers - The London Bombings - N. Mosaddeq Ahmed|
"The London Bombings
An Independent Inquiry
N. Mosaddeq Ahmed
* ISBN 0715635832
* June 2006
* £8.99 / B Format Paperback, 256 pages
* Email this page to a friend
* Subject: Economics, Politics & World Affairs
On July 7th 2005 London experienced its most serious terrorist attack since the V-2 raids of WW2. We still don’t know who planned the attacks or whether they remain at large in the U.K.
At first the police were sure that the bombers used weapons-grade plastic explosives and sophisticated timers. Two weeks later they changed their minds – the bombs were home-made and were detonated manually. Since then the official account has changed repeatedly and remains riddled with anomalies and confusion. The government is resisting calls for a full inquiry and instead intends to present a ‘narrative’ written by a civil servant that will stand as the definitive account of what took place. As Mosaddeq demonstrates in this exhaustive investigation, such an approach cannot hope to provide the public with an adequate explanation of what took place. He further shows how the attacks can only be fully understood in the light of extensive co-operation between the Islamist extremists and Western Intelligence in Central Asia, and U.S.–U.K. state interests. The London bombings, much like the attacks on New York in 2001, were a widely predicted consequence of the West’s global strategy. If we do face a future of terrorism we should at least understand the extent to which our governments have accepted this as the price of business as usual.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed has written three books since the 9/11 attacks tracing the realpolitik beneath the rhetoric of the War on Terror: The War on Freedom, Behind the War on Terror and The War on Truth. He lives in North London.
|QUOTE (astro3 @ Jun 6 2006, 08:45 AM)|
|Also, 'One Day in July' by survivor Prof John Tulloch is just published. Of Khan allegedly sitting opposite him before the blast he now recalls: 'I am now fairly certain that we looked at each other across the second carriage of that Circle line train...'|
|QUOTE (fedor @ Jun 6 2006, 10:56 AM)|
where is that quote from Astro?
|The Sunday Times - Books|
The Sunday Times June 18, 2006
One year on, what do we know?
Brian Appleyard looks for answers in four very different accounts of 7/7 and the threat of terrorism
The truth,” said Oscar Wilde, “is rarely pure and never simple.” Reality evades our desire for simplicity and order. And so, a year on, the 7/7 London bombings are enmired in uncertainty. Were they a direct result of the Iraq war? Were they masterminded or the work of a few crazed individuals? How were such monsters incubated in our midst? How do we begin to confront the fascist Islamicist conviction that the lives of unbelievers are worthless?
The particular problem of 7/7, as opposed to 9/11, is that there is no obvious next step. The Americans had to destroy the Taliban regime in Afghanistan; but what do we have to do in response to the Tube and bus bombers? The inept responses of the police at Stockwell and Forest Gate indicate clearly that striking back with lethal force is not, in our case, an option.
“The state’s response — in the form of violence against an unarmed man — only heightened the anxieties of Britons and Londoners,” comments Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed in The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Duckworth £8.99), on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Of course, it wasn’t the response of the state at all, but of something more familiar — an incompetent, unreformed police service. Ahmed is right, however, to speak of heightened anxieties. That killing and the recent Forest Gate farce both remind us that, in chasing terror in our midst, we are chasing shadows.
But shadows of what? The simplest answer is given by John Tulloch in One Day in July: Experiencing 7/7 (Little, Brown £12.99). He is a survivor of the Tube bomb at Edgware Road. His experiences that day form the core of his book. He considers all the casual little acts that led to him being on that train, in that carriage, sitting a few feet from the bomber. Even his movement of a bag in front of his legs turns out to be significant, as it probably saved his life. And he describes well the complex emotions that follow the surreal moment of detonation when “everything turned a horrible, urine-coloured yellow”. His subsequent recovery is agonising.
Bleeding and dazed, Tulloch was photographed coming out of the station and the picture went round the world. He thus became the emblematic survivor, a role that fascinated him as he is a media academic. Unfortunately, his investigation of this role spoils the book as he descends into some rather strange and subtly wrong-headed analyses of the coverage and his own place in it. At the heart of these analyses seems to lie the simple conviction that the bombings were primarily caused by the invasion of Iraq. None of the other books supports that contention.
Our real crime, all the other authors agree, was our dimwitted and wildly ill-considered attempt over the past two decades to engage with and exploit radical Islam, an attempt that led directly to the widespread radicalisation of British Muslim youth by cynical preachers. Sean O’Neill and Daniel McGrory in The Suicide Factory (Harper Perennial £7.99) provide the straightest account of this process by focusing on the story of Abu Hamza and the Finsbury Park mosque. They perform a valuable service, as much of this information did not come out at the trial which finally saw Hamza locked up.
There are two levels to the story. The first is the abject gutlessness of the police. So fearful were they of offending religious and racial sensibilities that they dared neither to respond to the complaints of moderate Muslims that their mosque was being taken over by hoodlums, nor to arrest the radicals when they flagrantly broke the law by firing up their young followers with tales of jihad. The second level is the way the security services convinced themselves that their discreet contacts with Hamza and his fascist colleagues meant they were somehow controlling them. In fact, the radicals were running rings round MI5 and MI6, to the despair of our allies in France and America. But our suave spooks and their gullible political masters wouldn’t listen to their warnings and, as a result, London became the global hub of Islamic terror. “The result of Abu Hamza’s recruitment regime,” write O’Neill and McGrory, “ was that more young men from Britain embarked on suicide missions than from all the other countries of Europe combined.”
The books by Ahmed and Melanie Phillips, though utterly different in tone and intent, agree absolutely that British official nurturing of Islamic radicalism is at the heart of the matter. Ahmed’s book is a lucid and, in spite of the endorsement by John Pilger on the front cover, quite persuasive account of how our security mandarins talked themselves into believing we could make quiet, backroom deals with these terrorists. For Ahmed, it is a conspiracy theory, though, for me, his evidence could equally well point to a string of post-rationalised blunders. Essentially, the Anglo-American strategy in the Balkans from the early 1990s onwards was part of a great game designed to satisfy both corporate greed and strategic logic. Maybe. It is certainly true that the fact that our allies against the Serbs were Muslims did provide an opportunity for the radicals to exploit our Balkan strategy.
From there Al-Qaeda grew and grew within Europe. Uniquely, the British attempted to control the militants through discreet contact and it is this that lies behind Blair’s refusal to convene a public inquiry into the 7/7 bombings. The can is just too full of worms. “An entrenched and growing network of Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists of more than 100 in number — and consisting of possibly up to several thousand — has operated in the UK, with immunity from the law, despite being implicated in numerous instances of international terrorism.”
In Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within (Gibson Square £14.99) Melanie Phillips agrees, but is more concerned with culture and “the deadly fusion of an aggressive ideology and a society that has lost its way” than with conspiracies. It is, in her terms, our inability to define and defend our own values that renders us so powerless when confronting the enemy. Written like one of her Daily Mail columns — she is “appalled” and “shocked” on almost every page — this book may persuade you but you may not be sure quite why.
Overall, Tulloch apart, these books make plain that the British official response to Islamic radicalism at every level has been inept and ill-judged. This may be a conspiracy, a cock-up or a symptom of our own decadence, but it is plainly a disaster. However, if we are truly speaking about causes, there is one huge factor that is left out of all these accounts — the condition of the Arab states that have incubated this evil ideology as a convenient way of distracting their under-employed young men from the gross spectacle of their own cynicism, brutality and corruption. But that is another book, another truth. For the moment, impure and complex, our truth is that we blew it.
|Raped, blown up... Then stalked by a maniac - the most remarkable 7/7 survivor of all|
Last updated at 23:05pm on 6th July 2007
Countless stories of courage emerged from the ruins of the July 7 bombings two years ago today. But one victim has a more extraordinary tale to tell than most.
Advertising executive Rachel North, who had survived a horrific rape, was a commuter at King's Cross when a suicide bomber stepped onto her train and killed 26 people. Rachel, 36, survived, but came under attack yet again - this time by a cyberstalker who terrorised her for over a year.
Now, a week after her stalker was jailed, Rachel, who lives in North London, tells her story of survival, recovery and hope.
Thursday, July 7, 2005, began with me waking, curled into my boyfriend's back. I showered, dressed, we kissed and he wished me good luck. I didn't know then how much luck I would need that day. I headed out to the kiosk at Finsbury Park station to buy Marie Claire magazine before boarding the train to work.
The magazine, published that day, contained a story about me, and I was nervous and excited to read it.
Hope, after all the horror: 7/7 survivor Rachel North. Her cyberstalker was jailed last week after terrorising her for over a year
I hurried on to the Piccadilly line platform, and the crush of people and noise of the train faded away as I started to read the story of the rape ordeal that nearly cost me my life.
As I read it, I relived it all again. My heart beat faster and my breathing was shallow.
The next Tube arrived and I decided to board at the front of the train, where I might have a little more space to read that article again. I got onto the train and stood by the yellow pole in the centre of the standing area.
At King's Cross, the doors slid open, and I was pushed towards the centre of the carriage. Though I didn't know it at the time, somewhere behind me, boarding through the middle set of doors was a young Jamaicanborn British man with a rucksack. It contained 10lb of explosives.
Germaine Lindsay, 19 years old, had chosen this rush-hour morning at King's Cross station, and this carriage in which to die.
The train started to move. I took a deep breath and unclenched my fists. It was impossible to read any more, so I read the adverts on the train walls.
Suddenly, I felt rather than heard an explosion; it was as if I had been punched violently in both ears. The world went black, and it felt like I had been plunged underwater.
Everything had changed in a heartbeat. And the thought flashed through me. 'Not again. Not bloody again.'
It was almost exactly three years since the early hours of Friday July 17, 2002, when I had forced my way out of my North London flat, naked and covered in blood, with my hands bound behind my back and a wire noose around my neck, screaming as I threw my body across the bonnet of a police car.
I had arrived home earlier that night to our empty ground-floor flat - my boyfriend (whom I prefer to keep anonymous, but known as Jay) was working late.
I went straight to sleep but was woken by the doorbell. I pulled a dressing gown around me and got out of bed, thinking Jay must have forgotten his key.
As I stepped into the communal hall, I could see a figure through the fluted glass of the front door. A voice said: "It's your neighbour - there's been an accident."
I opened the door cautiously. But it was wrenched from my hands and a stranger pushed me back through the door of my flat.
He punched me in the face as hard as he could, my nose poured blood, and the world whirled.
I was on the floor, and he kicked me in the chest. Then in the ribs, then he aimed at my face, and I curled into a ball, trying to protect myself. I could only whimper "please don't, please don't".
He grabbed a fistful of my hair, and I could see he was tearing off his T-shirt. He forced it over my head as a hood and the beating began again.
My top lip burst like a ripe tomato. The punch on the nose made me want to vomit. I felt my dressing gown being torn off me and I realised he was raping me, muttering: "Bitch. Whore."
I kept very still. I felt him yanking my arms behind my back and tying my wrists. He went into the bathroom and tied something round my neck. I could feel myself losing hope that I would survive.
The blows were coming harder and angrier. Then it occurred to me to play dead. I waited for a blow to the head, collapsed, gurgled and held my breath.
There was a hiss. He stubbed his cigarette out on my face. The wetness of my blood extinguished it at once. I continued to pretend to be dead, hardly breathing. But I was losing consciousness.
Perhaps two hours later I started to come round, lying on the floor with my arms tied behind me. I was naked with something hanging around my neck.
The front door of the flat was open into the communal hall. I stumbled down the outside steps as a police car screeched to a halt. I didn't know it but my neighbours had heard me try to get out of my flat and dialled 999.
I threw myself across the bonnet. The two officers stared at me in shock. I screamed at them to cut the noose off my neck. It was the lead from my electric toothbrush charger.
An ambulance took me to hospital. The police doctor noted 40 injuries and took swabs. My head was stitched and at last Jay was brought in, and the first words he said were: "Oh, honey."
He wanted to take my hand, but they made him put on rubber gloves first. That was when I cried, because he was the first one to treat me like a person that night - not as a crime scene or prey - and they wouldn't let him touch me.
It was five months before police arrested an itinerant mugger who had come over illegally from Jamaica in May 2002. He had beaten and robbed many other women. He was 17. I had been 31 at the time of the attack.
The love of Jay and my family and friends helped me slowly recover from the ordeal, something which was part of a savage world which had no relation to the one I had been brought in.
I had grown up in a Norfolk vicarage with my brother and sister. I studied English and Theology at university and settled into a career in advertising in London. Before the rape, my life was ordinary, sometimes stressful, generally good. But my anger afterwards helped me from sinking into total despair.
In January 2004, I faced my attacker in a courtroom and saw him sentenced to 15 years. A year later, I talked to Marie Claire about my story, because I wanted to do something to help other rape victims.
This was the story I was reading and reliving on the Piccadilly line three years later in the minutes before I was blown up.
The bomb was detonated seven to ten feet away from me. I was once more on the floor, in darkness, struggling under a heavy, gasping body.
Once more the overwhelming blow to the head, the utter darkness, the blindness, the struggling for breath.
In a flash, I was transported back to the horror of the rape. But this time I was prepared.
Because I had just read my own near-death story, I was full of adrenaline. And this time I was not alone.
There was choking, lung-filling dust. I breathed tiny shards of glass and thick, heavy smoke. It made my tongue swell and crack like leather.
There was a metallic wet taste in my mouth - blood. My lips were wet with it. The walls dripped with it.
There was an acrid smell of chemicals and burning rubber and burning hair. Then I heard the screams.
They did not sound human. I realised that I was on the floor and there were squirming bodies lying on top of me. Other people's bodies had protected me from the worst of the blast. I hissed air out, patted my legs, arms - they were still here.
I heard a voice, far away, say: "Are you all right? Stay calm." It was my own voice.
I saw the shapes of bodies moving in the darkness. Some more passengers were standing up now and appealing for calm, listening for the injured. Some of us used our mobile phone LED screens for light.
Something bad beyond words had happened behind us - but we could not see it, only hear it.
I looked back into what remained of my carriage and caught a glimpse of bodies on the floor, and of something else so horrific I couldn't bear to see it. It was hard to hear the injured people's fainter cries, because of the terrified screaming.
As the temperature rose, it became extremely hard not to panic. It seemed likely that we would die trapped underground.
It took everything I had not to join in the screams. Only the thought that I refused to die screaming and clawing like a trapped animal held me back.
The driver was telling us we must leave the train. Hands helped me down the ladder of the driver's cab. The screams were fading as we walked down the narrow tracks.
There were groans of a seriously injured man being carried behind me. The women walking near me listened, talked and we tried to make jokes.
It took 15 minutes to walk down the tunnel to Russell Square and I saw something shiny poking out of my wrist, jammed into the bone.
It was bleeding everywhere and I staggered, but a woman caught me. Hands were lifting me off the tracks and onto the platform. They pulled my split wrist and I screamed. A small piece of metal was jerked out of the bone and it fell onto the tracks.
In the lift, people were falling sideways, eyes staring with shock. Some were covered in blood. All of them were filthy, with black faces like chimney sweeps.
I staggered onto the pavement outside and rang Jay, leaving a message. I was terrified that he was travelling on the train behind me and that he was dead.
I realised I was covered in a sticky black film of chemicals and blood. Not all of the blood was mine.
I was in deep shock. I rang a colleague, Jenna, who arrived in a taxi and bandaged my wrist as we headed for hospital. It was nearly 9.45am.
As we drove past Tavistock Square there was a dull 'crump' that made the taxi windows rattle. Later, I found out that it was the bus, targeted by another of the bombers, exploding on the other side of the trees.
We arrived at University College Hospital and they picked glass out of my arm. Every time I moved, small pieces of glass fell off me.
I started to get angry with myself because I thought I had somehow failed the passengers and done the wrong thing in leaving the train.
The phone beeped with a message from Jay. He was in his office at the law firm he works for, and he was alive.
Finally, I was allowed to leave hospital and I saw Jay loping calmly across the road, smiling at me. I threw myself into his arms.
"I can always trust you to end up in trouble," he told me, squeezing my hand.
I couldn't stop smiling; I was starting to feel invincible.
When we got home, I had a shower and the water ran black for five minutes. We went to bed but I couldn't sleep - there was still the smell of smoke and blood in my nose and throat.
I got up, turned on my computer and slivers of glass still stuck in my hair fell onto the keyboard. I started writing, posting my story and my thoughts on an internet bulletin board for thousands of Londoners giving their accounts of what happened that day.
As I wrote, I realised my face was wet with tears and sweat.
Other people started messaging back immediately, give their support. Finally, I fell asleep in the early hours. When I opened my eyes on July 8, there was a sickly fire taste in my mouth. My ears were still ringing, and they ached.
I wondered how many more people were waking up and wondering what had happened to them yesterday.
I went to the study and switched on the computer, logging onto the message board where I had posted my story the night before. There were now dozens of messages posted in response to my account.
I started to cry with gratitude that all these people were thinking of me.
Over the next few weeks, I had trouble sleeping and threw myself into work as adrenaline kept me going. I organised a gathering with other survivors, and we decided to call ourselves King's Cross United.
I had counselling, but the flashbacks continued. Sitting in a hairdresser's, I suddenly caught a whiff of scorched hair and a smell of chemicals, and had to rush outside. I knew it was a posttraumatic shock reaction.
I wanted to be the confident, cheerful woman I had been before, but I had changed in those months. I did not feel lucky: I felt cursed.
Six months to day after the bomb had exploded, King's Cross United gathered at King's Cross station, about 30 of us including the driver of the train, for our own private service. Then we walked to St Pancras church, where I laid 26 white roses, one for each person who had died.
Walking away, I felt the release of emotion as I linked arms with the others. We went to the pub, and I looked at the smiling faces of the men and women around me and we raised a toast.
"Take that, terrorists." Cheers.
But my story wasn't over. While I was writing up these memories, feeling happy about my new life and impending wedding - Jay asked me to marry him seven months after the blast - a third stranger attacked me.
This time, there was no physical violence. Instead, a woman whom I had never met began to write to and about me on an almost daily basis, making the most hurtful allegations.
Felicity Lowde accused me - through postings on internet message boards - of lying about the rape and not being a real bomb victim.
She claimed my efforts to help myself and other victims by campaigning for an inquiry, setting up support groups and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress, were "making a living on the backs of the dead".
After I posted online blogs telling of nights where I would wake crying from nightmares about the screams on the train, and my continuing 'survivor guilt', she cruelly asked me: "Why did you not stay and help the dying?"
It was psychological war, and in some ways it was worse than the rape and the bomb, because the rapist and bomber were strangers who unleashed brutal violence knowing nothing about me, even my name.
This woman used psychological violence to try to destroy everything I had re-built after the rape and bombing: my new work as a writercampaigner, and my happiness as a bride-to-be. It was devastating.
I was terrified, because having been the victim of stranger hatred twice already, I found that my symptoms of nightmares, exhaustion, depression, guilt and despair, already triggered by writing the book, were becoming almost unbearable.
I stopped working at home and moved into an office in order to finish the book I was writing about my experiences, because I felt she was attacking me in my home, my safe place.
I work online, and I get many anonymous e-mails from trauma victims asking for my help. So I couldn't switch my computer, and her, off.
Last month, she was sentenced in court after having been found guilty of harassment. She had gone on the run for two months while continuing to escalate her hate campaign.
The district judge gave her the maximum sentence, but my tormentor has already announced she intends to appeal and put me through giving evidence all over again.
So lightning has struck me three times. Three strangers have sought to destroy me using weapons of malice.
Do I feel cursed? No, I feel lucky. Lucky to have such support, from Jay, who is now my husband, family, friends and from hundreds of strangers - readers of my web diary and fellow passengers whom I have met since 7/7 and are now my friends.
I've learned how strong and kind most people are, and I feel blessed that I'm still here, still living, still learning, feeling proud and privileged to share my story. I hope that telling it helps other people.
I am out of the tunnel now, and I raise a glass to the light that I have seen in other people, that has kept me going through the darkest of days.
• Adapted by Amanda Cable from Out Of The Tunnel by Rachel North, published by The Friday Project at £6.99. ° Rachel North 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0870 161 0870. www.rachelnorthlondon.blogspot.com
|QUOTE (Bridget @ Jul 6 2007, 11:14 PM)|
|'I wouldn't, 'I said, getting into my stride, 'wipe my arse on|
the Mail if terrorists had blown up every bog roll in London'.
Rachel North on her blog in July 2005
|I think the rolling official story requires that everyone forget everything that has previously been said.|
|And what I and the other survivors are trying to do is get on with our lives. Not wheel out made-up feel good women's magazine bollocks to make Tory housewives feel good in Cheshire...'|
|Adapted by Amanda Cable from Out Of The Tunnel by Rachel North, published by The Friday Project at £6.99. ° Rachel North 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0870 161 0870. www.rachelnorthlondon.blogspot.com|
|QUOTE (curiouspiglet @ Jul 11 2007, 05:49 PM)|
|isn't syndication/serialization normally sorted out by the publishers though? not the author?|
|PUBLISHED: Book by man killed in 7/7 bombings|
By Sarah Cosgrove
A TRAVEL book, written by Christian Small, who died in the 7/7 bombings, was published this week.
Wake Up and Smell the Fufu, finished posthumously by his family and friends from emails he sent from Africa, went on sale on the second anniversary of his death.
Mr Small, of Garner Road, Walthamstow, was killed in the explosion at Russell Square while on his way to work as a marketing executive.
But his sense of humour and love for life live on in the frequently hilarious travelogue, written while he volunteered in a Ghanaian school and journeyed through West Africa.
Christian, who changed his name on his return to Njoya Diawara, which means man of strong spirit, started the book before he died.
"It's been incredibly useful, it's helped us to breathe," said his mother Sheila Henry.
"He was so passionate about writing and reading it, you can't help but laugh, it's just like you're there with him.
"It was his first book, it was our duty to finish it and we are immensely proud of him."
The proceeds of the book will go to projects chosen by A foundation set up in his name, which helps black boys in London develop skills, confidence and self-esteem.
"We want to give them the confidence to know that they too can travel and broaden their horizons," Ms Henry said.
Wake Up and Smell the Fufu is available for £10 from www.njoyafoundation.org.uk.
|Amid the carnage of the 7/7 bombing a unique friendship was formed|
Last updated at 11:41am on 22nd June 2007
On the morning of July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers struck in Central London, killing 52 people.
PC Aaron Debnam, 28, a rapid response officer with the British Transport Police, was among the first to arrive at Russell Square Underground station.
His actions saved the life Gill Hicks, a 37-year-old events manager, who lost both legs in the blast.
In this exclusive extract from Aaron's new book, One Morning In July - and as the second anniversary of the tragedy nears - he describes her harrowing rescue and the start of an extraordinary friendship.
Unique bond: Gill with Aaron, who gave her the strength to survive
The first call came just before nine o'clock on that sunny July morning. On a rather dull shift, I was half listening to my radio when I caught the end of a transmission: "Any units to attend Liverpool Street, report of an explosion on the Underground."
I leapt into a van with my Inspector, Glen, and my colleague Gary. A call diverted us to what was being described as a second incident at Edgware Road underground in North-West London, and we realised we were dealing with a terrorist attack of some description.
Then came another radio message: "Any units in the vicinity available to attend Russell Square station, reports of numerous walking wounded."
We were there in just four minutes, the first police to arrive. The station entrance was full of wounded commuters covered in black soot, many bleeding. They looked like they had been through hell and I was taken aback.
We radioed for help and started walking down the spiral staircase to the platforms. Halfway down, we heard an explosion. We all thought a secondary device had gone off in the tunnel, little did we know that a bus had exploded in Tavistock Square, a few roads away.(this happened nearly an hour later - so where were the police before this? Also the BTP claim survivors from RS were in their HQs by 9.09)
The first thing that hit me was the heat - it felt like a sauna. Next I noticed the smell, one that will never leave me. It smelt like burning hair, but the smoky air was thick with it, so that you could taste it. Already, it was hard to breathe normally.
On the platform, a team of paramedics were working on casualties. One man was sitting on a bench on the platform, his lips were blue and it looked like he had lost an eye. A businessman lay on the platform in his once-immaculate suit - one of his feet missing from the ankle down.
I jumped down onto the track. A Railtrack worker led the way, and about 12 of us, paramedics and police, followed him into the tunnel.
We walked for what seemed like an age - those awful smells getting stronger - then the train appeared out of the gloom. A seam of emergency light around the edge silhouetted it in the dark, like a scene from a horror film and I stumbled forwards, transfixed.
The paramedics were first on the scene, and for a few seconds I froze in terror. I honestly thought that I could not get on that train, or deal with the scene that waited for me - but somehow I just willed myself to clamber inside.
Never in my wildest imagination could I have pictured a scene of such complete devastation. There was a huge hole in the floor and the ceiling was hanging down.
The whole carriage was littered with what I can only describe as human debris. I could see the silhouettes of bodies throughout its length. There was liquid on the tunnel walls and the train floor. I thought at first this was condensation, but when I looked closer I realised it was blood.
Bodies were piled on top of other bodies - all missing limbs or incomplete. Nothing was moving. I thought no one was left alive. I found myself staring at a body lying by the opposite set of doors. I was unable to work out what was wrong and then it hit me; the man was naked. His clothes had been blown off by the blast.
I found a woman alive at my feet, and helped her off the train. Next, I found a young office worker with the faintest of pulses, and passed him to my colleagues on the tracks below.
The paramedics asked for help moving a woman with severe leg injuries. She was sitting on one of the bench seats on the train, her legs tucked up beneath her in a kind of foetal position. The right leg looked like it had been skinned from the knee down and the white bone was exposed.
Her left leg was not much better; it was still attached, but only by the smallest amount of skin and muscle. I could tell it could not be saved.
I am ashamed to say that I felt disgusted by these injuries - the thought of touching them turned my stomach. I have experienced a lot of guilt since the event for having these feelings.
Someone told me that the woman was called Gill. She was young-looking with dark hair and a fair complexion. I would have said she was in her early to mid-30s, but it was hard to tell.
Her mouth was full of black soot, it looked really disturbing, like she had been drinking tar. I remember thinking that she might have been pretty under all that soot. She was very pale and it was clear that she had lost a lot of blood. I could never have imagined at that point that this woman would have such a huge impact on my life in the future.
The paramedics made a stretcher from coats they gathered from the carriage, and we lifted Gill onto it. I took the end near her head, and Gary the other end.
We picked it up, using the arms of the coats as handles and started to move towards the exit. I was walking backwards and kept slipping on the debris that covered the floor.
How we lowered Gill onto the tracks without dropping her, I'll never know. The makeshift handles on the stretcher were soaked in her blood and I had to wrap them around my fists to keep my grip.
We finally reached the floor but we had at least three-quarters of a mile to go up the tunnel.
I stood at the front of the stretcher and four of us set off.
Incredibly, Gill remained conscious - her eyes were open and she was staring at the roof of the tunnel. We were all shouting encouragement at her and I was holding her hand with my free one, squeezing it every now and again when she started to close her eyes.
I wanted this woman to live more than I have ever wanted anything in ife. I cannot explain the connection that I felt with her down there in the dark, but it was so strong that it was as if I was willing her to stay alive, and she could feel it.
Eventually, people started to tire. We lowered Gill gently to the floor, and I realised my hand was completely numb and my fingers blue. We did a straight swop with the person opposite us, so I was now on Gill's left side. I took her hand again but we hadn't gone far before she lost consciousness.
I tried to find the pulse in her neck but could find nothing. She was as cold as ice and she did not seem to be breathing.
Just as I was about to give up she swallowed hard, her eyes opened and she looked at me.
The relief was nearly overwhelming; I smiled and squeezed her hand.
We set a quicker pace. It was clear Gill was running out of time. She lost consciousness at least twice more in that tunnel, and each time she opened her eyes, the relief was the same.
She had lost so much blood that her wounds had stopped bleeding and I could see she was almost dead. Then the makeshift stretcher broke.
The coats had come untied in the middle and none of us knew how to fix it. In the end, I told Ray to lift her onto my shoulder. They put her on my left shoulder with her head and arms over my back and her legs on my chest just underneath my chin.
She screamed - I can still hear it now. Every time I took a step, she was screaming in agony.
I had wrapped my arm tightly around her waist and Ray was trying to push her back onto my shoulder but we were fighting a losing battle.
My legs felt like lead, my chest was burning and I could taste blood in my mouth. My shoulder felt like it was on fire and I realised I couldn't go on. I was furious with myself.
We tried to reassemble the stretcher but after a small distance it broke again. I was nearly crying with frustration. I was about to pick her up again when someone ran down the tunnel carrying blankets.
The relief that swept over me was indescribable - we still had a chance to save her life.
We lifted Gill onto a blanket and set off, almost jogging. It only took a couple of minutes before we saw the light of the platform. I was ecstatic and angry at the same time.
We had made it, but we'd only had a couple of hundred yards to go when I had almost given up carrying her. If this woman died because of the time I had wasted, I would never forgive myself.
We passed Gill up to officers on the edge of the platform, then climbed up and took her again. None of us was leaving her after coming so far.
We got in a lift and laid her on the floor. She was still conscious but when I squeezed her hand there was no response. We carried her into the booking hall and I started to brief a paramedic but he stared at me blankly. (other accounts claim she was carried up 145 stairs)
It wasn't until later, when I looked in the mirror, that I realised he was probably shocked by my appearance - my hair was straw-like with dirt, my face and mouth black, my shirt ripped open to my stomach and covered in blood.
Satisfied that Gill was going to be treated, we headed back down the tunnel towards the train, but it soon became obvious there were no more survivors.
As we all walked back towards the platform we started to go into shock - all of us lost in our own thoughts. As I stumbled out of the station I looked at my watch and saw it was midday. I was astonished so much had happened in such a short time.
We were sent to a nearby hotel to change uniforms and rest. There, several hours later, an officer approached and told me: "That woman Gill has died."
I went to pieces in an instant. Her rescue had left me physically and mentally exhausted, and everything that I had done or failed to do in that tunnel came back to me in a flash.
I went to the toilets and vomited. Then I sat down and for the first time that day I cried.
Over the next few weeks people would congratulate me on my efforts, but I didn't know why. I was no hero - a woman had died. I had failed.
I found myself reliving Gill's rescue attempt, dissecting everything I had done in that tunnel, thinking how I could have done better.
I was working all hours I could, but when I was on my own, things were very bad.
I was not sleeping for more than two hours a night. I had lost nearly 2st because I couldn't eat. My nightmares and flashbacks were terrible. My guilt about Gill's death dominated my waking thoughts and was the theme of all my bad dreams.
I had been scouring the casualty lists, looking at the names of the dead and trying to work out which one she was. I wanted to contact her family to tell them I was sorry for letting their loved one die.
Then, on a day off in September, my phone rang. It was a BBC TV producer I knew telling me that Gill was not only alive, but she had given a newspaper interview. I ran to a computer and found myself staring at her face on the newspaper web page - she was alive! I was staggered.
It seems that in all the confusion there had been mixed messsages about some casualties.
I wanted to tell her how much her life meant to me. I wanted to give her a big hug and say "Thank you for being alive, and I think you have saved me from myself."
The BBC approached Gill, asking if she would like to meet me as part of a documentary, and to my delight she agreed. We were to meet in Richmond, Surrey, in early October, and I worried about it for weeks.
Would she remember me? Would she blame me for hurting her as I lifted her onto my shoulder? Would she blame me for the amount of time it took to get her out?
The BBC wanted to film our reunion and I found myself outside a door, waiting to be called in to meet her as the cameras rolled. Suddenly the door opened and there she was - standing.
I was dumbstruck. She was smiling, and I could remember every feature of her face. I looked at her hands and could remember holding them in that dreadful tunnel.
This was the woman who I had grieved so much for, and now she was here in the flesh, standing on prosthetic limbs only three months after both legs were amputated below the knee.
She had been treated at St Thomas' Hospital in Central London, leaving on September 10. Doctors and physiotherapists there taught her to walk again.
She looked directly at me, beckoning me over with those eyes and the trance was broken. I hugged her and felt her bury her face in my neck. I didn't think I could ever let her go. But I kissed her on the cheek and sat down to talk.
She tried to thank me for what I'd done, but I was like a shy schoolboy. Every time I looked at her face I could see her on that stretcher covered with black soot.
I wanted to touch her hand to see if it was still as cold as ice. Then her fiancé Joe came in, and invited me to their wedding. We made small talk but didn't really sit down and discuss what had happened on July 7.
Over the next few weeks we spoke over the phone, and I took Gill for a drink with the other members of the team who had saved her life.
On December 10, I went to her wedding, and Gill looked stunning in her flowing ivory dress. She came to talk to me at the reception, but as she looked me in the eyes, her face suddenly changed; she went from the beautiful bride to being pale through lack of blood, with her damp hair plastered to her face with sweat. I had to close my eyes and force the image away.
I was so shaken that I left shortly afterwards. For weeks, following that episode at the wedding, I avoided seeing Gill properly. I had spoken to her on the phone and seen her for short periods, but that was it.
Seeing Gill reminded me of our time together in that godforsaken tunnel - and made me feel inadequate and guilty.
I still felt that I had been weak because I hadn't been able to carry on with her on my shoulders, and I couldn't control these feelings whenever I was with her. She clearly wanted to be friends with me, but I was avoiding her.
Then one day, I rang Gill, an events manager, on a whim and went to her home in North London. She greeted me with her customary long hug. It was the first time we had ever been on our own and now we started to talk about what happened that day.
Deep down, I needed reassurance. I needed to hear it from her in person that I had not failed her. I told her about the struggle we had getting her out, the broken stretcher and my guilt at not being able to carry her on my shoulders.
In turn, she told me the only things she could remember from the tunnel were the sound of my voice and my holding her hand. In that moment, it seemed all the emotion we had experienced separately was set free and I sat there with Gill, the tears running down my cheeks.
At last, I stood to leave and Gill walked me to the door. I remember looking at her face and realising there was no soot, no blood or singed hair.
It was just a woman standing in front of me, a woman I knew would be my friend for life.
We hugged for what seemed like ages. Then, when one of her tears rolled down my neck, I realised this part of my journey was over. Gill was now part of my life and that would never change.
It was she who encouraged me to write my feelings down on paper. Our relationship has developed beyond the events of that day into so much more.
I speak to her nearly every day on the phone. I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that she is the only person I feel I can open up to completely. I have never trusted anyone as much with my feelings or my fears. Perhaps we were meant to meet in that way.
I am neither religious nor superstitious, but maybe the people who we were before the bombings could not have been friends. Perhaps it is only now that we are capable of being such a big part of each other's lives.
•Adapted from One Morning In July by Aaron Debnam, published by Blake on July 2 at £17.99. To order a copy at £16.20 (inc postage and packaging), call 0870 161 0870.
|Inspector Glen McMunn, of the British Transport Police, was among the first to be sent to investigate reports of a power surge on the system. He was heading to Liverpool Street, then diverted to Edgware Road and heard the emergency call from Russell Square.|
A 25-year veteran with the transport police, he was the first man on to the front carriage where all the dead and dying lay.
One of the first casualties he ecountered was Gill Hicks, who was to lose both her legs. Mr McMunn, 44, carried her in his arms, talking to her about her plans to get married this month. He is appointed MBE.
|QUOTE (justthefacts @ Aug 7 2007, 10:12 PM)|
|Bridget, have you finished reading Daniel O's book, and what do you think of it?|
We are more powerful than they'd have us believe. Many people already see through those who claim to have power. They see through politicians and those performing feeble conjuring tricks before our eyes, in the vain bid to take the real power that belongs to us, the people.
For the truthseekers out there, your probing questions and pointed criticism was constructive and most of it appreciated. It helped me in the course of researching and writing this book and kept me focussed.
The third Piccadilly Line bomb seems highly suspect to me. Maybe someday someone will come forward with more evidence to help crack it.
The government has spent the last ten years backtracking on the core values of democracy, transparency and accountability. They have weakened individual freedoms while strengthening their powers through spin and lies.
In hindsight, I realise I can just about remember the last truth I heard spoken on its behalf.
It was on July 7th when I sat aboard a tube and from the PA system came the announcement there was a power surge.
A power surge indeed!
|Police Family Liaison (Blackstone's Practical Policing) (Paperback)|
by Duncan McGarry (Author)
# Paperback: 250 pages
# Publisher: Oxford University Press (Mar 2008)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 0199214085
# ISBN-13: 978-0199214082
# Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 0.3 x 0.3 cm
This new book is the first practical guide to the sensitive topic of family liaison, aimed directly at the police. The text focuses on the key role that family liaison plays in the police service, explains how the role has developed and provides practitioners with a clear understanding of why relatives and friends are entitled to the highest standard of response from the police but also why no investigation can be truly effective without this relationship being supported, resourced
and supervised throughout.
The book covers a wide range of important issues including the development and delivery of training, operating protocols, contacting and establishing relationships with the family, management and mass fatalities.
Highly practical, the book includes examples, illustrative diagrams, summary sections and checklists, plus a wide range of case study chapters based on key events, including the the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash, the 2004 Tsunami, the Bali Bombings, the September 11th attacks and the London Bombings of July 7th. This book is a must for all those who work in this difficult area.
The Blackstone's Practical Policing Series is a collection of highly practical, up-to-date titles covering a range of essential subjects in today's policing arena. Developed from a detailed understanding of police information needs, this series seeks to explain the relevant law, practice and procedure from a police officer's perspective.
|Detective Constable Duncan McGarry, National Family Liaison Advisor|
United Kingdom Duncan has been a Police Officer for 22 years most of which has been served as a Detective in London. His background is mainly in homicide investigations and he has worked on many high profile enquiries including racially motivated murders, serial killers, terrorist acts and serious sexual offences. Duncan is currently a National Advisor on Police Family Liaison in the UK in the event of a sudden and violent death. He has acted in his co-ordinating capacity in numerous investigations as well as major disasters.
Duncan was a member of the Racial and Violent Crime Task Force at New Scotland Yard and in response to the Stephen Lawrence enquiry developed and implemented a family liaison strategy for homicides in London. Duncan was one of the Family Liaison Coordinators for the 111 Family Liaison Officers deployed after the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster and co-ordinated the response to UK families in New York after September 11th. He trained 30 Australian Federal Police FLOs in the aftermath of the Bali Bombings and wrote a Family Liaison strategy for Bali, which was subsequently adopted by the AFP. He has recently written Family Liaison Guidelines for the International Police Community in cases of mass fatality. Duncan is a member of the Major Disaster Advisory Team in the UK.
| Acts of Faith|
The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation By Eboo Patel
Copyright © 2007 Eboo Patel
All right reserved.
Introduction: The Faith Line.....................................................................................XI 1. The Crossroads of the Identity Crisis.........................................................................1 2. Growing Up American, Growing Up Other.........................................................................19 3. Identity Politics.............................................................................................37 4. Real World Activism...........................................................................................59 5. An American in India..........................................................................................77 6. The Story of Islam, the Story of Pluralism....................................................................101 7. The Youth Programs of Religious Totalitarians (or Tribal Religion, Transcendent Religion).....................125 8. Building the Interfaith Youth Core............................................................................151 Conclusion: Saving Each Other, Saving Ourselves..................................................................175Afterword........................................................................................................181 Acknowledgments..................................................................................................183 Bibliographic Essay..............................................................................................185
The Crossroads of the Identity Crisis
One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion. This energy is all that one finds in the rubble of vanished civilizations, and the only hope for ours. JAMES BALDWIN, Nobody Knows My Name
Hasib Hussain, left hand hanging slightly out of the pocket of his jeans, shuffles into the Luton railway station just before 7:30 a.m. on July 7, 2005, wearing an indifferent expression on his face and a pack on his back. Three young men accompany him. They look like any other group of young people heading for a day touring the museums and art galleries of London. They all wear indifferent expressions. They all wear packs on their backs.
But it is not water bottles and summer novels that they carry. Instead, each pack contains a carefully mixed concoction of hair bleach, food preservatives, and heating chemicals.
Hasib Hussain's pack is the last to blow. It detonates at 9:47 a.m. on a double-decker bus near Tavistock Square, peeling the top off and killing Hasib and thirteen others. Hasib was eighteen years old.
An hour earlier, at the Russell Square Tube station a few blocks away, Germaine Lindsay detonated his pack. It was the deadliest of the four bombings, destroying the lead carriage of the southbound 311 train and killing twenty-six people plus the bomber. Germaine was nineteen years old.
The other two blasts occurred within seconds of the Russell Square explosion. Mohammad Sidique Khan sat on Circle Line train 216. Seconds after it left Edgware Road, traveling west to Paddington, the explosives on his back tore apart his car like a can opener and impacted an oncoming eastbound train. Six people plus Mohammad were killed. Mohammad was thirty.
On the other side of central London, in the heavily Muslim East End, Shehzad Tanweer blew himself up on a westbound Circle Line train leaving Liverpool Street station for Aldgate. When the lights came on, the floor of the train was full of people covered in blood. Seven people plus the bomber were killed. Shehzad was twenty-two.
Shahara Islam was the first of the dead to be buried. A twenty-year-old British-born Bengali Muslim, she was riding the No. 30 bus on her way to her job as a cashier at the Co-operative Bank, Angel branch. I cannot help but imagine her smiling at her murderer, the tall and endearingly awkward Hasib Hussain, when he climbed aboard weighed down by the death in his backpack. The two should have been friends, discussing the challenges of being second-generation South Asian Muslims living between the tawdry permissiveness of British youth culture and the traditionalist piety of their parents' homes. "Our dear daughter is returning to her Lord a bloodstained martyr," her parents said during the funeral. Seven thousand mourners-Muslim and Christian, Jewish and Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian -were whispering prayers.
The world lives in London, and when bombs go off, it dies there. Ghanian-born Gladys Wundowa was riding the No. 30 bus on her way from her cleaning job at University College London to a class in housing management. Giles Hart, a British Telecom employee, had held voluntary posts ranging from chair of the Polish Solidarity Campaign of Great Britain to vice chair of the British Humanist Association. He was an activist in the peace movement and a member of the Anti-Slavery Society. His family released a statement that read, "It is tragic that he fell victim to the very evil against which he had struggled." Anthony Fatayi-Williams, Nigerian by heritage, born of a Christian mother and a Muslim father, was also murdered on the bus. An engineering executive by trade, he was passionate about reconciliation in his native Nigeria. "How many mothers' hearts must be maimed?" Anthony's mother asked in a speech she gave after the bombing.
Terry McDermott opens Perfect Soldiers, his book on the September 11 hijackers, with the image of Mohamed Atta, the suspected leader of the group, padding around his Hamburg, Germany, apartment in blue flip-flops. It seems so incongruous that this slight loner could have been responsible for the deaths of nearly three thousand Americans and foreign nationals and the profound shift in international affairs that followed. "We want our monsters to be outsized, monstrous," writes McDermott. "We expect them to be somehow equal to their crimes." But the world is a peculiar place, and McDermott, after conducting the definitive study into the lives of the nineteen hijackers, was forced to conclude, "The men of September 11 were, regrettably, I think, fairly ordinary men."
So were the men of July 7, 2005. "Suspects' Neighbors Say There Was No Hint of Evil" was the title of the story in the New York Times. Shehzad Tanweer, the twenty-two-year-old Aldgate bomber, loved Elvis Presley's version of Eddy Arnold's song "Make the World Go Away." "I thought his only interest was cricket," Shehzad's uncle said, anguished face still expressing disbelief. Shehzad worked in his father's successful fish and chips shop and drove around town in the family's red Mercedes. He wore brand-name clothes, worked out regularly, and studied sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University. Friends described him as infinitely likable, more apt to talk about sports and cars than anything else.
Mohammad Sidique Khan was a learning mentor at Hillside Primary School. He was universally appreciated by parents, students, and faculty for his commitment to assisting the newly immigrated children with everything from school lessons to athletics. As a teenager, he went by the nickname Sid and wore cowboy boots, expressions of his fascination with all things American. As he grew older, he was the guy young South Asians and Muslims in Leeds would go to if they needed help. "He gave me good advice, had a good head on his shoulders," a young man from the neighborhood told the New York Times. "He was rational." Khan's wife was an advocate for moderate Islam and women's rights, and his mother-in-law had received an honor from Queen Elizabeth for her community work.
Germaine Lindsay was described as one of the cool kids in school -smart, funny, and always smiling. Born in Jamaica, he converted to Islam at age fifteen. He became well known for his recitations of the Qur'an at the Leeds Grand Mosque and his robust efforts to convert his classmates. Germaine married a white British Muslim convert, and the two had a baby together. Neither his mother nor his wife could believe that he had become a suicide bomber. His mother remembered Germaine mourning the victims of September 11, and his wife would not accept that Germaine had left her and their baby behind.
Hasib Hussain was the youngest, the shyest, the least remarkable, the most impressionable. When he was a child, Hasib bought his candy from Ajmal Singh's corner shop, like all the other kids in Holbeck, an ethnically mixed neighborhood in the British city of Leeds. He went to primary school a block from his home, and he loved kicking a plastic soccer ball down the street where he lived. His father worked in a factory, and his tight-knit extended family had been in the area for thirty years. It was his mother's call to the police, reporting that Hasib had not returned home from his trip to London with friends and was not answering his cell phone, that broke the bombing case open.
Tall and lanky, Hasib Hussain tried hard to fade into the background at Matthew Murray High School, but the white toughs picked on him anyway. The sermons at the local mosque rarely addressed this reality. His parents' advice was to pray more and do better in school. He started running with a group of Pakistani Muslims who fought back, a crowd that provided him with support and identity but was estranged from the pious Muslim community of his household and mosque. Scared that their son was losing his way, his parents sent him abroad, thinking that religious influence from the Muslim world would straighten him out.
A cousin observed that Hasib returned not only more devout but also more political and strident in his views. "I thought he had been brainwashed," the cousin told the Guardian. Hasib began spending more time with Mohammad Sidique Khan. Khan had recently rejected Leeds's mosques for practicing what he claimed was a diluted and false form of Islam and had become part of the inner circle at the Iqra Learning Center.
When radical Muslims traveled through Leeds to spread their message of proper Muslim behavior plus hatred for the West, they held their meetings at the Iqra Learning Center. In addition to traditional Islamic literature like the Qur'an, the Hadith, and books on Muslim law, the store carried materials on Western conspiracy theories against Islam. Part of the collection included DVDs showing scenes of Muslims being maimed and murdered in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Chechnya juxtaposed against President George Bush saying the word "crusade." "It was slick and really made you feel angry," Amear Ali, a thirty-six-year-old Muslim who lives in Leeds told the Associated Press. Ali described how the owner of the bookstore approached him with the offer of religious education lessons. First came the proper way to do Muslim prayers, then the lectures about injustice against Muslims around the world, and next the DVDs. "You could see how it could turn someone to raw hate ... I know it was propaganda and was made to make you feel this way. But what about young guys who see this material as a call to do something?"
That is exactly what Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad wants. A Syrian-born middle-aged father of seven, he lived in North London for nearly two decades, supported in part by a monthly British welfare check of more than $500, before decamping for the Middle East soon after the London bombings. He helped establish Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose mission is to reestablish the Islamic caliphate. In its study circles, Hizb recruits learn that Muslim identity is necessarily opposed to the West. The 2003 Hizb conference in Birmingham, England, drew eight thousand people, many of them young. Zeyno Baran, director of international security and energy programs at the Nixon Center (a nonpartisan foreign policy institution in the United States), said, "Hizb produces thousands of manipulated brains, which then 'graduate' from Hizb and become members of groups like al-Qa'ida ... It acts like a conveyor belt for terrorists." Sheikh Omar left Hizb, or was asked to leave, after he stated that British prime minister John Major should be assassinated and beheaded for his role in the Gulf War of 1990-1991. After Sheikh Omar's departure, Hizb attempted to refashion itself as a nonviolent organization committed to a puritan Muslim vision.
Unable to preach violence through Hizb, Sheikh Omar went on to organize a radical Muslim youth organization that he called Al-Muhajiroun in the early 1990s. He used this platform to preach sermons and post web messages calling young British Muslims to wage jihad against the West in Iraq, Israel, and Chechnya. He referred to the September 11 hijackers as the Magnificent 19. A poster advertising an Al-Muhajiroun event had pictures of each hijacker set against a glorious, glowing backdrop. Sheikh Omar blamed British foreign policy for the July 7 attacks and said of the hundreds of young British Muslims who attend his sermons, "They know that the Prime Minister has his hands full of the blood of Muslims in Palestine and in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We hear from many who say they want to attack."
Sheikh Omar is a master institution builder and youth organizer. He understands precisely what buttons to push to harden a young Muslim's fluid religious identity into a terrorist commitment. The itinerant Muslim preachers who inspired the radical study circle at the Iqra Learning Center and the locals who organized it likely learned their trade through Sheikh Omar's networks.
How did awkward, shy Hasib Hussain become a suicide bomber? Sheikh Omar's people got to him before we did.
After the flurry of phone calls to friends and family and the relief that they were safe, after the prayers that my wife and I said for the victims and all those left wounded by their loss, I thanked God for saving my skin again. In my life, religious violence has always existed in the gray area between reality and imagination. My cousins in Bombay describe locking themselves inside their apartments in 1993 as Hindu mobs armed with machetes roamed the streets looking for Muslims to kill. My aunt tells about the cold fear that struck her heart when she heard the loud blast that was the Al Qaeda bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Her husband, a diplomat, had left for work a few minutes before. She thanked God for weeks that his journey to the center of the city had been delayed that day. In November 1999, I left late for an appointment at a waterfront café in Cape Town, South Africa. As I approached, I started noticing glass shards strewn around, and then I heard the wailing sirens. "What's going on?" I asked a cop. "A bomb went off at a pizza parlor," he responded. It was next door to the café where I was supposed to meet a friend.
I practically lived in London for three years. It was where I did the research for my doctorate. I have fond memories and a clear picture of each of the sites that was bombed. Edgware Road and Aldgate had the best kebab stands in the city. Tavistock Square was my favorite park, full of antiwar memorials. I rode the elevator at the Russell Square Tube several times a year and walked the few blocks to the British Museum, where I would stand in front of the Elgin Marbles hoping that the genius of the ancients would provide inspiration for my thesis.
Tavistock Square may never offer the same calm. The Circle Line may never feel normal again, it will be impossible to ride the elevator at Russell Square without remembering the people killed below. All changed forever by four young men who prayed in the same language I consider holy.
An eerie feeling crept over me as I stared at the faces of the London bombers, especially the three who traced their history back to the subcontinent. Their travails in school, their relationships with their parents, their indifference to Islam as adolescents followed by an intense reengagement-it all felt familiar. I sensed a flicker of recognition from a deep place. A piece of their story was a part of me.
I can imagine going to Hasib Hussain's home for dinner. I would have given salaams to his father at the door, taken my shoes off, admired the Qur'anic calligraphy and the picture of the Ka'aba, the most important site in Islam, on the wall. I would have immediately known the curries his mother was cooking from the smells wafting through the house. When I complimented her dinner, she would have looked away shyly, but not before a happy smile crossed her face. I would have sat with Hasib's father in the living room after dinner, drinking Indian masala tea-sweet with sugar, spicy with cinnamon, fragrant with cardamom. We would have made the obligatory comments about global politics, wondering when India and Pakistan would finally work out the issue of Kashmir. Perhaps his father, his Muslim solidarity flaring for an instant, would have told me how angry he was at America for ignoring the plight of the Palestinians for so long and for believing that you can bomb countries into democracy. Then he would have hurriedly said, "But I love the American people. It is the government that does all the bombing."
Inevitably, we would have settled on the subject of life in the West. He would have shaken his head and said that England is hard. You can make a living, yes, but the culture is a stranger to you, and then it takes your son and makes him a stranger, too. He would have told me that all he wanted was for his son to marry a nice Muslim girl, have a family, and make a good living. "I think computers is the best profession nowadays," he would have mused, twisting the ends of his mustache. Then his voice would have fallen a little, and he would have confessed the problems that Hasib had had at school-the falling grades, the truancy, the fights. He would have sounded confused about why. Where was the famed education and social mobility of the West? And then he would have spoken about how sending Hasib abroad had straightened him out. He now wore a Muslim cap and prayed regularly, and he no longer went around with those boys who, rumor had it, were into alcohol and worse things.
| Excerpted from Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel Copyright © 2007 by Eboo Patel. Excerpted by permission.|
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|But it is not water bottles and summer novels that they carry. Instead, each pack contains a carefully mixed concoction of hair bleach, food preservatives, and heating chemicals.|
|A flash of light, a rush of air ... then the screams began: Inside the 7/7 tunnel of hell, by a man who lived through the carnage|
By PETER ZIMONJIC
Last updated at 23:09pm on 7th March 2008
On the morning if July 7, 2005, Peter Zimonic, a Canadian journalist working in London, found himself caught up in the suicide bombings that brought death to the capital. In a breathtaking new book, he describes the bravery, triumph and despair of that terrible day ...
Engulfed by darkness, Jason Rennie stood in wonder. He had been only feet away from the bomb when it went off. He was well-built, fit and in his mid-30s, but none of that could be credited with saving him. It was only chance that triumphed over fate that morning.
Jason was a building project manager. At twenty to seven, his wife had dropped him off at Cockfosters Tube station in North London. During the short car journey, they chatted about trying to start a family. Then Jason kissed his wife, got out of the car and caught a packed Piccadilly Line train to King's Cross.
He got off just as suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay was about to step on.
They might have crossed paths on the long, crowded escalators, or missed each other altogether; it's impossible to tell. No one notices anyone in the morning crush of Tube travel.
Changing onto the Circle Line platform, Jason stood and waited for the next train. A few feet away, ready to board by the same set of doors, was an Asian man wearing a white baseball cap and carrying a rucksack over his shoulder. His name was Mohammad Sidique Khan.
Jason had swopped one bomber for another.
Nearby, a young Italian woman in a long brown coat was reading a novel. She got on the second carriage every morning, but when the train pulled up, a small crowd gathered at the last door so she hopped on at the front of the third carriage to avoid the hassle.
A man in his 20s was part of the crowd that put her off. She later learned he was autistic. He couldn't help it, but his piercing gaze and unusual manner scared several people enough to stop them getting into the second carriage with him. It saved their lives.
Jason didn't notice anyone. He and Khan stepped forward together into the second carriage, Jason leaning up against the glass partition and playing golf on his mobile while Khan took a seat about 20 feet diagonally across from him. Apparently, he wanted to die sitting down.
The train rolled on its way. A few stations later, as the doors shut at Edgware Road and the train passed into the tunnel towards Paddington — Jason's stop — a gust of wind swept down the carriage. It knocked the mobile phone out of Jason's hand. Or so he thought.
The gust of wind was really a piece of shrapnel. It seared itself into his exposed forearm. A great burst of white light, accompanied by a metallic crashing, overloaded Jason's senses.
When the flash passed, he found himself standing in the dark, looking at the floor of the carriage. The screen of his mobile phone glowed up at him. "That's my phone," he thought.
He lurched forward to pick it up and was overcome by dizziness. He started to tip uncontrollably to his left, then forced himself to grip the rail to steady himself. Pain shot through his arm. His back slammed into the carriage doors behind him.
He rested for a moment, bent in half, still on his feet but only just.
"Stand up, stand up," he told himself.
"Check if you're OK, see if you have everything."
Touching his arms, he moved his hands up to his face, then down to his stomach and legs. Everything seemed in place.
"I'm OK, everything is still here," he reassured himself.
As he drew a deep breath, the smell of burning metal speared into his nose. It was familiar from his national service back in South Africa, where he had been close to exploding artillery shells and grenades.
"This is a bomb," he thought.
As Jason stood in the dark, he heard screams of terror all around him. They were growing steadily louder.
The voices were always there, but Jason could only now start to hear them because his eardrums had been perforated in the blast. Everything sounded as if he had his fingers in his ears.
"We have to get out of here, we have to get off this train,' a young woman in front of him yelled in panic. She was with another woman; both were in their early 30s and on their way to the office. They were screaming, loud and terrified.
Jason stepped forward and grabbed both of them by their arms. "Calm down, you're OK, calm down," he shouted, realising they were in such a state of hysteria that they could be bleeding their guts out and never know it.
"Take it easy and check to see if you've been injured."
The women looked at Jason as if he was some kind of nut. He had no idea how loud his voice was.
Dazed and shouting in the darkness, he was afraid he wasn't the slightest bit calming. Yet the women followed his instructions, their cries subsiding as they did so. They appeared to have all their fingers and toes.
He felt relieved. Then came a cry. "Help me, please help me." The voice was shallow, male, coming from the front end of the carriage. Jason couldn't see where from exactly.
Stumbling across the glass-strewn floor, he moved through the smoke, towards the whimper in the dark. At the first set of doors, there was a man in shredded suit trousers, trying to climb out. The carriage doors were gaping open — perhaps they had been blown off. It was too dark to see.
The cries for help crept up from floor level as Jason moved closer. Stooping down in the gloom, he was afraid of what he would find. Then, there on the floor, was a man. How could that be?
The man was in a crater blown out of the bottom of the carriage. Only his body from the chest up was visible. The rest hung below the train.
Looking up at Jason, with his hands on the edge of the hole, the man tried to push himself out, his eyes pleading to Jason as he did so. He was wedged in among the twisted steel poking up out of the floor.
"Help me, help me please," he said again, his voice rapidly weakening. Jason stepped forward and took the man's hands to try to pull him out. As he did, he lost almost all the strength in his right arm and had to stop.
He held his hand up and could see that his wrist was pouring blood. It was the hand in which he had been holding his mobile before the blast, the one that caught the shrapnel.
A middle-aged Asian man moved over to help, blood streaming down his face. He took the man's left arm while Jason used his good hand to grab the right. A look passed between them.
The man in the hole gripped their hands at the same time. They heaved upwards while he tried to push himself out with his legs.
"He doesn't look that badly injured," Jason thought. "Apart from the fact his shirt's blown off, there's barely a mark on him. We might be able to get him out of here."
But then Jason realised how wrong he was. Leaning over the man as he pulled on his arm, he could see down into the hole and the tracks below.
The man's legs were not moving with the rest of his body; it looked as if they had been hacked to bits. The man whimpered. Jason and the man helping let him slump back into the hole where he came to rest as if he had fallen backwards.
"We need to wait for professional help," Jason thought. Based on his army medical training, the decision was probably right — but it made him sick all the same. He wanted to help this man. But he knew, in the end, it wouldn't matter. There was nothing anyone could do for him.
Backing away from the hole, he almost fell over a middle-aged man. His face was black with soot, but he was sitting propped up on one arm and seemed calm and composed. At first Jason thought he was probably fine.
"Are you OK down there, mate?' he asked.
All David Gardner could hear until Jason started talking to him were some lines of Shakespeare running through his head. He was starring in a production of Julius Caesar at his local church in Hampstead and had the script in his hand when the bomb went off.
That morning, he had dropped his two-year-old son Matthew at nursery school, hanging the little boy's jacket on a hook under his name, before starting his commute to High Street Kensington, where he worked in the accounts department at Associated Newspapers. Arriving at Baker Street, he stepped into the second carriage of a Circle Line train and took a seat by the door. On the other side of the doorway sat Mohammad Sidique Khan.
David didn't notice the suicide bomber any more than he noticed Jason Rennie, as absorbed in computer golf as David was in Shakespeare.
David was preoccupied with his script, awaiting Caesar's betrayal, when there was a loud pop to his left. The bomb had gone off.
The carriage filled with a rush of wind and fire. David flew through the air, up towards the roof on a cushion of flames. He spun in the air, slamming into the window behind him.
"When I land, will I still be alive?" he wondered.
A split second later, his body crashed into the carriage floor. He landed in a sitting position in front of the seat he had occupied moments earlier, the lines from Shakespeare still running through his head.
"Am I in one piece?" he wondered. "Am I still me?"
He felt himself all over: face, chest, arms — all there. Then he reached down to his left leg and touched soft, chewy flesh. There was no sensation. David knew instinctively that he was feeling all that was left of his leg.
Burning with what felt like a fever, his skin scorched from the fireball, he hunched over for a better look. There was something resting on his thigh. An arm. It wasn't his. Its owner wasn't alive.
David moved it off and dropped it on to the floor. It was still attached to a man lying in the shadows to his left. His hearing started inching back. He could make out voices in the dark but not what they were saying. Except one. "Hey mate, are you OK?" Jason asked again.
He saw that David's left foot was cocked unnaturally over to the right and there were gashes running down his leg. Jason's army training had taught him that leg injuries are serious: if the femoral artery in the thigh is ruptured, a man can bleed to death in 20 minutes.
Ripping up his shirt to make a tourniquet, Jason tied it around David's thigh. When he had finished, he noticed something warm running down his own face. Blood. The top of his head had caught a bit of flying debris. He saw the collar of his shirt lying on the floor and wrapped it around his forehead like a laurel wreath. His head was spinning.
The smoke that filled the carriage moments before had now disappeared out of the doors blown off by the bomb. A few feet away from the hole in the floor, he could make out what looked like a torso hanging out of the carriage. There was another body on the floor. The scene was one of utter devastation.
The cheap upholstery of the seats was covered in a thick and sticky mixture of oil and blood, as were the plastic advertisements hanging overhead. Thousands of pieces of broken safety glass littered every surface. The walls looked scorched, as if someone had taken a blow torch and burned them beyond recognition.
"How could I possibly have survived something like this?" he wondered.
"All this damage. All these people, hurt, dead, destroyed. What was it that saved me and not them?"
Just then, he caught sight of light reflecting off the glass partition he'd been leaning against earlier. Somehow it had protected him.
"Help should be coming soon," Jason thought. "We've been here for at least five minutes. They must know something serious has happened. Wait, are those voices? People?"
A tall man wearing a suit approached from the back of the carriage. "He looks so clean. He can't have been in here when the bomb went off," Jason thought.
For a second, he closed his eyes. When he opened them, he could see that the rescuer was now kneeling down, talking quietly to David Gardner. Jason stood up and walked forward.
"I tied a tourniquet around his leg with my shirt," he said.
The accent was strange. I couldn't quite place it, but it seemed to be South African. Perhaps it was the sharpness of the syllables in "tour-ni-quet". Perhaps I was just guessing.
The man talking to me had no shirt. The collar had been tied around his head, like something Julius Caesar might have worn. "What is your name?" I asked.
"Jason," he said, the accent now more distinct.
"What is your last name, Jason?" I asked.
"Rennie. Jason Rennie."
Not that last names really mattered in a place like this; it was just the kind of question a reporter asks. Looking back, I am surprised I didn't ask him to spell it for me. I suppose I was searching for something normal in a situation that was anything but.
I'd woken early that morning because my wife, Donna, was eight months pregnant and sleeping badly.
Today was Donna's penultimate day at work before she left on maternity leave. It was my last chance to take the train in with her for a while. We left our flat and walked, hand in hand, to Hanwell Station in West London. I was hoping she would come all the way to Paddington and then take the Circle Line with me to Farringdon, where I was working on a story. Donna's offices were only a short walk from there, but the chances were that she wouldn't get a seat if she took the Circle Line.
"I'm too massive to stand," she said. "I'm getting off at Ealing so I can grab a seat on the District Line."
We passed the rest of the trip flirting. We'd been together ten years, we still loved each other and now we had a kid on the way. Life was good.
The train stopped at Ealing and just like that she was gone. At Paddington I considered buying a paper but for no particular reason decided not to, and grabbed a free one from a stand instead. It should have been an insignificant decision but, on July 7, insignificant decisions became life-changing ones.
Stopping would have delayed me just long enough to miss the Tube, which means I would have missed the bomb, which means I would have missed everything.
As the train pulled up, I looked at the time on my mobile: 8.48am. All the seats were taken, so I resigned myself to standing and opened up my newspaper, closing off the world around me. Soon the darkness of the tunnel was swallowing us up, carriage by carriage.
Another train approaching through the tunnel from Edgware Road shook us slightly as it passed. The lights from its carriages flashed in the dark then a loud crack reverberated down the tunnel.
It sounded like the sharp clang of metal on metal when two cars collide. Both trains slammed to a halt and everyone was thrown forwards. The train on the opposite track came to a halt outside our window.
"We've hit another train," I thought. "One must have clipped the other as they passed."
Smoke seeped in through the doors behind me. I saw it oozing along the floor. It smelled like burning plastic. It hit the back of my throat hard.
As children in Toronto in November 1987, we had been told about the King's Cross fire. I had no idea where King's Cross was, but I understood fire. People had died. A discarded match on a wooden escalator had started it. The lesson was clear: don't play with matches. I never forgot it.
All I could think about now was fire. Would we burn, too? Would people panic? Would I be trampled? I had to stay calm.
A short, pudgy man in a suit started to bang on the windows. He was in the early stages of panic. He might infect the others. I was terrified of being caught in a stampede.
"Everybody stay calm," I said. "We have to stay still and wait for word from the staff. Everything will be OK."
As people quietened, we heard for the first time the screams from the train on the neighbouring track, only a foot away. They were horrible; shrieks of pain and fear.
"It probably sounds worse than it is," I thought. Maybe someone was having an anxiety attack, nothing more. Still, it made everyone think: how bad was it over there that people were screaming like that?
At one end of my carriage was an unused driver's cabin. There is one in the middle of every Circle Line train. Beyond it, in the next carriage, was a young woman named Rhian Jones, who had flown in from Edinburgh that morning for a meeting with colleagues from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The severity of the situation had not yet sunk in for Rhian. She could only think of how late she was and kept thumbing through her work papers nervously.
Leaning with her back against a door, she thought she felt a knocking at the glass behind her. She ignored it. There it was again. She turned around. The doors were edging open a millimetre at a time.
She looked at the crack appearing between them and could see bloody fingers emerging from outside the train. A hand was thrust through the opening. It frightened her. She tried to grab it. It was too slippery. It disappeared back out through the doors.
"Did that really happen?" she thought. She pressed her face against the glass and cupped her hands around her eyes to look for the owner of the fingers of the hand. It was so dark. She strained to see.
A bloody hand slammed against the glass from outside the train, leaving a streak of red down the window. Rhian shot back. She could see something else moving in the dark now.
"Is that a face?' she asked herself, leaning forward for a better look. "It is a face. It's soaked in blood. Oh, my God."
A man from the other train pressed his forehead against the glass. He was frantic. He was trying to escape whatever was going on out there. He tried to force his arm through the doors again.
"This is like something out of a horror film," Rhian thought. The face was framed in black but she could see the whites of the man's eyes. Beyond it she could see twisted metal. The other train looked mangled.
"There's been a bomb," she thought. "There's been a bomb.
As the man tried to force his way into the carriage, he left bloody handprints up and down the inside of the sliding doors.
"Help, help get me through this door," he yelled. "We are dying in here; help us."
Two men rushed forward to open the doors, but they weren't strong enough. Rhian darted into the unused driver's cabin and opened the connecting door into my carriage.
"Does anyone know First Aid?" she yelled. "We need some help." Her cry made the blood curdle.
I stood there for a moment. I had taken a First Aid course, but that was seven years ago. Would I be of any use now? Would I do more harm than good?
My feet wanted to step forward, but my mind was holding me back. The push I needed came when I saw Tim Coulson, a school teacher, who was already walking forward to help. He had an air of calm about him, as if he was taking a walk in the park. I assumed, for some reason, that he was some kind of doctor.
"Maybe I can't do much myself," I thought, "but I can assist that doctor guy. I'm going."
We walked through to Rhian's carriage and saw the man soaked in blood, still trying to make his way onto our train from the one on the other track. Adrenaline surged through me, but there was no way we could pull the doors open and I was afraid the man would hurt himself trying to get in. There was only one option.
"If I smash the glass in this door and go over there to try to help him, will yo come with me?" I asked Tim.
Using an ice-scraper from the unused driver's cabin, we lunged towards the glass. It shattered with ease and I followed Tim through, lowering ourselves down through the blown-out doors of the opposite carriage.
It was almost completely dark inside the other train, the only light coming from the one we had just left. I couldn't see where I was going and as I landed, I almost slipped on the floor. It was covered in blood.
Tim took a step towards the man who, moments earlier, had tried to force his way on to our train. He was cut above his eye but there appeared to be no major injury to worry about. He'd have to wait until later.
Another man was screaming at me, desperate. "Help him, help this man," he kept repeating, pointing downwards at a man trapped in a crater in the floor. It was a horrible sight.
The screaming man continued to call for help. I had never heard anyone make that sort of sound before, a strange combination of shrieking and speech from someone who had seen the face of hell and watched it steal away all sense of reason.
He scared me more than anything else that day. I knew that if I didn't retain a grip on my faculties, I would end up just like him, lost in madness in this dark and horrible place.
Turning back to the man in the floor, I could see hands reaching for him from below the train. Tim's hands. He had jumped down on to the tracks to help the man from there and I could see that one of his legs was tangled in the twisted steel hanging beneath the carriage. If Tim could free it, he might have a chance of helping him.
Starting at the man's calf, Tim felt up his leg. Just past the thigh, he realised that his efforts were to no avail. The man's leg was not attached to the rest of his body.
I stepped forward to see if I could help, but suddenly the man seemed to looked to my right, where the doors had been torn away. Two legs, blown off at the thigh, were sticking out from a pile of debris. They hung partly out of the door.
I stepped towards them, thinking I should uncover the body, tie off the legs with tourniquets and try to resuscitate the victim. I didn't. Those legs had no life in them, just as Colin had no life in him.
On the other side of the crater, a young woman whose clothes had been blown away lay motionless, her beautiful long brown hair curled around her shoulders like water. Her head was lying in a pool of blood. A man was trying to resuscitate her, encouraged by two young women on the other train who were calling out instructions through a crack in their carriage doors, but it was clearly to no avail.
As he stood up, there was a chorus of cries from the girls in the next train. They burst into tears, but there was no time for any of us to grieve for those who had died. Dead people were all around us and those still alive were seriously injured.
We needed help — paramedics, firefighters — and we needed it now. What the hell was keeping them?
■ EXTRACTED from Into The Darkness: An Account Of 7/7 by Peter Zimonjic, to be published by Vintage on April 3 at £7.99. © Peter Zimonjic 2008. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.
|Alone, on fire, buried and bleeding... but refusing to die: Inside the 7/7 tunnel of hell|
By PETER ZIMONJIC
Last updated at 21:53pm on 10th March 2008
On the morning of July 7, 2005, Peter Zimonic, a Canadian journalist working in London, found himself caught up in the suicide bombings that brought death to the capital. In a breathtaking new book, he describes the bravery, triumph and despair of that terrible day. This is our second extract ...
The screams were echoing all along the tunnel. Loud screams. Terrifying screams. But one cry for help cut through all the others.
"Somebody get me out of here," the voice shrieked. "Please get me out of here. Someone help me, someone please."
The voice wasn't coming from inside a train — it was coming from the tunnel itself. It belonged to a man called Danny Biddle. He had been blown out of the Tube carriage when the bomb went off and was lying in darkness on the tunnel floor, between Edgware Road and Paddington stations.
At first, his sense of uncertainty was not dissimilar to the one you have when waking in a strange bed in a dark room. For a moment, you're not sure which way you're lying, or which way the bed is facing. If you lie still long enough, you can piece it all together without having to turn on the light. Ultimately, you know you are somewhere safe. If you don't know where you are, all you have to do is turn the light on. Mystery solved.
On July 7, there was no light, no place safe from the dark. One minute, hundreds of people were reading their newspapers, ignoring the person next to them or listening to music on their headphones. Then, suddenly, the entire world dropped away and they were in shadow.
And, unlike the darkness of a strange bedroom, the carriages underground were not quiet that day. They were filled with screams of terror and the murderous wrenching of metal train parts ripping and twisting under the heat and force of a deliberate explosion.
Few ever hear screams like the ones heard in the tunnels that day in July 2005. They were complete in their expression of an emotion experienced to its absolute maximum: fear. The fear of people who didn't know where they were, if they were whole or if they were about to die.
For Danny Biddle, the nightmare came to him with a scream so loud, it reverberated down the tunnel and into the train carriages packed with commuters on their way to work.
Danny's scream stopped people in their tracks and made them forget, for only a moment, whatever was happening to them. However afraid they were, it was nothing compared to the terror of the man screaming for help from somewhere under the train.
The leap from normality to horror was as sudden for Danny as it had been for everyone else, but the outcome would be far worse. One minute, he was concerned about being late for work, the next worrying not if, but when, he was going to die.
When his alarm had gone off that morning just before five, Danny had been barely able to open his eyes. A migraine had a hold of him and it was squeezing his brain until he felt sick. His fiancée told him to take the day off from his job as a building site manager in Wembley, but an hour later he felt much better and set off from his home in Romford. He would be late but he wanted to go in regardless. It was in his nature to work hard.
There were no seats on the Circle Line train he got on at Liverpool Street, so Danny stood leaning with his left side up against the partition. Knowing he would be late, he began composing a text message to his boss.
When the train stopped at King's Cross, Danny was so busy trying to thumb out his text that he didn't notice Mohammad Sidique Khan, wearing a rucksack and a white baseball cap, stepping into the carriage to take the vacated seat directly to his left on the other side of the glass.
As the journey continued, both men were preoccupied: Danny with his text messaging and Khan with his plot to murder everyone around him.
Danny was useless at texting. It took him ages to write his message and when he had finished, he realised they were at Edgware Road, two stops past Baker Street, where he had planned to leave the station briefly to send his text. He would have to continue to Paddington, the next stop.
Putting his phone away, he glanced down at Khan, sitting in the seat to his left. They were only feet apart. He noticed Khan's light-green jacket, the watch on his left wrist, the white baseball cap, and the small backpack he was holding on his lap. Danny didn't suspect a thing about the Asian man. Why would he? The bomber looked like someone off to work, or out for a day's shopping. Lots of people looked like Khan on the Tube. There was no reason to give it a second thought.
Then Khan put his right hand through the top zip of his bag. And that was it.
At first Danny was overwhelmed by a burst of light, like millions of flash bulbs suddenly going off at once. Then came the abrupt change in pressure, as if someone had pumped the carriage full of compressed air.
White noise slammed into his eardrums and he felt himself flying backwards, out of the train, and crash hard into the tunnel wall before landing on his back next to the tracks on the gravel-covered ground.
Danny's first thought was that he had somehow fallen out of the doors and been electrocuted. It seemed to make sense.
Everything was dark, except for a flickering light coming from his stomach. It was fire. There were flames on his left arm too, several inches high. He looked at his other arm. It was engulfed in flames as well and the metal strap of the watch on his right wrist was searing into his skin like a branding iron.
He fumbled it open and threw the watch away. Then he started waving his arms frantically, patting them down with his hands until they stopped burning. He looked around him. The lighting along the tunnel wall was only dim but Danny could see the train had been destroyed. There was debris all around him.
Ten metres away, lying in almost the same position as him, was a woman with blonde hair. Like Danny, she had been blown out of the carriage. She was crying out. He was not alone. She must have fallen out, too.
Allowing his eyes to drift upwards as he tried to catch his breath, he was adjusting to the darkness now and could see something suspended from the cables on the wall. It was a human leg.
He attempted to lift himself to get a better view, but he was pinned down by a carriage door which was lying across his waist like a blanket of steel. He tried to move it with his hands but it was too heavy. He couldn't get any leverage and he wondered why. His eyes returned to the hanging leg. That's when it occurred to him: "I can't feel my legs."
He put his hand down under the door to try and feel for his thigh but there was nothing; no sensation, just mangled flesh and mush.
Panic surged. Instinctively, he put his right hand up to his forehead, but when his fingers touched his scalp there was immediately something wrong. Danny paused for a moment.
There was a gash in his forehead. He felt further and half his hand slid under his scalp. He could feel his fingers on his exposed skull. When he pulled his hand away to look at it he could see the tendons moving under his charred skin.
He was on fire, his body broken, pinned to the ground and pouring blood. But worst of all, there was no one there to help. The realisation of what had happened to him sent Danny into the screaming panic that people would be able to hear from the front to the back of the tunnel.
Standing in the wreckage of the carriage in which Danny had been standing moments before, I struggled to think of something useful I could do for the injured and dying all around me.
I had been travelling in a train going in the opposite direction when Khan exploded his bomb. Together with a few other passengers from my train, I had climbed into the darkness of the bombed-out carriage to see what help I could give.
One of the first people I had encountered was Jason Rennie, a South African in his mid-30s who had burst eardrums and cuts on his head, wrist and leg. Despite his injuries, Jason had ripped up his shirt to make bandages for another passenger, David Gardner who, less than an hour earlier, was waving goodbye to his two-year-old son at nursery, but was now in danger of bleeding to death from a shattered leg.
I could make bandages too, I thought. It seemed silly, standing in the middle of so much horror, to remember how much time I'd spent deliberating about what shirt to wear that morning. Now I was about to tear it to shreds.
I took off my cufflinks. A gift from my mother-in-law, they were shaped like a maple leaf, the emblem of my native Canada, and I wore them to remind me of home. I carefully slid them into my pocket — and instantly felt guilty.
"What's wrong with me?" I thought.
"People are dying here and I am thinking about some stupid cufflinks. I can't keep them."
I fingered the cufflinks in my pocket for what seemed like several minutes. Over and over again, I thought about throwing them away, that somehow keeping them was wrong, petty, selfish.
The cufflinks confused me, took me away from where I was, made me think of other things — of home, the Christmas morning when I had unwrapped them, family.
My mind was going round in circles. I couldn't decide what to do. I was overwhelmed by fear, excitement and guilt. Overwhelmed by my inability to do something that matched the need of the situation.
Why was it not me lying there instead of David, or in that hole in the carriage floor, in place of the man I'd watched die a few minutes before?
I could have stood there for the rest of the day, dazed, trapped and confused, if Jason hadn't put his hand on my shoulder.
"I need some more bandages for David's arm,' he said. "He is still bleeding."
"Of course, of course," I said, dropping the cufflinks back into my pocket and forgetting about them. Slipping off my shirt, I held it by the tail with both hands. I had seen people rip dresses in the movies. I was sure this was how it was done. Putting both hands together and then yanking them apart briskly, I expected the cotton to tear. It didn't. I felt desperately self-conscious and annoyed at myself.
At six foot six, I was bigger than most people, but here I was trying to play the hero and all I was doing was making a fool of myself. Eventually I took a short cut and made a tear in the shirt with my teeth.
"Look, Katie," said a voice in the darkness. "Things are getting better already. How often do you get a strapping man like that to rip his shirt off for you?"
It was Andrew Ferguson, another passenger. He was comforting Katie and Emily Benton, two sisters from Tennessee who were in their early 20s. They were on a sightseeing trip and had been in London for only a couple of days.
It was summer and they had been walking around the city in shorts and flip-flops, fine for the beach but no protection from the blast of a suicide bomb which had sent shrapnel careening along the carriage and torn their legs to shreds.
Emily's feet were little more than mangled lumps of flesh, as if the skin had mushroomed outwards into a pillow of fluffy grey tissue. Despite the size of the wounds, they were not bleeding. The fire from the bomb had somehow cauterised the exposed skin.
I took one of the bigger strips of my shirt and wrapped it around Emily's right foot, tying it tight around her ankle. She barely moved as I worked but, to keep her calm, I continued talking, telling her what I was doing. Her ears were damaged, so I had to repeat myself several times.
Beside me, Jason was listening to David describe the amateur production of Julius Caesar he was starring in. Andrew was asking the American sisters about the West End musical they had seen the night before and why they didn't like country and western music.
The conversations were sporadic, superficial, but they served their purpose: they distracted the injured, kept them awake, away from death.
The driver of the bombed train had started evacuating passengers from the first carriage.
Among them was a South African bodyguard named Adrian, who had served in Kosovo. He hit the gravelled surface just as Danny Biddle's screams reached a crescendo. He knew the cries of broken and desperate men confronted by their own mortality and ran along the tunnel to find where they came from.
"Stay calm," he said, lifting the carriage door away from Danny and throwing it aside.
"I am ex-military. I have been in this situation before. I have never lost anyone yet and I do not intend to start now."
Adrian could see how badly Danny had been injured. His head was hugely swollen. It was sliced apart from one side of his forehead to the other and one of his eyes didn't seem to be there.
As Adrian tended him, a line of other passengers emerged, all desperate to escape the tunnel. They made reasonable progress until they encountered Danny lying across the ground in front of them.
In desperation, those at the head of the queue stepped over his broken body to get out. Adrian ordered them to stop. They would either have to wait or turn around and go back the way they had come.
No one turned. They just stopped, backed up like traffic and waited for someone to tell them what to do as Adrian battled to save the life of a man who looked as if he had no right to be alive.
Soon, Adrian was joined by Lee Hunt, a driver who appeared up the tracks from Edgware Road, carrying a torch.
"Please don't shine that light in my eyes,' Danny said, unaware that he now had only one eye.
Adrian asked Lee to hand over his high-visibility vest and tried to tie it around the stump of Danny's left leg as a tourniquet.
As Adrian worked, Danny fully expected to die in that dark and lonely place. His only sense of relief at Adrian's arrival was that he no longer had to do so alone.
He thought about his fiancée, about the wedding day they were planning together, of the things he would never do, like holding his child in his arms for the first time. He thought about how much he had been looking forward to his life and how none of that would happen now.
"I don't want to die," he thought. "I am 26. I have a lot of things left to do. Not like this, please."
With the panic came guilt. He was going to leave his fiancée behind, alone without him. He had to pass on a message to her.
Lifting his head, Danny caught Adrian's attention and told him her name.
"You have got to find her, do you hear me?" Danny said. "You have to find her and tell her I am sorry."
"It won't come to that," Adrian replied. "I am going to get you out of here."
There was something in Adrian's voice: confidence.
Danny began to hope, for the first time since he'd hit the ground, that he would be strong enough to make it into the sunlight above ground before he breathed his last. If only he could have one more look at the blue sky. If only he could feel the sun on his face once more before he died. If only.
Fading in and out of consciousness, he eventually heard voices above him discussing how they were going to get him on a stretcher. A paramedic had arrived.
The poor lighting and uneven ground made it difficult to manoeuvre the stretcher and every movement made Danny groan in agony, but he was determined to make it into the sunlight before he died.
At one point, the rescuers had to lift him to chest-height to clear a signal light blocking the way. Danny was convinced they were going to drop him.
He had somehow survived being blown out of a carriage and into a tunnel with such force that the loose change and keys in his left trouser pocket were now embedded in his right leg. He had had the strength to scream for help and to remain conscious while he was being cared for; surely he wasn't going to die now as a result of falling from a stretcher?
Finally, as he passed under the blue awning covering the entrance to Edgware Road, Danny felt himself being carried into the light. Relief. He was outside. He didn't have to die breathing that horrible rusty air that tasted of human blood. The sun was on his face again.
When the ambulance pulled into casualty at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, a doctor ran over and looked at his latest patient. Even with only one eye, Danny registered the shock on his face before he turned away for more help. Within seconds he was surrounded by doctors and nurses, a babble of voices calling out instructions. Then he passed out.
Covered in soot and blood, the walking wounded were now flooding out of the carriages and into the tunnel, clearing the way for emergency crews to push through to those of us in the bombed carriage.
Unfortunately, until all the passengers were out, it would be like trying to swim upstream to get to us. Help was still minutes away.
By now, Jason and I had moved into a collective state of panic. We had been watching over David Gardner for three-quarters of an hour and with every passing minute he was getting worse.
He had stopped talking about his play, he had stopped waving his hands around as he spoke, and he had gone a pale grey colour. Both Jason and I knew that if he didn't get out of there soon, he was going to die in front of us.
With each passing moment, my heartbeat charged with the terrifying anticipation of his death until it threatened to overrun me completely. It was such a strange experience, to feel this way about a man I had only just met.
I didn't know David Gardner. I didn't know his wife, Angela, or his son, Matthew. I knew almost nothing about this man, but I felt an overpowering connection with him that manifested itself in a desperate hope that he would continue to live.
What made that feeling so much stranger was that I was not the only one experiencing it. Jason was in exactly the same state.
I didn't know Jason either; nothing about his plans to become a father; his service in the South African army; his job as a building project manager; his penchant for playing video games on his mobile. But with him, I shared an emotional attachment to David that was, in those brief, intense moments, all-consuming.
How could it be that I cared this much about people I had only just met? An hour earlier I would have ignored them both, as they would have me.
Of course, everything was different now. Jason had surely prolonged, if not saved, David's life by tying off his leg with a tourniquet. I had watched over him, promised him he would make it out of that tunnel alive.
My fear now was that the stranger whose life suddenly meant so much to me would die in front of us — with my empty promise ringing in his ears.
■ Extracted from Into The Darkness: An Account Of 7/7 by Peter Zimonjic, to be published by Vintage on April 3 at £7.99. © Peter Zimonjic 2008. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.
TOMORROW: THE MOST AMAZING SURVIVOR OF ALL
|Sharing the darkness|
New book a stopwatch account of 7/7 terrorist attacks that killed more than 50 in Britain
By THANE BURNETT
The Devil wasn't in the details -- the important minutia survived in spite of His best efforts.
Stepping into the unknown of mainland Britain's worst terrorist assault, Peter Zimonjic was as overwhelmed with the humanity left intact as the many parts ripped to shreds. Even today, the Canadian-born journalist, who was the only Fleet Street reporter to witness London's attacks first hand, is struck by the good that survived in the sudden darkness.
"I found an enormous respect for the British people ... their resiliency," says Zimonjic, who, when one of four bombs destroyed a subway car running beside his on July 7, 2005, rushed into the broken remains to tend to the injured.
This week, Zimonjic's stop-watch account of the co-ordinated terrorist attacks on London, Into the Darkness, arrives on bookshelves in Canada.
The eye-witness narrative -- stories of lives, including his own, swept up in the murder of more than 50 people in London's subway system and aboard a double-decker bus -- is now being extracted exclusively in Sun Media newspapers.
Into the Darkness is not a forensic exploration of how four suicide bombers could have carried out their search for martyrdom, but rather how strangers came together to deal with the hateful wreckage.
Just as Zimonjic did, everyday-people were the first to rush in. And when the living finally made it out into the light, they again turned to one another for support.
Zimonjic counts himself among an odd community of survivors and witnesses to suddenly -- and forever -- speak the same short-hand language no one else can fully understand. After the attacks, he set up a "London recovers" website, which still acts as a digital town hall for those who saw -- from inside the darkness.
Zimonjic, for instance, had never seen a dead body before that day. Suddenly, pieces and whole parts were everywhere.
"You go home, and they can't understand," he explains.
His website and an early first-hand newspaper story, which is considered the seminal journalistic account of the murders 7/7, form the cornerstones of the book. But the mortar, he says, was found in the details of lives lived.
He's come to prize the important details of everyday existence, from the pressed shirt chosen during a morning rush, to the train not taken and to the lines of a silly Monty Python song that gave comfort to one victim who expected to die.
The 34-year-old father of two, who returned to Canada in the wake of 7/7, is now a national affairs writer with Sun Media, and lives in Ottawa with his young family.
Time spent in the darkness apparently hurried along his plans to return to Canada.
On the trains, before everything went wrong, most people hardly noticed the world around -- just taking up the same seat they used the morning before.
But after, many re-evaluated their time and space. They quit jobs. Moved out of London. Bought country homes they always longed for.
Concentrating, more closely, Zimonjic suggests, on the neglected details of lives spared -- and, in the darkness, shared.
|24 May 2008|
Dissection of The Friday Project
Via Ian Hocking at This Writing Life.
Scott Pack, publisher of the Friday Project, writes in the Bookseller about the demise of the company.
"I could fill this column with a list of contributing factors, but the truth is that if we had sold more books and produced them more cost-effectively,then the business wouldn’t have gone under. Mistakes were made. These have proved extremely costly to both people within the business and, more importantly, to those outside it with a vested financial interest. When a company goes bust, creditors are often left out of pocket. That is certainly the case with TFP, but there is also the added weight of shareholders losing their investments and a number of authors now having no home for their books."
In the same issue, the Bookseller tells the fuller story of the Friday Project from an independent perspective.
"Launched in June 2005, TFP began flying its colours as the first mainstream publisher to truly tackle the web. It aimed to produce books inspired by popular websites, and promised to thoroughly engage with the internet community. It was screw up rather than success. In March, TFP went under, prompting an unprecedented storm of online vitriol from the very community it had courted. “Self-deception when you are in a financial hole is as bad as when you are in the grip of an addiction,” wrote author and blogger Susan Hill. Vanessa Robertson at Fidra Books blogged: “As they disappear in a whirlwind of debt, The Friday Project has been shown to be no more than spin and self-promotion, masking the fact that although they had some great books on their list, they had no idea of how to run a business.” "
Of the titles published, losers included Out of the Tunnel by Rachel North, "a summer title it [TFP] had projected sales of more than 30,000 for, tanked, selling only 5,000 copies" and Caroline Smailes’s In Search of Adam (it has sold 1,333 copies since publication in March). These and other titles are compared with "blog-to-book" Anya Peters's Abandoned, selling over 150,000 copies, published by Michael Joseph. Various people are quoted as stating that TFP's problem was publishing "frozen blogs" between covers, rather than developing the "neverending story" of the blog into the "narrative arc" necessary for a book.
What now? From the Bookseller: "After much wrangling—and internet anguish—HarperCollins ended up acquiring, for a “nominal sum”, certain assets of TFP out of administration: 30 author contracts....; the website; the brand; the goodwill...; and the continued employment of [publishing director Clare Christian], Scott Pack and managing editor Heather Smith."
|The long bad Friday |
22.05.08 Alison Flood
You live by the sword, you die by the sword. In The Friday Project’s (TFP) case, the sword was the internet—the brave new world that offers almost infinite possibilities, and just as many perils.
Launched in June 2005, TFP began flying its colours as the first mainstream publisher to truly tackle the web. It aimed to produce books inspired by popular websites, and promised to thoroughly engage with the internet community.
Taking content from such sites as “London by London” and Tom Reynolds’ blog about life in an ambulance, TFP intended to “truly put the internet at the heart of our publishing strategy”, as publishing director Clare Christian said at the time. Editor-in-chief Paul Carr was more bolshy. “We may crash and burn, but it will be because we screwed up,” he declared. “And if we make millions, then it’s our success.”
It was screw up rather than success. In March, TFP went under, prompting an unprecedented storm of online vitriol from the very community it had courted.
“Self-deception when you are in a financial hole is as bad as when you are in the grip of an addiction,” wrote author and blogger Susan Hill. Vanessa Robertson at Fidra Books blogged: “As they disappear in a whirlwind of debt, The Friday Project has been shown to be no more than spin and self-promotion, masking the fact that although they had some great books on their list, they had no idea of how to run a business.”
So what went wrong? “Mismanagement in a lot of ways, bad luck I’m sure, and books not doing as well as we’d thought,” says a decidedly shaken-looking Christian. “We spent too much money on promoting ourselves.”
Carr, in his upcoming memoir Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore (Weidenfeld, July), has many a tale about the excesses of TFP. He writes about hiring an entire floor of Soho House to launch The Holy Moly! Rules of Modern Life, and drinking a champagne bar dry at TFP’s Christmas party a few months later.
TFP got off the ground with £100,000 seed capital from Quercus chair Anthony Cheetham and his wife (agent Georgina Capel), a DTI loan of £100,000, £50,000 from Christian and Carr’s parents, and £51,000 from Christian herself. By May 2006, it had raised a further £520,000, giving it the impetus to grow extremely rapidly; by the time TFP went under, it had 70-odd titles on its backlist, with 60 more in the pipeline. As late as July 2007, Christian was adamant that she “never wanted TFP to be another small independent, growing organically over years and years, and the area in which we are publishing made it even more critical to grow rapidly”.
Books that have done well for the independent publisher include Tom Reynolds’ book of his blog Blood, Sweat & Tea: Real-Life Adventures in an Inner-City Ambulance, which has sold 19,796 copies through Nielsen BookScan to date; The Bumper B3ta Book of Sick Jokes (31,095); and the aforementioned The Holy Moly! Rules of Modern Life (11,252).
Seconds out, round two
By February 2007, TFP began a second round of fundraising, aiming for £620,000. Then, Out of the Tunnel by Rachel North, a summer title it had projected sales of more than 30,000 for, tanked, selling only 5,000 copies. Fundraising, scheduled to complete by the end of June, was delayed by a further two months. The main backers also decided at the last minute to withhold £150,000, dependent on future performance.
Christian knew TFP had to have a good Christmas 2007 to pull itself out of deepening debt; the company made a loss of more than £700,000 in 2006 on turnover of around £350,000.
The decision was taken to print Christmas titles in large numbers, as TFP would have no time to reprint to demand, and believed it had a strong line-up. Christian stresses that the decision was taken by TFP’s board of directors, not just her. A letter to creditors states: “This was a calculated risk which would give the company an opportunity to generate sufficient revenue over the Christmas period to continue trading into and through 2008.”
Christian says it became apparent that TFP would not meet its Christmas targets, “and we had to take drastic action”. MediaFund, a publishing mergers and acquisitions brokerage, was appointed to handle a sale to another publisher, “but the business was too big”, Christian says. “We’d already published 65–70 books, with 60 on our forward list—it was a big financial commitment.” No purchaser was interested in the list in its entirety, so TFP ceased to trade on 26th February, with an administrator appointed. Pack puts his side of the story in his blog, here.
According to documents at Companies House, the blogs-to-books publisher owes a total of £1.79m, with creditors including Anthony Cheetham (£60,000), Midas PR (£13,234) and Snowbooks (£5,088).
After much wrangling—and internet anguish—HarperCollins ended up acquiring, for a “nominal sum”, certain assets of TFP out of administration: 30 author contracts (10–12 backlist, the rest frontlist, Christian says); the website; the brand; the goodwill (Christian gives a wry smile); and the continued employment of herself, Scott Pack and managing editor Heather Smith.
A sustainable model?
The book trade continues to speculate about the downfall of the publisher which was for so long its darling (Christian won young publisher of the year at the Nibbies in 2007; The Bookseller tipped TFP as a start-up to watch in 2006). Was it the business model itself that was flawed?
The blogs-to-books (“blooks”) genre is a relatively young one, with publishers still feeling their way into what works and what doesn’t. High-profile deals for bloggers hit the headlines regularly. Agent Patrick Walsh of Conville and Walsh is often involved—he wrapped up a six-figure deal with Michael Joseph in December for Single Mother on the Verge.
Walsh has also just struck a deal with Virgin for Charlotte Moerman, who blogs at www.raisingkids.co.uk, and will offer to publishers a book from blogger and Daily Telegraph columnist Dulwich Mum in the next two weeks. “It’s very early days for these blogs to books. I certainly haven’t worked out, and publishers haven’t worked out, what the market is. I guess it is people who buy fiction in paperback in W H Smith and Waterstone’s who would buy these books—which tend to be non-fiction—as if they’re fiction.”
Walsh—who also agents queen of the blooks Belle de Jour—believes that for a blook to work, it has to offer more than is freely available on the web. “I feel that that is where TFP possibly went wrong. They seemed to basically slip covers on a website, whereas you want more.”
Literary agent Simon Trewin of United Agents, who struck a six-figure deal for “Petite Anglaise” blogger Catherine Sanderson with Penguin, agrees. “I felt that with too many of TFP’s books, what they’d done was taken the blog and printed it out, put it between two covers and sold it—nothing else other than that.”
He points to “London by London”, a blog he enjoyed. “I got the book but thought it was like a frozen moment in the time of the blog. You want a book to be a living, breathing object with its own integrity—this was like looking at holiday photos when what you wanted was to be on holiday.”
With Petite Anglaise, Trewin and Sanderson used the blog as the basis for a book, rather than just reprinting the blog’s best bits. Trewin says: “We could have gone down the route of just taking a lot of extracts from the blog, but we felt the thing to do was to think what kind of book to write. I think of a blog as a never-ending story, with no narrative arc—what you need for a book is a beginning, middle and end.”
Despite this, and the raft of publicity Petite Anglaise received, it has only sold 3,868 copies since publication in February as a £12.99 hardback. The wrong format? Not necessarily: Anya Peters’ misery memoir blook Abandoned: The True Story of a Little Girl Who Didn’t Belong has sold more than 150,000 copies since publication last May, despite being published as a £12.99 hardback.
“We ummed and ahhed long and hard about doing it in hardback,” says Michael Joseph m.d. Louise Moore. “On the strength of the PR we got—which was wonderful—we thought it would work, but we realised that the hardback market is tough.”
A paperback reinvention next January will be “big”, Moore promises. “We possibly should have done it in paperback originally,” she says, adding that Single Mother on the Verge will be a paperback original when it is published in 2009.
Sex and war
Just as in any category of publishing, there are blooks that have worked and those that haven’t. Non-fiction appears to work best, with sex memoirs (Belle de Jour, and Girl with a One Track Mind’s 135,000-odd sales) and military accounts (the first being Salam Pax’s The Baghdad Blog, published in 2003 and with more than 8,000 sales) doing particularly well.
Fiction from blogs has been less obvious; Gollancz discovered fantasy author Scott Lynch through his blog, where he was posting extracts from The Lies of Locke Lamora, and swooped on world rights; TFP published Caroline Smailes’ In Search of Adam in March (it has sold 1,333 copies to date).
“It has to do with the fact that personal blogs have been autobiographical, getting something off your chest,” Walsh says. “Fiction blogs don’t work as well, so books developed out of them have tended to be non-fiction, but I’m sure that will change.”
Independent publisher Marion Boyars has published two titles from blogs—Baghdad Burning by the anonymous blogger Riverbend, which details her life in Baghdad and was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, and Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier. Publisher Catheryn Kilgarriff says sales of each top 30,000 around the world; in the UK, sales of Baghdad Burning are around 10,000 copies.
Kilgarriff believes the key to their success is the fact that if she had come across either in manuscript form, she would have been interested. “And I can categorically say that having an internet presence provided a market for their books, even if, as in the case of Riverbend, the book is identical to the material on the internet available for free. A book is something portable, comforting, even when not being read, and something to treasure. Thankfully, the book form has been enhanced, ratherthan replaced, by the internet.”
The success of Belle de Jour, Anya Peters and others was perhaps more down to the publicity they received than the instant audience a blog provides; Belle won a Guardian award for her blog, prompting a flurry of interest in it and in her identity, while Peters’ story of child abuse had obvious appeal for the misery memoir market. But it has meant that a horde of bloggers believe a book deal is in their sights, egged on by the plethora of “tutorials” and “mini-courses” online.
Trewin says: “Some people start a blog, and in two weeks say: ‘Where’s my book deal?’ We can all sniff out those types—people who are setting up a blog merely to get a book deal. You’ve got to go in with a healthy degree of cynicism.” He does hail the new route to publication the blog provides, however: “These days there are lots of different routes to entry, not like the old days when all you could do was send in your manuscript.” The publisher’s job—just as it is with a slush pile—is to sort through the dross to find the gold.
The rebirth of TFP
Back at TFP, the first book from within its new home in HC’s literary wing Press Books will be Nasim Marie Jafry’s fictionalised account of suffering from ME, The State of Me, due in July.
Christian also has plans for “creative development”: “There are ideas I’ve had that we’ve never had a chance to do . . . I’ve been spread so thin.” These include making author pages on TFP’s website wikis, so that authors and readers will be able to add and change information. “Maybe people could upload videos of themselves reading the book, and win copies,” she says, acknowledging that with the bad name TFP currently has online—and the barrage of anonymous aggression it has received—people might have to register to be able to do this.
The rescue by HC has prompted a fresh wave of online bitterness, with authors and creditors asking why, when they haven’t been paid, the directors of TFP should end up safe and sound at HC.
Christian insists that it would have been easier for her to wash her hands of the affair and walk away; that the HC deal means that some of TFP’s authors still have a publisher; and that those who continue to trade with it will be paid for the work they have done.
“Every single decision I’ve made was done to result in the best outcome for as many people as possible,” she says.
|Credo: Gill Hicks|
Interview by Tim Walker
Sunday, 29 June 2008
I had no identity on the morning of 7 July. To Germaine Lindsay, the bomber, I was anonymous. I was just "the enemy". But the people who risked their lives coming into that tunnel to save us also did so without knowing who any of us were.
Our bodies are capable of so much. I'm in awe of the body, the mind and the spirit. It was as if I'd made a decision that I didn't want to die there, and my body backed me up. I'm still amazed I walked out of hospital three months after the bombings.
I will never recover; when you have something as final as amputation, that's it. But even though I suffered a terrible loss, I'm still me. I lost my legs and about 80 per cent of my blood, but I came back as Gill. The important things are still there.
There'll be no more tunnels for me. I take buses now.
When you begin to appreciate life, everything changes. The volume knob gets turned up. There were days when I could only get water dripped through the top of a cotton-wool bud into my mouth. I remember thinking, "When I finally get a cup of water, I'm going to love it so much."
I have to make this second chance count. I'm so grateful for every day. I've been euphoric since I woke up [from a coma]. Many people expected me to hit the wall, but it hasn't happened and I doubt it will.
People struggle to understand why I don't feel bitter. But the bombers are dead, so they can't ask me for forgiveness. I have a sense of peace within myself.
The political hijacking of the Olympics is sad. It was an honour to be asked to carry the torch alongside some great Olympians.
There is a God. I've always been a deeply religious person. That was really strengthened when my mother died about 16 years ago. Her faith strengthened mine.
I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor.
'One Unknown' (Rodale Books), by Gill Hicks, is available now. Hicks is the organiser of the Walk Talk initiative (www. walktalk.org.uk), which starts on 19 July
|Frank Senauth after residing on the United Kingdom for over 16 years, he felt that his home should have been in London, forever, but that did not happen.|
Senauth emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada in 1973, where he worked and studied at his last wish of becoming a writer.
It was on the 7th of July 2005, when he gazed at the television in the United States and Canada about the bombings in London, England. He felt sad and he shed a tear or two. He knew he had to write about the way he felt, and the only way he could do so would be to go back in time, and bring you the true facts of this dramatic story of life and death. ï¿½A Morning of Terror.ï¿½
This book will be a must read, so please buy the book and indulge yourself in a story of a lifetime.
About Frank Senauth
Frank Senauth was born in Guyana, South America. In 1973 he emigrated to Canada.
He felt that Canada held better prospects for him. In 1986 he returned to his boyhood dream of becoming a writer. His last book, Tsunami 2004, was published in the United States, in 2006 by Outskirts Press.
|Remembering the 7/7 bombings|
Canadian reporter in london witnessed the carnage
CHRIS COBB, Canwest News service; Ottawa Citizen
Published: 1 hour ago
Peter Zimonjic wasn't in the London underground train that the suicide bomber blew apart, but he was close enough to witness the carnage.
"It was," he says, "like someone had thrown a bunch of human beings into a blender and poured it into the carriage."
Such was the horror of what the British dubbed 7/7 - the London Transport suicide bombings that killed 52 people and injured more than 700 on July 7, 2005.
The attacks were co-ordinated to hit London Transport as morning rush hour was ebbing. Shortly before 9 a.m., the homegrown Islamist attackers detonated four bombs - three on packed underground trains and a fourth that ripped apart a double-decker.
Zimonjic, a former Ottawa Citizen journalist working in London, was travelling to work on the underground when there was "a loud crack" and his train slammed to a sudden and violent halt, tossing passengers forward. Two trains stopped alongside each other, barely 12 inches apart. Choking smoke, darkness and the piercing screams of pain and fear began the crazed and confused hour that Into the Darkness chronicles with gripping, often horrifying detail.
Graphic though much of Zimonjic's book is, the overarching value of Into the Darkness is that it gives permanent voice to the victims and unusual insight into the horrors they suffered. What's more typical after events like terrorist attacks or school shootings is that the victims quickly become forgotten statistics and the perpetrators are forever remembered.
For a young journalist growing tired of the least-choice assignments and formulaic writing demanded by his newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph, fate had dealt Zimonjic a good professional hand.
He became a fleeting journalistic star, appearing on TV and radio and able to report as a journalist who was actually there - someone who had slid on the blood-sodden carriage floors, saw the disembodied limbs and literally ripped to shreds the shirt off his own back to help staunch the flow of blood from victims' bodies. It was the first time Zimonjic had seen a dead body, let alone the brutality and mayhem that the terrorist's bomb had visited upon this random group of innocent people.
But it was a high price to pay for a good story. He emerged from the experience with a post-traumatic shock that lasted almost three months.
"I wish it hadn't happened," adds Zimonjic, who moved back to Canada several months ago and is now a parliamentary reporter with Sun Media. "I wish it hadn't happened to anybody. But if you're handed lemons, it's best to make lemonade."
The genesis of Into the Darkness was a website Zimonjic created for survivors a few weeks after the bombings. During his numerous appearances on TV, radio and in print, he promoted the website that eventually attracted 250 messages ranging in length from 2,000 words to a few paragraphs.
His growing enthusiasm to write more was met with waning interest by British news media. A friend suggested he do a book.
"So I went to the literary editor of the Telegraph," he recalls, "and asked him how to get a book published. He said get an agent, so I wrote to the top five agents."
Zimonjic's proposal was snapped up with uncommon speed by one of those agents the day after he mailed it.
Zimonjic pieced together the story of 7/7 from his own experience, from the stories of survivors and their families and from other eyewitnesses, many of whom contacted his website.
He describes the moments immediately after the blast when he and a small group of others decided to smash a window and climb from their train to the wreckage on the line next to them.
"It was dark inside the train and I couldn't see the floor where I was expecting to land. ... I landed and almost slipped on the floor. It was covered with broken glass and blood. The doors had been blown off at both sides. There was a hole in the ceiling to match the one on the floor. A man was screaming at me, desperate.
" 'Help him. Help this man,' he kept repeating. I looked in the direction the screaming man was pointing, at the crater in the floor and the man trapped inside it. The man on the floor had no shirt. His head was cocked back and blood streaked his face. He looked about 50. He seemed almost lifeless. The screaming man continued to call for help. I had never heard anyone make that sort of sound before. Fear and panic had totally consumed him; now there was nothing left but the mind of someone who had seen the face of hell and watch it steal away all sense of reason."
As poignant and compelling as it is, Into the Darkness is merely a slice of the 7/7 story. Some experiences remain locked in the memories of those who have no interest in talking about the experience and, says Zimonjic, other recollections are either too unreliable or, in the case of the worst traumatized, pure fantasy.
He is still in contact with the wife of a man he found dead on the carriage floor. "She wants every detail of what her husband looked like when he died," he says. "I keep discouraging her. I saw what he looked like and I tell her she wouldn't want to know. But she keeps asking."
After the book publicity is finished and the media interviews are done with - he's not banking on a movie, but he's hopeful - Zimonjic wants to put terrorism and bombs behind him.
"I don't want it to define me," he says.
INTO THE DARKNESS: THE STORY OF 7/7
By Peter Zimonjic
By Roger Gray
SO19 is the Met’s Armed Response Unit – an elite team of experienced firearms officers who are ready to be on-scene in minutes to meet the threat of an armed incident in the capital.
Following the horrific terrorist attacks in London in July 2005 and the tragic accidental shooting of an innocent Brazilian man thought to be involved in the attacks, the profile of the Metropolitan Police’s armed unit has never been so high. The tough decisions they face on a daily basis have been brought to the forefront of the public’s mind and the controversial so-called ‘shoot to kill’ policy has been hotly debated throughout the media.
Armed Response: Inside SO19 (Updated) by Roger Gray
Published: 9 Feb 2006
Armed Response tells the gripping and often alarming story of SO19, the Armed Response Unit of the Met, and the Trojans within SO19 - the armed response vehicles permanently on patrol. Driven by the need for experience armed officers to be on the scene within minutes, the men and women of SO19 are called upon to stare death in the face as a matter of routine.
This fully revised and updated edition, including a new chapter on the London terrorist attacks and their aftermath, provides a vivid and extraordinary account of the work these brave men and women undertake.
The Trojan Files: Inside Scotland Yard's Elite Armed Response Unit by Roger Gray Paperback - 22 Feb 2001)
The Trojan Files: Inside Scotland Yard's Elite Armed Response Unit by Roger Gray (Hardcover - 10 Feb 2000)
|Independent Publisher and producer of a wide-range of best-selling and highly illustrated non-fiction books. Specializing in sports, including titles of popular fan-culture, true crime, biography, autobiography, humour, life-style and select literary fiction, USA and foreign rights available.|
|Dr Jon Cole is a reader in psychology at the University of Liverpool. He has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on decision making and aggression. Dr Benjamin Cole has co-authored or contributed to several studies of international terrorism, including The New Face of Terrorism: Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction (with Nadine Gurr), now in its second edition.|
|Bin Laden performed the clever trick of convincing young Muslims to stop obeying traditional religious leaders while assuming their authority for himself. His Jihadism – exclusive to Muslim’s Sunni sect – is a war that transcends not merely borders but the bounds of history, of which he has, like of Islamic law, the haziest notion. It also throws up some idiosyncratic models among his followers. “Remember Jack the Ripper,” urges Mohammed Hamid, a British Muslim who ran terrorist training camps in Wales[?]. “Remember this people that never get caught, right.”|
Hamid is one of 54 “British born or raised Muslims” analysed in Martyrdom, who were convicted of terrorism or died in pursuit of it. In sifting a “dataset” compiled from publicly available information, Jon and Benjamin Cole attempt to answer this question: why did these individuals raised in Britain seek to kill their fellow countrymen? In what is essentially an inconclusive cuttings job, the Coles make a collage of a typical member of this group: a disaffected and rootless 25-year-old working-class British Muslim male, of rural Pakistani descent, living in and around London. The decision to engage in violence is taken, apparently, “very quickly”.
Mohammed Siddique Khan, one of the suicide bombers on July 7 2005, was a second-generation Pakistani-Briton from West Yorkshire who, on a visit to the Wailing Wall, witnessed an old Palestinian man being manhandled by a nervous Israeli soldier. In that fateful moment, Khan felt neither British nor Pakistani. He was, to quote Aslan, “simply a Muslim: a member of a fractured, imaginary nation locked in an eternal cosmic war with a Jewish ‘nation’ just as imaginary and just as fractured”. For Khan as for Hamid, the version of Islamism peddled by bin Laden was, according to the authors of Martyrdom, “a natural way of transcending this cultural dislocation because it offered a new social identity that transcended both nationality and ethnicity”. Central to this global jihadism was a) the internet and b) martyrdom – a package that includes, supposedly: immediate admission to Heaven, marriage to 72 heavenly maidens and permission to bring along to Paradise 70 family members. One can’t help being reminded of Graham Greene’s idea of Hell, likened by George Orwell to a high-class nightclub, entry to which was reserved for Catholics only.
|No warning, no links, no leads: 7/7 bombings were a bolt out of nowhere|
From The Times
June 20, 2009
I walked into my office on the fifth floor of Scotland Yard at a quarter to eight, flicked on Sky News and pulled out my files on the Olympic bid, turning quickly to the chapter on security.
Had we really said we could do all this? Scotland Yard was already at full stretch.
A few minutes later one of my deputies, Suzanna Becks, knocked on the door and entered without waiting for an answer. “Andy, there’s a fire on the Underground.”
“Where?” I asked.
“Looks like Liverpool Street or Aldgate. Circle Line.”
I sensed her anxiety: “Thanks — get the response team organised. When you know more come back.”
At five past nine on July 7 2005, Suzanna was back again: “Two more fires — Circle Line at Edgware Road and Piccadilly Line near King’s Cross.” On the TV, Martin Brunt, Sky’s crime correspondent, had the news too.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch, joined us. Uniformed officers were already at the three scenes, sealing off the areas, helping fire and ambulance crews. Peter had detectives and forensic science teams ready and had arranged for our major investigation team to gather at Aldgate.
Other officers were checking the status of current surveillance operations to ensure that there was nothing linked with the movements of known suspects. The regular overnight intelligence reports revealed nothing. This was a complete bolt from nowhere, our worst-case scenario.
At 9.10am our internal e-mail system was describing the fires as explosions. On the secure “Brent” phone, I contacted MI5, and GCHQ, the government’s communications centre, where they monitor suspects and spies here and abroad.
The atmosphere in Scotland Yard was electric. From the basement to the highest floors people were in action. I worked my way mentally up the building. Second floor: all major event/public-order people — dispatched. Fifth floor: Suzanna and me pulling the strings. Eighth floor: the Commissioner — must see him in person. Thirteenth floor: media — need to get accurate information to the public. Fourteenth and fifteenth floors: Anti-Terrorist Branch — working out what to do right now to prevent further attacks today in London. Sixteenth to eighteenth floors: Special Branch — intelligence to aid the investigation.
But we still didn’t know exactly what we were up against. Like everyone else, we were frantic for clarity. I knew we’d never get accurate information at that early stage but as Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations you are not allowed to be over-inhibited or too cautious because you’ve got to do something. At the same time, you must not overreact.
By 9.40am Peter Clarke was telling me there were heavy casualties. Then came the explosion on the No.30 bus in Tavistock Square. Now we pushed the terrorism button hard. We were clearly witnessing a wave of attacks. We had trained for this — but were we up to scratch? Why hadn’t we had an inkling that this was imminent? My mind was racing.
Firearms units were called in, the intelligence agencies asked to search back through intelligence reports to see if they’d missed anything, forensics teams despatched and hospitals warned to prepare for the worst.
At 9.50am, there was a call from Downing Street: “Ten minutes to Cobra.” I would have to go to the crisis committee, brief ministers face to face and admit I didn’t know exactly what was happening.
We had to assume there’d be more bombs and that they could go off anywhere in the country. We put ports and airports on standby to check who was leaving. Later we’d check who’d recently come in. Peter sent officers to talk with colleagues at MI5, to start working backwards, looking at past intelligence as well as evidence we began gathering now, to find out who was responsible. There were thousands, if not millions, of hours of CCTV footage to get hold of from across London and elsewhere. There must surely be pictures of the killers just before the bombs were detonated.
There were moments that morning when I felt I was not truly in charge. People were asking, “What you got, then?” and I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know — yet it was my job to know. Imagine what it’s like to tell the commissioner or the Secretary of State, as I would have to, “I don’t know what’s going on”. It makes you feel inept. But you’ve got to stick to it: if you don’t know, you’ve got to say you don’t know.
I had to give my boss, Sir Ian Blair, the heads-up on what was happening.
“I’m sorry but I have bad news, Ian,” I said. “I think we’re in the middle of a wave of terrorist attacks — and they’re co-ordinated. I can’t confirm this but I do think the bus bomb implies it. It looks as if it’s the type of scenario we’ve been preparing for. I can’t tell you exact locations apart from the bus. I can’t tell you what’s caused the explosions. I can’t tell you anything about the bombers. But I want you to start thinking we’re hosting a sustained terrorist attack.”
Ian’s style was “need to know”. He wanted the overview but, I believe, in the first instance, not necessarily the detail. I remember how shocked he was. We agreed I would go to Cobra and brief the government in person while he would go on television.
We also discussed communications — finding out what was happening underground was clearly a major issue. Unbelievably, our radios weren’t compatible with the systems used by the other emergency services.
Mobiles were overloaded, so the ACCOLC (Access Overload Control) system was invoked, limiting calls around Aldgate station for four hours to emergency workers with a special Sim card. We decided not to shut down the entire mobile-phone system but many people thought it had been closed because it was so busy.
Martin, my driver, was waiting to take me to Cobra. London was gridlocked so Martin went for it through the jam. I held firm to the FM internal-grip handles — so called because when you’re the passenger in an emergency vehicle with blue flashing lights on, you invariably think, “F*** me”.
Some time after 10am I walked into the Cabinet Office, handed over my mobile and was ushered through a series of doors and down a flight of stairs into the basement.
Tony Blair was at the G8 meeting at Gleneagles so the meeting was chaired by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary. Most senior ministers were there, plus Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5, and John Scarlett, head of MI6.
I couldn’t deal in fact. “There’s a lot of confusion,” I said. “We can’t be 100 per cent sure how many fatalities there are. All our responders are there, and once everyone’s out my team will focus on preserving the evidence.”
In a meeting later that morning I had a tense exchange with Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary. Charles Clarke was anxious to establish how many scenes we had — was there one, five or ten?
By this time I knew there were four: Aldgate, Edgware Road, King’s Cross and Tavistock Square. “We have four scenes,” I piped up.
Patricia Hewitt challenged this. “I’m sorry, Home Secretary, I don’t think that’s an accurate report. I am being told there are at least six or even seven or eight scenes.”
It really mattered that we got this right. If we sent emergency rescuers to eight places we’d be spreading our resources too thin. I was absolutely sure there were only four.
“Sorry, I disagree with you. I believe there are only four — you’re Secretary of State for Health,” I ventured.
By 10.45am I was back at my desk viewing the latest information — hundreds were injured; the injuries bore the hallmarks of bomb attacks; many were still trapped underground. There had been no warnings.
At 11am, Ian Blair was on television. He declared London closed but tried to give a measured message: “The situation has been very confused but is now coming under control.” I wished I shared his confidence. We had no idea whether or not it was over.
Peter Clarke and I checked the Rainbow List — our counter-terrorist list of tactical options. Red stood for Highways, Orange was the Bomb Squad, Maroon meant covert policing.
Light Blue, Purple and Green covered aviation, maritime and railways. Should we close the Gatwick or Heathrow Express or the Channel Tunnel? Dark Blue — searches, a massive operation was under way and CCTV footage was pouring into the Yard and we had teams looking through every frame. Light Green was VIP protection. Finally, there was Yellow: high-visibility policing — doing what we could to calm the public.
Our investigators in Tavistock Square reported that, from the positioning of the bodies and the damage to the bus, a device had been detonated by a suicide bomber.
It was now early afternoon and, amazingly, London was slowly beginning to move again. Thousands of Londoners were walking home. No complaints, no riots, just quiet stoicism.
At four, just over seven hours after the first attacks, I was summoned to another Cobra meeting, this time chaired by Tony Blair. He walked in, grave-faced, and the room fell silent. He set us all in one strategic direction, rallying everyone in the room, setting out priorities. To his right he had the security chiefs — the heads of MI5, MI6, GCHQ, and officers from Military Defence and JTAC. To his left his secretaries of state and the police.
First he took a situation report from the intelligence chiefs. They said honestly that they were aware of no intelligence that had predicted today’s events. I told the Prime Minister that early scientific analysis suggested that this was the work of suicide bombers, but I was adamant we should keep an open mind so we didn’t miss anything.
It may sound insensitive and callous, but as the bodies were removed, our forensic science teams paid most attention at first to those we suspected might have been the bombers. We needed to identify them fast to track any accomplices and check links to any other potential terrorists. The meeting agreed a forward deployment for the military at RAF Northolt, just to the west of London — a little standby army in case we needed extra help At 10.19pm the family of one Hasib Hussain reported him missing. An hour and a half later a police exhibits officer, who was putting together documents and possessions found near the bombs, phoned the Anti-Terrorist Branch with a number of names identified on cards and personal items. Among them were gym membership cards that bore the names Sidique Khan and Mr S. Tanweer. The proximity of these cards to the rucksacks that we believed had contained the bombs meant we immediately suspected they were those of the bombers.
I looked at the list of casualties. Hundreds of injured had been treated and gone home. There were 99 people still in hospital; eight were, sadly, not expected to live. The number of confirmed dead was 37. There were 14 trains still stuck in tunnels. Ahead lay a huge investigation but I knew the team and I would not lack motivation.
• Read the second extract from Andy Hayman’s new book on Monday
Pornography (Modern Plays) (Paperback)
by Simon Stephens (Author)
# Paperback: 80 pages
# Publisher: Methuen Drama (25 Jul 2008)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1408110563
# ISBN-13: 978-1408110560
# Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 0.8 cm
'To call Simon Stephen's Pornography specifically a play about the July 7 bombings in London would be to do it a disservice. Though it deals with events leading up to the atrocities oft hat fateful day, this is unmistakeably a state of the nation play in the fullest sense. One which looks at what it means to be British today and the culture of displacement we live in with soulful mourning.' Alan Chadwick, Metro (London), 5.8.08 'Stephens, who has already written the best play of the year (Harper Regan, at the National) has come up with another cracker - one that searches for new forms to say new things. He observes his characters with an almost forensic detachment and yet he makes us love them, too This is a play of grace and terror.' Lyn Gardner, Guardian, 5.8.08 'In Simon Stephens' new play the build up of everyday detritus of contemporary mass culture, from coffee brands to the disposable, detached sexuality of pornography, is insidious.' Steve Cramer, List, 7.8.08
Pornography is Simon Stephens' stark and shattering new play that powerfully captures a portrait of a fractured, insecure Britain. Written in reaction to London crashing from the euphoria and promise at being awarded the 2012 Olympics into the chaos and reality of the 7/7 bombings, the play is composed of seven stories that serve as a countdown to the catastrophic attack on London. Each playlet focuses on a different individual dramatising their life in the run-up to the tragedy. Published to coincide with the English language premiere at the Traverse Theatre in August as part of the International Edinburgh Festival before transferring to the Birmingham Rep, this is the first stage play to confront the London bombings of 7 July 2005.
|13th October 2009 17:36 #1 |
What were you doing in 7 July 2005 (London Bomb)? I'm writing a fiction
Can anybody help me please? Now I'm writing a novel and my main character who was a student at AS level (at that time) was in a bus No.30 (which was bombed) on 7 July 2005. The thing is on that day it was weekday and I couldn't find a convincing reason why she was there . In my novel, the character had an argument with her mother in the morning. So, she skipped the class and went on that bus (accidentally) but I'm not sure if AS-level student had a class on that day or not (or maybe they had exam on that day).
So, Could you please tell me what you were doing on 7 July 2005?
13th October 2009 22:50 #28
Re: What were you doing in 7 July 2005 (London Bomb)? I'm writing a fiction
I remeber it clear as day i was in a food technology lesson and my brother was on the train to London. My uncle was actually at the BMA building as it happened prity lucky considering hes a A&E consultant with an interest in emergeny care/BASICS. What freaky tho is i was thinking they cant have just escaped this time as both were meant to be on one of the planes that went into the twin towers but on the way down to heathrow my uncle stopped at an accident scene so they missed their flight and resulting connections. I dont think ive ever worried about family so much in my life TBH.
You could say she over slept and misseed a lesson as for us as soon as AS was finished we started on A2 so would have been in lessons or had a free 1st period.
13th October 2009 23:11 #34
Re: What were you doing in 7 July 2005 (London Bomb)? I'm writing a fiction
The day before i was sat on a train in kings cross on the platform next to the pub, it was about lunch time and htere was a huge crowd around the pub watching the tv screens, it was when we found out we had one the olympic bid. the whole station erupted in cheers, the following day when it happened i'd just pulled into kings cross on a train, just about the time the bombing happened on the train that was heading away from kings cross, when the news started filtering around the station the whole atmosphere couldn't have been any different, that's what struck me most, the contrast in the atmosphere in less than 24 hours.
13th October 2009 23:46 #40
Re: What were you doing in 7 July 2005 (London Bomb)? I'm writing a fiction
i was in year 7 i think.. well whatever year it was, i was in maths.. and we were on laptops doing some edexcel thingy. and this girl got an email from her mum to her school account saying about the bombing and the girl was like.. "theres been a bomb in london!!" the teacher went to find out what was going on then loads of people were calling their parents to check they were ok.
one girls mum died [she was a few years above me] and i clearly remember seeing her sitting on the bench in hysterics trying to get through to her mum. makes me want to cry thinking about it :[
13th October 2009 23:48 #41
Join Date: Aug 2009
Default Re: What were you doing in 7 July 2005 (London Bomb)? I'm writing a fiction
I was at school , Celebrating Londons' victory for the 2012 Olympics ; speak of the irony of celebration of the city for a virtuous act, and how it was foreshadowed to come tumbling down in rubble at what would happen. With hapiness came complete despair a resonating shock that would leave the doors of happiness closed a little...
I don't know
14th October 2009 18:20 #77
I had a driving lesson and got back to find my mum sat watching the TV (my mum never turns the TV on during the day) and she told me that my dad had rung earlier to find out why the tubes weren't running (at the time they were saying it was a power surge that had caused the problems) and my dad had said he'd try and catch a bus instead - on the route that the bus that was blown up ran on. Fortunately he wasn't on it (and in fact was pretty much oblivious to what had happened) but two people heading to the same building my dad was in were on the bus - one was killed, the other got off the stop before to get some cash, then saw the bus drive off and explode. Then the following month my dad was on the train behind the one with the attempted bomb!
|Bantam £17.99 354pp. £16.19 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030|
Extreme Risk, By Chris Hunter
Reviewed by Terri Judd
Friday, 7 May 2010
The most chilling aspect of Major Chris Hunter's new book is not the deadly devices that he and his fellow Army "high threat operatives" risk life and limb to disable. It is the the international spider's web of terrorists willing to use such bombs against civilians and soldiers alike. As he retells a career as a bomb disposal officer, which included being part of the COBRA defence intelligence team in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, it becomes evident that the British public is blissfully unaware of much work behind the scenes to counteract bombers, from amateurs to sophisticated enemies.
For many years the work of the 11 EOD (Explosives Ordnance Disposal) Regiment, particularly the soldiers of Alpha Troop, remained hidden in the shadows - largely because they were a prime target in Northern Ireland. But their heroic actions in Afghanistan, where they have lost four men in just over a year trying to disable the deadly IEDs (improvised explosive devices) responsible for most British deaths in Helmand, has captured the public imagination and been recognised with string of bravery awards.
Unlike Hunter's first bestseller Eight Lives Down, this is not an adrenaline-fuelled tale of having to make the "long walk" towards a deadly device in the high-speed, high-threat world of Iraq. While he touches on heart-pumping moments, Extreme Risk takes a broader look at the techniques to defeat the bomb-maker: the intelligence gathering, the secretive games of verbal chess to exchange information and the need to monitor the global network as well as the home-grown threat. It is unsurprising that getting chapters past the Ministry of Defence proved a battle for the author.
The EOD soldiers had been preparing for years before 2005 to deal with a potential suicide bomber on UK soil. Yet the national threat level, Hunter writes, had been lowered just five weeks before London was ripped apart by the attacks which claimed 52 innocent lives.
The book follows the author from his early days as an officer candidate at Sandhurst, through Northern Ireland, Colombia, Iraq and finally Afghanistan. It takes in his work at the sharp end as well as days in a desk job, deciphering intelligence. It is a compelling account by an insider of the counter-terrorism fight. Hunter reveals that prior to the invasion of Iraq, he and his men were initially training to parachute under fire into the southern oil fields after intelligence reports suggested Saddam Hussein's men had rigged up devices to the pumps. This plan, nicknamed Operation Certain Death, never came to fruition.
The art of the bomb disposal officer is not man against machine but man against man: to trap the bomb-maker with forensics and intelligence. While Eight Lives Down focused more on the former, his new book takes a closer look at the latter. With the success of The Hurt Locker, which focused on bomb disposal in Iraq, these camera-shy men have reluctantly become celebrity heroes. But Hunter's book offers a more realistic picture. Far from pandering to a macho portrayal, he offers a poignant view of the traumatic effects of losing friends or dealing with the bloody aftermath of explosions as well as the devastating impact on families back home. As he explains, revealing with candour the effect on his own marriage, EOD stands for Everyone's Divorced.
The officer, who left the army in 2007, admits that dredging up the unresolved memories of what drove him to seek such an extreme profession was a painful experience. But the result is a three-dimensional character, as flawed as he is courageous. Extreme Risk also gives its reader a beautifully descriptive fly-on-the-wall look at the daily work of the EOD men, including the wicked humour that keeps them sane and the peculiar caustic witticisms that abound among soldiers.
Finally, Hunter pulls no punches in accusing then Chancellor Gordon Brown of starving the military of funds or expressing his deep frustration at the people in positions of power who are "too arrogant or too ignorant" to see that those risking their lives need more resources. The book is dedicated to seven bomb disposal soldiers "whose time and luck ran out". For those with a fascination with international terrorism and the deadly IEDs that have become its weapon of choice, this books will offer a unique insight.
|I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing (Hardcover)|
~ Christopher Bollas
Hardcover: 170 pages
Publisher: Free Association Books (April 30, 2005)
Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
This dark comic novella follows the life of "the psychoanalyst" in an urban village engaging a cast of characters with whom he shares his life and his ideas. A vulnerable yet thoughtful person shadowed by what he refers to as life after the Catastrophe, he finds himself celebrating "depression", discovering how it is an essential emotion housing insight into the self, society, and world affairs.
Amusing, disturbing and thought provoking, the novella reveals in remarkable depth the many faces of depression. The psychoanalyst agonizes over the increasingly fascist dimensions of his profession and provides an excoriating critique of the psychotropic movement. He challenges the world of modern psychology that by stereotyping souls as sufferers of one or another of the newly coined diagnoses, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, ordains a world that reduces humanity. Where thoughtfulness once was, now one discovers a pill, a fashionable new illness, and a twelve step program that define a life.
The arrival of a terrorist in his consulting room seeking treatment in order to carry out a suicide bombing serves as a pivot for other crises that involve the analyst in an increasingly anarchic and surreal era, one that suggests a new world order.
Readers will find in this work new perspectives that challenge many assumptions, ironically suggesting that in these difficult times understanding our complex mental lives—as in depression—holds invaluable keys to a better future for the individual and for modern society.
Notes about the author(s):
Christopher Bollas is a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, and Honorary Member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He is a member of ESGUT, the European Study Group of Unconscious Thought.
|CongressCATH 2005: Papers by Panel|
The Ethics and Politics of Virtuality and Indexicality
The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford, UK. 30th June to 3rd July 2005
Sunday 3 July, 11.45 - 13.00 Plenary VI
Christopher Bollas Talking Psychoanalysis and Literature: An Informal Discussion about Christopher Bollas' Novel I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing The British Psychoanalytical Society
Christopher Bollas (The British Psychoanalytical Society)
Christopher Bollas is a Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and practises in London. He is a former Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts and former Director of Education at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge. He is the author of "Shadow of the Object", " Forces of Destiny", "Being a Character", "Cracking Up" and other works.
Two novellas "Dark At The End of The Tunnel" and "I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing" have been published in the last year and next year FAB will publish " Theraplay" his first book of plays."
|I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing|
On the surface, Christopher Bollas’ novel I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing is right up my alley. It has a dark, comedic tone. It follows an older psychoanalyst (never known to the reader as anything but “the psychoanalyst”) as he questions all he has learned throughout his career. It also probes into the area of depression and medication, which both are issues near and dear to my heart. With all that going for it, I still could not truly get into the book and I never got that feeling. You know the one, when you become completely immersed in a book and you can hardly set it down, and if you do have to put it down, you can’t wait to pick it up again? Well, that feeling never came - in any small degree.
For the first half of the book, the reader follows the psychoanalyst as he meanders here and there, talking to acquaintances, recalling why he rarely, if ever, looks in the mirror these days, listens to his patients, and more frequently, thinks about depression and medication. My favorite, absolute favorite, part of this book was the name of the drug most prescribed to help: Napalmtek™. He’s beginning to think that people are shirking their responsibility for their actions and thoughts and blaming it on depression. He’s beginning to see signs that the majority of people are actually addicted to being depressed. It’s as these newfound theories are taking shape that a new patient comes to see the good doctor.
After questioning and re-questioning the confidentiality agreement between the patient and the psychoanalyst, the new patient reveals that he is supposed to be a suicide bomber but is having issues with making peace within himself to the point where he can fulfill this deadly destiny. Here you would think that the book might get exciting, but alas, it continues down the same ho-hum path it had taken up to that point.
The psychoanalyst debates for a long while, researches the oaths and rules of being a psychoanalyst and even poses the situation, in a hypothetical manner, to a trusted colleague. When the would-be terrorist comes in for his next appointment, the good doctor is still not exactly sure what he should do. What he does do, and how he handles the potentially deadly situation is purely accidental and leads to many more philosophical self-debates and the measurement of ethics.
I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing comes so close to being something I would normally love. It definitely isn’t spoon-fed to the reader. It is a character-driven story, and makes the reader think and reason and ponder the state of things as they are in our world today. Alas, it bored me to near tears, and I had a very hard time actually finishing it, kept finding myself putting it down to pick up something else only to come back to it when my preferred reads were too far away, or the pile was dwindling.
Final thoughts: Though it wasn’t a total waste, the writing is solid, intelligent, and there were a few “chuckle” moments, I will not, can not recommend this book.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Stefanie Hernandez, 2005
| Community Cohesion|
These are events organised by the Community Cohesion committee members or supporters
Date: Wednesday, July 07, 2010 At 05:00 PM
Duration: 2 Hours
A book launch of ‘7/7 Muslim Perspectives’ by Murtaza Shibli on July 7th in the House of Lords. The Universal Peace Federation is supporting this event because it is part of the UPF’s vision to facilitate dialogue and understanding between communities. ‘7/7: Muslim Perspectives’ is composed of a collection of British Muslims who write about their personal experiences of the 7 July 2005 London bombings and reflect upon them. The book shows the wide range of attitudes and reactions in the community and how they negotiated its aftermath. These reflections illustrate the common humanity we all share and allows the audience to see beyond the media hype and hatred of fringe groups from all sides.
The book is being published by Murtaza Shibli, the editor of the collection, through his company Rabita and will be launched on the anniversary of 7/7 at an event in a meeting room at the Palace of Westminster . The launch is also support by the European Muslim Research Centre, University of Exeter .
|Reflections on the 7/7 London Bombings |
Written by Mohammed Amin
Saturday, 26 June 2010 22:14
I have written a chapter for a book "7/7: Muslim Perspectives" edited by Murtaza Shibli which will be published on the fifth anniversary of the bombings. For more about the book, visit this page on my website. The full text of my chapter is reproduced below. As you will see, it leads to some difficult questions.
7/7 & Me
When I was asked what 7 July 2005 means to me, my first reaction was to step back and ask myself the question “Who am I?”
I was born in Pakistan but have lived in Manchester since I was less than two years old. I have no memories of Pakistan and have never set foot there since my migration. When President Bhutto pulled Pakistan out of the Commonwealth, I chose to become a British citizen rather than having my status in Britain change to ‘alien’. However somewhere in my personal files I still have an expired Pakistani passport (never used for actual travel anywhere) which I obtained when I was about 18, and I have never found any reason to renounce my Pakistani citizenship. By religion I am a Muslim and professionally a chartered accountant and a chartered tax adviser. On 7/7 I was a tax partner based at the Manchester office of PricewaterhouseCoopers but made regular business trips to London.
The day before, 6 July 2005, was a memorable day in its own right. That was the day that London was awarded the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games following outstanding lobbying by the British Olympic bid organising team aided by Prime Minister Tony Blair. I personally felt a massive sense of exultation at getting the Olympics which was shared by most of the country. Sadly the excitement was to be shattered the following day.
On Thursday 7 July I was working in my office in Manchester. After wandering around the building to see another tax partner, I was casually chatting with his secretary. She mentioned a mutual colleague who at times is somewhat accident prone! He was down in London and the secretary mentioned with some levity that our accident prone colleague had been unable to get to his meeting due to a power failure on the Underground!
Over the next hour or so the news gradually emerged that there had been a bomb and that some people had been killed. Then gradually the full enormity of the attacks emerged. My wife's family are from the London area and many of them work in central London, some near the area of the bombings. My elder daughter was a student at University College London. Accordingly for several hours my wife and my brothers and sisters in law were making frantic telephone calls to make contact with and account for all of our relatives. The task was made harder as the mobile phone system was jammed by hundreds of thousands of other people trying to do the same thing. Fortunately nobody in our family was injured or killed. However as I write this, tears fill my eyes thinking about the many other people who were similarly trying to call their loved ones only to be met initially by silence, followed by the dreadful horror of learning that their relatives and friends had been seriously injured or killed.
Our standard office hours ended at 1730 but I almost always worked later than that. However I had full discretion when I wanted to come and go, especially as I was a partner in the firm. I recall that I did not rush home from work immediately but worked quite late before going home to face the 24-hour television news channels. Exactly the same thing had happened on 11 September 2001, when by early evening the office was deserted but I was still working; subconsciously I preferred the comfortable environment of the office rather than watching the continuous horror on the television. I knew that once I got home I would be glued to the television screen.
My next memory is of the following Monday, 11 July, when I was due to attend an all-day PricewaterhouseCoopers training event in London. As always, I took the train from Manchester to London Euston. At London Euston the taxi queue seemed to be a mile long, stretching all the way back into the main station concourse, far longer than I have ever seen it. That didn't matter to me as I was already determined to take the Underground. My attitude was the very simple British one “I'll be damned before I let those bastards frighten me away from continuing my normal life by taking the Underground.” Despite this being the rush hour, the Underground train was pretty empty, although not completely deserted, as obviously many regular passengers had decided to avoid the risk of underground travel, evidenced also by the length of the taxi queue. I got to the training event on time. About an hour and a half later another partner from Manchester arrived, very late, despite having travelled from Manchester on time. He explained that his wife had only allowed him to attend the London training event on the express promise that he would not use the Underground; he had given up on the taxi queue and had walked all the way from Euston to the hotel where the training event was taking place.
The evening of the following day, 12 July, was bright and sunny and I was in Heaton Park in Manchester, the largest municipal park in the city. I was attending an event called ‘Saudi Arabian Days’ organised by the Saudi Embassy to showcase Saudi business and culture. It was a glittering occasion with no effort spared, including transporting camels to Manchester. At the event I had a long conversation with a Muslim member of the House of Lords and other leading members of the Muslim community. I think that very day the identity of the suicide bombers had finally been established and it was clear that they were not terrorists sent from abroad but home-grown British Muslims who wished to kill their countrymen. All of us recognised how terrible this was and the potential for a backlash against the British Muslim community.
Enormous praise is due to the Mayor of London at that time, Ken Livingstone, for the way that he pulled Londoners together to prevent the divisions that the killers obviously hoped to foment. Londoners of all religions came together to recognise their common humanity and great credit is due to Ken and to our national politicians of all parties who recognised the need for Britons to unite.
There is a saying that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and then as farce. Two weeks later on Thursday 21 July I was driving between meetings in Bradford and Blackburn. I stopped at the motorway services for lunch and as I did so was listening to the BBC Radio 4 news at 1300. This reported the failed bombings in London that day. While greatly relieved that nobody had been hurt, I had to smile at the ineptness of this particular gang of terrorists. Sadly the following day tragedy struck again with the catastrophe of the mistaken killing by the police of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Since then, there have been many other terrorist plots by Muslims. Fortunately, all have been successfully prevented by our security services, or like the attack on Glasgow airport, have failed. The consequences for the British Muslim community if these attacks had succeeded would have been terrible, as we would have seen an anti-Muslim backlash. Sadly that is one of the key goals of these terrorists, to divide British Muslims from other British citizens, and to cause us to tear our country apart, the way that some other countries have been nearly destroyed by internal strife. I do not want to see British Muslims being interned like the Japanese residents of the United States during World War II or being expelled. However nothing would please the terrorists more.
Stepping back and reflecting over the last five years, the following points come to mind. Some Muslims are in complete denial. They simply do not accept that the 7/7 bombings were carried out by Muslims. Instead they believe in conspiracy theories such as pinning the blame on the British government (to provide an excuse for government anti-Muslim policies) or pinning the blame on outfits like Mossad (since Mossad would like to blacken the image of Muslims). Sadly people are always ready to believe in conspiracies. They never go through the logical thought process of asking how many people inside the British security services and government would need to know about an official government plot to murder its own citizens, and the likelihood that every one of these people would remain silent.
Another sector of the community accept that the bombings were carried out by the individuals named, Mohammad Sidique Khan and others, but somehow don't regard them as Muslims. It is true that setting off bombs on the Underground is a very un-Islamic thing to do. However, if you had been able to observe the lifestyle of these individuals prior to 7 July 2005 you would have seen them reading the Qur’an regularly, praying regularly, fasting and doing everything else that you see Muslims do. Accordingly, in my view you have to accept that these people were Muslims by any objective measure. This applies even if your view theologically is that once they formed the intention to commit mass murder they had distanced themselves from God and turned away from everything that Islam stands for.
The most common thing I hear from the Muslim community is that the bombers did it because of our country's foreign policy, especially Britain's unbalanced support for Israel and our country's invasion of Iraq, which almost all British citizens now recognise to have been utterly misconceived. It is clearly true that those were the reasons why these people chose to kill, since they have told us that in their suicide videos. However, stopping the analysis at that point is seriously incomplete. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of Britons who feel equally strongly about issues such as Palestine and Iraq who do not become suicide bombers. Almost all of the British Muslim community feels strongly about Palestine and Iraq but apart from a tiny minority of terrorists, British Muslims confine themselves to lawful opposition and political protest. What was different about the bombers?
Looking at the suicide videos, the bombers clearly believed that the bombings they were about to carry out would be a good deed in the eyes of God. It is clear to me that these individuals did not expect to go to hell as a consequence of their actions but instead expected to go to heaven. If they had believed that they were going to hell, they would not have carried out their actions. Many brave people are willing to give up their lives for their religious beliefs in order to serve God with the hope of entering paradise. However I cannot conceive of anyone who is religious wanting to promote a political cause on earth, if this means consciously defying God and consciously choosing to be cast into hell for all eternity.
I have laboured this point because many in the British Muslim community deny that the religious beliefs of the killers matter. I suspect that the people with this position think that if they accept that the killers were influenced by their religious beliefs, somehow this will reflect badly on Islam. Such a view is completely wrong; God's true religion cannot be tarnished by the crimes committed by a few (or even by many) Muslims. Islam’s truth cannot be tainted by human misconduct.
However, while there is no problem with Islam, there is a problem with some Muslims which we need to face up to. While I believe that if I were to kill a random collection of Londoners God would sentence me to hell for all eternity, there are some Muslims who think that such conduct would be a passport to heaven. Such people are dangerous because once they believe that God has given them permission to kill British citizens they will try to do it unless our country subordinates its policies to their view of the world. Today it is our foreign policy in any one of a number of places; tomorrow it will be our country's policy of allowing people to drink alcohol or to wear miniskirts.
What we need is a clear and consistent message from all Muslim leaders, repeated regularly, that killing other people except in self-defence or in a legally declared war is a crime against the law of God which will result in you being sent to hell. Only when this is accepted by all British Muslims will we be free from the threat of terrorist acts being committed by misguided Muslims.
As citizens, we also face dangers from other would-be terrorists such as homophobes, anti-Muslim bigots, Irish republicans and others. However, as I was asked to reflect upon 7/7, I have focused on the danger from those Muslims who are seriously misguided about Islam.
I occasionally think about how I might feel after discovering that one of my sons or daughters had become a terrorist. Apart from the shock, I think the overwhelming reaction would be one of guilt, to ask “Where did I go wrong; what did I fail to teach him or her?” Fortunately, my own children have been brought up in an atmosphere where they were encouraged to think independently, and show no signs of religious extremism. Nor have they encountered the problems I hear about from other Muslims such as repeated stop and search which can cause people to become less supportive of the police. The key vaccines against becoming a religiously motivated terrorist are a true understanding of one’s religion and real appreciation for our society and the way that it governs itself.
Mohammed Amin is Vice Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum. However, his post here is written in a personal capacity. Amin writes prolifically on a plethora of subjects and many of his articles can be found at his personal website.
Press Complaints Commission
Report No 77
April 2008 – September 2008
Mr Peter Zimonjic, an author, complained that a review
inaccurately suggested that he had “fabricated”
The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published
the following correction:
In a review of Into the Darkness: An Account of 7/7 by Peter
Zimonjic, published in ABC on Saturday April 12, it was
stated that much of the book was fabricated. We accept
that this was not the case and that describing the book in
these terms was erroneous, unfair and misleading. We are
happy to set the record straight. (Cl 1)