Saturday, July 08, 2006

Speak, memory

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the London bombings. A year ago me and J were driving from Edinburgh to Halifax airport, returning our hire car and listening to the radio. We knew straight away what it meant, as most people listening must have, when they said there had been a reported "power surge" on the London underground and that people were emerging injured from the stations.

Our friend G was in the first carriage of the Piccadilly Line train that was bombed, a route I used to meet him on when I worked in London, before I started travelling by scooter becaue I couldn't bear the rush and the crush. He would get on at Turnpike Lane and I would get on one stop later at Manor House, often letting three or four packed trains go by, unable to get on. We would change at Holborn, and he would continue his journey to Swiss Cottage. I know that journey so well.

G is a New Yorker transplanted to London, warm-hearted, generous, inquisitive (he made it his mission to disembark at every tube station in the city in his first year, and walk for ten minutes to either side, so he knows London better than most Londoners do). He makes the most powerful vodka martinis I've ever tasted and laughs very long and hard at his friends' jokes even if they're quite unfunny. He's a loyal friend and a pragmatist. When the bomb went off he was standing in a different place from his usual spot, and thus avoided injury. He walked along the rails to Russell Square, emerged into the daylight, and amazingly, went to work as usual. He hasn't talked about anything he saw. Those are his memories.

I emailed him yesterday to tell him I was thinking of him, and he said he'd made the same journey, the train as packed as ever, and stood in the place he should have been standing at the same time, and thought about what had happened a year ago. No drama, no histrionics, just what he did and what happened to him.

1 comment:

Lottie P's sister said...

Perhaps Vogue should do a patronising, sycophantic article on him: "An American in London: the world's coolest teenagers through a stranger's eyes".

I'm joking of course.

LottieP's sister (still seething from previous blog entry)