Thursday, December 2

A real shock!

The Coroner is currently conducting an inquest into the July 7 2005 suicide bombings that killed 52 people on three Tube trains and a bus. At the time Garry and I were in town finishing plans for our relocation to London. Since relocating, we’ve witnessed three more, fortunately unsuccessful, acts of terror; two separate attempts to blow up trans-Atlantic flights and a failed car bomb left outside a popular central London nightclub.

Every week we hear new stories of tragedy and bravery as the coroner’s inquest unfolds. The courage of people involved is a testament to the power of the human spirit. For example, today we heard about Gill Hicks who remained composed enough to shred her own scarf and tourniquet her legs after they’d been blown off at Russell Square. The coroner noted that her prompt, self-administered first aid literally saved her life.

I must admit that these events, while incredibly moving, feel somewhat remote. It’s impossible to conceive of how you’d respond if faced with the same horrific event. However, the surreal aspect of these news stories momentarily disappeared yesterday. Shortly after lunch my office was told by police that a suspicious suitcase had been left in an open plaza next to our building. They then blocked off surrounding streets and banned us from leaving the premises. We were also advised to move away from external windows and congregate at the far end of our floor.

Suddenly, the coroner’s inquest felt very real. As I sat at my window-side desk reading the police warning we'd been emailed I honestly felt a unexpected adrenaline surge. Shortly afterwards a loud explosion rattled the windows making all of us jump. We later learnt that the police had destroyed the abandoned suitcase using a controlled explosion. Trust me. Controlled explosion are just as frightening as ‘real’ ones! The shock was very, very palpable. For just a moment I tthink I truly understood how suicide bomb victims must feel.

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