I was driving home tonight at about 6.30 and drove round the M60, the signs simply read: “Avoid London Today.” I know they were trying to be helpful, but assuming I had managed to avoid tv, radio, the internet, email and any form of human contacts and knew nothing of today’s events, what was I meant to make of “Avoid London Today?”
I won’t go on. It would be bound to upset or offend someone — the thing is too raw — and that’s not my point.
But it did make me think. Had this happened 24 hours earlier, I would have been in central London, probably unhurt, but completely stuffed in terms of getting out. Perhaps I could have walked from Westminster Square to the City Airport, but I wouldn’t have had a clue, other than to follow the Thames.
Someone I know was going to the Smoke today and had a narrow one. To cut a long story short, he had problems with his credit card in booking a ticket on a very early train. The helpline didn’t open until 8am, so he found himself kicking his heels.
It seemed that three failed attempts to draw cash from separate ATMs meant that the account had been suspended. A few security checks and it was reactivated and he managed to board the 8.15 train. Which ground to a halt outside Watford as the enormity of what was happening became clear.
He ended up spending eight hours on the train as his journey ended and on the trip home stopping at all points in between. But, as he said, nothing in comparison to what the folk in London had gone through and lucky in its own way.
One thing that has to acknowledged is the excellent way in which the emergency services responded to the crisis, particularly the much maligned NHS. The ambulance service were great, and the way that the emergency planning was paying dividends, doctors being air-lifted into city hospitals to support the local crews, was very reassuring.
I know I started this post with a hint of an irritant. Truth is, it was an observation. And just another example of how we all muck in and cope. Even with the most vile atrocity.