07.07.2005 i London

Rapport fra Rigmor Haga

Thursday, July 07, 2005
And they timed it well

The day starts like all the others.

I take the train to Vauxhall. As usual. I change to the Victoria line. As usual. And the tube stops as there are severe delays - as usual. On the way to Kings Cross the tube driver says that because of trouble on all the other lines, we are running delayed, but worry not, he’ll let us know when we can move again. Meanwhile, we can wait on the platform as it might get too hot in the carriage. We wait. For quite a while we wait, and then we are told to evacuate immediately.

By this time I know that something is wrong: people are rushing. Some annoyed. Some pretty scared. And when we get above ground there are hoards of people not knowing what to do. I wander aimlessly around until I get to a bus stop, knowing nothing about the bus network in London, as I am a regular tube-passenger. I need to get to Kings Cross or Russell Square, and I find a bus that takes me towards Angel. People are chatting. People are complaining about the unreliable tube and how we were evacuated without knowing why. Any thoughts of things going wrong has drifted away. I am trying to see the bright side of life: that I haven’t particularly seen this area of London before and that it’s quite nice here. And when I find a landmark I recognize, I get off the bus and start walking. I pass police. I pass masses of people, flocks of people, wandering around in the streets. Nobody knows anything. And nobody knows that a bus will soon blow up in Tavistock square just a few minutes after I have left the area.

At work I am greeted with an “are you ok?”
“Bloody tube,” I say. “I am sorry I am late, but we were evacuated and I don’t know why”.

Well. I am told there has been a power surge. With Russell square on one side of us and Kings Cross on the other I can hear the sirens, feel the panic, as people keep rushing by. There are messages on my phone: please can I call them to say if I am ok.

I call them. Ask them what they know, they tell me of buses blowing up. (No way this is a power surge!) My other half has received a phone call from Portugal to ensure he is safe. I am vaguely starting to realise the scale of this, and my fingers start trembling. The sirens keep wailing by. We all flock around the TV to check the news.

I call home to Norway to tell them I am safe. Of course I am safe, they don’t quite see why I shouldn’t be. My grandmother hears the sirens in the background, and switches on the TV. “Oh god,” she says. “You are in the middle of this!”
Calling from work, I ask her to pass the message on to the rest of my relatives that I am safe.

The day is spent taking messages, getting hold of colleagues. Some of them are not contactable and we fear the worst. However, one by one the numbers are accounted for: all our staff is safe, and gradually the shock gets to me. I refuse to give in to hysteria, but I am damn close to it.

They timed it well. With G8 and the Olympic bid.

As I cover in reception and take phone calls about whether so and so is safe, the reality hits me. I buy lunch that I can’t eat. I drink tons of water. It doesn’t shake off. I see the bbc news, getting hold of my other half is near impossible and I wish I was home and not in a foreign country full of foreign people: but this is where I am, and hey girl, deal with it, and I do so the only way I can think of. I keep busy. I make people laugh. I send e-mails. I update my blog. I keep wishing that my first aid certificate hadn’t expired two months ago.

Bit by bit the office is emptied, people pack up and go home.
I got three zones to cave my way through now. There shouldn’t be a problem. There shouldn’t be a bomb on the train. London is in shock, people are in shock, my at times dark humour shocks at least two people into laughing because this is not the right time for cracking comments. I know it is not a funny day, but I don’t know what else to do and I refuse to give over to emotions. Not before I am home.

And I am going now to get there. My hands are trembling.

Wish me luck.

Rigmor Hagas blog            Les Rigmors dikt London 07.07.05 - 09.07.05 (på norsk).

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All tekst: ©Brage Forlag         Posted 07.07.05, 8:20 AM.