Sunday, 11 September 2011


On 11th September 2001 I caught the train to London in a weary state.  I was pregnant with my first baby and at 32 weeks under the advice of my doctor, I had only a few more days to go before starting maternity leave.  I was excited and daunted at the same time.

The day started like any other, joining the busy commuter train at Hemel Hempstead and travelling to Euston in a carriage where people minded their own business, either reading books or newspapers, getting on with their work or simply peering out the window. There was no chatter, just independent stillness..

From Euston station I caught the tube to Waterloo, and took a five minute walk to my office. I don't recall what happened during the morning.  It was nondescript, just another morning of juggling the regular duties of the job, together with preparing to hand over my responsibilities as research manager in a digital rights management consultancy.

But everything changed that lunchtime.

I'd met an acquaintance for a farewell lunch at a Chinese restaurant behind Waterloo Station. Her name was Sarah and she was a librarian at Christian Aid.  I don't know where she is now, but I'll never forget that it was her who I was with, when we first saw the pictures of the plane striking the first tower on Sky News, while we were paying for our lunch.

We stopped in our tracks and stared,  lost for words, at the scene we'd just witnessed and full of disbelief at the disaster that was playing out on the screen.

When I returned to the office, there was panic. One of our consultants had been scheduled to fly to the States that morning, and another was flying home.  We couldn't reach them and it was only when the office manager confirmed that their flights weren't scheduled at that tragic time, did that personal tension start to lighten.  However, nothing could remove that image of the plane flying into the tower and the hope that people were being moved to safety. 

Nobody could work, we just refreshed our Internet browsers for more news.

It was then we discovered that a second plane had hit the second tower.

From the ashes of a perceived tragic accident rose a sudden fear that this was now a deliberate act of terror.

Time stopped. 

Then my phone beeped.  It was my friend Alexa, telling me the news and to get out of London there and then.  She was a good friend, who cared.

Our Chief Executive had pretty much the same idea.  The news that we'd heard was hard to comprehend.  Two planes, two towers.  If this has been a terrorist attack, would London be next? 

We were now living in a world where anything was possible.

I can't remember what time I left the building, but I recall an urge to avoid the underground and grab a cab instead.

A cabbie stopped, but said he was off home and was only able to drop en route.  Thankfully his route took him past Euston Station.  He too was getting out of town, along with tens of thousands of commuters.  He told me how he'd come from the City, where he'd seen droves of workers leaving early in reaction.

At Euston, I headed straight for the train, aiming to pick up an Evening Standard on the way to the platform.  The guy had sold out.  When I got to the train it was full.  I returned to the main concourse deciding to wait for the next train, and watched as a new batch of newspapers arrived.   I picked one up and boarded the next train.

Like the journey that had brought me into work that morning, there was no chatter, just again a carriage of independent stillness.  However, no one was reading books or getting on with their work.  Instead, arms were spread holding papers carrying photos of the disaster that had been unfolding thousands of miles away.

I arrived home feeling sick, but with an urge to know more, spending the evening glued to the TV.  The events that followed with the Pentagon incident and the plane that was brought down by its passenger compounded the shock even more.

That evening I wept.  Our world had changed and a terror now reigned, with invisible perpetrators.  I cried for all those who had been killed and injured, who looked fear in the eye, and for all the relatives and friends who had lost those that they loved. 

I also cried for the baby I could feel kicking inside me.  I couldn't bear the idea of he or she being born into this new world.

But he was born, less than three weeks later and in less than three weeks time, he will be ten year's old.  He's lived a life that so many people had lost.

That day on September 11, is going to be etched on my memory forever.  Along with millions of others around the world, I will always remember where I was and who I was with.  It was a horror that changed the world and it should never be forgotten.

There are other horrors that still continue to play out each day.  I can't tell you where I was for each and every one of those, because they go unreported, or are just another event that adds to those that have happened before and they become invisible to our conciousness.

As I remember those who lost their lives on that horrific day ten years ago, I also shed tears for all the other innocents too who've suffered around the world and pray that hope can one day overcome evil for one and all.

September 11 and all those who suffered.  You will never be forgotten.