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I Have Never...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

There goes the neighbourhood...

"I Have Never suspected my home town of being a hotbed of terrorist activity."

It had been such a good day. The heat wave showed no signs of abating, and I'd had an invite for my best mate's 30th birthday in Glasgow.

I'd spent the morning out of the office at a meeting. It was at The Royal Armouries, and had been organised to discuss the government's spending proposals for the North of England. I'd barely registered the bag check on the way in...

I did my networking thing. Got and gave out business cards. Didn't give last Thursday a second thought. Neither did anyone else. Bar a brief mention at the start of the first presentation, designed to excuse the bag check, not a single person mentioned it in conversation.

I was jubilant. Only my second networking event, but I was seeming to get the hang of it.

After the buffet lunch I headed back to the office.

Parked the car and stepped out onto the baking tarmac.

I heard a whirring noise.

You always wonder why a police helicopter is about. This one seemed remarkably close, virtually directly above me.

I wondered if it was anything to do with the armed robbery at the end of my road. By sheer coincidence (?), while everyone's attention had been focussed on London, the Headingley branch of HSBC had been attacked by men wielding a hammer and an axe. All this as well as the cricket match between England and Australia on the same day.

7/7/2005

It didn't prove to be the reason for the helicopter. On getting into the office, my work colleagues mentioned the news. Checking out the BBC website, I discovered the awful truth.

Three men from the Leeds area were suspected of perpetrating the first suicide bomb campaign to have ever occurred in Western Europe. A house had been raided in the Hyde Park area, the area I usually walk through to work. A controlled explosion had been carried out.

I was stunned.

Sure, last week had shocked me. Hadn't it shocked us all? The images of that bus torn in two. The walking wounded. Relatives, searching for their loved ones, making heart rending pleas on the TV news.

One thing.

It was down South.

Same country, but a couple of hundred miles away.

I'd never thought that those responsible would have come from my county, my city, my home.

Now, I have to face that reality. I could have walked past any one of these three people in the last 7 years. Thought nothing of it. Just another local resident in a modern multiracial city...

Later, on TV at home, I recognise the locations where the different news teams have chosen to pitch themselves. The fact that certain roads have been cordoned off serves to explain why my journey home had been so quiet. Normally, at rush hour, Cardigan Lane is jam packed. Not tonight.

I get a text from a mate. He asks me if I've been allowed home. Fortunately, I'm just outside the exclusion area. I reply to him, explaining that I don't know what to think.

The sky has become overcast. There are rumbles of thunder. Our summer may be reaching an abrupt end...

FYLP
Hard-Fi:Stars of CCTV - New album, the only one I've purchased in the last week. Now seems strangely inappropriate...
Highlight - Hard To Beat

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