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07/07/: War On Britain: Horrifying realisation of how life is so fragile.


IN the shadow of the blasts, we all became the same.

Within the space of an hour, our differences were blotted out. We remembered that our humdrum lives are precious and terrifyingly fragile.

And yet it began as the most normal of working days. How many of us were woken by our alarm clocks in the morning, resenting the shrill sound piercing our subconscious, wishing we could have slept that little bit longer, dreading the dreary crowded slog into work?

Kettles boiled, hastily consumed breakfasts. Carefully applied make-up. Neatly ironed shirts and blouses. Parents hurrying children to get ready for school.

Cross words for the ones who dithered. Kisses goodbye at the school gates. Eyes lingering on the backs of young, innocent heads as they disappeared into the playground. Last loving glances.

Then we set off for work. In the damp, grey, noisy morning rush hour, the fateful ones who descended into the depths of the London Underground or who climbed upstairs on the bus destroyed in Bloomsbury, were no different to the rest of the country on its way to work.

Minutes earlier they fumbled in bags and pockets for their travelcards, threw anxious glances at their watches, abruptly ended phone conversations.

"I'm just going into the Tube. I'll call you back..."

But we made it and they didn't.

While we signed in at our offices or showed our passcards or put on our uniforms or opened up shops, lives were being snuffed out on and below the streets of London.

While we sat at our desks or stood behind counters or beside production lines, others were smashing the glass of tube train windows and gasping for breath or screaming in agony on the pavements.

They were blinded by smoke, they were fumbling in the darkness, their neatly pressed clothes torn and bloodied. Make-up smudged down tear-stained faces. The scent of freshly-sprayed perfume mingling with the smell of burning.

They were dying.

And it could have been any one of us.

The blasts in London were the most brutal reminder possible of how fragile all our lives are and how easily our loved ones can be snatched from us.

Terror is indiscriminate. It strikes at the rich and the poor, the old and the young. Mothers and fathers across Britain last night held their children just a little bit closer than usual.

And later, after tucking them into bed, they stood watching them sleep, relishing the sight of them safe and warm.

And while the children slept, we were still grappling with the terrible truth about the evil visited upon us by cowards.

Irrespective of religion, we thanked God and prayed for our families and loved ones.

This morning, we will be woken once again by the piercing sound of our alarm clocks. Perhaps today, we will shrug off our tiredness and be thankful we are alive.

Perhaps we will relish the few minutes we share with our loved ones at breakfast time before, once again, we set off to work. Deep down, of course, we don't want to go.

Parents especially will not want to let their children out of sight today. We feel sick inside at the thought of how cruel and frightening and random life can be.

But we will kiss each other goodbye and venture out again into the unknown morning.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 8, 2005
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