I feel I should add my own experiences here. I'm not sure why, but last Tuesday was a day like no other.
The day started normally, like all those other ordinary days I don't write daylogs for. And then, at some time before 3pm local time, a colleague from a different part of the office walked in while I was chatting to my immediate boss. She said a few words to another co-worker
, and was greeted by a gasp of disbelief. Gradually we realised something was up, and all gravitate
d over to this co-worker's computer, where she had pulled up sky
.com - every other news website being down.
At that time, to the best of my knowledge, both towers
were still standing.
There were confused eyewitness reports. Some said a light aircraft or a prop-driven local flight had struck one tower. But the main story made the truth abundantly clear. Two airliners had struck the towers. Both towers were on fire. Other reports suggested that there had been incidents at the Pentagon
, the Capitol
, the White House
and in Pennsylvania
, and that as many as eleven planes might be missing.
At that point, we had to go to an hour-long presentation on the government initiative 'Investors in People
'. No mention was made of the unfolding tragedy. We were told, by an ineffectual consultant, how, er, wonderful it would be to have our entire organisation audited by government agents for various forms of good HR
practice. Apparently we were supposed to be pleased that the number of criteria for the scheme had been lowered
to twelve. I was so far past caring about this stuff I couldn't see it with binoculars.
We returned to the office, and I loaded up the news site again.
Both towers have collapsed.
I went into shock
. For I know not how long, I sat at my place, shivering like a leaf, unable to think or read. No-one else said anything - they may not have reacted as I did, but an instant funereal
air descended. Eventually I roused myself, and finished the day's work in a mechanical fashion.
St James' Park London Underground
station was closed when I got there, sealed by a kind of blast door. Apparently there had been a security alert
. I walked to Westminster
, noticing the eerie absence of aircraft overhead. I took the Jubilee Line
, and arrived home to find my family solemnly watching the television news. We ate a subdued dinner, and then tried to rally our spirits. Without meaning any disrespect to anyone, we read some scenes from a Shakespeare
comedy we had been studying - A Midsummer Night's Dream
. At ten o'clock we turned the news back on, and the horror came flooding back. As I saw the images of people waving from the upper floors of the doomed buildings moments before their collapse, I fled from the room, crying. Those images still haunt me. Other scenes from that day will live with me forever, but those particular scenes of human despair will be the ones which give me nightmares.
Today, September 17, 2001
, I got bad news. Nothing directly related to the tragedy in New York, but the items of bad news have served to reinforce a sombre mood whose lifting I can only await patiently.