Thursday, July 21, 2005

Being afraid of dying

I have been catching the bus into work for two weeks and getting in at times that fluctuate even more than the normal Tube times. Today I was asked especially to be on time and so I conquered my fear and I got on the Tube for a long journey.

When we were out in the open I was fine, reading the Metro, even finally being able to read the articles on July 7th without wanting to cry and throw up simultaneously. Once we hit the tunnels though I started getting tense. Not even as bad physically as I was my other two three-stop Tube trips, just mentally tense.

First I tried to work out if I had everything in order if I were to die that day - all my things were already packed so they could be sent home to Mum and Dad, all my London friends had been thanked.

Then I started watching people in the carriages, wondering what they would be like in an ‘incident’, wondering if I would have to provide eyewitness accounts for them, or would they have to provide ones for me.

And then, in a shameful moment that I wish I could deny, I finally really saw the man sitting in front of me. He was undeniable Muslim, sitting minding his own business with his very small backpack in his lap, looking as nervous as anyone would in his situation. For a moment there I felt my flesh peel away from my bones with the force of an imaginary explosion, but the next second the humanist in me reached in and shook me out of my coma of stupidity.

This afternoon, two weeks after my fellow secretary Tereza and I first became the anchorwomen of the first floor, reading the newswires and updating our bosses as they came in from meetings, we were at it again, updating the situation as the news came in – bomb scare, incident, failed suicide bombings, Blair making a statement.

Once again the men around us were cracking jokes that were completely off-colour, the one about the first lot of bombers missing the rush hour because of the rush hour is a reluctant favourite.

As small rucksacks went up in flames after failing to detonate at three Tube stations and on one bus, as the third siren went down Pall Mall, Tereza and I exchanged world weary glances. Realising how dramatic I was being, I took a swig of water.

Claire (24): I feel like I am in a f^£king Bruce Willis movie.
Tereza (20): You are really showing your age with that comment.

My dear girl, not only am I showing my age, I am showing my fears. I am nowhere near tough enough to survive a Bruce Willis movie, let alone a city being kept at razor edge tension by terrorists.

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