ABOVE: Borough High Street, Sunday morning.
I was in Bermondsey, South London, listening to my friend’s podcast of his father who was doing his oral history for his birthday as he wanted to record his dad’s childhood memories as he was getting ill and approaching eighty.
We had a quick break after listening to an hour of it and my friend looked at the internet, looked shocked and said that there had been an terror attack at London Bridge, which is about 15 minutes’ walk away from me. We then dropped everything and tried to find out what was happening. I have never been so close to a terror attack before.
My friend had actually just arrived back from Bath on the train and had been on the tube going past London Bridge at about 9.45pm on the Saturday night but when he got home to Bermondsey, we didn’t look online until we had listened to some of the podcast, an hour later.
We couldn’t take it all in at first. I was online until 3am trying to give information to the public (although this was not always easy that there was false information from ‘reputable’ outlets which was frustrating.
Both of us let our family know that we were ok. My friend’s mother texted him and said ‘please be safe, as I have paid for the deposit of our holiday!’ in a typical British fashion. My own family, who I was estranged with at the time, seemed to be thinking of me, so this evening we had made up. The London Attack has brought us together again.
One thing that was really helpful, was the Facebook Safety Check, which went into action as soon as there was a terrorist attack in our area. This would tell our Facebook friends immediately that we were ok, so they wouldn’t have to worry, and they wouldn’t have to jam the Casualty Bureau’s lines. We could also ‘see’ friends who were also in the area too.
I heard the helicopter overhead all night which was really noisy and there were reports that one of the attackers had escaped (this clearly was inaccurate). At about 2am or so, I heard a huge explosion which was about a mile away which was a bit scary.
After this time I was very tired, and went to sleep. It was only afterwards when we both began to grasp how bad it had been. I was very surprised how late the incident had been which seemed to be out of character for these type of events. It was surreal as the London Bridge area is my regular neighbourhood, places I know very well and the people are generally nice It was shocking what happened to people, it beggars belief how mad these frenzied maniacs were.
This morning we wanted to gather our thoughts, reflect and visit the London Bridge area but it had all been cordoned off by the police with a bunch of international press there.
What I think we need are checkpoints like they had for the IRA in the Square Mile. In other countries where there’s frequent terrorism they have them. They can monitor comings and goings of cars and do stop and searches. Cars can be checked if they are stolen too.
I would like to thank the emergency services and volunteers who were so quick to the scene and helped make the area safer and all those who offered places to stay, free Wi-Fi, bagels and even tequila.
It is a terrible tragedy, there really aren’t words that can really describe the horror.