As I sat in the van today observing the minute long silence for the fifty two people who died on 7/7 in 2005, I remembered my three days ten years ago that spanned all emotions.
On Wednesday the 6th of July 2005 we jumped on the train to head to Edinburgh as we’d got two tickets in the ballot for Live 8 – The Final Push at Murrayfield. On the train the carriage was waiting to hear if London had beaten Paris to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Cheers rang out when the announcement was made – good start to the party waiting for us.
The whole thing was amazing from the musical acts to the atmosphere it’s a gig I will never forget. What other evening could you say you sang along with the Proclaimers, Bono and James Brown while George Clooney and Eddie Izzard reminded us of the need to “Make Poverty History”.
And the event did work – we had International leaders agreeing to write off huge debts of developing countries that were becoming an albatross around their necks. Edinburgh was alive in a way I’d never seen it before – even at the height of the Fringe. We were in great spirits as we made our way back to the hotel.
We woke up to the news of the four suicide bombers attack on London’s Transport System. Our first concern was that we were due to get on a train in a couple of hours and since Edinburgh was central to the G8 meeting and the previous night’s concert the heightened security didn’t put us at ease.
As the story unfolded throughout the day the idea that suicide bombers had attacked the UK capital was horrific and a reminder that these things are never that far away from you. We all know people in London and the panic that raced through our minds as the images appeared and news of the casualties rose was a stark reminder of the cost of going to war in the Middle East.
In the same way that we were glued to the news on 9/11 this was a different experience – we’d been in those places, on those tube lines. It was more immediate and more shocking. The image of the bus is one that will stay with me forever. Cowardice is the only word I have for those four men who carried out the attack – and the emotional words of Ken Livingstone (London’s then Mayor) were very powerful:
“I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever”
“Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”
On the Friday I had an appointment with my doctor. The lump that had been written off as an infection a couple of months earlier was now not painful – just there. I knew what was coming, and over the next couple of months I knew my life was going to change in a way I had never thought it would.
Everything that had happened in the previous 48 hours disappeared. Those people in Africa having their debt written off, the white band around my wrist and the tragic events of the day before were put to one side as I sat in the surgery’s waiting room. It was a matter of time before I heard the words I’d feared the most.
I had cancer.