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RE: London Terror Attack - 7/7


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RE: London Terror Attack - 7/7
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:55 am EDT, Jul  8, 2005

Rattle wrote:
Please do that. You are MemeStreams's woman on the scene...

Not too much to report in the way of eyewitness stuff, but here's my current status:

As I write this, it's 12:30 p.m. local time, on Friday. I arrived at Heathrow around 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon local time yesterday, which was about 7 hours after the attacks took place. Traffic at Heathrow was understandably a mess, near grid-lock. There were temporary signs set up around the airport indicating whether or not trains were running. At the time I arrived, the signs said that trains to Paddington were running "as normal".

Normally I figure out accommodation by going to a "Hotel Board" information kiosk, and they assign me to a local B&B. This time though, when I went up and asked for a local place to stay, they just kind of shrugged. They said everything local was booked solid, except for four high-priced hotels, the lowest cost of which was 100 pounds per night (roughly $200).

The line/queue for taxis was enormous. Fortunately, I had a local friend (one of my GemStone players) who came to pick me up at the airport. But what was normally a 20-minute drive turned into 90+ minutes of wading through traffic. I spent a lot of time out on the curb, in a light London drizzle, shivering with other travellers who were waiting for their own pickup while the cars inched by. I did notice an ABC news crew waiting in the same area. Several men with what looked like literally tons of equipment, waiting along with everyone else for their ride to come get them.

Phones, btw, were working fine, with no wait. I was keeping in regular touch with my own ride by calling from payphones to his cellphone. About every half-hour I'd call him and he'd give me his current location.

We finally did connect at the airport, and then we drove around looking for hotels that might not be on the usual "booked solid" network. Most places we tried/called were full, but we finally found a reference from one of those hotels for a less expensive hotel/B&B in Burnham. They did have a room, at "only" 85 pounds a night, so I took it as best available.

As a quick aside, it's an absolutely beautiful area. I'm off in the direction of Windsor Castle and Eton, about 30 miles west of London, a mile from the River Thames, way way out in the country. I took a walk this morning, and I feel like I stepped into Hobbiton. Lovely lopsided houses, winding lanes through tunnels of greenery, beautiful flowers everywhere, and the lazy clip clop of horses plodding by. I halfway expect to see Galadriel, Frodo, or Legolas come striding by. :)

On the "telly", the news is of course full of the attacks. It's especially an emotional hit, because all of the (yesterday) newspapers had full-page elation about how London just won the 2012 Olympics bid, which they're especially gleeful about because they beat France for it. So it was quite a juxtaposition to see papers with full-scale "yesterday's news" joy, next to the TV monitors showing the up-to-the-minute tragedy of London's worst ever terrorist attack.

News channels aside, the people themselves (at least those I've been running across), have been taking it in stride. There are a few clusters of people around the news feeds, but other than that life is pretty much normal. On the plane from Manchester, it was mostly business travelers doing what seemed to be a daily commute. I eavesdropped on a few conversations, but the closest I heard to any concern was two seatmates who commented that the taxi situation at Heathrow might be a bit rough, and there'd be some cab-sharing going on. After we took off, the pilot did an announcement but simply said that he didn't forecast any flight delays due to "earlier events in London". And from what I've been seeing of live news feeds around the city, life on the street seems to be chugging along pretty much normally. Sort of like the bombs were small splashes that made a few ripples, and then the normal flow of London life moved back in and erased any sign of what had happened. The main signposts remaining seem to be a couple closed tube stations, and some quickly-erected barriers around the bus that was blown up. I'm a little fuzzy on exactly what happened with that one. For example, one report says that the bus was packed with people who had streamed out of the tube stations after the initial explosions. And the top of the bus was clearly blown off. But there are only reports of two fatalities on that bus. The main carnage seems to have been below ground.

In personal news, I was getting a bit concerned, looking for my sister and her children. We were both at a family reunion in Croatia, and she and the kids left a couple days before I did. Her plan was to fly standby, I think via Germany, to London, stay a couple days, and then head on to the U.S., probably yesterday (Thursday). To my knowledge, she hadn't checked in with anyone from the family, so we were getting concerned. I was gearing up to call the Scotland Yard help line, which was set up to help family members get in touch with each other, but right before that, my sister finally popped up on AIM. She's safely back in the U.S. (whew!). Evidently she'd been at Heathrow getting ready to board her plane, right around the time that the bombs went off.

As for me, I'll be here for about 4-5 hours, and then heading back to Heathrow myself, for my flight to New York.

Signing off for now, your Memestreamer in the field,

Elonka :)

RE: London Terror Attack - 7/7

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