The Blast by Des Mannay

(written on the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings)


If you hadn’t made me late that morning

I would have caught the train on time

But you were just a small child in need of comfort

And I, just a parent who couldn’t resist a hug

So anyway, I caught the later train.

To get to the conference – 5 days of hard politics and soft hearts

And that journey known to all –

Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Didcot, Reading and London Paddington

From there I would travel onto Kings Cross or Euston

It wasn’t until way past Swindon, we knew something was wrong

The first one to crack was the driver

In a garbled message he said he couldn’t go on

Journey would end at the next station

And we heard him sob like a small child over the Tannoy

The news spread along each carriage – there’s something wrong in London

What – a crash? But then a ‘Mexican wave’ of terror

Was spread by mobile phone

We scramble for news second hand from relatives

And piece together a picture of Kings Cross afire

And rumours of bombs elsewhere – everywhere!

And the driver gets bullied by the fat controller

He’ll now drive on to Reading – there’s a fresh driver there

And we can all start making plans.

Someone’s phone goes off – the ringtone is “should I Stay Or Should I Go”

I remember 9/11 – and rush to the toilets for privacy

To record a defiant goodbye message on my wife’s landline

But my voice breaks towards the end, and I wonder

How come the Americans are better at doing this stuff?

Is it because of all the John Wayne movies that they watch?

Sod it – next time I’ll just send a text

And my wife will wonder why Stephen Hawking is pledging her undying love

Finally onto Paddington – conference cancelled today

And I phone people to keep them away

But then my pregnant wife phones and we argue

She wants me to come home but I utter the fatal words,

“But we can’t give in to terror – if I come home they’ve won”

Yeah sure – like they won’t plant bombs coz I’m here.

That’ll scare ’em

Perhaps I’ve watched too many John Wayne movies

Paddington begins to stifle, so I go for a walk

And a bus goes “bang!”, and elsewhere a worried wife has a miscarriage

Blood red dead – and the smell of the blood! mixing with the cordite

Awakening your ‘fight or flight’ mechanism –

Where your head says “run” and your heart says “stay”

And as days go by new rituals are created

Like the lamp post posters of the missing and the dead

Left by relatives seeking closure – they look like posters for missing pets

And the peace and unity vigils

Where we learnt that terror was indiscriminate – it kills all faiths

Just like the bombs on Baghdad – war is terror

I was lucky – I didn’t die….

But I carry the dead with me

They haunt me every night – I see their blackened disfigured faces

Crowding out my mind, and they sound like

Something out of ‘James and the Giant Peach’

When they say, “Where were you  – we were waiting for you?”

And the menacing Blood Red Dead drops into my head

And says, “I took your place – so why weren’t you there on time?

This should have been you not me…”

And I can’t take this anymore….

And I just….can’t….take….this….anymore……

And I am the resurrection…..

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