(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…..