Ten years ago today, when the call for me came from LBC very soon after 9am, there was talk of some kind of small explosion on the Underground. It was thought it was an electrical fault.
Then a call came from Sky asking me to come into the studio. LBC wanted more and I remember cycling through Camden Square while broadcasting to them, and beginning to cast doubts on the electrical fault story. Two in different places just did not make sense and in between I had managed to call a contact to check this out. I said on LBC that it sounded like a terrorist attack, not an operational malfunction.
Oddly, I cycled past Tavistock Square – where I attended a public memorial service this morning - and I remember police tape being laid, but it was before the bomb went off. That has long remained a source of confusion.
By the time I got to the studio in Millbank, it was clear that it was a terrorist attack and I did several interviews. And then my phone went dead, along with everyone else’s. The interviews ended around midday and I remember cycling slowly back. There was an eerie feel to London.
There were thousands of people on the streets, many going home early but there was no public transport and therefore they were all walking. With so little traffic, it seemed almost pleasant except there was a dominant feeling of apprehension – though not fear. It would take days before a clear pattern of the events of that terrible day would emerge.
No one then knew yet the number of casualties or who they were, and with mobile phones out of action for a time, there was widespread concern, but no panic. It was all very dignified and it made me proud to be a Londoner.
It was Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, thousands of miles away in Singapore, who best reflected the mood.
Ken said: “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.
“That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.”
Ken was able to give voice to a lot of people’s feelings and most importantly he suggested that “business as usual” was the right response. It showed the importance of having a strong and committed Mayor for London.
On the other hand, there is something galling about Tony Blair trying to say today that terrorist attacks was nothing to do with Iraq. It is self-serving. Instead, a moment’s silence from the former Prime Minister today might have been a better response.