Monday, September 11, 2006


I know exactly where I was this afternoon, five years ago.

Approximately 3,500 miles away from the horror of that day.

Literally and figuratively; an ocean away.

I was working at the bookshop most of that week, but since I was roat'd to work the weekend, I had the Tuesday off.

I remember clearly, like everyone does now, where I was when I first heard the news.

I was upstairs at my parent's house, writing an email offline to one of my friends.

The phone went. Unusually for the middle of the day, it was my grandmother.

"You should turn the TV on," she said, again, unusual for her "the Empire State Building is on fire."

Bless her, my gran's never been plugged into Americana. She once asked a visiting friend of mine from the states:

"Whereabouts are you from?"

"California" my friend says.

"Is that in the USA?" asks Gran, innocently.

Anyway, I digress.

So thinking it was the Empire State, what would have been an equally shocking sight anyway, I turned on the TV.

The same images. On all the channels.

Deep, thick back plumes of smoke were billowing from deep gashes in both of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. Flames licked up the sides and debris continued to rain down.

Staggeringly, LIVE was emblazoned in the top right hand-corner of the screen.

Unusually for professional newscasters, the anchors were hesitant, clearly shocked themselves. Something of great magnitude had clearly just occurred.

I remember one of them saying something to the effect of

"We're just going to run that video again... Can we get that video? You're seeing this again as we are, what looks like a clear and deliberate act... A second plane hitting the south tower..."

I shouted, shouted for my dad to come in from the garden. He would want to know what was happening, but part of me as well wanted to check that hat I was seeing was real. So shockingly real.

We must have sat transfixed for the next six hours, as the events unfolded. Mum joined us later on that afternoon, in a kind of quiet tele-vigil.

What else could be do but watch?

I remember arguing geo-politics the next day with an old email friend of mine. They argued that this wasn't a turning point in world history, that things would settle down. I argued the opposite; that this heralded an uncertain new age.

I hate to be right sometimes.

Written with the deepest respect, and in memory of the 2,749.


Anonymous said...

It is etched in the deepest concaves of my mind also.

Thought provoking and sensitive.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be nit picky, but the death toll is 200 souls higher if you include the Pentagon and flight 93.

Ing said...

Apologies, I realise the number I quoted was simply that of the twin towers.

Whichever way, however many, still horrific.

As were the figures quoted in yesterday's Guardian:

Killed in major terrorist attacks since 9/11: 4,319
Killed in the 'war on terror': 92,469

Inspector Monkfish2 said...

It makes you think.

Jen said...

I remember being in my college car park on the afternoon of 9/11, when I overheard two bus drivers talking about "unprecedented" terrorist attacks on America.

When I got home I too sat transfixed to the news, and had a horrible, indescribable feeling that the world would never be the same ever again, and that this was something of enormous magnitude.

In memory.