Saturday, July 09, 2005

alive in London!

i've been in London since the 3rd of July cos I'm on a course at the LSE summer school. as you probably know, there has been a series of bombings by terrorists here. luckily, i (or anyone else I know) have not been harmed! i was in a lecture when someone came in telling us what had happened (that was the first i knew of it) and telling us we'd better ring our families to let them know we're safe (immediately everyone switched their mobile phones on all at the same time). my parents and brother were due to take a train, so when i heard that there had been bombings on trains, of course i worried about them. there were some problems calling them cos so many ppl were calling each other at the same time that the local phone network got overloaded, but eventually i got through to them - it turned out that they arrived too late for their train (which i think was the one at king's cross that got blown up) and when they got to the station, there was pandemonium there and they heard the explosion. the station was shut down and they couldnt leave london cos all the stations were being shut down, so they went to a hotel for the night, then the next day they got a coach to Cambridge (cos my brother was going to a uni open day there), and later they are going to go home. we got a lot of worried phone calls from friends who knew we were in London!
i also texted a mate of mine, Tara, who lives in london for most of the year, and she was ok, she wasnt in any of the blasts or anything (and school ended up being cancelled for the day for her!). for the rest of the day and for the next day (friday), my lectures were cancelled, but it's all back to normal on monday. at lunch break on thursday (when the terror attacks happened), i left the campus to go back to the halls to get my library card (planning to return to the campus and go to the library after lunch, assuming that everything would carry on as normal) but when i got to the halls of residence i found out that the police wanted everyone to stay indoors where they were until further notice, so i stayed in the halls for about 5 hours until the warning was stopped. i spent a few of those hours watching the news on the tv and realised the situation was a lot more serious than i first thought. some of the Americans who are also on the summer school were saying things like "we're gonna get bombed, we're gonna die, so let's go to the student union bar!" and i later saw a drunk one in the lifts. it was kind of spooky because it was really quiet outside - when i was walking back from the campus to the halls, there was little traffic and few people, but lots of ambulances and police cars, and when i was in the halls the background noise of traffic was gone, you could hear things you wouldnt normally be able to hear like ppl talking on the streets (i was on the 9th floor and i could hear the ppl outside the houses near the halls (until they - sensibly - went back indoors), that's how quiet it was!) and there were just the sirens of the ambulances and police cars all the time. there were the sounds of ambulances/police cars 24/7, and even now you can still hear quite a few of them.
at about 6pm, the police were no longer advising ppl to stay at home (although the LSE did advise us not to use public transport) and i went out to the nearby Sainsbury's with some spanish students i know. things were starting to get back to normal, but it was still a bit strange because london was still less busy than usual, and there was a bit of an odd atmosphere around. we only went out for a few minutes - straight to the supermarket, get some food, get straight back, no loitering on the streets, just in case it still isnt 100% safe.
now life is getting back to normal as best it can.
i went through different phases on the day, i think, like shock, fear, anger... can't remember the exact order... but i remember at one point feeling very angry about the fact that the attacks were not prevented. on tv, ppl were saying things like "we knew since 9/11 that something would happen to london, it was a question of when, not if" and i thought, if they knew london would be attacked, why wasnt there more security or police to prevent it? the world leaders at the G8 summit get plenty of security, of course... but it makes you wonder: who is more important, 8 world leaders or 8 million ordinary citizens?
on a lighter note... yesterday, as lectures were cancelled so i didnt have a lot to do, and i needed some light relief from the stress of what had just happened after the day before, i found the nearest record store to the halls - Virgin Megastores - and it really is a megastore, 3 floors of music, films and videogames. went shopping there, spent ages wandering round in wonder, spent £90.90 on CDs (in a sale, you know...), DVDs and books. i now have very little money left, so i am budgeting carefully (i'm here for another 2 weeks so i have to make my money last!). i get a free breakfast every morning here in the halls (all included in the price, which was paid for by my parents, bless them) so i don't have to worry about that, and most things are within walking distance so i don't have to worry about travel costs (and anyway i think i'm going to avoid London's public transport for a while, just in case), it's really only food that i have to worry about now. there's a Boots nearby that sells their famous "meal deal" lunches (sandwiches, wraps, crisps, drinks, etc.) so i can live on those cos they're fairly cheap (altho more expensive here than in most other parts of the country!) - i reckon i'll be able to live on £3 a day or less. this is looking like an introduction to the traditionally poverty-stricken student life... so i guess i'm getting in training for uni. (i went on this course (introduction to english law) as a kind of "training" for when i start my law degree this autumn.) anyway, i needed a diet anyway!
before i forget, there was also the "leavers' ball" on the 1st of july, which was great, and we were all given a "graduating class of 2005" yearbook by the head boy and girl, which was really nice. when i get back home, i'll find it and type up here what they said about me... Anyway, at the ball i managed to blag a free drink out of my chemistry teacher (i didn't have any money on me!) and i tried to blag a drink off the PE teacher too but he didnt fall for it (so much for the myth that PE teachers are thick... altho i have met many stupid PE teachers in my life, this guy certainly isnt one of them - he's actually very witty) but i later managed to get some money off some very nice ppl so i managed to buy myself a few drinks. had a great time, danced a little, didnt get drunk tho, socialised and talked with ppl, including some guests who had been invited - some of them were ppl i knew who i hadnt seen in ages, so it was nice to meet them again!
anyway bloggers, sorry about the long long long post, but it's just i had so much to say, so much has happened in a few days, so i'm stopping now (even tho there is a lot more i could add, like more about the leavers ball and yearbook, or what i bought in mr richard branson's nice big record store) before this blog gets too big and out of control... until next time!


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