09 February 2008

Today in infamy - the day they almost got me edition

On the tenth of February 1996 American financed terrorists tried to kill me when they exploded a bomb at South Quay in the Docklands. The bomb, which went off at 7 PM, killed two young men at a newsagents from whom I had bought a birthday card for a mate only about two hours before. The building in which I worked (pictured above) was destroyed and fortunately there were few injuries amongst our staff although two men were fairly badly injured by flying glass.

I would normally have been home, or more accurately down the pub, at that time on a Friday but as there was a young American who had just got through his first week of a six month secondment I took him out for a few pints at a nearby pub, the Waterfront. After having two pints we debated having another and, fortunately, succumbed to our weakness. (I certainly shouldn't have had another as I was driving.) No sooner had I got back to the table with our pints of Guinness then the bomb exploded. To this day neither Rich nor I can recall if we hit the floor. I maintain that we didn't whilst he maintains that we did. In any case had we not had the third pint we would have been walking towards South Quay station at the time of the explosion and I don't know how well cordoned off the station was from the quayside. (The police had not evacuated our building which was only metres from the station although they had told everyone to remain indoors.) I still use this as an excuse to have at least three pints when I go in a pub (or else I will die).

I can tell you that experience leaving the pub, into what I can only describe as a scene out of Beirut or Dresden, and trying to get home afterwards, with powdered glass in the air and the smell of burnt fertiliser, was an experience I would not like to repeat. When I did manage to get back to Beckenham about two and a half or three hours later, after walking to the bottom of the Isle of Dogs and going through the foot tunnel to Greenwich where I managed to convince a black cab to take me home, no one in the pub knew what had happened and couldn't understand why I was such a complete and utter mess.

After what I consider to be one of the worst nights of my life I woke the next morning with a dreadful hangover. This was particularly irritating as I had failed to get drunk the night before despite drinking copious amounts of whiskey.

My only advice is to avoid bombings and other acts of terror if at all possible.

Another view of the building I worked in below.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Immediately afterwards, the Government passed sweeping laws suspending habeas corpus, extending detention time limits, removing limits on surveillance, proposed national ID cards and biometric data collection for the entire population, presented proof of the terrorist's plans and identites before the UN Security Council, and, in concert with its Nato allies, launched air strikes against Dublin, and —

... Oh, wait.