On the morning of the 6th of July 2005 I woke around 7.30am in my apartment on the corner of Edgware Road and Marble Arch. It was a typical morning. London was still feeling a sense of celebration after the previous day's announcement the the city was to host the 2012 Olympic Games. I made my usual morning stroll to work on Golden Square in Soho. It promised to be a warm July day.
On the 4th floor of Fintex House just next to the Virgin Radio centre and a stone's throw from the neon gilded Picadilly Circus I sat at my desk - things were about to change. By 9.30 it was obvious that people were late for work. Rumours were going around the city that there had been a power cut on the London underground. Rumours then started of a bomb on the underground. Once this was confirmed the true scale of what was happening became clear. Kings Cross, Liverpool St, St Pancras, and Aldgate East stations were all affected. Trains were being blown apart deep underground. A circle line train that had just left platform 4 at Edgware Road station was also bombed. This was 100 yards from my flat and an option for me if I was running late for work.
By noon most office workers in the Soho area had abandoned work for the day and focused on ways and means of getting home. Most Londoners who work in the heart of the city live well outside. No public transport was running. I made my way back to Edgware Road. Oxford St, a street that is synonymous with red double decker buses, taxis and frantic shoppers, was suddenly transformed into a sullen hill empty of any traffic other than those who walked slowly and aimlessly towards Paddington and Hyde Park.
On the 7th of July I found myself in the heart of a national tragedy, a moment of horrific significance in a great city. I was lucky. I was unhurt and safe from harm. But I learnt something that day. I learnt just how defiant Londoners are in the face of terror. I witnessed entire communities come together to ensure that those behind the events of that day had no effect on how their city would continue to operate. Living alone in a flat in central London I was called by work colleagues and invited to join them in a bar in Clapham. People felt the need to socialise and gather together. It was a community spirit I had yet to experience.
By 7pm I left my flat to make my way across the river to Clapham and was stunned to see buses running again. In the space of a few hours the city was getting back to normal. No one was allowing shock to stop them from letting terrorists know who was in charge. The streets of Clapham were a hive of activity. People were out. Conversation was all about the day's events but fear was at a minimum. We were edgy but we were together.
Watching events unfold last night it was clear that London was experiencing another moment of terror, this time perpetrated by young thugs with their own mediocre reasoning and mission. Sky and BBC were very obviously struggling to keep up with events. The Metropolitan Police were physically overwhelmed.
At four minutes past eleven this morning, the Prime Minister ended his long period of silence to give a statement on the events of the previous night. By the time Cameron was finishing his coffee and pastries the people of London had already been cleaning up the city for hours. The true London spirit spoke far more that the words that Cameron uttered from behind the gates of Downing St.
Of course the clean up is now the focus of the 24 hour television news stations. These clean-ups didnt just happen by accident. It was an instinctive reaction from the people of London to show their true selves to the people of the world.
The philosopher Alain deBotton perhaps summed it up when he tweeted this morning- 'The good tends to always outweigh the bad: it just takes longer to get itself organised.'
No army can replace the good that exists in London town.