Phew! Quite a week, last week. Just to recap, I did my first week at Trampoline Systems as a Java guy (more to come on that later), and was ready to round things off nicely with a weekend of climbing in the Peak District. But as I got to Highbury & Islington station at 6pm on Friday, to meet Lisa and the rest of the guys, I was coming out of the WAGN (overground rail) and passing the Victoria Line platform on my right, about 5m away from me, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye, then heard a very loud bang followed instantly by loud screaming and people staggering out of the platform holding their heads and looking shocked.
Now I don't know about you, but if you're on the tube in peak rush hour, on the first anniversary of the July 7th attacks, and you hear a loud bang followed by screaming, you fear the worst. That was my first thought. It was followed very quickly by "but I'm fine, and that bang wasn't big enough to have been a big bomb - maybe a gunshot?"
Then the human sea spilling out of the platform started saying "he went under...he just went under the train..." and I knew what had happened. The bang had been him hitting the train. Someone said "he was pushed!"
Amid all the screams and sobs, the station staff and police - already on a high alert by virtue of the date - were already running down the escalators in droves, and I felt an overwhelming need for fresh air. As I ascended the escalators, I could see more and more police running in, people at the top who had heard the bang and the screams looking deathly pale, not knowing what was going on, one woman halfway down the "down" escalator collapsed in uncontrollable sobbing and trying to crawl back up, people craning their necks to see, others trying to hide their eyes. By the time I got to the top of the escalator I could hear the sirens of police cars and ambulances racing to the scene, and as I stepped out of the station blinking into the sunlight, the rapid putter-putter-putter of incoming helicopters overhead.
It was all a bit crazy. I was shaking and unsteady on my feet, despite nothing "bad" actually happening to me, just that initial fraction of a second as I heard the bang and the screams and my heart leapt into my mouth, and there were many more people worse affected than me. All through the weekend, in quiet moments, if I closed my eyes, I heard that bang followed by the screams, and I saw that distraught woman trying to crawl back up the escalator. Are we really so conditioned into a state of fear that the mere possibility that an attack has taken place can have such a profound effect on us? I thought we were over that by now.
It turns out that the poor guy WAS pushed in front of the train. A 20yr-old man was arrested over the weekend and will go on trail today.