July 7, 2005
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We were finishing up in the breakfast room of our Bayswater hotel
when the bombs went off during London's rush hour. We were less than
a mile from the tube explosion near Edgewater Road, but didn't find out
anything until an hour or so later, after we had spent some time hanging around Kensington
Park -- me with the girls in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground,
Jen shopping at Zara and H&M on the High Street. When we went
to meet her, we saw police removing the shattered window of a red,
double-decker bus -- the result of an accident, it seems, but a strange
indicator of the chaos that was hitting London that day.
Ellie's first question: "Was it Paris?" The day before, when London had beat
out Paris for the 2012 Olympics bid, she had asked if any country had ever
gone to war over an Olympics bid. We had assured her they hadn't, but
the doubt apparently lingered.
After the explosions, the buses and tubes shut down, and throughout
Thursday morning we stayed in and near the park, often in pouring rain, while things
sorted themselves out. The one explosion we heard was a bomb squad detonating
a mysterious package just down the block from us -- across the street from the
Afghani embassy, as a matter of fact.
Around noon, the sunshine broke through, and things began to seem a bit more
normal again. With the transit closed, all of London was out walking. We joined the
throngs of commuters walking the streets and parkways, many in high heels or
pin-stripe suits, and made our way on foot down to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, to
show them to the daughters in the shining afternoon light.