Thursday, 11 September 2008

I remember it well...

About ten years after a disaster or important historical event, people love to do that thing where they say 'Ooh, I remember what I was doing ten years ago today when that news broke. I was sitting in my chair watching the news with my little hamster Gerry, and we were talking about the weather. It was a rainy day, which gave Gerry the feeling that something bad was going to happen. Then as soon as he finished his little hamster sentence proclaiming the effects of the weather on life and humanity, an alert came on the telly to say that John F Kennedy had been shot.'


or something like that


Anyway, seeing as today is September 11th, the seventh anniversary of (in case you've been living under a very large rock without a TV, radio, or paper) the day the two World Trade Centre buildings came down in New York after a terrorist attack, I thought I'd share my first reactions to it.


I was really rather confused, shocked and baffled. But for quite the wrong reasons.


At this point I should mention that before the latest new arc style Wembley stadium was built, it had quite a different look about it. It's always been a bit of an important landmark in my neck of the woods and was known, in addition to Wembley Stadium, as the 'twin towers', which were knocked down in 2003. Do you see where this is going?


So we're all in the common room at sixth form, and this news flash comes on the TV with TWIN TOWERS HIT BY PLANE and everyone's glued to the screen watching the events unfold, going 'Oh my god, the twin towers are falling down, this is a tragedy, so many people are dying'. Now, I like to think I wasn't the only one in NW London who immediately, and for a good period of time (well, 10 – 20 minutes, tops) was worrying about the fate of two concrete blocks which mark the place I'd seen Michael Jackson in concert 4 years previously.


See, I knew what and where the World Trade Centre was, but hadn't heard it referred to as the Twin Towers, because they, according to me, were in Wembley. For some reason I didn't know there were two World Trade Centres either, because my mum had only been up the one when she was in NY; so I was really quite confused. It took a while for me to click that this worldwide disaster, on every news channel internationally, wasn't happening 20 minutes away in the London suburb of Wembley, but in New York, you know, that massive important city in America.


Which is why if anyone ever asks me what I was doing when I heard the news on September 11th 2001 (which they never will, because no one really cares where you were, notice how it's always you who has to offer that information forward?) I always skip that part of the story and go straight to the bit after I realised that in America, the Twin Towers = World Trade Centre and this really was actually quite serious.
Who's with me?
...err...I'm seeing a lot of tumbleweed lately.


AFC 30K said...

I was in a portacabin buy the side of a motorway when my dad called me and told me to turn on the TV. We were talking to each other when the second plane hit and I will never forget listening to him on the other end of the phone.

I knew, as a Structural Engineer, the moment the second plane hit that that the tower would come down. It was horiffying watching the emergency services rushing towards when I knew was in impending collapse.

I thought that the first tower would still stand but unfortunately I was proved wrong...

dmb5_libra said...

i was just down the highway from the pentagon...saw the smoke and our entire building shook minutes after the impact. a terrible day for all.

Blue soup said...

It was the end of the summer before I started university, and Little City uni term didn't start until the first week in October. I was lounging about when I got a text from my friend in Manchester which simply read "Fucking hell, this is fucking war!!!"

At that time, there had been a lot of trouble in Manchester, particularly in the area where he lived with lots of fighting, stabbings and other crime being reported on the national news. My immediate thought was that there was some form of riot going on up there, so I texted him to see if he was alright and what was going on? He sent back "Turn on the fucking TV!!!"

And, well, rolling news on every channel. Such a sad day.

James said...

Well I think I should get royalties for giving you blog ideas... ;)

"Which is why if anyone ever asks me what I was doing when I heard the news on September 11th 2001 (which they never will, because no one really cares where you were, notice how it's always you who has to offer that information forward?)"

Well I am that person who asks that question. I just find it very interesting, not in a morbid way though. But just because on a normal day everyone goes about their thing, thinking and talking about all sorts of random stuff. But big world events like these can bring such a enormous amount of people to think, and talk, and pretty much do the same thing (stick on the telly).

Despite me not specifically asking I've already had a few interesting twitter responses from people describing what they were doing.

Oh and I didn't think of the Wembley twin towers, although I have to admit to not knowing what the twin towers were. The words World Trade Centre or Al Qaeda or Osama Bin laden meant nothing to me until that day.

I remember when 7/7 happened, I was at work and someone said look on the internet... the BBC and Sky website were both not loading up under the pressure of everyone logging on for news. Now every time a major news website fails to load, I quickly make sure another one does just to make sure another big event hasn't happened (or that my internet connection isn't buggered!)

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I watched the whole mess unfold from a conference room on the 33rd floor of a midtown skyscraper. This place is still obsessed with the event. They refuse to move on and, call me callous, but it’s time.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

afc - must have been weird knowing structurally what the implications of the crash were.

Dm5- wow that is close to the action, and all the more real too. Alot of people said watching it just on tv was like a film.

Blue- i don't think anyone around me really grasped what was happening enough to send messages. War indeed though.

Am doing this on my phone so i'll continue replying later.,

Cynical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

oops, messed up that comment. Try again...

I was in work with people crowded around my desk watching the videos on the internet. People who I still work with today remembered it all too today.

More importantly, does Gerry the hamster remember?

weenie said...

Going through some crap at work right now so I didn't even realise it was 9-11 yesterday....doh! Anyway, where was I? At work, trying to get info off the internet which was on meltdown.

Semaphore said...

I was massively confused as well - I was waiting outside school to be picked up by my mum (I was only fourteen), and I heard another mother saying to her daughter "Someone's crashed a plane into a skyscraper in New York" - and I imagined one of those little Cesna jobbies, and that it was an accident. And then I got a call from my mum telling me to meet her at a friend's house round the corner - they're Americans, New Yorkers in fact, and they had the TV on. We just sat in silence, watching. Later, I started crying, thinking it was going to be World War III and that we were going to be bombed. That was the beginning of political me!

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

James, royalties cheque is in the post! Your twitter made me think of how it's funny that people love to share this kind of stuff. It's almost as if it validates the person's emotional claim, everyone's got their own individual story to tell. I was the same though, not a clue about Osama or terrorism on that scale really, until the 11th.

unbearable - I can imagine the feelings in America about it are still running quite high. It's affected everything though, day to day life wise. I don't think it will settle down any time soon, because now there's all the discussion over whether the memorial will be built in time for the 10th anniversary.

cynical - I think so, his little gerbil mind is like a sponge. A sponge, I tell you.

weenie - it hasn't had the same coverage as previous years.

semaphore - a new face! well, name. I know what you mean, this weird political knowledge and interest suddenly became a real part of people's lives from then on. I wouldn't have considered global happenings on that scale before, not political anyway.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

I was having a family day with my mum, sister and two-year-old niece. We'd had a nice lunch and switched on the TV to see the lunchtime news - and watched in horror as the events unfolded. I remember doing a jigsaw with my little niece while watching the towers tumble - a surreal moment.

rosiewishes. said...

I was also 14, and remember coming home from school to find my sister and mother stood in the front room watching TV. They'd never usually be watching it at that time... I still don't know why they had it on or who told them to watch it.
I just remember walking in as the second plane crashed.

Weird, surreal day.

I didn't realise it was the anniversary; I've been too wrapped up in my own little kayaking world!

Anonymous said...

I was wiring in a patch panel and network switch in an office I was about to move into.

I had Five Live on whilst I was lying on my back getting very frustrated with what I was doing.

Once it happened I jut packed up, came home and spent the day sat in front of the TV.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

So many stories!

I say keep 'em coming...

Rachel said...

I was at school, in a geography lesson, although at that point did not know what had happened. I headed into town to meet someone and there was a shop that sold televisions, all of them were showing the news. Was so very odd, one of those is this really happening moments.
I actually went to New York last year and we visited the site, its oddly quiet, and on every available wall there are messages of support and hope. Also randomely there is a Burger King right next to where the Twin Towers were, my one thought was, I wonder if that was there before, or if it sprang up after?
I remember 7/7, my dad was in London that day on a course, and cos all the phones were down I remember we couldnt get hold of him, was scary. Luckily he was no where near the carnage, as soon as he knew what had happened he got the first mode of transport home!


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