All over the country people remembered the London Bombings.
Outside our central London offices, the streets were silent. Cars stopped and observed the silence. Office workers came out of their buildings to stand in solidarity on the streets .
As the rain began to spit, we remembered those who had perished underground or in Tavistock square.
Mobile phone alarms brought people out of their meditations and prayers, and a gentle chatter resumed. Strangers confided to each other their stories about where they had been on that fateful morning. The contact lens dust that made them leave home just those few minutes later and miss the train, the miraculous parking space that meant that they had caught an earlier bus.
It was a period of silent remembrance followed by community, sharing and togetherness that was mirrored all over the country.
In Wigan town centre in Lancashire, a group of young Muslim girls stood outside the market with stall holders and shoppers. Jennifer King said; “it is encouraging that we are all here together to remember”. Saima Akbar said that she felt it was important as a young Muslim to take part in the remembrance. “I reckon it’s the right thing to do. And it shows we’re not all like them at all whatever some people think,” she said.
In Edinburgh Christopher Gregg said that he had been struck by the diverse company he had kept the silence with on Princes Street. “It was a solemn event”, he said, “and a real stand against individuals who want to act against a community”.
In Southampton a eerie silence replaced the usual bustle of a busy shopping day. Mr Jonathan Roberts described watching the street scene as he observed the silence from his office window. “It was utterly still and peaceful. After the silence, people didn’t move on straight away. There was a lot of eye contact, people looking at one another. I think it’s comforting to know that your feelings are shared by so many people.”
A spirit of tolerance and togetherness was in evidence at the Stonewall offices too, as staff joined their neighbours on the street. Ben Summerskill said, “Not just the gay community, but the whole community must stand strong in the face of terrorism.”