This is a running blog and one of the constraint I set myself is to try to try to stay on subject, even if the link might be a bit tenuous So far it has not been a problem, and I have found things I wanted to say but between Thursday and Sunday this was not the case.
I was not personally affected by the bombings in the sense that I was nowhere near them when they went off and I know nobody who was directly involved. I am not someone who reacts to external events with great emotion and my life is much as it ever was. But, and this is rather a large but, my mental landscape was empty – like a ghost town in an old western, where the only movement is a tumbleweed blowing down the street. I had a constant sense of eerie quietness.
Thursday itself was very strange. I only knew something was wrong when colleagues phoned-in saying that they were having difficulty getting into work because the whole underground network was closed down because of power surges or a security alert. The rest of the day was spent trying to get work done with fewer people whilst constantly checking on the Internet to see more news. There was a horrible obsessiveness about reading the same things again and again to see if there was any more information. I finished about 7pm and ran to Euston (4 miles)to catch my train home. It was a most unpleasant run, where everything felt wrong. I felt wrong and the city was all wrong - theatres, bars and restaurants were closed and even Covent Garden was subdued. But I did not feel the emptiness until I got to the Euston Road. It was closed to all traffic - so still, so quiet.
It was then that I remembered the Potters Bar rail crash. On that day I had been at a meeting in an office block in the concourse of Potters Bar station. Our party was breaking for lunch, just walking down the stairs, when we heard the crump of the crash. We ran to the station and were amongst the first people there - trying in some way to help and not really knowing what to do.
When I think of what happened I don’t really remember what I saw: the broken bodies on the track, looking like puppets whose strings had been cut, or the way the carriage was wedged under the platform roof at a crazy angle. Instead I feel the stillness. Everything was quiet, disconnected and empty – and that is what I still feel inside myself. On thursday it all came back.
After that I did not want to write about running but I did want to run. So on Sunday I went back to my canal and my base run. It was leafy, beautiful and peaceful and, although it was a bit too hot and I suffered more than usual, at the end I was uplifted. My spirits were restored.
Now once again I want to write about running. The whole point of this blog is to try to record those moments when the simple act of putting one foot in front of another for a longish period of time can transform the way you feel. Make you once again feel connected. It is what I am trying to express.