Welcome to another set of my journal entries. It’s fair to say this has been a month of mixed fortunes for the UK, particularly in London, and especially in the first week when so much happened in quick succession. Despite being so far away in Devon, the events were so significant and dominated the news so heavily that it was natural to write a lot about them.
On the one hand London hosted one of the massive worldwide Live 8 concerts, that gave us a lot of entertainment while sending an important message. Plus the city won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics, which was fantastic news. But all of that was quickly overshadowed by the bomb attacks on London’s transport network. And if reading about those is likely to upset you, then please feel free to skip some or all of this post as you feel necessary.
There are little updates about me in amongst all of that as well though, relating to my career and entertainment, and there are other bits of news too. So even though some of this isn’t cheerful, I hope you find it interesting nonetheless.
Friday July 1, 2005
Another quiet week at work. The supervisor’s post hasn’t been advertised yet. As for home, I’ve got my latest lot of DVDs – The Brittas Empire: Series 7, One Foot In The Grave: Series 2, Dad’s Army: Series 3, Yes Prime Minister: Series 2 and The Bill: Series 1. It’s great to hear The Bill’s original theme, and I’m delighted to hear it played in full over the plodding feet credits with the ‘twiddly’ middle section intact. My, how they’ve mucked up the tune since then. It’ll be interesting to watch the episodes themselves, as I’ve never seen them before.
The news has contained a few notable deaths this week. 2 are the voices of Tigger and Piglet from the Winnie The Pooh cartoons. But the saddest piece of news this week is the death of Richard Whiteley. He was 61. He had been suffering from pneumonia, causing him to miss hosting Countdown for the first time in its 23-year history.
Guest presenters have been recording shows to make up the gap, but Channel 4 are still showing editions hosted by Richard before his illness. They postponed Monday’s show as a mark of respect. He was also a journalist, hosting a number of news programmes. This earned him the nickname “twice-nightly Whiteley” after being on a local news programme and Countdown on the same nights. Carol Vorderman is understandably devastated too.
Whether Countdown will continue, I’ve no idea. It’ll be difficult, given that Richard made the show his own (apart from when Noel Edmonds took over to give him a Gotcha!). He’s never missed a show until recently, and he is thought to have been on TV more than anyone else – at least 10,000 appearances it is reckoned. He’ll be missed by many, that’s for sure.
On a more interesting note, this Saturday sees the Live 8 concerts worldwide. The BBC are doing the coverage for us, just like they did for Live Aid 20 years ago. It starts on the TV on BBC2 at 1pm, before going over to BBC1 after the Wimbledon ladies final at about 4:15pm (assuming the final doesn’t overrun of course). The coverage then carries on until 3:35am!
This time round, though, it’s not about raising money – it’s about raising awareness, and trying to raise people’s voices. The G8 Summit is this coming Wednesday, hence the name Live 8. I don’t think it will wipe out poverty, there are far too many issues to overcome and no easy solution, but hopefully it will help a bit. Hats off to Bob Geldof and everyone else for the Make Poverty History campaign, it’s an important message.
The UK is kicking it off from Hyde Park, where they’ve got to squeeze in about 200,000 people, all of whom got tickets from a text lottery. And there are 9 other concerts around the world too. Then on Wednesday, there will be another concert in Edinburgh (though that one won’t be on our local TV unfortunately). Bob Geldof is also urging people to make the Long Walk Of Justice to Edinburgh for the G8 Summit on Wednesday.
So it all looks as if it’s going to be a pretty good day. I won’t like all the music, but then who will? It’s certainly worth watching, as we’ll probably never see anything on this scale again for some time.
Sunday July 3, 2005
In the news this weekend, singer Luther Vandross died last Friday, aged just 54. I’ve got a few of his tracks, and he’s not bad. On a happier note – I got £10 on the lottery! Not enough noughts on the end, but it’s been a long time since I last won. I’ve never won more than £10, but it’s better than nothing!
But, of course, there’s only really been one bit of news this weekend. The biggest global event in history has been and gone already. A 10-hour concert in Hyde Park, along with concerts in the other 7 G8 counties. The aim – to Make Poverty History, by putting pressure on the G8 to:
- Double the aid sent to the world’s poorest countries.
- Fully cancel their debts.
- Change the trade laws so that they can build their own future.
Whether it will work or not is another matter, but what a concert! Ok, I didn’t know or like all of the acts, but it was still a damn good job, and I watched the whole Hyde Park show from 2pm to midnight, and then saw some of the Philadelphia show.
As promised, the 200,000 people crammed into Hyde Park, along with the billions watching around the world, were treated to Paul McCartney and U2 doing a great version of Sgt Pepper – the first time Paul has ever performed it live. It had people playing the trombones in full costume, and just sounded great. That was followed by a great set from U2, so the show was off to a good start. Coldplay came shortly after, but I’m not too keen on them.
Other key acts from the Hyde Park show included:
- Elton John – He did a great rocking set, getting everyone going. It’s a shame some of the newer artists weren’t like that.
- Madonna – I’m not a huge fan, but she did get people going with her lively set.
- Bob Geldof – He did a surprise performance of I Don’t Like Mondays, again pausing on “the message today is how to die”, just like he did at Live Aid.
- Sting – Message In A Bottle and Every Breath You Take were among his set, and he still sounds good.
- Robbie Williams – I’m not a big fan of his, but he probably got everyone going the most, with them all joining in the songs as loud as they could.
- The Who – Coming after Robbie, they kept people moving with Who Are You? and Won’t Get Fooled Again, it was a great set.
- Pink Floyd – These guys pulled off one of the greatest reunions in music history, performing a few of their greatest tracks to a delighted crowd. They’re not heavy rockers, their stuff is more mellow, and they still have that Floyd sound that we all know. They didn’t do Another Brick In The Wall, sadly, but they did do Breathe and Comfortably Numb as part of their 4-song comeback.
- Paul McCartney – A great way to close a concert. He did Get Back, Helter Skelter and The Long And Winding Road among his set. He also did a duet with George Michael on Drive My Car. And he finished by getting all the artists out for the sing-a-long section of Hey Jude. I say ‘all’ – some had other gigs to get to, so U2 and Elton weren’t there. But anyway, having kicked off the concert at 2pm, Paul closed it in style just after 12am with everyone remembering what a great show it had been.
The newer acts weren’t particularly special, and some of the swearing was a bit unnecessary, particularly from the rappers. But I won’t moan about any of them because it’s not the point.
The BBC coverage was hosted by Jonathan Ross, who was a good choice. He kept things moving between acts, and had a laugh with everyone he talked to. It is a serious occasion, but you can’t get too bogged down in the seriousness or it would be boring. So he helped keep everyone happy with comments, saying that the older bands were tuning up their guitars and zimmer frames! And some of them are looking old now to be fair! He also had Jo Whiley and Fearne Cotton from Radio 1 walking around saying hello to the artists as well as other celebrities. Peaches Geldof (Bob’s daughter), Neil Morrissey, Davina McCall and Johnny Vaughan all turned up for a chat.
In the gaps between sets, the crowds were also shown footage of other concerts, or short films highlighting the message of the day. The moving film from Live Aid was shown to the crowd and viewers at home – the one with the song Drive by The Cars that includes the line “Who’s going to tell you when it’s too late?”. The stage itself also had a video screen at the back scrolling the names of those who had signed the petition on live8live.com or by text message. I added my name to it today as well.
But there were also some interesting people on stage between acts, to say something about the cause and/or introduce the next act, including:
- Bob Geldof – Of course. He came on a few times to say how things are going.
- Kofi Annan – Head of the UN, he just said a few lines to thank everyone for supporting the cause.
- Bill Gates – This was a big surprise. Windows couldn’t have been powering the technical side of things though, there weren’t any major hitches that I could tell!
- David Beckham – He did well, he’s not quite the bumbling speaker we sometimes know him as. He and Robbie were on by the time it got dark, so when looking at the crowd all you could see was flashing cameras!
- Ricky Gervais – I’m not a huge fan of The Office, but he’s always funny when he does interviews, particularly when him and Jonathan Ross are together. But talking of The Office, he finally bowed down to public pressure and did his dance from the show. After noticing that someone had shouted for him to do it, he said he wouldn’t, only for 200,000 people in Hyde Park to start booing! So he did it, even if the director did cut to an overhead shot at one point, so we couldn’t see all of it.
- Peter Kay – A great stand-up comedian, although I haven’t seen any of his sitcom stuff. He was on stage to introduce The Who, jokingly introducing them as The Spice Girls, as there had been strong rumours they would reform for the show. And of course, could you have Peter Kay on stage without him doing Amarillo with the crowd? Of course not. Although hampered by people doing sound checks, he did get the crowd singing it a couple of times, which they loved.
Other concerts were happening all around the world of course. I didn’t know most of the acts in the other countries, but there were some very familiar names:
- A concert at the Eden Project in Cornwall featured artists from a number of African countries.
- In Germany, fans flocked to Berlin, where Chris De Burgh, Green Day and Roxy Music were performing.
- France’s famous Palais de Versailles saw a host of international stars including Muse and The Cure.
- Duran Duran were the big act headlining in Rome.
- The Pet Shop Boys topped the bill in Moscow.
- Former South African president Nelson Mandela gave a speech leading the calls to make poverty history at the Johannesburg show.
- In Japan, British boy band McFly headlined, as they’re hugely popular in the far east.
- Rockers Bryan Adams and Deep Purple were among the headline acts at a gig just outside Toronto.
- And in Philadelphia, Will Smith hosted the USA Live 8, with Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Kaiser Chiefs also on the bill. Graham Norton hosted the American coverage, but I didn’t watch all of that through the night.
It’ll be interesting to see how many tuned in to the whole event on TV, the main competition during the day being Wimbledon. Many people were also watching on big video screens in key towns and cities around the UK.
All in all, it was different to Live Aid, as it was about awareness and the people’s voice as opposed to charity. And although it was arguably not quite as good music-wise, it was for a great cause, and it was a great show overall. Everyone did a great job putting it together, as it seemed to go without any major problems. Whether it will persuade the G8 leaders to do enough is another thing entirely, although some of it has been agreed. But the people have spoken, and thousands will be in Edinburgh on Wednesday, so the politicians can’t ignore it, however hard they try.
It was great to see everyone coming together to Make Poverty History in this way, and I’m glad I got to see it. Having said that, let’s hope we don’t need to do something like this again in 20 years time – although who would do it, I don’t know, as Bob Geldof will be too old by then. He’s done a great job at putting Live 8 together, you have to admire his efforts. Nobody thought he could do it again after Live Aid, but he has, to an even bigger audience than before. So well done Bob!
Thursday July 7, 2005
Nothing interesting to report at work this week, but London’s been in the news twice in two days.
Yesterday, London won the coveted honour of hosting the 2012 Olympics, beating favourites Paris by 4 votes in the final round. A city was eliminated each round of voting, and Madrid did lead one of those rounds. Sebastian Coe had given a brilliant presentation in the morning, some of which I caught on the news, showing how it would help in the future of British sport, getting young people involved more, and also showing the regeneration process that would take place in East London. It’s great news that we’ve got it. There was certainly much to celebrate last night.
But there were no celebrations today.
3 bombs on the Tube and 1 on a double-decker bus exploded in the rush hour in Central London today. As I write this, at least 37 people have died – with 2 on the bus, and the other 35 on the Underground. At least 45 were seriously hurt, with at least 700 injured in total.
Liverpool Street, Edgware Road and Kings Cross were all affected when the bombs exploded on the Tube, with 3 trains being affected at Edgware Road alone, when the blast ripped through a dividing wall to hit 2 trains on the other side of it. Carriages filled with smoke, and people were led out down the tracks. The roof of the double decker bus in Tavistock Square was lifted off when a bomb exploded on the top floor. The first explosion occurred near Liverpool Street, and was initially thought to be a power surge, but it soon became apparent that it was not.
We heard about it in work when one of my colleagues was on the phone to someone who told her about it. I then looked at the BBC website throughout the afternoon to see what was going on, and I’ve now just been watching the news. The pictures are shocking.
The transport network, an easy target because of its lack of security (hence the bombings in other places like Madrid in the past), has been crippled. But not for long. The Underground has been shut, but most of it will be running again soon. Buses were stopped, but will also be running soon. Transport into London from outside has also been hit. Things will be more back to normal tomorrow. Not normal completely, but more so than the terrorists wanted.
Tony Blair flew back from the G8 summit in a Chinook helicopter, after giving a speech in which he was clearly very moved. You could hear his voice shaking as he faced the moment he probably dreaded most – talking to the nation after what police had previously described as an ‘inevitable’ terrorist attack. Clearly, it was timed to coincide with the G8 Summit, but that will go on. The leaders have pressed on without Mr Blair as far as they can. Which is great, because the terrorists would probably have wanted it to stop completely.
The emergency services really have to be congratulated on their efforts, as whatever emergency plans are in force in London seem to have worked perfectly. People were treated at the scenes, taken to hospital and evacuated from stations without too much chaos. Doctors were flown in to some sites via helicopters. Buses were used to take the injured to hospital as well as ambulances. People have been treated for burns and fractures, and some have sadly needed limbs amputated. The response by all emergency personnel was very well co-ordinated, and everyone has been working together in a great way. We had rehearsed for situations like this, and we were ready.
Some Islamic terrorists have claimed to have carried out the attacks, but that of course can’t be confirmed yet. And forensic teams will be closely examining the scenes of the blasts for a long time. But Al-Qaeda are suspected, and it is seeming more likely to be their work, timed to try and disrupt the G8 Summit.
But regardless of who carried out the attacks, I believe they’ve failed in their ultimate aims. London will get back to normal, because nobody wants terrorists to get their way. We are strong. We now have the Olympics to come, where we can show to the world that we can bounce back from something like this. And there haven’t been as many fatalities as perhaps we would expect. Every death there has been is devastating, but it could have been far, far worse, considering the fact that it was the rush hour.
The UK also has a lot of support from countries all over the world, as many others have been affected by these sort of attacks. Support has come from Rudolph Guiliani for example, former Mayor of New York, who was in office on 11 September 2001. He praised the emergency services, the Prime Minister and the nation as a whole for their resilience after these events. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has also spoken about the attacks as well, of course.
Whatever the reasons for the attacks, none of which would be justifiable, I know for a fact that we won’t be beaten by this. It is shocking, but terrorists will not shake us.
Friday July 8, 2005
There has been some other news today, including the 21-month suspended sentence for the German creator of the Sasser worm. And agreements have been made at the G8 Summit regarding Africa, for which Bob Geldof has signalled his approval. But the main news, of course, stays with London, and the aftermath of the bombings.
The number of casualties from the London attacks has risen to at least 50. At least 13 people have died on the bus that exploded, with speculation that it was the work of a suicide bomber. There are still bodies near Russell Square station, as emergency services try to get to them (they are concerned over the tunnels safety). Many people have now come out of hospital, with the most serious cases left. The Queen has visited survivors at the Royal London Hospital. The Queen, Prime Minister, other world leaders, the media and ordinary people around the world have praised the emergency services’ reactions and the resilience of Londoners. Most London schools were closed today as well, and children will no doubt need some reassurance.
Investigations will continue, and we can only hope that they will be able to catch some of the people who were responsible. We have very good intelligence services, who have thwarted attacks in the past, so I’m sure they will find something. Information is already coming through – such as the fact that each explosion used a small amount of explosives, enough to be carried in a rucksack or bag. The Tube bombs were on the floors of the carriages. The bus bomb is less certain, but one passenger who got off before the blast said that they saw someone standing up who was constantly dipping into their bag and looking agitated. If it was a suicide bomber, that would be a first, and a horrid first, for Western Europe.
But for now, our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured, and with the survivors themselves who will have to live with their memories of yesterday’s callous acts.
Sunday July 10, 2005
Latest updates on the London bombings:
- The underground bombs went off almost simultaneously, and not over a period of an hour. They all went off within 50 seconds of each other, so timing devices seem to have been used.
- It is not known if the bus bomb also went off at roughly the same time, although it is probable. The driver survived with minor injuries, and tried to rescue some people from the wreckage before the emergency services arrived. The bomb was on the top deck at the back, which is why he was so lucky.
- Rescue efforts on the train near Russell Square are still very difficult. It is very deep underground, so the heat, the smell and the vermin are very difficult to work with. They’re also not helped by the fact that the tunnel is only a foot wider than the train (6 inches either side), which leaves very little room to get bodies out. Add to this that the bodies then have to be taken 1.3 miles down the track to Russell Square station before they can be brought out, and you can see how hard it is. There are at least 49 dead, but the total from this train will see that rise.
- A memorial service has been held today. There will be a 2-minute silence at noon on Thursday, 1 week on from the attacks.
In what seems to be an unconnected event, the city centre of Birmingham was cleared last night, with 200,000 people evacuated, after police got concerned over intelligence they had received. They are stressing that it is not connected to the London bombings, but I suppose we can’t be sure. There were some controlled explosions on a bus in Birmingham, but that isn’t directly related to the intelligence either it seems, so nobody knows what is going on. But the city is back to normal today.
The G8 Summit has also finished, and has been a success, to an extent. No agreements reached on trade as expected, but aid has been substantially increased, and the debt cancelled for the poorest countries. Climate change was also hampered by George Bush, again as expected, and they will meet again at a conference in November to discuss that.
There are also services and celebrations today to mark the end of the Second World War, part of the ongoing events throughout this part of the year (we’ve had VE Day, and VJ Day will be in August). The women who worked tirelessly during the war will be honoured by the Queen, as well as the men too of course.
Anyway, tomorrow should see London get back towards normality, while the investigation continues. I can’t see how London can have much more news next week – in the past week they’ve had Live 8, the 2012 Olympics and the terrorist attacks. That’s 7 days nobody will forget!
Tuesday July 12, 2005
Latest updates on the London bombings:
- Police have identified the bombers already, thanks to documents they found on the bus bomber and near the scenes of the train explosions. It’s also reported that police have them all together at Kings Cross on CCTV that morning.
- The bus bomber is known to have died in the explosion, and it’s thought the train bombers died in their attacks. If it was deliberate suicide, this would be the first time suicide bombers have struck in Western Europe.
- Police have been to Yorkshire and Luton, and made controlled explosion at houses and in a car, after evacuating some of the city. They’ve also made one arrest. All of this is in connection with the bombings. It’s amazing how they’ve been able to trace them so quickly. It just goes to show how good our police and intelligence services are.
- The BNP have tried to cash in with an image of the bus wreckage, saying that the attacks were the price of voting for Labour, who made us targets thanks to the war in Iraq. A bit sick of them really.
- Virus writers are, disturbingly, also taking advantage. They’re sending official looking newsletters out, spoofed to look like they’re from CNN, and there is a link or attachment that says it will show you amateur video footage taken by people caught up in the attacks, presumably on their mobiles. But the link just infects your PC with a virus that allows someone to remotely control your PC. It’s sick that people will do something like that.
Those are the main points at the moment, but it looks like police are doing really well in tracing the suspects. I’m sure we’ll find out even more as time goes on.
Wednesday July 13, 2005
A quick update on the London bombings. Three of the men came from Luton – British born of Pakistani origin. They met up at Luton station, with a 4th man who came from somewhere else. It’s at Luton station that they found some explosives in a car. Some of the explosives were apparently unstable, so they had to be careful not to destroy the car and the forensic evidence with it.
The men went to Kings Cross, where they were seen on CCTV together, all carrying rucksacks. They then went off and carried out their attacks. It’s frightening for the residents of Luton that the bombers lived among them and they never knew. And the police didn’t know of them either.
Police are pretty sure that others must have helped them – they may have had a leader, who may or may not still be in the UK, and there may have been people providing them with the explosives and strategic details of where and when to hit. Police fear that a fifth person is hiding somewhere in the UK. So the investigation is coming along well, but there’s still much for them to do.
Friday July 15, 2005
All of Europe, and some other countries too, held a 2 minute silence at noon yesterday to mark a week since the bombings. Police have released pictures of all the bombers this week, including the one on the bus. They are asking anyone who saw him before the bombings to come forward. He’s only 18, which is shocking, and another bomber is supposedly 19. As well as raids in Luton, police have evacuated many homes and done controlled explosions in Leeds, where the 4th bomber came from. Police have also arrested a chemist from Egypt, who had disappeared from Leeds a few days before the bombings, before being arrested in Egypt. It looks like he owned one of the bombers’ houses, so he could be involved.
As for me, it’s been a quiet week at work, so I haven’t got anything to report. They still haven’t advertised the supervisor’s post yet, and I still haven’t seen the job description. The weather’s been hot, some days stiflingly so without there being much of a breeze at all. That made the buses hot to travel in. But our office has a good air conditioning system (it has to because of all the printing machinery in the area, never mind anything else), so it’s always nice and cool in there. I’ve been wearing my new short sleeve shirts that we ordered from M&S a few weeks ago, and they’ve been great in this weather. It’s been hot at night too, which doesn’t make it easy to get a good night’s sleep!
There hasn’t been much other news apart from the bombing investigations. In the music world, Queen & Paul Rodgers have played their Hyde Park gig today, after postponing it last week. They’ve given out about 6,000 tickets for free to the London emergency services personnel, for the fantastic work they did, which is a great gesture. Peter Kay will also be at the show, presumably to get people warmed up. I hope they release that concert from the tour on DVD.
The only other music news is that the Proms are starting this weekend, so it’s that time of year again! And the First Night is on BBC1 for the first time ever (well, the first half anyway – the second half is on BBC2).
And it’s the release of the 6th Harry Potter book at midnight tonight, with JK Rowling reading the first chapter at Edinburgh Castle to some young competition winners. The media have been building up to it all week, so it’ll be nice when it’s passed. I will read them one day, probably by listening to the audio versions, which have Stephen Fry reading them.
Sunday July 17, 2005
An update on the London bombings first, as usual. The death toll is currently 55, after another person died in hospital. The media have been discussing the bombers, who were Muslim extremists, now they’ve been identified. Their families say they had no idea, so they are distraught.
One, for instance, didn’t go to his local mosque regularly, but did regularly perform rituals at home, and also enjoyed kickboxing in the more underground, seedy places. His British white girlfriend also turned to Islam, changing her first name to an Islamic one, so he had influence over her, but she had no idea he’d do anything so drastic.
However, it does seem that they might not have been deliberate suicide bombers. Police are now investigating the possibility that they were duped into killing themselves by their commanders, because it seems the bombers themselves weren’t expecting to die:
- At Luton station, they bought pay and display car park tickets, and return train tickets to Kings Cross.
- They carried ID (driving licenses, bank cards, etc) – suicide bombers get rid of it.
- They carried the bombs in rucksacks – suicide bombers usually attach the bombs directly to their bodies, to minimise the evidence left after the explosion. The bombers may have thought the timers would give them enough time to escape once they switched them on, when in fact they exploded instantly.
- None of the men was heard to cry “Allah Akbar!” (“God is great”), usually screamed by suicide bombers as they detonate their bomb.
- Similar terror attacks against public transport in Madrid last year were carried out by recruits who had time to escape and planned to strike again.
- Bomber Hasib Hussain detonated his device at the rear of the top deck of a No 30 bus, not in the middle of the bottom deck where most damage would be caused.
- Additionally, two of the bombers had strong personal reasons for staying alive, as their partners were pregnant, in both cases with their second children.
- As a security source put it: “If the bombers lived and were caught they’d probably have cracked. Would their masters have allowed that to happen? We think not.”
- Another spokesman added: “Whoever is behind this didn’t want to waste their best operatives on a suicide mission. Instead they used easily recruited low-grade men who may have believed they’d walk away.”
It also seems that the bus bomber should have been on another Tube train, but got into problems once the Tube started to be evacuated. His bomb didn’t go off when it should have, so he had to go to get a bus, and that explains why a witness saw someone constantly delving into his bag and looking very agitated.
And tonight, it has been announced that police have made 6 arrests in West Yorkshire, possibly connected to the detailed search of a bookshop this weekend, which is thought to have links to the bombers.
Another piece of big news is that Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister, has died aged 89. He had celebrated his 89th birthday just a week ago.
In sports news, Amir Khan made his professional boxing debut yesterday. He made quick work of his opponent, with the match already over after 1 minute and 49 seconds! Khan’s certainly made a good start, although I doubt all of his matches in the future will be that easy. He hopes to be World Champion by the time he’s 21 (he’s only 18 now), and it could be possible.
As for DVDs, I notice that Dad’s Army: Series 4, One Foot In The Grave: Series 3 and Bottom: Series 3 are coming out in August. The first two are quick by BBC standards, considering the previous series didn’t come out too long ago. I’ve finished watching The Bill’s first series on DVD now, and that was pretty good. Much better than it is today, certainly. Hopefully they’ll release more of those.
Friday July 22, 2005
Yesterday some idiots decided to get the London Transport system shut down again by setting off detonators on trains and buses. Only one or two people were injured (not seriously), as the bombs didn’t actually go off. It’s not clear if it is the same group as those who bombed the transport system two weeks ago yesterday, but the explosives used are apparently similar. Of course, the fact that the explosives didn’t go off means that there is plenty of evidence for police to look through. And CCTV images of the wannabe bombers have been released, so hopefully someone will recognise them. Plus there were witnesses at the scenes who weren’t killed this time.
Police shot dead a man on the Tube at Stockwell Station today, a station that I’ve not heard of. Witnesses say he had a large overcoat on, and possibly even a bomb belt with wires coming out. Police shouted a warning at the man as they were chasing him, but he didn’t stop. He jumped on a train, followed by the plain-clothes officers, who had handguns.
5 shots were unloaded into the man’s head – which may sound drastic, but they couldn’t shoot the torso in case they set off any bomb, or risk him triggering it. The police don’t have time to discuss it when they’re in a tight situation like that, so I don’t envy their job at all.
In celebrity news, James Doohan, who played Scotty in Star Trek, has died aged 85. And in happier news, Brian May was 58 on the 19th, and Roger Taylor is 56 on the 27th, so happy birthday to both of them. I understand the Hyde Park show was a success too, so I hope they release it on DVD.
Monday July 25, 2005
In the news, police have been questioning 2 men over the failed London bombings last Thursday – they can be held for two weeks. They may have failed, but some terrorists succeeded in Egypt, where they killed dozens of people in a number of bomb blasts on Friday.
However, there have been some developments on the guy who was shot at Stockwell station on Friday – Jean Charles de Menezes. He turned out not to be a bomber, but a Brazilian electrician. He may have been here on an out-of-date student visa, but he wasn’t a bomber. Plus he was shot 8 times – 7 in the head and once in the shoulder. His family are, obviously, distraught. They say that he had no reason to be a suspect and that they may sue the police. So we’ll have to see how that unfolds.
As for work, my manager is going to try and extend my contract through August. The Pre-Press Supervisor’s job should be advertised nationwide very soon – I’m told the deadline is August 18th, with interviews at the end of August.
At least I’ll get a definite decision for my future out of this, one way or another. If I’m lucky enough to get the job (and I know there will be plenty of competition), then I’ll be staying. If I don’t get the job (and I know it’s a good possibility, given that others will probably be more qualified), then I’ll be leaving. Either way, a definite decision is better than having a temporary contract for ages. And whatever happens, this job has given me a great period of experience, which is what I was after. So I won’t be losing out, whatever the outcome. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Friday July 29, 2005
The job at work still hasn’t been advertised yet, but it should be anytime soon now that Human Resources have got everything they need. My temporary contract is being extended until mid-September, at which point the decision on the new job will decide what happens to me. I have spotted a Junior Accounts Clerk post at another local company though, so I’ve sent off my CV for that, and I’ll just have to wait and see if anything happens.
There have been plenty of developments on the July 21 attacks. One of the bombers was arrested during the week, and there are reports that the other 3 have also been picked up in separate arrests. The police had to prioritise on these bombers over those who succeeded on July 7 because these guys are still alive, and could therefore strike again. And on a slightly related note, the IRA has announced it will only protest in a peaceful manner from now on, and will dump its weapons. Let’s hope they do.
Apart from all that, a mini-tornado ripped through parts of Birmingham on Thursday, injuring a few people and causing some damage. The Rolling Stones have announced that they’re releasing a new album in September and going on another world tour, despite being in their sixties now. It could be the last world tour though. And an Olympic scratchcard was launched 7 years to the day until our 2012 show starts.
Saturday July 30, 2005
I’ve gone and got a horrible cold this weekend, with a sore throat and headache. At least it is over the weekend though, so the worst should be over by Monday. It started yesterday, and I went to bed early last night. It’s probably from sitting on crowded buses and being in offices where germs are blown around by the air conditioning.
With all the bombers now in custody, police are questioning them – they have 14 days to do so. But they’re still searching, raiding flats and houses. The arrests of the bombers involved what appeared to be the SAS, who are well trained for situations like this. They wore balaclavas and had machine guns and stun grenades.
In other news, American astronomers claim to have discovered a 10th planet. Not the first time such a claim has been made, but previous claims were refused as the objects were too small. The scientists concerned reckon this one is big enough, but we don’t know. It’s also expected to open the debate as to whether Pluto is even a planet.
And some lucky woman from Ireland has won the Euromillions jackpot, after it rolled over for the 9th time. She scooped £77 million! That’s too much, surely. How can a normal person manage with all that money? And as she’s allowed her identity to be revealed, she’ll probably have relatives and friends coming out of the woodwork that she never knew before!