Monday, February 27, 2006

People died.

Yesterday I cried, only for a minute. There’s a few things going through my head. I’m planning to finally go back to London to meet my fellow passengers, I’m going to make the most of my trip and see some things and places, which means one thing… the tube. I’m not going to lie I’m absolutely kacking myself, when I’m about to go underground it will feel like I’m “going over the top,”. Fear has gripped me. I was looking at the tube map working out where I want to go and which detours I can take to avoid the Kings Cross/Russell Square section. Maybe I should just do it, repeat my journey of that day , or should that be DO my journey of that day. If I’m confronted with a choice of carriages where do I go? I’m not superstitious at all, but I don’t want to make a subconscious decision which gets me dead, I’m considering taking a dice, leave it in the hands of gravity. What if it says one?

Also, I think the enormity of what I’ve witnessed has hit me a bit again, reading through my account has brought it home a bit. Not only have I witnessed terrorism, but I’ve witnessed mass murder and slaughter. Calling it terrorism dresses it up as something grander than it really is, like a big web controlled by a masked man pointing at things making them explode. Maybe the people attempting to prevent further attacks should start treating them as murderers, as well as terrorists, they seem to ignore that bit, you know, the bit where real people died!

Sure on one side you need to treat it as terrorism, but that doesn’t stop a young bloke making a bomb in his bedroom or shed and following it through, nor will any of these other measures. I’ve said all this before I‘m sick of saying it. They just don’t give a toss. Presented with the choice between big old bloody needless war and peace, they choose war every time! I just do not get their mentality.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

One summer morning.

I was in London from the 4th to 11th of July at the New Designers graduate product design exhibition in Islington, I had just finished my degree and this was an opportunity to show our work to industry. Wednesday was awards day, no one at our university won anything, so the next morning we decided we needed a break.

Thursday, five of us decided to get up early to see more of London, before the design exhibition at 11am so we got the circle line tube from Barbican (near the student halls we were staying at), up to Kings Cross at 8.22. We then went to get the Piccadilly line southbound, we got to the platform and waited about 4 people from the edge. It was about 8.40. The platform was packed, so much so that there were constant announcements for people to back away from the edge as the train might hit them.

A train came through and we tried to push on, but there were 5 of us so we couldn’t make it, we got the next one, about 8 minutes later. I had to force myself in between other people, it was the busiest tube train I’d ever been on. I got on the first door of the second carriage, with my back against the internal door to the first carriage. We began to move.

We'd been out drinking the night before. I turned round to my friend Mark and said, "Good job you don't feel sick..." At this point I was looking into the first carriage, it was packed, and swaying as we went down the tunnel. I have this image saved in my head, I know I was looking at people only 2 seconds before they were blown apart. In the time it took me to turn my head back round, about 1 minute down the tunnel, it happened.

Lots of things happened at the same time, there was a massive 'metallic' bang behind me which sounded like we’d hit a train at top speed, we stopped instantly, I couldn’t see anything because there was a blast of light filled with glass screening my vision all around me. The glass window against the back of my head had shattered, along with the frame and flew past and into my head horizontally. I remember this moment so vividly as the light was so bright I couldn't see anything except lots of glass and debris within the flash. Then silence and total blackness. I thought this was death, everything around me was gone and there was a strong rush of air passing over me, which was the wave of debris and smoke pumping through the window. Sounds strange but I felt like I was flying. The blast had bent me over and I was slumping towards the floor, I was losing consciousness. At one point I was unconscious.

I came round when my friend Andy grabbed me and picked me up, only when he touched me did I know I wasn't dead. He gave me a bear hug and said, “You’re all right mate!“ He later told me he thought he only had moments to live. I looked around and could only see a few people because of the darkness and smoke. The emergency light was on, but didn't do much as the smoke was so thick and still pumping through the window, into my face and filling the rest of the train. Then I realised smoke equals fire. I internally and very calmly said these exact words to myself;

"This is it, your worst nightmare, you are going to burn to death."

My heart rate slowed down and I slowed down breathing, I guess it’s a survival instinct to prevent me breathing more smoke than I have to and prevent panic. My neck, shoulder and chest was wet, I knew I was bleeding but not how bad it was. I was shouting out "...fuck, fuck, fuck..." nobody heard me, many were screaming, those that were not were shouting for calm. People calmed down, People were asking if I was ok, I was saying "I'm cut pretty bad, there's a lot of blood." A stranger felt the back of my head to see where it was coming from. Part of the door, or something from the front carriage had come through the door and gashed my head from one side to the other, 5 inches long, my skull was visible. I asked Andy for his jumper for my head, and wrapped it round my head.

People were asking anyone with a phone to try and get a signal, I got mine out, even though it was useless, it was 8.52. We were trying to calm everyone down, eventually our carriage went quiet. The carriages behind were panicking, the one in front was silent, our carriage was eerily calm. I couldn’t see anything through the carriage door which hit me, it was pitch black, it wasn't there any more. I peered in through the window, I thought it was just the blackness of the dark which meant I couldn’t see the full carriage, no, many of them were dead and dying only feet in front of me yet I couldn‘t see it. I could see a man standing against the left hand rear of carriage one, my friend Mark was shining his phone through the window, trying to talk to him and the few people we could see, he never answered, he never moved for half an hour. Either he was deafened by the blast, in shock or unconscious. We were asking if they were ok through the door, and if we could get out that way, no answer. They were deaf, unconscious, dead, or on their way to Russell Square on foot. Course I didn’t realise this, there was no reason for us to believe a bomb exploded the other side of that door.

After about 10 minutes we had heard nothing and it was getting really hot down there. By this time I knew it wasn’t a fire, just dust, which stank, it smelt like chemicals. People had their mouths covered by clothes to block the smoke out, for some reason I didn't. A woman in front of me was very upset and asking if people could try and open the side doors to let the smoke out. I thought to myself "There's only so much air in here." I shouted at people to open the side doors, they tried and made a gap of about 3inches between the doors. The walls of the tunnel were only a hands length from the train, there was no way to get out. Frustrated, I shouted that there must be an emergency door we can get out at the back. Someone pointed out to me that the tracks would be live. There was a flash, someone was taking pictures with their camera phone. Everyone swore at him. A man to my left was calling for a fire extinguisher, people had a go at him. The buzzer on the intercom would go off every few minutes and everyone would shout for silence, we would ask for silence from the first carriage, even though it was silent in there. But the speaker would only crackle, and no message came through. After every failed message, people panicked again. Every few minutes a woman’s screams would come from the first carriage, and people would try to calm her from our carriage. I will never forget them. There were heavy bangs coming from both ends of the train, I thought the tunnel was collapsing, people were actually breaking out of the train.

Mark tried to force the door behind us open to get the people out, he told them to stand back so he could kick it through, but couldn’t, it was buckled and swollen in towards us and jammed shut, the top half was blown through and scattered on the floor. It was so dark it was impossible to see what was happening in there, I could see part of the roof hanging down, which prevented us going through the window. Mark was still talking to the people the other side of the door, holding a woman’s hand through the door and reassuring them. A massive rush of air came through the tunnel as another train was coming down the tunnel and someone screamed out that it would hit us, I waited for the crash, I considered grabbing a man next to me, but it just faded away, They must have been clearing the tunnel to get us out. Nervous silence. I said out loud, “I could murder a brew…” , a few people nervously laughed, from this point people relaxed a bit and began to talk to each other.

After about half an hour people started to move down from in front of us, as I got to the end of my carriage I looked back and 5 injured people walked out of the carriage behind (the front one), then nobody else. We walked down through our carriage, as I did the tube manager from Kings Cross came past us, I walked into the 3rd carriage, the first doors and windows were broken as the train had hit and rubbed the tunnel wall. I got out the 3rd side doors of the 3rd carriage onto the track and down a side tunnel as we had stopped on a ‘Y’ junction.

I looked back at the train, it was forced against the wall, and the sides were scraped. I recall seeing a form on the floor, I later realized this was a dead body. There was a queue on the right and injured people were told to go to the left. I waited for someone to go past; he had a bloodied face and was unrecognisable. I followed a woman who’s lower back was badly lacerated, slashed from one side to the other, she was having trouble walking, we walked on the tracks for about 5 minutes and scrambled up onto the platform.

I was directed up to the top of Kings Cross station, I got on the escalator. Another train was being evacuated from the platform we boarded on. These people were staring at me, expressionless. I was shouting, "What are they looking at, why are they looking at me?!". I didn’t know my face was completely black from the smoke and my face and clothes were covered in blood. They still looked. I got to the ticket barrier and started mouthing off about the "F*cking underground, checking our tickets after this!" The gates were open. The paramedics were just going down, someone dropped a pallet of water off in the station, I ripped the polythene off and started handing the bottles out. I then sat on the pallet. I tried to go outside but someone in the street was hassling me, asking me what was going on, I said I didn't know, I thought we had hit a train. I phoned my University tutor to let him know we had been in a crash and would be late. It was now 9.40, I had been trapped underground in the smoke for 35 minutes. I waited in the ticket room on the floor to go to hospital. I phoned home and let my parents know I was ok, and I had been in a train crash. Someone came over to me and started pouring water over my face to wash the soot off, it didn’t work. He taped a massive wad of tissues against my head wound, it was sodden in seconds, eventually someone came along and bandaged it, they labelled me ‘Priority 3‘. Andy went into severe shock and began shaking uncontrollably, he said he was losing feeling in his arms. There was a woman next to me whose forearms were shredded. A journalist came up to me and asked me if I wanted to do a piece, I said yes, he disappeared. Eventually I was led outside, I was one of the last who could walk to leave Kings Cross, by this time it was about 10.15, outside Kings Cross resembled some sort of war zone, no public, no traffic, endless screeching of sirens and police holding the traffic at all junctions onto the road. Here I saw one of the worst things, a man in a suit, his back covered in lumps of other peoples flesh and sheets of burnt skin, Only now did I realize how bad the situation was. I asked a cop what had happened and he said one word: “bombs”.

I waited and got on a bus, we waited for half an hour, I was on the phone to my dad who was updating me, obviously we couldn’t move because by now the bus bomb had gone off. Nobody on the bus knew what had actually happened, as I was the only person who had a phone signal I was relaying what my dad was telling me to everyone. They looked back at me shocked, a young man behind me asked, “Why would they bomb us?” I replied, “Olympics“.

Eventually we moved and I went to Royal London Hospital, as we waited to pull into the hospital I looked outside, a TV crew was filming me, bandaged and looking out the window, this was aired on the day, and has been shown a few times since. I was led into the paediatric unit, into a corridor and onto a bed, they thought I had a broken skull, after checking it I didn't. I kept apologising for covering their sheets in black soot. One of the doctors asked where I was, I said “Piccadilly Line, 2nd carriage.“ She looked shocked, at this point it was believed the bomb was in the 2nd carriage. They kept cutting chunks of sticky bloody glass filled hair from my head. Having the glass pulled out from under my scalp and the stitches were the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. There was no time for an anaesthetic. All the back of my head, my ears and my neck was sprayed with glass from the window and was bleeding, as well as the long large cut, probably caused by a flying piece of metal. They checked my blood pressure and breathing, all clear. I put my hand in my pockets, each one was half filled with safety glass. I was more annoyed that the canteen was shut than I’d been in a bomb explosion, I was pumped with adrenalin which lasted till the Monday after. I left the hospital.

I flagged down a cab, he wanted £45 to Angel. I was covered in blood and debris, and he still wanted to rip us off! We walked back for 2 hours in the rain to Islington, we had no idea which way we were going. Everyone was staring at me and a few people were taking pictures of me on camera phones. I asked a shop keeper for the way to Islington, he said, “Are you ok? You look like you’ve been in a bomb.” All I could think to say was, “I was.” He was very apologetic.

We carried on and got to where I now know is Hackney, it’s not our fault, everyone, policemen and public told us the wrong way. I asked a group of 5 road workers for directions, they were asking if I was ok, before I knew it I had an audience of 15 people all wanting to know what happened on that train. As I carried on walking people were looking at me, they just knew where I had been, several people ‘crossed’ their chests with their hands when they saw me.

I didn’t care that it took me 2 hours in the rain, I was out and I was alive. We went past the business design centre in Islington, there was now a security barrier that wasn’t there the day before, they just let me through. Everyone from my uni’ was waiting to see if I was ok, we went in and everyone was hugging me and crying, my friends Mark and Nick who didn’t go to hospital and we lost in the Kings Cross evacuation didn’t really want to look at me, they had already showered and didn’t want reminding of it all. I got back and had a shower, I couldn’t wash my hair as I didn’t want to risk touching the wound. I made the mistake of taking a hot shower, this washed the smell into my skin and I stank of explosives for days, or maybe it was just up my nose and in my lungs. The inside of my nose was caked with dirt, as were my ears, the back of my throat had clumps of soot stuck to it, my eyelids had dirt caked on them when I looked in the mirror. Andy and Sam washed my hair for me, more and more hair blood and glass, it just kept coming and coming.

About 8.00pm I went for a walk with my friend Alan, we went to the Gherkin. I just looked at it, what the hell had happened today? I couldn’t face sleeping on my own that night, 3 of us shared one tiny room. I asked to leave the light on. I couldn’t sleep for hours, when I did, I dreamt I was stood in a train in the dark, and everyone had disappeared. I woke up at 6ish after about 30mins sleep. Despite what had happened I stayed in London till the Monday, and continued my efforts to present my work, everyone was to scared to come to London, my heart wasn’t in it at all.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Flu, counselling, Hillsborough, denial, anger, London, 'e' dates and folk music!

What a week, every day had a different story, and I haven't had time to blog it all until now.

I started the week with what I thought was a cold, instead it developed into full blown flu, I was still ill when I went for my first ever counselling session, it's taken me 7 & 1/2 months to decide I need it and sort it all out. My counsellor was himself at the Hillsborough disaster, he was in the Liverpool end of the stand, almost crushed himself he witnessed 96 people crushed and trampled to death. He seems to understand what I'm going through, explaining that my emotions will peak and dip. It was surprisingly easy, but it did bring back some of the feelings of denial I've previously had. I have no idea why my mind sometimes convinces itself that what happened in London didn't happen at all, when I realise it did, it usually takes another half a day or a day to convince myself I was in it, and then I go into shock.

Every time I get these feelings of denial I go on the BBC page which animates (poorly) what happened that day and go to the "in pictures" section. I always look at the picture inside the bombed carriage as I can see where I was standing, with my back against the door which is no longer there because it was blown in on me, and what was left of it was pulled away by the first rescuers. I've never been depressed, but I do seem to have a 'phase' which comes round every 6 weeks or so, it always follows the same pattern, but can last a day, or a week. Firstly I get denial, then I look over all the old images, I get out the police evidence bag I had to present my clothes in, which now holds all the things I keep in connection to that day. My ticket, a photo, my priority 3 tag, hospital tag, memorial service booklets, my ticket from when I got back on the tube and my still unwashed bloodied shirt, the blood still has bits of glass caked in it and the neck is all black. The soot still smells of chemicals. And then I go into shock, it can last a few minutes as it did this week, or 4 days as it did last month.

Course when I get these feelings it takes me back to that day, question after question comes into my mind, "What were those peculiar announcements? Was it preventable? And why did they do it?" I will never get any clear answers about that day, I will never know, they don't want me to know. Hmmm... I wonder why? No prizes for guessing. All of this makes me stupidly angry, internally I am seething with rage!

As I've stated several times before, I feel nothing towards the bombers, my anger is directed at Anthony Blair and his pals in Westminster. I never voted for the prat. I always vote Liberal Democrat (probably not again, I'm officially a floating voter), yet he led us into an illegal war in our name, which pretty much caused the bombings, is so spineless he wont allow anyone near enough to find evidence of this and has now taken it upon himself to further defend this great country of ours against terrorism by trying to shush us and generally arrest us for no reason. Well, not to worry, if they carry on along this path I find it very hard to see how they will regain power, that is if they haven't messed up their chances already. I'm seeing a lot of traditional Labour voters getting fed up and looking elsewhere, most of the people who only recently voted for Labour have been distracted by David Camerons shiny shoes, and will soon get bored of Gordon Brown. Also, it looks pretty certain the next President of the USA will be Miss Hilary Clinton... I believe we will soon see a 'changing of the guard'. Fingers crossed!

Humanity in general seems to be a bit crap at the moment. Apparently it's now acceptable to be an outright racist bastard and voice this in public in the pub right next to me, or even at me. Even before they know anything about what happened to me. Hardly a day passes without me hearing someone mouthing off about "f*ck*ng P*kis!", someone last night when they found out about me shouted "Islamic tw*t!" No! You are the tw*t! IT'S YOU WHO IS THE TW*T! I'm sick of confronting people I know about their attitudes, I never win, they usually have some concept about how we would be safe if we kicked "them" all out the country. I assume by "them" they mean ALL non-white British citizens, I'm sorry but this is not 1942! You ignorant cunts! I've never experienced this level of casual racism before, and to be honest I think it's a North-West thing, I mean, quite a few idiots actually voted for the BNP in Burnley, says it all!

Maybe I'm the freak in all this, maybe it was my fault I went to University in Leicester, which is one third Muslim, and 50% non white, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. All the way through Uni' I've lived with a whole mix of people, if I was to list their nationalities, backgrounds and religions I would be here all day. Apart from gang skirmishes it was totally peaceful, the only reason I moved back home was because I wanted to be with family after July. I wish I was back in Leicester, or at least out of my home town.

Then as if it was all planned, I heard of what seemed to be my dream job, junior designer at NOKIA, in London. I've applied, and will keep you posted, but I'm not getting too excited, I always do, and always lose out in the final interview round. But it brings up the question, could I move to London? I feel uneasy going there for the day, never mind living there, never mind... gulp... using the tube EVERY DAY. I'm actually quite happy about the prospect, it would tick every box I have at the moment. I want to move out, the job (or a similar job) sounds great, and it would give ultimate closure. The place which nearly murdered me, would now provide for me!

On Saturday I was supposed to be going on an 'e' date, at least that's what Holly Finch labelled it. It fell through at the first hurdle, her car broke down on the way to the train station, by the time the AA got out to her, she was covered in dirt and oil from the car, so she couldn't make it. Sorry to disappoint you all, there is no gossip, but it does make us more determined to meet up another time soon. I now had 2 tickets for a gig and wasn't going to waste them, I went on my own, a non intentional first. The band - The Concretes- were great, just the thing to blow away what's left of the Winter blues. They play a kind of mix of old fashioned Scandinavian pop and folk music, sounds awful but it's not. Imagine The Cardigans, only a bit more old-fashioned.

Well that's it, while I was writing this I've decided to publish my account of July 7th on here, I wrote it 2 weeks after it happened but never published it, expect it in a few days. It might be just the thing to get it out of my system once and for all, well, at least a bit.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Old self...

I think that maybe, just maybe, I might be getting back to normal. I don't want to speak too soon but things seem to be coming together... at last!

Work wise I seem to be motivated again, I've spent 2 weeks working flat out on my first live project, a lighting system commisioned by an Italian company, which will be launched at the Frankfurt Design Show next month, (sounds like a good excuse for a holiday to me!). At first my mental stamina couldn't keep up with my enthusiasm and determination, but it's getting there now.

When that thing happened to me last year it wrote off the rest of the year for me, not only was I injured and traumatised but I had been robbed. It sounds so selfish to talk about my own small loss, but the events of last year did prevent me from getting a job. I had to move home, move in with my parents again, and go on the dole. My bubble had certainly been burst! It's hard enough to get good work as a new graduate in anything design based as it is, nevermind dealing with all that comes with what happened.

While I sat at home feeling sorry for myself, my coursemates got the jobs I wanted, in Berlin, Hong Kong and London, and kept telling me how great they were doing via email, I was incredibly jealous to be honest!

In other ways it has helped me, my once very close, almost claustrophobic group of friends has grown massively and I finally have friends whose conversations span much wider than last nights episode of Family Guy or South Park!

I'm embarassed to admit the next bit...

On Saturday I'm doing a first, I'm meeting someone of the internet. I know what you're thinking... but I'm not a geek, ok! Although it isn't a "date" as such, which would be just plain weird, I am really looking forward to it. Course it may be a complete disaster, but we're going watching a band called The Concretes, in Liverpool. A 9 person Swedish pop/folk/jazz band, so it should be fun if nothing else.

I'll let you know how it goes, and if the band is any good...

Just refreshing to talk about something else for a change.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Return of the rude pirate.

The arse-hole is back. I tried to shut him up with whit, stating that " the pen is mightier than the sword, so to is the nerd mightier than the pirate..." But it didn't work.

Joking aside this guy is really pissing me off, I mean what sort of cretin starts calling someone in my situation "a girl" for suffering trauma. He keeps going on about how I don't actually care about what happened and I just want to "show off to the world that I was there.", and he's accusing me of "...going on and on about it...". I would post a picture of him but it would put you off your tea. Imagine Sloth from the Goonies.

The past few weeks I had been distracted by a hunger to understand more about the whole situation, and found myself at a level of contentment. I had come to the conclusion that I felt no feelings of hate towards any of the bombers, I actually feel sorry for them, that they felt this was their only option. I'm not sure I've forgiven them, but I don't hate them. But after this distraction some of the other more horrible feelings started creeping back in.

I don't hate the bombers, but I hate the bastard who's having a go at me. He's a complete idiot!

I got up this morning with a nasty cold, I've got a headache and my boss is bombarding me with work via email. We're pulling a late one to finish this project. The last thing I need is some nob-head having a go at me for talking about politics and July 7th.

I'm not going to reply to him, as that will annoy him even more. But I'm open to suggestions...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rude pirate.

I have another profile/blog thing on a site called MySpace. I've posted my account of what happened to me on July 7th on there ages ago. Today I got my first rude commenter, he called me a nerd and said just because I was on one of the trains I shouldn't try and "sound clever" by talking about it and trying to work out why it happened, and should get off my soapbox.

I am a nerd, so what. Being a nerd pays!

This guy is apparantly a Proffesional pirate/strongman. This man is the future. Says it all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Attention bloggers.....

A friend of a friend of mine is launching a weekly free paper (hard copy blog) called Frogpress, and is looking for submissions. So if you have something to say and want to say it to coffee drinkers and commuters in Manchester, Rotterdam and Toronto submit your work here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mellow man.

This man personifies my favourite word in the world: mellow. I wish more people would "mellow out man".


"Islamist websites are already calling for revenge attacks. " BBC article.

I know peoples opinions on this matter vary greatly, many people believe free speech has no bounds and allows us to print whatever, whenever. In principle I agree, but what has been printed, and the way it has been reprinted, I find utterly insensitive and disturbing. Why did they have to print this now? I'm so scared of this situation, it is escalating by the day and I have no idea what I might be blogging about this time next week, or tomorrow for that matter.

The right to free speech comes with a responsibility to respect others and not senselessly insult them. The whole point of free speech is to allow constructive criticism, but to criticise you should also try to understand, not just wade in with something as offensive as that without any consideration. In Islam the prophet isn't visualised anywhere, nevermind with a bomb in the shape of a turban. I'm sure there were much more subtle ways to challenge the subject. If there was ever a time we didn't need the media flexing their egos it was now! Reprinting them again was just a middle finger to them effectively saying "screw you, swivel!".

Now the extremists have even more ammo to turn into anti-Western propaganda. I still get the impression the people who published these cartoons think it's funny and have adopted a "fuck you!" policy. People have been comparing it to Life of Brian and Brass Eye, which both caused outrage but were constructive in breaking barriers. However, they were self criticising, white Brits criticising our national religion and the media criticising the media.

The people rioting are just plain out of order, tarnishing the image of all Muslims. But they are the tip of the iceberg, I know a lot my uni' friends (foreign mature students from India and Pakistan) are deeply offended by it, and are not rioting. It shouldn't be illegal to print this, I just wish people had a bit more tact.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Willing to provoke...

Anyone see Channel 4 news last night? They led with a special report on a leaked white house memo which has been documented by Philippe Sands in his new book “Lawless World”. See the report here.

It seems that in light of the lack of sufficient evidence against Saddam presented by Hans Blix, George Bush proposed his own solution, to provoke Saddam into breaching UN guidelines. He allegedly proposed to Tony Blair the possibility of flying a US U2 spy plane dressed in UN colours, with fighter escort, over Iraq, to provoke Iraqi fire. These planes are perfectly capable of flying above Saddam’s weapons range, however they would intentionally fly lower and within range to provoke fire.

I don’t know what to say. The more I discover, the more my head hurts. I think I’m getting an embolism!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Angry Young Men 2

Germane Lindsay bombed my train, he was 19, I was 22. What’s the difference? We are both male, so what made him do what he did? I have to find a conclusion to this which I can find peace with. I have to know why?.

My point is that people around me, and myself, have little or no understanding of the Middle East, the issues there or indeed most world affairs, they don‘t even watch the news as the Simpsons/Hollyoaks is on at the same time. Not a joke, it’s true. Our (my generations) level of historical awareness is crap, and is in very simple terms broken down to simply good vs. bad, with single “evil” figures at fault for the worlds problems. For example we are taught that Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein are bad/evil while all Western leaders are the polar opposite. The latest instalment on the side of evil is Bin Laden. As we have no education of the middle east why should we challenge this? We have no reason to think it is any more complex than this. This is how we are taught, that the funny looking odd foreign individuals are to blame for everything. This is a simple, easy, selective, pro-western and lazy way to teach us. Stating the obvious I know. But how are we supposed to have an informed and healthy opinion if we are not informed?

I’m highly embarrassed by my lack of knowledge of unrest in the Middle East. The other day I happened to look up a map, out of interest I looked for Palestine. I knew where it should be, but there was no title stating “Palestine”. I could see a dotted line, but no Palestine. Thinking I was stupid, or there was a misprint, I couldn’t understand. I did a google search, I read and read about why there was no official Palestinian state, but an occupied territory which while under their own rule is technically at present part of Israel. At least this is how I understand it, if I’m wrong please tell me where I‘m failing. I am now self teaching myself the past sixty years of history, something my schooling chose not to teach me, yet is influencing me and my world massively, right now. How can they (the government) expect us to be politically aware and involved when they don’t teach us how they justify what they do. Whether their actions are right or wrong, we know nothing of the background and history of the region so how can we effectively support/dispute what they do. We have been annexed. Please tell us why you (the government) act the way you do, stop fobbing us off please! We want to understand.

My friends/peers are by no means poorly educated, I have a good degree, A-levels, GCSE’s etc. I am by my countries standards of a reasonably high level of education, yet my understanding of what is actually going on in the world, not that far away is shockingly poor and frighteningly simplified. We are in a world we don’t really understand and we are confused, its very tempting to adopt the model of good vs. evil, but it’s just not that simple. Most people I know adopt this model, including my Dad, yet I consider him to be a fairly wise man. When you try to address these problems by debating between yourselves, the ones of you who are politically aware, you are missing the real problem. The majority of people out there don’t understand what you’re talking about.

I do also believe there is a strong regional divide in the UK. Please don’t dismiss me as a whinging northerner/scouser, I’m trying to tell you how I and a lot of people around me actually feel. Whether we are right or wrong it is how we feel. It seems the only time northern cities/towns make it into the national press it is because of bad news. High unemployment, poor education, high crime rates, poor hospital standards, high teenage pregnancy rates, high STD rates and high drug abuse levels are all terms that are pasted over us. Think of somewhere in the north and consider what your impression actually is of that place. It is often mostly stereotyped and utterly negative, usually that we are all ASBO teenagers, pram pushing 15 year olds or benefit frauds, I could go on. I actually live here, it’s not that bad, but I know most of the country thinks iy’s a shit-hole and it gets demoralising after a while. The word I’m looking for is alienated.

Most of my male friends have been attacked or robbed in some way. One of them has had his flat broken into twice in a year, been head butted and punched in the street by drunken chavs. One of them has been robbed on a bus at knife point, another has been jumped and robbed by a gang. Another has witnessed his housemate dowsed in petrol in the street and threatened to be set alight, while another was recently beaten up in the toilet of a bar. Of the other people I know of, one has been slashed in an unprovoked racial attack, one lost his brother in a hit and run. This goes on and on. Almost everyone I know has been a victim of violent crime. We are just ordinary young blokes, certainly not violent and we definitely don’t provoke this behaviour. We are desensitised to violence, it’s just there. And we feel let down, the police often are not able to do anything and the government dismisses how we actually feel. But then the government dismisses how all of us feel, like when we protested against the war in Iraq. So we are surrounded by unprovoked and unjustified acts of violence which go unpunished and our government sets the same example to us. How are we supposed to communicate? Why shouldn’t we follow the governments example of communicating by violence? Course we shouldn’t, I know that, but there are some who don’t!

Even those of us who do vote, look to the government and see one which ignores its people. The massive public protest against the war in Iraq was simply dismissed, swept away. Aren’t they supposed to listen to us? At least a bit? They went against those of you that expressed your right to free speech and spoke out against it, in huge numbers, so how are we supposed to get them to listen to us?. They also lied in their argument for the war, basing it on false and incorrect intelligence, so they are exercising violence which is unjustified, illegitimate and wrong. If our government communicates with the Middle East via threats and unjustified violence, then isn’t it understandable that they communicate back in the same language?

I would be much more angry if people I considered my own were being attacked by the worlds largest super power. I my self suffered for my governments actions on July 7th. I think I have a right to be angry, everything points to an illegitimate war. Isn’t this what the UN is for? To avoid small groups of allied states implying their policies on defenceless peoples! Thankfully I’m diverting my anger into something constructive and positive and trying to learn about why people are driven to do these things. Not everyone has the ability to vent this anger so constructively. Anger is relative, I am angry, but there are angrier and then there are the angriest. From what I understand it is the angriest, the most disillusioned, the most annexed from society who are targeted. Targeted not by some shadowy figure but by themselves, and others like them. Only then are you starting to get close to why they commit these crimes.

It’s not the criminals with low levels of education you should worry about, it’s the smarter ones who are being desensitised, rejected and annexed. It is the people who you don’t notice who are feeling most desperate. The more desperate, the more vulnerable. The criminals have a way to vent their anger… crime… and they are receiving help/rehab for that. It is those who can’t vent their anger, who bottle it up, and are looking for a release or solution who are the threat. Shehzad Tanweer was the same age as me, and a graduate from Leeds Met uni' in sports science, while Siddique Kahn was a teaching assistant and highly respected. These people are not losers, they're very much like me, just trying to find their way in life.

So I am angry at a world I do not understand and my impression of the world is massively flawed, manipulated and simplified, my region of the country is continuously bad mouthed. I am desensitised to violence. Violence is everywhere. I am someone you would consider has good prospects and a good education, yet I am an angry young man and I feel helpless and ignored. When you consider there are people out there more confused by this world, more angry at Western governments for acting the way they do towards their people, and surrounded by people who feel the same extreme emotions we are getting closer to the truth. The real cause of the July 7th bombings is right under the governments noses, up the M1, not as we are told, sitting in a cave in a turban many miles away. Add to this desperation the belief that they will become martyrs for committing these crimes and it becomes even clearer how they justify these awful acts to themselves.