One day, seven lives, one year on
Has it really been a year? The scars of the terrorist attacks that took place in London on 7 July 2005 are far from healed. That dreadful morning marked a shift in our national psyche. No longer could we take for granted the basic rituals of our daily lives. No longer could we feel safe in the company of strangers. Things would never be quite the same again. In the following pages, seven people who were touched by the bombings relive the horror - and reflect on how it changed them
STEVE ELDRIDGE: TUBE DRIVER, METROPOLITAN LINE
Steve Eldridge, 47, lives in St Albans and is unmarried. He has been driving trains on the Metropolitan Line for three years. He was standing at Aldgate station when the bomb went off and helped evacuate the injured.
I was off work for nine weeks after 7 July. I went to the doctor's for post-traumatic stress. I went for counselling. But it didn't help as much as us drivers getting together and talking about the day. A couple of weeks after I went back to work, I was at Aldgate station when a passenger told me I had an unattended bag on my train. I went back, and saw a big leather holdall, zipped and locked. I evacuated the train, and contacted line control. The person who owned the bag eventually came back to claim it. He was sent off with his tail between his legs.
"Then I drove the train to Moorgate, and everything hit me. I think I'd been bottling it up inside. I broke down. I got a bit further on - to Farringdon - before I called the manager and said, 'You've got to get me off the train. I can't go on.' I went home. But, the next morning, I got in the train again, and the manager came with me, and I was OK.
"You can never completely go back to normal. If my train gets held outside Aldgate, you can still see the mark on the wall where the explosion happened. It brings it all back. But I never thought about changing jobs - it would have felt like running away. I don't know anyone who hasn't gone back to work.
"On 7 July, I had driven my car down to the depot, as I do every day, and then driven a train from Wembley down to Aldgate. I was waiting to pick up my next train, and having a joke with another driver, Paul, when the bomb happened. When it went off, another driver, Mark, had just started pulling away.
"There was this loud bang. It was a very short, sharp gust of wind, but it didn't knock us off our feet. Deep down, I thought, 'that sounds like a bomb'. I'd never had any experience with a bomb before except what I'd seen on television. It could have been the compressor had gone on one of the trains. But we knew it was a little bit too loud for that.
"The explosion happened on train 204, just outside the station. But it was a good few minutes before smoke started to come out of the tunnel. We couldn't see into the tunnel. But we went in, and that's when we could see people wandering over the track, covered in blood.
"Train 204 had six cars. The explosion happened in the second car. My colleagues went to assist the people they could see. Mark and me carried on walking in. We couldn't see the train because the smoke was so dense, and choking us back. But, out of the smoke, we saw Tim, the driver of train 204. He was very shaken.
"One of the passengers came up to me. He had blood all over his face. He said, 'Help me get the people out.' The second car had been ripped apart by the explosion - it looked like someone had opened it up with an old-fashioned tin-opener. When we saw the third car, we saw all the passengers clambering up the windows and banging on them. The car was full up with smoke. So we tried to get the doors open, but we couldn't.
"I went to step over something that I thought was a piece of rubble. I looked down, and that was the first body that I saw. At that point, I saw there were other bodies, doors that had been blown off the train, lying beside the second car. Me and this passenger tried to open the doors again, but it wouldn't work.
"I looked around. I couldn't see the other drivers. For a split second, I thought 'I don't need to be here. Get out.' But it only lasted a split second, and then I thought, 'You've got to get on with it.'
"I was probably in the tunnel for 40 minutes, and as time went on, I felt better.
"Minutes later, I saw hundreds of people walking towards me. Mark and Tim had gone to the last carriage and had helped people out of the back of the train. I had to do something. There were bodies and debris on the track. I stayed where I was, to stop people seeing the bodies. The platform lights were on, so I said, 'Just keep looking at the lights. Follow the lights.'
"Some people saw the bodies and were distressed, but generally, the passengers were totally calm. Not one person said anything to me. A couple of people got their camera phones out trying to take photographs. I requested that they put them away. One did, and one didn't.
"Near the end of it all, I was standing right by the bodies. This passenger, who had helped me all the way through, had stayed with me. I was helping the last few passengers over the debris and out of the tunnel, when one of the bodies woke up. He got up, and walked past my left shoulder. He didn't have any clothes on apart from a pair of pants. The blast had ripped his clothes off. He went and stood up against the tunnel wall with his hands apart, leaning on the wall. The passenger went and held him. After a few seconds, the body just went down again.
"Just then - 25 minutes after the blast - two firemen arrived. They came over and tried to carry the injured man, but he was a big man, so four of them carried him out on the ladder. I don't know if he survived. I've thought about it a lot. I'm frightened of the answer. I hoped and prayed that he survived, and I looked through what was written in the press, but I'm still not sure.
"When I finally got home to St Albans, I stood under the shower for two hours. I was numb.
IRSHAD HUSSAIN: FRIEND OF ALDGATE BOMBER'S FAMILY
Irshad Hussain, 54, is a family friend of Mumtaz and Parveen Tanweer, whose son, Shahzad, 22, detonated the Aldgate Tube bomb, killing six.
I still don't know what to say when I see Mumtaz [Shahzad Tanweer's father] in the street. Not once in these past 12 months have I brought up the subject of Shahzad, the son of whom he and Parveen [his wife] were so proud. I would not do anything to hurt Mumtaz, so we just stick to talking about cars, just as we always have. There's no mistaking what the events of 7 July have done to him, though. His smile has gone. And when we talk, I feel he has lost his old energy for life.
"He had plenty of it when he and I got to know each other as neighbours on Tempest Road [in Leeds' Beeston district]. I knew his son, Shahzad, in the way that all Mumtaz's friends knew him: he was very intelligent, normal, polite - nothing to suggest he was a troublemaker. Shahzad's parents really, really looked after him. They gave him everything. He was doing well at [Leeds Metropolitan] university.
"Many people have said in the last 12 months that we - or the parents of the bombers - might have raised the alarm about these boys. Well, if anything obvious was going on, we would certainly have picked it up. Shahzad was not a recluse. He played cricket with the other boys at Cross Flatts Park. If something was being planned overtly down there, we fathers would have known about it. We all know each others' families around here. If somebody else's child is found shoplifting, or pinching cars, everyone knows. With Shahzad, there was no indication. It's not as if he was growing up in a home where there was a radical outlook. Mumtaz loves England. He's built up businesses here, made some money, and Shahzad was also on the way up. Mumtaz and his wife both speak English. Theirs is truly a British Muslim household.
"The days that followed the blast were wretched for us all. First, we got to know that Shahzad was missing. He had told his parents he was going to London and they reported his failure to return. Gradually, it became clear that he had died in the blasts. A few days later the police moved into the area [to search the bombers' houses and, fearing explosives may have been left in Beeston, seal off a number of streets]. It was then that I saw on satellite TV that Shahzad was implicated. I just could not understand how it could be. Most of the Muslims around here still feel the same.
"When it comes to talking about the events of 12 months ago, this is very much a community that has shut up shop. Those who do talk do not make a habit of doing so where others can see them. Nobody dares to say anything. One of the reasons for this atmosphere is that Muslims here still don't understand what went wrong with Shahzad and the other three bombers. The Tanweers feel that very much, too. They want to find out what happened to their son. Who got him involved, who masterminded it?
"The police and the Government have never come to this community and provided answers to those questions. Those four boys carried it out under our noses and we missed it. No one has ever arrived here and said: 'This is how they got away with preparing for what they did.' Where are the answers? I don't want another person's son to do what those four did. Neither does any father. The authorities can help us by providing us with answers that we can work with. I remain convinced that there was some kind of mastermind at work. They talk about al-Qaeda [on TV]. I just don't know.
"There are plenty of fathers, like me, around here who have had conversations with their children in the aftermath of 7 July. My youngest is 18, the same age as Hasib Hussain was last July. We tell them: 'The people who died in London are somebody else's kids. Don't even think about it.' I believe it is up to parents to know what their children are doing.
"But it's true to say that Britain's foreign policy - and some of the police operations in the past 12 months, like Forest Gate - have not helped fathers like me. When young people see pictures on TV of the tanks going into Palestine, they react. They feel that Britain is implicated because Israel has the strong support of this Government and of the US.
"The communication between the young people and the police here in Beeston also leaves a bit to be desired. The police are just trying to do their job because the Government lays down the law and they must follow it. But that makes many of the young people disinclined to help them. The young people don't see the police as being on their side. It means that if there is information still to be disclosed about Shahzad and the others, they are disinclined to offer it up. There is a massive gap between young Asians and the police. They have no confidence in what the police are doing. Over the past year the police have tried to speak to young Asians. I just don't think they have got a response. That situation certainly needs to change.
"This anniversary will make everyone here reflect on how little we still know. Everybody is looking to get on with their normal lives, except the families of those who have lost loved ones. For the Tanweers, the anniversary will be a day of prayers and quiet reflection.
KATHARINE HUNT: CONSULTANT ANAESTHETIST
Katharine Hunt, 37, is a consultant anaesthetist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in central London. She was one of the first doctors on the scene at Russell Square.
I was the consultant on call on 7 July. Someone banged on my door about 9.30am and told me there had been an incident at King's Cross. A group of us met at the main reception desk and set up the emergency procedure. Our first job was to stop all routine surgery and clear the intensive-care unit for casualties with head injuries that could be referred from other hospitals.
"A short while later we heard casualties were being brought to the surface at Russell Square Tube station, which is a two-minute run from here. Four of us, two consultants and two senior registrars, decided we would go. We went to the operating theatre and grabbed equipment - fluids, bandages and painkillers - and ran to Russell Square in our theatre "blues".
"Unless you have worked in a war zone, nothing prepares you for what awaited us. There were bodies sprawled all over the ticket hall - both sides of the barriers. Some were horrifically injured with double amputations and were severely burnt.
"The smell was of charred clothes, burnt skin and singed hair. Many of the casualties were blackened, covered in soot. I was struck by how young they were - City workers on their way to their offices. A few were moaning, but the main sound was of sirens, lots of them
"There were other doctors there and we split into groups, dealing with the most severely injured first. One casualty I tended to was a nurse from Great Ormond Street. She had had a leg blown off. She came back to talk to us the other day. She is doing very well. I have seen a lot of road accidents and stabbings in my time. But it was the scale of it that was shocking. You might see two or three in A&E if you were unlucky - here there were 30 or 40.
"Your professional persona takes over - you get on and do what you are trained to do. We stabilised them, checked their airway, inserted needles for intravenous fluids and gave them painkilling injections. I resuscitated one patient who had lost both legs. You reassure them, tell them they are in good hands and tell them what you are going to do. Most were so shocked they could barely communicate - even the ones with relatively minor injuries. Those that could were asking about companions - "Where's my brother?", "Where's my girlfriend?" - not what had happened to them. You think about people on the Tube in their nice clothes and then you see them all torn and dirty. I have been a doctor for 12 years and dealing with injuries is part of my job. But I see them in the operating theatre, a clean clinical environment, not amid the chaos of a station ticket hall.
"Half way through the work, I looked round the ticket hall and suddenly wondered how safe it was. A lot of the walking wounded had carried their bags up from the Tube with them. We were working directly above the train and carriages. We didn't know if there would be another bomb. All the emergency manuals say rescuers need to consider their own safety first - but no one did on the day. We discussed this later - were we putting ourselves at risk? If 30 people are injured and 30 rush in to help and there is another bomb you have got 60 injured.
"As the last casualties were being taken off in ambulances, we returned to the hospital. I phoned my husband to let him know I was all right - he was frantic. There was no clinical work - everything had stopped as we waited for the patients we thought we were going to get. In the event we only got one referred from University College Hospital with a head injury. But there is no way of predicting what will happen in these incidents.
"It was only later that the enormity of it hit me. I am not a tearful person but if you had spoken to my husband he would have told you I was shocked, quiet and a bit shaky for some time. Talking about it helped, especially to non-medical people who knew nothing beyond what they had read in the papers.
"A year on I still think about it. I realise how fortunate I am compared with others I saw that day. Some of the patients I see now have an awful lot to put up with and I think the experience has made me more compassionate. There were two people from our hospital among the casualties - a secretary who was killed and a professor who was severely injured. When they are from your own workplace it is really quite scary. I used to use Russell Square Tube station and I still pass it now. I feel lucky it wasn't me. The big change in my life in the last 12 months is that I am now pregnant. It is my first child. You always think where is the best place to bring up a child and I am fortunate that my parents have a house in Devon. It seems a nicer, cleaner place to bring up a child, though I don't think I'll be moving any time soon.
JOHN FALDING: LOST PARTNER IN BUS BOMBING
John Falding, 62, a retired Financial Times journalist from Marylebone in central London, was the boyfriend of Anat Rosenberg, 39, an Israeli who worked for NCH, the children's charity, and who died on the bus in Tavistock Square. They were speaking on the telephone when the bomb went off.
It doesn't feel like a year. It still feels like I'm living amid the confusion of the time immediately afterwards. It all still seems very bizarre, very difficult to take it all in. What happened was so pointless: so many people died, so many people injured, so many lives emptied. That I find very difficult to accept.
"Anat's parents, Arie and Naomi, came over from Israel the following Monday and took her home for burial on 19 July. She was buried the same day that they landed in Jerusalem, in accordance with Jewish law.
"A month later, I went over there to see her grave and to stay with her parents. I saw Anat's room at their apartment. It was poignant to see her piano, her music, her dolls, and I received further insights into her character from sampling the Israeli lifestyle.
"I get on well with her parents, who I had not met before, and I keep in touch by phone and letter. Being in Israel did open my eyes to some aspects of the situation over there, which, of course, does have relevance to what happened in London. Her parents are not religiously observant and profess to be liberals, but, nevertheless, have strong views on the Palestinians.
"I try to see both sides, but having seen places that have been blown apart by bombs and experienced the airport-style security just to get to the supermarket, you get a different perspective. It helped me understood why Anat believed she was safer in London, which was why she stayed away from Israel in recent years. It's ironic that although she was constantly aware of the dangers from terrorism, London could not save her.
"In November, Anat's parents and I attended the service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral. I found myself wondering, 'What I am I doing here?' It was all so unreal. When they dimmed the lights and the sun poured through the east window, it was a real moment of hope, it was incredibly moving.
"I've not really involved myself with the network of support groups for survivors and relatives. I've met a few of them but I tended to feel I wanted to cope in my own solitary way. Neither have I sought any formal counselling -- it's enough to know it's there if I need it.
"Although I do believe in God, I haven't particularly sought comfort in my faith. But I have popped into a church occasionally and lit a candle for Anat and had a few minutes of contemplation. The bleak moments come and go. One thing I have learnt is that time doesn't heal, it just creates a way of coping with a constant emptiness.
"It has been helpful to talk to the media. As someone said, it's good to have the ear of sympathetic strangers when it is still a bit searing to talk to people close to me. I've also written about Anat's life for a tribute book containing stories of a number of those who died and which will be deposited in the Museum of London. I tried to capture her life and personality, aware that it is going to be there for posterity.
"Last month, many relatives and survivors were invited to Highgrove House to meet the Prince of Wales. Others there were victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East. I had a few minutes one-to-one with the Prince, and the concern and sympathy he expressed will long be a source of comfort for me.
"I'm just about to send Anat's parents a professionally made DVD of a small ceremony in Dorset Square, near my home. Just before Easter, I planted a flowering, pink cherry tree there and a few weeks ago unveiled a plaque dedicating the tree to Anat and her fellow victims.
"I wanted a focus in this country for remembering Anat, and chose the private square because we once went to a garden party there and it was one of the happiest evenings of her life. I remember her dancing like a dervish as she revisited her training in dance and ballet.
"Anat was an enormously vibrant person who loved life to the full, and loved London and enjoying all the cultural delights the city had to offer.
"I shall be attending all the events [today] to mark the first anniversary. I was somewhat taken aback when I heard there was going to be a ceremony in Regent's Park in the evening. It will be incredibly poignant for me because it was where we spent our last night together. We saw Twelfth Night at the Open Air Theatre and strolled through the park afterwards hand in hand. I would not have been able to go near the place on a summer's evening had it not been for this event. I'm sure it's going to be an emotional experience.
"What happens next is unknown territory. Over the past year, almost every day has been some kind of anniversary of the things we did together. As the next year passes, it's going to be different again. Although I should have no difficulty holding on to my memories, I'm making notes so I don't forget the slightest detail. She always said I would miss her if anything happened. She could never have guessed how much.
ASHLEY WALKER: FIRST POLICE OFFICER TO ARRIVE AT TAVISTOCK SQ
PC Ashley Walker, 26, was the first police officer to arrive on the scene of the Tavistock Square bus bombing that killed 14, including the 18-year-old suicide bomber, and injured about 110.
PC Walker, a London-born university graduate with parents who moved to Britain from the Caribbean island of Grenada, gave up a £33,000 job in computers to join the Metropolitan Police two and a half years ago.
For his actions during the aftermath of the attack on the Number 30 double-decker bus he was awarded the Commissioner's High Commendation, the Met's top honour for bravery.
"It started as a normal day, with an 8-to-4 shift. I had been at work for about an hour when we had a call saying that there was smoke coming out of King's Cross station.
"We are only about two minutes' drive away so myself and five other officers got into a van, but we soon got stuck in traffic, so we got out and walked. We still didn't know what was going on and were told to help with a cordon. I had been walking towards Tavistock Square when I heard a large thud, like a large skip crashing to the ground. I glanced straight up and saw a sheet of metal, which was the roof of a bus, in mid-air and shards of metal and debris about 150 metres away. Everything seemed in slow motion. There was a pause and a silence afterwards, and then hundreds of people started screaming and running.
"I began to jog, then run towards the bus. I could hear people screaming for help. As I got closer you could see body parts scattered on the ground and on several cars close to the bus. There was blood everywhere.
"There was a gaping hole with jagged edges in the top deck of the bus. People were jumping and falling out of the bus. I began helping people get off. Those on the bottom deck had a lot of head and leg injuries. When I got to the top deck all the chairs were flattened and squashed. There were people with really bad injuries, like having a leg blown off, and such a lot of blood everywhere - their clothes were covered in blood.
"I could also see and hear a couple of people who were murmuring, they were trapped under the wreckage. There was nothing I could do to free them. I had to carry, grip, and hoist people out of the bus. There were about 10 people behind the bus who were in a bad way. They had limbs missing and some of the bodies were twisted and distorted in a terrible way. There were trails of blood everywhere. Until then the worst thing I had seen was a stabbing and a road traffic accident. I have seen a lot of war films and stuff, but nothing that compares to the carnage I saw then.
"From then on it was a matter of giving first aid. People were using fold-down tables as stretchers to take the injured to a nearby hotel. Doctors from the nearby BMA [British Medical Association] headquarters arrived and started to help. I was so relieved to see them. The organisation started to kick in as more emergency services and help arrived, although there were people standing around and watching. One man was even filming it with his telephone camera until I shouted at him.
"I got home that night at about 10 and went for a quick drink with my cousin and some friends. When I went to bed it was in my mind, I couldn't go to sleep - I was just thinking about it all the time. Eventually I just nodded off. It was a relief to be back at work and to be among close colleagues and friends - to be with people who had been through the same thing.
"Since the bombing it has been really important to talk to them, because they were there, they saw it, they lived it, they experienced it. Initially the police gave us a debrief and group discussions to air our concerns and grievances, to talk through what happened that day. A few of us didn't talk. I wasn't comfortable talking in a group, partly because many of the victims that I helped had died. Eventually I had a one-to-one counselling session.
"I feel a lot closer to my colleagues now. Seeing some of them cry and helping each other forms a bond. What I experienced and my memories of it are never entirely out of my mind. You think about the bombings, you think about the victims, the management, the press, everything.
"Even now if I'm working at a festival and I hear a balloon pop or loud bang, my heart skips a beat. Or it could be something minor like seeing someone who looks like one of the victims I helped, or one of those trapped or terribly injured. It brings it all back. I just have to pick up a newspaper or watch the television and hear that 50 people have been killed in Baghdad, or wherever, and it reminds me of what happened. Hearing about children being killed reminds me of what I saw.
"Before the suicide bombings I never thought anything like this would happen in London. I thought we were safe here. Wherever you live you usually think nothing terrible will occur, and when it does it is such a shock. The whole experience, however, has reinforced why I wanted to join the police. When I went to the St Paul's [Cathedral] memorial I talked to some of the people I helped and they thanked me. I know I could have kept on with my career in computers and I would probably have ended up with a big house and a mortgage, but when I'm 40 or 50 years old I know I will be able to look back and say I achieved something worthwhile. I will never be able to entirely forget what happened on that day, but I know in my heart that I made a difference, and that's why I became a police officer.
MOHAMMED IQBAL: LORD MAYOR OF LEEDS
Mohammed Iqbal, 45, is the first Asian Lord Mayor of Leeds. His ward of City and Hunslet covers the Beeston area where three of the bombers lived.
The sense of disbelief about what happened 12 months ago remains as profound for me as for everyone around here. I came across Mohammed Sidique Khan several years ago and I distinctly remember his face. He wasn't working below the radar. He was a community worker; someone people knew. We've all asked ourselves how he could have carried out the acts he did under our noses.
"Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's any sense of denial here about the four bombers - and the three [Khan, Shahzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain] who came from my part of Leeds. A minority might subscribe to the view that these young men were not the bombers, that it was a set up in some way. The majority - the sensible people - don't feel the same, though. They feel that what's happened has happened and that's the end of it.
"That said, I do think we could do with seeing more of the forensic evidence and more information about the bombings. For as long as we have to go on the word of the investigators, it will be difficult for some people to accept the things that they are being told. It's important to remember how much of a shock it was for everybody when the names of people they knew started to appear on television.
"I do think that a public inquiry into the bombings would be for the best. It would enable everyone to know exactly what was going on and answer some of the nagging doubts people have about how much they ought to have known. We just want to learn lessons from it and move on. That is certainly my view - though all the opinions here are my own, and not necessarily the council's.
"My first concern when I heard that the bombs had gone off and that they were linked to Islamic terrorists [several days before a specific connection with Leeds was established] was to communicate the revulsion Muslims felt about it. Muslim leaders and I issued a statement condemning the bombings as barbaric and unislamic.
"Of course, we had no reason to believe that our city was going to be linked to such an atrocity. Leeds - and Beeston - has its share of problems, but it is not really any different to many other districts in Britain. There's nothing that marks it down as a place for terrorism, and when people come back looking for exciting angles on the story here, it creates a distorted image of what is, at heart, a positive, vibrant community.
"Is there radicalism that we should be worried about? Well, first I would say that radicalism is everywhere. I've encountered Stop the War Coalition activists who come across as violent - and I've come across Muslims. But that's not to say that anybody will go as far as those four went last July. Nobody thinks that was right.
"If anything, Beeston's link to the terror attacks has brought the community closer together. It has been besieged, but people have united in a sense of protection for their neighbourhood. People ask whether enough money is being put into the regeneration of Beeston to give young people hope. There is work to be done, as there is everywhere, but a lot is happening. The educational underachievement is being tackled. New schools and a community sports facility will be completed this year; a new swimming pool and health centre will be finished next year. We want to make people proud of their corner of this city, and of Britain.
"People suggest that there is insufficient community leadership to keep potential radicals on the straight and narrow. But you tell me which young people listen to their community leaders? The parents are responsible - but only to an extent. Parents can't force their children into a particular behaviour, they can only lead by example and bring up their children to their own views. Yes, a society is responsible for the actions of its young people to an extent, and the local authority is responsible to an extent. But I don't think the Muslim community here should be held accountable.
"I do know that the British Muslim community of Beeston is proud of its nationality. So am I. I was born in Kashmir. My family moved here when I was nine. I am now Leeds' first Asian Lord Mayor. I have put something in to the country and got something back in return. My conscience is clear. But yes, it is right to examine the role of British foreign policy in all of this. The opinion polls say that 67 per cent of people think foreign policy contributed to the bombings.
"We in Beeston have become stronger because of what happened. But we have also been shaken. I will officiate at a tree planting to mark the anniversary, in Cross Flatts Park [where Tanweer and Khan played cricket]. A tree is planted and grows. It becomes stronger. Good things stem from a new beginning.
MARK MARGOLIS: SURVIVED ATTACK ON PICCADILLY LINE TRAIN
Mark Margolis, 30, is a project manager for a software consultancy and lives in Finsbury Park, north London. He was in the front carriage of the Piccadilly Line train when the bomb went off between King's Cross and Russell Square. He suffered minor injuries to his face and some hearing impairment.
I was sitting about 20 feet from where the bomb went off. It had been a normal morning, although I was running a bit late. The first train that came along was completely packed. I got the second, which was also crowded, but managed to get a seat after King's Cross. That's when the bomb went off. There was this extremely loud popping noise. In the dark, I tried to assess the situation, felt my legs and arms, felt my head and there was some bleeding, but I thought, 'I'm OK.' All around me people were screaming. It was awful, horrendous. I've no idea how long we were there, but eventually the driver opened his door and we got out through his cab and walked along the tunnel. As we got to Russell Square, I began to feel a bit faint and had to lean on the guy who was walking ahead of me. When we got up on to the concourse there were a few more people coming up, but the small number of them suggested to me that the majority of people had not made it out of the station.
"After I got out of Russell Square station I rang my wife, Sarah, and she came to meet me. We walked all the way to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead because I calculated that the hospitals closer to the scene would be fully occupied with the more seriously injured. I've still got the small marks on my face, which, if you didn't know what had happened to me, you would think I had drawn on with a pencil. It is the carbon burned into my skin. The doctors said I could have an operation to get rid of it, but that there would always be some kind of mark.
"I went back on the Tube the day after the attacks. I walked to Euston station and then got the Victoria Line back to Finsbury Park, where I live. It was a bit of bravado, but it felt like a necessary thing to do. I knew that if I didn't do it, then it would become very hard to travel on the Underground in the future. And it was the only thing you could do to fight what happened. I wasn't that badly injured and I went back to work on the Monday afterwards.
"By the end of July I was quite emotionally distressed. I wasn't sleeping or eating very well and I could not believe I was the same person as before. But we went on a diving holiday to Menorca, which we had already booked. I had a couple of easy dives first and then went cave diving, which perhaps wasn't the best thing to do in the circumstances, but it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done. It helped me in the sense that it brought me back down a level, but no more than that.
"I was one of the first members of King's Cross United, the online support group, along with Rachel North, [who has written an online diary and campaigns for a public inquiry into the bombings]. We were the first two people to meet who had been in the carriage. My wife and I went to see Rachel and her partner - we talked virtually non-stop for three or four hours. I found the group, which now has about 100 members, helpful, but after a while I knew I needed to get back to reality, to take a step back from it. But it is definitely a help to know it's still there.
"I'm mostly back to normal now, but not completely. I have changed some of my habits and certain things I do. I have rituals, like always picking up my keys in a certain order. I use the Tube now, but I don't travel on the Piccadilly Line if I can help it, although I have been on it a couple of times. There are too many memories; just getting on the Tube at all is enough for me. I always make sure I sit at the front of the carriage, near the driver's door, and make sure I leave for work early. I can't face being on the Tube at the same time, so, if I'm running late, I will wait a couple of hours.
"My dad said to me that many people have to carry a burden through life, but that others don't necessarily know about it. I guess that is the case with me. It will stay with me for the rest of my life, I think about it every day, but it is just an experience that I have had. I'm very conscious of the fact that it has not changed me as a person.
"It's not going to affect my future or what I do with my life. I'm sure things will get better for me as time passes. I don't have any feelings of guilt about those that didn't make it out of the train. However, I recognise that I have been extremely lucky. I want to make sure that I don't blow the opportunity I have been given and that I live my life now to the maximum. I owe that to those that died.
"I was born in London and lived for some years in Italy, so I've always been used to living among a lot of different races and religions, and it hasn't affected my views. And I don't blame what happened on religion.
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