Where I Was 9/11/01.
9/11: For many, this is a day they will never forget, not because they were there to stand witness or suffered a personal loss, but still they remember. There was shock and horror and total disbelief in the unfolding scenes. We remember where we were and what we were doing. This is my history of that day.
I had a super important meeting that morning. I was leaving my sleepy English village for the big smoke! I caught the train from Hampshire to Central London arriving in the Capital around 11am. I was meeting my boss first for a coffee and a brief before going before our sales team to pitch our publishing list for the Spring titles of 2002. Doing it in front of my boss always added an extra layer of nerves.
My boss, John was a great guy, but his intelligence intimidated me. Not his fault, it was my own problem carried through from my childhood. A chip on the shoulder, if you like. I was self-taught in most things in life and highly educated people simply made me feel tongue-tied with the fear of coming across as ignorant and stupid.
Anyway, enough of my hangups, back to history.
John and I sat in St James’ Park in London waiting for our time slot. We were mindlessly chatting about the state of the world, its overcrowding, poverty issues, and the ecological disasters looming on the horizon!
I remember feeling a thrill of connectivity with an intellectual.
“One solution would be a third world war,” stated John flatly.
We caught each other’s eyes and laughed at our seriousness.
We arrived at our meeting and greeted the sales team. We enjoyed a catered lunch whilst chatting loosely about our 2001 book list, what had sold well, what hadn’t, and observation from both sides. We moved on into the meeting room where John did a short introduction and as his Marketing Manager, it was over to me to introduce our book list.
I had just got into my flow when a door opened, a whisper into the ear of the Sales Director which sent them both scurrying away. Another head came round the door, with a startled look.
“A plane has flown into the World Trade Centre in New York, America is under attack!”
The head disappeared.
The room remained still and silent, I could see expectant faces, so I coughed and continued my pitch. I can’t remember the book, but mid-sentence the stranger’s words came back to me and the enormity of what had been said slammed into my brain.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I can keep going.”
I was the only female in the room that day, but all the men nodded at me in agreement and some started to take their mobile phones out. The information was scant and phones were not as reliable or socially connected back then. The head that had come round the door before, returned.
“The other tower has now been hit, and they think there are other planes. There are rumors that this could be the start of something bigger, London even. I suggest we all go home.”
John and I were traveling back to Hampshire together so we hurried across town, grabbing an early afternoon edition newspaper to try to make sense of what was going on. But it all felt very unreal and London had fallen eerily silent. People seemed intent on getting home to their loved ones, nothing else was important.
I don’t remember much conversation between John and me from there on in. But as London faded into the autumnal British countryside, we both audibly sighed our relief.
I got home and turned on the telly to see a newsreel of horror. I watched the second tower falling to the ground. I literally had my balled-up hand in my mouth. The iconic Twin Towers had been flown into by hijacked commercial jets full of people, into businesses just starting their day! A further plane attacked the Pentagon and a fourth had crashed!
The world stopped turning, my husband came home with our three children, we were in our home, all together and safe!
As I closed my eyes on the images of that horrendous day, I remembered the conversation in the park with John, I was thinking that perhaps he may have just prophesized the next world war!