Thursday, July 14, 2005

"Thank you everybody. It is now 12 noon."
I was about to make some coffee and asked the office in general if anyone wanted a cup but it was pointed out to me that it was almost time to go outside and observe the two minute silence. I put the kettle down and followed everyone else into the courtyard. From the courtyard, we all poured out onto the street and stood in silence on the corner. Most people were looking towards London Bridge Station and the shiny tall towers of the city peeking above our slightly grubbier, soot-covered old brick Victorian surroundings. The tip of the gherkin sparkled in the sun.

It was eerie and sobering and incredibly moving. It's always hard to know just how many people work in our office and studio complex and despite having been here for almost two years, I looked around at all the serious faces, all the bodies held still in the silence just outside where we all come to earn our living and thought to myself, good God, there's so many of us! And we're all thinking about the same thing, and we're all here for the same reason.

People walking by spotted us and realising what we were doing, they also stopped. They hushed their children, they made their dogs stand still, cars went by but the drivers no doubt joined us in their thoughts as it must have been quite an extraordinary sight to see so many office workers standing perfectly still and silent on a street corner in the middle of the day.

"Thank you, everybody."

The two minutes were up. The dogs leapt up and pulled on their leads. The children skipped away, singing to themselves. We walked back into the courtyard and went into our buildings, hushed but no longer silent. I put the kettle on and poured coffee for my colleagues.

As if the whole city had been holding its breath, it exhaled and there was a moment of release, of fresh air into the system. I think everyone who observed the silence feels as if we've been holidng our breath since last Thursday, ribs tight and taut over the confusion and dismay. And now we've let it go. We remembered and will always remember what happened. But the city and its people will continue, we breathe in and breathe out to the unstoppable rhythm of life here, that heartbeat, that music, that sound of a city loved by its people that loves it back. It always changes but never stops.

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