At 8.20am on Friday September 15 my wife and seven-year-old daughter were part of what ISIS later called “a gathering of crusaders”. They were in the carriage in which a bomb nearly went off at Parsons Green Underground station.
I was at home about to leave for work when I noticed four missed calls (the ringer is switched off at night) from my wife Katherine, who was taking Mary to school. They nearly hadn’t taken the train. But they were running late and cycling takes longer.
I rang Katherine straight back. Sounding very upset indeed, she said there had been a bomb and her arm had been squashed during the stampede, but she was OK and so was Mary. By the time the next bulletin came on the radio it was clear that there had been an attempted terrorist attack.
At the suggestion of my brother-in-law, who used to work for a security company, they decided to get checked out in case it was a “dirty bomb”. I met them at the hospital, where the view was that this did not seem to have been a poison attack. A policewoman told us that bombs of that sort were difficult to make.
An X-ray of Katherine’s arm showed it wasn’t broken. Mary had been sick several times but the incredibly reassuring doctor thought this was just nerves. A man in a nearby cubicle, we gathered, had sprained an ankle during the incident, possibly when he accidentally trod on somebody in the mêlée.
A uniformed constable took Katherine and Mary’s statements. Then a large group of SO15 (counter-terrorist) officers materialised and a female officer in plain clothes asked more questions. At the other side of the room a man with bandaged fingers was being interviewed. Katherine overheard that, not surprisingly perhaps, the sequence of events as he described it did not quite match her chronology.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection