To mark the 10 year anniversary of the London 7/7 terrorist attacks, HuffPost UK is running Beyond The Bombings, a special series of interviews, blogs, in-depth features and exclusive research reflecting on how Britain has changed since.
On a beautifully blue skied Wednesday 6 July 2005 I stood in Trafalgar Square in front of a giant screen, along with other reporters, waiting for the decision from the Olympic Committee on the location of the 2012 Olympics Games. Paris was the favourite, and I almost thought I had misheard when they read the word London out loud.
I cheered, the whole square cheered, I think I saw Nelson salute and fist pump, and I delivered an elated report on the win for London TV.
I'd rarely known my home city on such a high since the 1996 Euro championships when we danced in the streets around Piccadilly right through to the semi-finals. Wow. London was invincible - we had been chosen as Olympic hosts, the sun was shining, life was good.
Less than 24 hours later as I sipped my first cup of tea of the day I heard breaking news on Sky.
'A power surge on the London underground...' and my heart stopped. Logic said it couldn't be a 'power surge', I knew what it was... as tears welled in my eyes. Not MY London. I held my breath, but I knew. I knew it had to be a bomb.
During the election campaign in 1997, I was 95.8 Capital FM London's Flying Eye - a job I ate, slept, breathed and adored for six years. I am still a massive traffic and travel geek. The IRA called in a series of bomb-threats, which caused huge-gridlock, disruption and panic in the capital. I'd stayed airborne for an extra couple of hours in the morning to deal with the extraordinary situation. When that settled down, I thought that we had peace in London. I was also certain that I never had to concern myself with a 'power-surge', but what else could they say?
I called to my [then] boyfriend, but I could barely take my eyes from the screen as the news unfolded. Tears rolled freely down my face, and it all felt so close to home.
"They've bombed the tube. They've bombed the f*cking tube." I stood in shock, watching as it became clear that there had been three bombs exploded on the London Underground, and one on a London bus, in quick succession.
I cycled to work that day, but was determined to get back onto the underground as soon as possible. Terrorists only win if you let them cause terror. Normalcy and a lack of disruption to our way of life are our greatest weapons.
The next day I returned to the radio station I worked for, LBC 97.3, where I hosted their Friday evening phone-in. Ten years later, I can remember that programme more vividly than any I've presented in my 20-year broadcasting career.
The Thursday it happened was all about the information unfolding, but by Friday, when I was on-air, the story was changing. I took call after call of extraordinary heroism and inspiration. Everyone wanted to tell me their story, and how it had affected them.
But one call - one particular call - completely floored me. I am rarely lost for words, however, I found myself on the end of a desperate call from a young man who had last spoken to his brother when he had been turfed off a tube train at Russell Square.
"What did he say to you?" I asked.
"He said he had to get off the tube and was going to take the bus".
"Have you heard from him since?"
"No, I haven't. Do you think he's OK?"
Silence. THINK CAROLINE. Silence.
"I think you need to wait and keep up hope." BREATHE Caroline, BREATHE.
"What can I do?", he ventured - the panic and desperation in his voice was half killing me. He knew, I knew - and listening - we all knew the worst case scenario. What the hell could I say? Oh - some bastard blew himself up and killed your brother... sorry. God, I wanted him to be alive. I wanted to find the right thing to say. What can you say when there are no good words?
"Tell me about him, what was he like? Maybe someone listening knows something? Maybe he's just lost his phone?", I suggested. Please let him have just lost his phone, I mouthed silently. Thank goodness this was radio. The tears in my eyes were hidden. The injustice was not. Incredibly, a week later he called me back to thank me, by then we knew that his brother was tragically killed on the Russell Square bus.
Two weeks later, determined not to be driven from using the tube, I was on the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus when someone tried to detonate a bomb on the train in front of ours at Warren Street. It failed to explode properly.
Ten years later, I'm watching the bodies of parents, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, fathers and friends carried home from Tunisia with the same sense of desperate injustice. It makes as little sense to me now as it did then.Suggest a correction