Sunday, September 11, 2011


What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with?

I can, of course, only be talking about one day, one event. one date.

At 2 pm, I was booked for a conference call with a supplier in Midtown. 9 am their time. Just before 2, I got my team together and we filed into the meeting room, dialed the number and waited. No-one came on the line. I was about to give them a hard time for failing to live up to expectations. At ten past, we gave up and I went back to the desk and I started to call them. No answer. I wrote a short, salty email.

A few moments later someone came onto the floor from the dealing room where there were television screens scattered around the room. The horrible news started to filter through.

I phoned home. My son had just sat his A levels and was at home at the start of his gap year. He put the television on and watched all afternoon.

Three colleagues were 3 blocks away on their way to a 9 am meeting when the first plane hit. No-one knew where they were or if they were safe. Their families were ringing the office desperate for news.

At 3, a friend called. She had flown back in from New York overnight and had gone to bed for a few hours sleep. Turning on the television, she couldn't make sense of it all. The day before she and her fiance had been in the Windows on the World restaurant planning their wedding. He worked next door to the World Trade Center.

We had just seen the South Tower collapse.

A colleague came in from the dealing room. Tearfully, he told us how they had closed the lines to Cantor Fitzgerald, in the North Tower. How could you bear to listen to what was happening?

Mobile phone and landlines were haphzard in London. My daughter was planning to go to London that evening to visit a school friend. Eventually, I got a message through to her not to travel.

At 4pm, our local chief exec closed our office for the day. The Underground was closed so I walked to Waterloo. Hardly anyone was talking. Some people were holding hands. All the way home on the train, people were pale and quiet.

My three colleagues were safe. They had carried on towards their meeting after the first plane hit. With the second impact, they headed back up through Manhattan on foot. My friend's fiance was safe. He was travelling to Seattle later that day so was on his way to the airport.

My colleague who had listened to the Cantor Fitzgerald staff who knew they were about to die was never the same, closing in on himself.

At home that night, I just wanted to hug my son and daughter. And I have had the privilege of ten more years of loving them, unlike thoese poor people who died that day.


  1. I was busy at work, with no access to the news until I got in the car to go home so was stunned to find what had happened. We had arranged to meet some biker friends in the pub that evening and we all sat glued to the tv screens in total disbelief.

    It's the one "what were you doing when" event that I will never forget. Life changed on that day for sure, the way we think about other cultures, religion, the meaning of our own lives at home and how safe we really are from those who would happily wipe us from the face of the earth, given the chance.

  2. I was home watching the news... thinking that didn't look like an accident... when the second one hit....see that in "real time" was beyond human comprehension.

  3. i use to ask these kind of question to my friends, i wonder won't they irritate them

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