Column: Hats off to how brave bobbies responded
I was leaving a gig in London with 80,000 other people last Saturday night when I missed a call and text on my mobile phone.
‘Terror alert at London Bridge, are you OK?” It read.
It was from a journalist, who knew I was in London but had seen the story coming in on the wires. I rang back to say I was fine, but the story was still breaking and, like lambs to the slaughter, thousands of us were being shepherded towards the underground completely oblivious to the drama just a few tube stops away.
“Do not get on the tube, V. Get a cab.” I'd been to the gig with my best friend, so I relayed the information to her as quietly as I could. I didn’t want others to hear. We were packed together like sardines and I didn't want to trigger panic or a stampede. The person behind heard and a small group began to follow as we left the throng and headed away from the tube.
I was worried the attack on London Bridge might be a diversion and others could be imminent. There were no black cabs at all – a rare sight in London – so we walked until we found a deserted railway station. There were no staff, just one man, who told us “get on the train”. He didn’t care if we had a ticket or not.
Tickets weren’t important. Not anymore. I realised then that this was a major incident. Somehow, we managed to circumnavigate our way across London, avoiding London Bridge and the surrounding area, and returned to our hotel. Once there, staff at reception advised us to “stay inside” for our own safety. With the news still breaking and situation developing fast, instead of going to an after-show party in central London, we sat in front of our hotel TV and watched the rest of the night unfold.
Then we recalled a few things that didn't add up. When we’d first gone into the gig, the place had been swarming with good-natured police officers having a laugh with fans. By the time we’d left there wasn’t one officer in sight, no doubt having been re-directed to the unfolding drama at Borough Market.
As I write this, seven people are said to have died, with a further 48 injured. It’s less than two weeks since the Manchester Bombings. As a country we are under attack from extremists. Last week, I wrote that I didn’t feel secure with armed police patrolling the streets. I still don’t, but I take my hat off to those officers who bravely stopped the London terrorists within just eight minutes. Without them this barbaric act of terrorism would’ve escalated and its gruesome death toll could’ve been so much higher.