Words cannot express or describe the feelings that I am sure all of you are feeling as the news of the tragedy in America continues to be reported around the world. I was at work when I heard the news on BBC Radio 2 almost as soon as anybody knew what had happened, right at the end of the scheduled 2pm news bulletin, and after that the updates were almost continual. The afternoon scheduling was altered as it became apparent just what was happening. At first, like many people I think, I thought it had to be an accident. That was rudely dispelled by the second aircraft hitting the other tower of the World Trade Centre. No way in the world was that an accident.
It was difficult to do any work that afternoon, although once I got into it, there was something almost calming in the rather repetitive programming I was doing at the time. Clients were still telephoning as normal, but the news on the radio continued to get worse as the Pentagon was hit, and another plane crashed near Pittsburg. Numb disbelief started to settle in, and to a certain extent the disbelief is still there. When I finally slept last night, my dreams were chaotic and discomforting, vague impressions of destruction and suffering.
The whole internet, it seems, is reeling from the blow. I can count the number of e-mails I have received today on one hand, and I usually have the dubious good fortune to receive at least twenty or thirty. All my mailing lists are silent, save Abi on h2g2Gurus, asking us to help comfort the community during this time of crisis. I spoke not long ago to a man in Luxembourg who I have not ever spoken to since our initial plans to converse about common interests over ICQ, about 8 months ago. It is a shame that we were not able to speak of those things which brought us into contact in the first place - my mind, and his, are filled with questions that we ask each other, even though we know they won't know the answers: Who is responsible? What will happen next? What will the US reaction be? And through it all I cannot stop coming back to the image of all those people hanging out of windows in the World Trade Centre before it collapsed, and the people who jumped even knowing it was certain death.
I feel a particular wrench at the thought of the rescue workers - fire and police officers - buried in the building when the first and second towers came down, thought to be more than 300 in number. Over the last year I have made many good friends who are police officers, and had this happened in the UK, some of those could now be dead. It is probably selfish of me to think in such a way, but I cannot help myself, and I am not going to write here about what I think I should be feeling. I can only say what I am feeling, feelings I am sure some of you share with me at least in part.
May the world never see anything on this scale ever again. It's a futile hope, but if enough of us hold it, who knows where it might take us?
Please feel free to e-mail me if you wish, on maw at alledora dot co dot uk.