I don't know if you remember where you were on the morning of the 7th July 2005 when you heard the news of the terrorist bombings in London. I was sitting at my desk in the House of Commons (for the uninitiated, I was working for David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary) and a colleague popped his head round the door to say there was something on the radio about a big bang in a tube station. Shortly afterwards Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson arrived to do a feature interview with David. Gradually news started coming in that there were several attacks. I kept interrupting his interview with news. I rang home and rang my parents to reassure them I was OK. I began to get calls from friends.
My work colleague began to get hysterical about her son, who she feared might have been on one of the trains. She rang his school and he had not arrived. As the morning wore on, and she couldn't make contact with him, even I began to fear the worst. But I had to make a decision. I was trying to coordinate our response and ensure the office ran smoothly, yet my colleague (and very good friend) was becoming hysterical. Did I try to soothe her or did I do my job. I'm slightly ashamed to say I chose the latter and 'delegated' the former. Hard bastard, I thought to myself. Her son rang to say he was OK shortly afterwards.
None of us knew what it all meant. The thought ran through my mind that if this was a repeat of 9-11, our office wasn't exactly the best place to be. It was located almost directly under Big Ben. But you just get on with your job. David Davis was the coolest man in London. If ever I doubted his leadership qualities, they were on full display that day. Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester would confirm that.
David then had to respond to Charles Clarke's statement in the House of Commons. We were glued to the TV. He caught the mood of the House and gave a speech which even his enemies had to admit was striking.
The next day, I was walking along the Embankment to work with the sound of helicopters and Police sirens ringing through the air. I remember thinking to myself: "This is not the London I love." I felt as if I was walking along a street in an alien city. I admit that a tear rolled down my face. Would life ever be the same?
A year on and life has returned to normal - until the next time. But what's normal anymore? For some, life can never be normal again, because they either lost family or friends on 7/7 or they themselves lost limbs. And it is them who I think of as I write this. And in particular, I think of Rachel from North London - a blogger who has had more effect on people than she probably realises.
Do me a favour. Even if you think what I've written above is a load of rubbish, visit her Blog. And perhaps you'll understand why it makes me a little emotional.
So that's my memory of 7/7. What's yours?
I'm sorry there is no official event to allow us as a country to remember those who died in the biggest terrorist atrocity ever seen in Britain.