"9/11"

Eight years ago I was at a BMVC conference in Manchester for the week. I had been browsing an art gallery(!), and wandered out and switched on my phone. Text message from my supervisor, saying he was in the Wetherspoons Pub. This in itself was a bit weird, as he would never normally willingly enter a Weatherspoons…

We found it, and discovered the rest of the crew absolutely glued to the telly.

Someone’s flown two planes into the twin towers.

Sorry?

We just saw a plane fly into the World Trade Center, and then saw both towers collapse, live on TV.

I look at the Telly. There is New York, without the twin towers, but with masses of smoke and dust. Soon enough they replay the clip of the second plane hitting, and then of both towers collapsing.

Hard to take it in, to be honest. A plane flying into a building is Hollywood fare – especially with the time-lapse element and constant review and analysis on voice over.

There was no arguing with the New York skyline though. I have photos from the Empire State Building, clearly showing the twin towers. And they are simply not there anymore.

But I did recently watch one of the C4 documentaries – 100 mins that changed the world (or something like that). This was a real-time review of that morning, spliced together principally from amateur footage that the public took that day, overlayed with phone conversations and radio comms.

This was the first time the event had struck me a real way. If I’d have been in NY that morning, I would have acted in exactly the same way. Stared in amazement in shock at the terrible accident – how can there have been an explosion like that? Then when the second plane hits it becomes clear it’s not an accident – suddenly panic. If I had been in a tall building I would have got out as fast as I could.

And I hadn’t appreciated the sheer scale of the disaster – when the tower came down, the wall of smoke and debris rushing down the avenues.

I am so grateful I wasn’t in New York that morning. And my heart and prayers goes out to all the souls that were on the planes and in their offices that morning, and those they left behind. My heart and prayers also go out to all the civilian causalities there have been in Afghanistan and Iraq since then…

It did change the world. And not for the better.

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