Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 five years on / back from Italy

Gosh, first time in ages I've posted to this blog. Have had a few concerned emails from people ... no reason to be concerned, though sometimes you do kinda ask yourself why you're bothering to write a blog.

Just got back off a rather nice week in Italy. Stayed at Kristina's parents converted farmhouse in th the middle of very rural Le Marche, in Italy ... about an hour's drive from Ancona airport.

Ancona is served by the dreaded RyanAir; an airline that disabled people shudder at when they hear its name. In the end though, we didn't ask for assistance (deliberately so as not to make ourselves known to them) and busked our way through the airport. We had no real problems. Stansted is a small airport with only one real direction you can go in ... thankfully.

Anyhoo. Very relaxing. Very very relaxing.

I note that it's 9/11 today. Five years on since that dreaded day in New York. 14 months since that day in July, London. 2 and a half years on since Madrid. And just a month since the unfolding 'bomb plot' for which people are still being charged bit by bit by the Met Police.

It was the dying days of the BBC's Disability Programmes Unit on Sep 11, 2001. We were all sitting round desperately trying to think up ideas for programmes with a disability theme that might get a commission by Jane Root - then controller of BBC TWO. Sadly she rather thought of us as the Work experience Unit, didn't like what we were doing, didn't like our new zeitgeisty ideas, and no commissions soon translated into no unit.

I was meeting with Ally Scott when plane number one hit the towers in Yew York. Nancy, then Asst Producer, shouted across that a plane had hit the tower. We were interested but assumed it was a low level accident; think the reports were saying it was a light aircraft at the time.

Then a few minutes later Nancy shouted across that a plane had hit the second tower. We stopped our meeting and rushed to the TV set.

Not knowing much about these things, I remember vaguely thinking that maybe the air traffic control computers had gone a bit wild and directed the planes incorrectly. Other more cynical sorts had already predicted the end of the world. I was confused because I'd been to New York a year earlier and, on my visit to the Empire State Building, had learnt about an aircraft crash into its side in the 1940s, and knew that no aircraft were allowed to fly over Manhattan since that day 60 years earlier. so I was a little confused at why this had happened at all.

Everyone on the ground floor of the BBC's White City building - including everyone in the Watchdog studio/office which was just down the corridor, were glued. No one was working. Sorry licence fee payers.

As the scenes unfolded, I remember sitting there in a state of terror. I know in hindsight that London wasn't effected, nor anywhere else in the world, but at the time our skies were being locked down too, all sorts of security measures were taking place, Government was said to be having an emergency meeting, and we were all wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

Was this just part of a localised attack on New York? Or was this a wider attack on the western world? News reporters were frantic. Little titbits were getting on air about missing aircraft all over the US and UK ... missing aircraft meant 'potential disaster'. Could London Docklands get the next hit? I thought the fabric of the world was falling to pieces for a few hours.

At around 4 or 5pm London time, we all began to realise that it was probably all over.

Just a few brief memories.

4 comments:

Katie said...

Glad to see you are back on your blog Damon! I've missed reading all your adventures, hope you are well!

Yes 9/11 was a memorable time and I found it very shocking. I was at home when I heard and I sat glued to the TV all day.

Glad you had a good time in Italy, sounds a really great place and I bet it was a relaxing holiday too.

I love the new podcast on Ouch, it's brilliant and also glad that Ouch is getting an honourable mention after Eastenders to do with the Down's syndrome storyline. I have a friend with the same thing so have knowledge of the needs of children born with it.

Also have updated my blog so hopefully I shall be back on the blogosphere too.

Alice said...

Good that you had such a nice time in Italy. For someone sitting in Arkansas as I am, that is so very exotic sounding.

I had friends who happened to be in London on 9/11, about to return to the US after a couple weeks holiday. Their holiday was extended by a good five days in your fair country, and the kindness extended to them as stranded tourists will never be forgotten.

Good to see you back at the blog!

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