#116 | Friday, September 21st 2001
I was attending a conference in Lille, France. The night before had been fun, crammed in to an absurdly small bar area of our university campus hotel, finding out about where everyone was from, everyone trying to speak each other's languages.

The next day was tutorial day, and I came out during a break to discover people gathered around an office watching the television inside. Oh, I see Mt Etna's erupted again, I thought.

I thought wrong.

The remainder of the week was spent in France, trying to understand from French TV what was happening, and with no access to English newspapers (Uni campus, off-season, no shops!), wishing that I was back in the UK. I wanted to know what was happening without having to rely on snatched snippets of information from other people's calls from home.

Ian | 29 | United Kingdom

#86 | Wednesday, September 19th 2001
I was at work in a pretty ordinary nine story London office block, working for an Internet company of about 100 people. The first email went round declaring that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. It was 2:10pm UK time.

The email pointed to a Web page seemingly on BBC Online. My first thoughts were of a light aircraft hitting the building, like at the White House a few years ago. Then someone said it was a passenger jet. Our project office stopped and stared. It must be a sick elaborate spoof.

I checked Ananova and it was running the same story, only by now another jet had hit the second tower. We simply couldnít believe what we were reading; it was already beyond anything Hollywood had touted our way. The pictures were starting to come in across the Net, which was already creaking with traffic; I was beginning to feel sick.

People were looking around ashen-faced, willing someone to say it was all a horrible joke. Then we went to work ó we needed information and we needed it fast. Some were checking the BBC, others CNN; my source was Ananova. It wasnít some gruesome desire for gore, we just had to find out what was going on. We were so far away and yet the immediacy of the reports brought us into a situation that we were impotent to help.

Perhaps our scramble for news was there to prevent shock and imagination getting hold: there were reports of people jumping out of windows, but no pictures to support it. Was the explosion at the Pentagon another plane? Had eight aircraft really been hijacked? Where were they? Were they aiming for the White House? Would they be shot down by the F-16s that had supposedly been scrambled?

Then the first tower collapsed. The moment we heard this, a colleague rushed into our project office saying that a TV has been set up in reception. We made our way up to the first floor and realised that our entire building had stopped. The tiny television was barely visible but we were glued to it none the less. We saw for the first time the pictures of the second jet hitting the south tower. It looked like a terribly bad special effect. An eerie silence descended; hushed tones in huddles. An American colleague was standing alone, shocked but calm.

Gradually we peeled away and tried to go back to our jobs, without much success. Some people came out of a meeting, oblivious to the news. They took a lot of convincing it was all true.

Many people in the office were visibly upset and the boss sent an email went around suggesting people could go home early to be with friends and family. For one reason or another I got home an hour late. No one had been talking on the train.

I slumped on the sofa next to my girlfriend who was tearfully watching BBC News 24. She was clutching some photos taken in New York four weeks earlier. A friend she was travelling with had reminded her to photograph the famous Manhattan skyline. The terrible irony was not lost.

Itís now the following morning and Iím sitting on a commuter train surrounded by silent people, all grasping the same pictures. Some are staring out of the window, perhaps having had their fill of the horror, or looking towards the familiar pyramid atop Canary Wharf, now joined by two nearly fully grown sister buildings. It had been evacuated yesterday as a somewhat obvious target.

Hushed discussions start in small groups of familiar strangers; people who never normally converse, despite sitting in the same seats day in day out. It seems Iím not alone in my feelings of hollow numbness and pangs of guilt at yesterdays information feeding frenzy.

I canít read the paper. I can just about manage the pictures, folding the paper on my lap in between pages. And now I have to concentrate on my job; business as usual. Thatís what the mayor of New York said yesterday although I doubt he really meant it.

Richard Rutter | 29 | United Kingdom

#72 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
I was off work on that Tuesday and so was my boyfriend - he had an hospital appointment to go to.

After his appointment we stopped off at his parents house to sort out their internet connection - my brother called me, it must have been about 2'o clock UK time - he said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York - our first reaction was "oh ok" obviously not realising how bad the situation was. We put it down to an accident - I hung up and forgot about it.

About an hour later - I was in the car ready for our journey back home, I was waiting for my boyfriend as he was on the phone to his mum - suddenly he rushed outside and told me to go back into the house.

I didn't understand what was going on - he had a look of disbelief on his face, and as I ran back into the house the first images I saw on telly was of the second terrorist plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

My heart went, what was going on? My boyfriend explained that New York has been attacked my terrorists and that the Pentagon was hit too. While he was on the phone to his mum his mum had told him that both the towers had already collapsed.

I didn't believe it - how could they both collapse?? And the the images unfolded infront of me on the tv screen - I watched in horror as I saw people jumping out of the windows.

I had so many emotions - I didn't know what to feel - I was so confused. Questions were popping up in my head "how?, why?"

My brain just couldn't take in everything it had just seen on the telly.

Our drive home was silent - we had nothing but the radio on with dj's and terrorists experts discussing what had happened and why. Discussions came around to whether London would be next. We drove past Canary Wharf on our way home - it was about 4.30pm and the traffic was unbelievable - the Canary Wharf building had been evacuated incase it was under attack next - helicopters were flying over the Docklands business centres just incase.

I was in a daze - I kept thinking about the amount of people in New York who who would have been getting ready to start a working day - only to have their lives turned completely upside down.

It is going to take a long long time for the world to recover from this tragedy.

Maz | 23 | United Kingdom

#70 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
I was sitting at my desk, just coming back from lunch, when a colleague told us a plane had crashed in the WTC. "What???" was my reaction, I thought it was a freak accident. A few minutes later, we learn about the second plane. And then it kept unfolding, like a surreal horror movie: the Pentagon, the 1st tower collapsing, the 2nd one... Unbelievable. I was frantically trying to connect to the Internet to have more info, but it was hard to connect. I am a Frenchman working in London, with strong affective links to the U.S. and this tragedy has affected me in more ways than I thought. I hope the people responsible for this carnage will be caught. I just hope that all this won't degenerate in a massive new war. At the moment I just watch the news and I hold my breath.
Yann | 28 | United Kingdom

#65 | Tuesday, September 18th 2001
I was on my way back from London, UK after visiting a client, running late for picking up my daughter from the childminder.
The middle eastern looking cab driver was hysterical, I had no idea what had happened, it must have only just been announced on the radio. I told him he should go home.
I get to my childminder's house, her husband has called her, she is watching the news. The towers had just fallen. I spent the rest of the day finding out that my family in the USA were ok and then passing the news onto relatives as it was hard to get through by phone. Britain has been very much affected by this tragedy.

Rachel | 26 | United Kingdom

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