Two Stops and One Bag

Published on 23 July 2005 in , , , , , , ,

It made me feel incredibly lazy, but yesterday I did it. Yes, I got the tube for one stop between Shepherds Bush and White City.

To be fair, there wasn’t much I could do. In the morning I did walk down to Wood Lane to see what was going on, but the end of it was still cordoned off, and although I later found out that the police would let through BBC staff if they had their staff ID card, but the intranet page that said this, didn’t exactly make it clear just where the police would let you though to.

So I walked back and got the tube for a whole one stop. Goodness knows what people were doing if they didn’t have a Travelcard.

Still, that was nothing to the torment of getting back home.

What with the shooting at Stockwell, the Northern Line was completely suspended between Kennington and Mordon, so I was forced to head for Wimbledon where I could catch a bus.

My intention was to get the District Line from Olympia – for some reason I just didn’t fancy going to Clapham Junction – but there was no train in so instead I got the West London Line to West Brompton and changed there.

In retrospect I should have gone to Clapham Junction as planned cos I waited ages for a District Line train to turn up. And then it happened.

I was at the end carriage, close to the drivers cab when I heard the siren as we pulled into East Putney – the siren that goes off in the drivers cab that means someone has pulled the emergency alarm.

The driver walked up to our carriage where there was a brown leather briefcase next to one of the seats. No one had claimed it, and naturally someone had pulled the alarm.

We slowly began to get ourselves off the train, but – and perhaps this says something about humans, sense and danger – hung around just in case we didn’t have to get off.

After consulting on his radio, the driver evacuated the train and asked everyone to move to the other end of the platform. A few minutes later, a member of station staff arrived and stared at the said package as the police sirens began to sound in the distance.

Having had a good gawp the decision was taken to evacuate the station where we all proceeded to loiter around the forecourt as one lonely policeman tried using gentle persuasion to keep people away from the station doors. Obviously someone cocked up as another train had stopped at the station as a small number of people disembarked and looked bemused as they walked out onto the front to the sight of a couple of hundred bored commuters.

Not being that far from where I wanted to be, I could have got the bus to Wimbledon and had done with it, but this was after all a chance to see the slick operation of the police in action.

Within about five minutes a steady procession of police cars and vans from the Metropolitan Police arrived, most of whom disappeared into the station, whilst a few went on standby in case they needed to close off the road.

After about fifteen minutes, two members of the British Transport Police arrived on the scene, walked calmly in and we loitered around some more.

We’d been around about twenty five minutes before a couple of policemen came out and told us we could go back in. It was, as dear reader, I’m sure you’ve guessed, a false alarm. The missing briefcase had been reported as lost property down the line.

As I walked on the platform, a tube staff member carried the offending item away as we waited patiently for the next train.

Some might – rightly – say that what was the point in all that? We all knew it was someone who’d just got off in a rush and forgotten. And when was the last time someone left a bomb in a bag anyway? The current bombers seem to be around with their bombs.

But would you want to take the risk with your life, and the life of hundreds of others? And whose to say that bombing tactics won’t change again? Of course on the other hand, the fact that it ended up taking me two hours to get home yesterday evening, should not be forgotten.