Roughly two hours earlier, as I brushed my teeth, I noted that the travel news mentioned there was trouble around the Chancery Lane area but didn't think much of it. Travel news is rarely of any use since the blackspots disappear or move given sufficient time, or you hit them just as the radio warns you about them.
The police were saying that it was possible to go right around the area if you went down to Embankment. I wasn't too thrilled by this prospect. However, they were also saying that everything anywhere near Chancery Lane was closed and given that our office is just outside the Chancery Lane tube station I made a call to see if it was open. They'd heard nothing about the cordons at all. Nor about the cause - which the police told us was a suspicious vehicle parked on Chancery Lane.
I imagined that trying to follow the route my bus takes (along Kingsway and onto Holborn) would have me hitting the cordons at the other end of Chancery Lane but with nothing better to do and no idea how to get to work via Embankment, I took the risk. Passing the other end of Chancery Lane I notice one lone policeman on a motorbike looking as though he was about to leave. I figured this meant that the incident was over.
Nope. I later found, after careful use of http://groups.google.com's usenet archives, that the incident was a man in a van refusing to move and claiming to have explosives in or near his person. There were hundreds of police swarming around the area and had been since 7pm on Thursday night. Despite the Holborn side of the road looking fairly clear at around 9.30am the seige was ongoing and actually finally concluded nearly 24 hours after it began when the police, somehow, arrested the perpetrator. Speculation in the few news articles that did come out suggest that his target was the law courts and he had some grudge.
So why the silence? Hundreds of police on red alert. A large area of the City cordoned off. The potential for a decent sized chunk of the capital city to go boom. You'd think it would make the news, wouldn't you? The news stories that day included a man being imprisoned for the reckless driving that caused a recent train crash and in depth coverage of the funeral of a politician's baby daughter. The live and ongoing story wasn't given a mention on the television or radio. There were brief mentions of "an incident" or "a security alert" causing traffic delays throughout the day during the traffic reports. Burried away in the BBC web site if you knew where to look there was a brief article and a picture. There was talk of an article in the Evening Standard's (local paper for London) web site but someone said it was pulled and when I looked I couldn't find it.
When I came home I watched BBC News 24 until the stories looped. Nary a mention. What's the point of the news being given extended hours when stories that could be reported aren't used? Was there a big cover up going on or was it really not seen as a news-worthy incident? Either way, when you come within feet of the chance being blown up and it doesn't make the news you have to wonder what else doesn't make it out to the public. And there's sod all we can do about it.