April 9th, 2002


The tube this morning was as busy as ever. A typical crowded District line, rattling its way over ancient lines from leafy Putney to the crowded West End of London. However, when I got to Oxford Street, things were different. Usually at 9 or so in the morning it's bustling, with stores opening and the first crowds of shoppers appearing. Today, instead, it was virtually empty, just a pair of Routemasters trundling past. People stayed away from the shops, waiting until after the state funeral.

I work at a consultancy, and the office itself was surprisingly busy. Plenty of meetings, plenty to do. We finished planning a document deliverable, and I fired up the laptop. Tippity tappity and the words flowed.

At 11.30 the fire alarm bell rang once, to announce the 2 minutes silence. A normally noisy office was suddenly quiet. And the sounds of the city were stilled.

I'm not the most Royalist of people. But there was a certain something to that massive stillness, millions of people doing something together. I don't imagine that very many people were meditating on the life of the Queen Mother, but there was a shared experience - if only of a couple of minutes stillness in the busiest of cities.
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