We were chatting about nothing in particular, perhaps reminiscing about our past creations amongst ourselves when my friend said,
‘My, man is clever. We have come such a long way. Look at the architecture we build today and the moon too that we have now traveled to. You name it, we have done well especially in this generation.’
I didn’t want to put a damper to the works but I just couldn’t help myself.
‘But boy, look at how many of us it takes to destroy what we have created and again especially in this generation.’ I wasn’t referring to anything in particular as these words escaped my lips. However several hours later when our group moved to coffee I was hounded emphatically to explain myself. For a brief moment I thought of discussing the diverse principles of a malingerer but decided against it and volunteered this story instead.
It was a while back and on a Friday evening when it happened. We had finished work early and were relaxed in casual wear as we invoked the no formal dress code policy for Friday. It was the opportunity to meet people, be sociable and we all piled in to the local wine bar on the riverbank. The place was crowded from the many employees that worked in the Exchange Towers at the Docklands and we drank and chatted animatedly as we relaxed and unwound from our hectic weeks at work. I found myself engaged in multiple conversations as questions were thrown and answered at random in the busy bar. The music kept the atmosphere lively and people flocked in and out at random from all the different offices nearby. We were close to the riverbanks of the Thames and the view from the bar was breathtaking especially at night. One could pick out the bright lights that illuminated the river and I had the feeling that London was finally having its dream come true. There had been plenty of talk in the papers and amongst staff, of the Docklands being referred to as the new Las Vegas and I couldn’t help myself but accept the fact that there was very little to argue against this point of view.
We must have been on our second round of drinks when one of the security guards from the main office buildings bust into the bar and announced that he had been warned of a bomb threat in the vicinity. As the news filtered its way to our table a deafening silence slowly filled the bar as everyone listened keenly to the announcement that rang out over the tannoy. Eventually as if in bravado the noise again slowly picked up starting out in whispers as people again found their voices and commented rapidly at what we had just heard. A co-worker in our group said something unintelligible to me and I was about to reply cynically in kind when we all heard a tantivy rumble shake the building and everyone in the room dived for cover beneath the tables. The ground shook as though an earthquake was about to erupt and then I heard the glass partition that overlooked the river shatter into pieces as the bomb exploded with a loud bang. There were screams everywhere as people cried out in fear and I lay still crouched behind my seat waiting for what ever it was to pass. Soon the noises died down and I dodged my way through the confusion to my car. I expected the worse as all the sophisticated glass buildings around me had caved in with the explosion and I had no doubt in my mind that my car would be covered in splinters. However I was proven wrong and very lucky as I had parked behind one of the steel buildings and so with an immediate sense of relief I climbed aboard and drove rapidly out of the area. I picked up three other lucky escapees just before the bridge that led to our offices and sped towards the eastern docks roundabout. In the opposite direction the flashing lights of the police and ambulance flew past me heading for the disaster site to secure the area.
I later discovered that two people had been killed and a few injured from the explosion and again I counted my lucky stars for surviving the dreadful incident.
When I finished my story my friends nodded quietly in acknowledgment that I had a point and I remained silent as they chatted. Perhaps my story had backed my observation but still it got me thinking, whether we had truly made significant progress in our generation or we were still lurking at the beginning of things…