On Saturday 24th April, 1993, I was on holiday back in Bermuda. That day the office of the Japanese company I was working for, high up the tower of 99 Bishopsgate in the heart of London’s business community, was destroyed by an IRA bomb.
Hidden in a stolen tipper truck parked by the HSBC building, the device – a huge and deadly concoction of fertiliser and diesel – killed 1 person, injured 44 and caused £350 million of damage.
I never worked in the building again.
The long-running mainland UK bombing campaign by the IRA eventually came to a halt, after decades of murder and devastation, and thanks to tortuous political negotiations.
On Wednesday 6th July, 2005, I stood in Trafalgar Square with colleague David Kuo and hundreds of other Londoners awaiting an announcement from the IOC, in Singapore, about the venue for the 2012 Olympics.
Paris was hot favourite. London won. I have never known such a perfect, instantaneous outpouring of elation as on that hopeful summer lunchtime.
The following day, Thursday 7th July – known as 7/7 in a poignant homage to New York’s 9/11 of 4 years earlier- Islamist extremists detonated 3 separate backpack bombs in quick succession on the London Underground, Soon after, a 4th ripped apart an iconic red double-decker bus, in Tavistock Square.
52 people died and more than 700 were injured.
On Wednesday 7th January, 2015, two Al-Qaeda inspired Islamist terrorists entered the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 11 and injuring 11 others.
In related attacks across the city, a further 5 were killed and another 11 wounded.
On Friday 13th November, 2015, ISIS-inspired and Syrian-planned extremists carried out a series of deadly attacks on bars. restaurants a music venue and the Stade de France sports stadium in the heart of Paris.
At the moment, 129 people have died and 350 have been injured.
I was in Paris earlier this year. Security was visibly high, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, and suspicious drones had been seen in the clear blue skies of a Parisian spring.
Gill and I are going back to Paris in 11 days time. We’ll be staying near to the site of some of the restaurant attacks last Friday.
We could cancel but I believe we should still go. To carry on life as normal, as France is defiantly doing today, and because the risk of something happening to you exists every day, wherever you might be.
The politicians will slowly work towards a potential solution for the current Syrian crisis, and the ISIS threat. But this is much more complex than the Irish terror we faced for so many years, and could take a generation to resolve.
In the meantime, life MUST go on. As it always does.