Friday, 9 September 2011
She came through to get me. "Mark, can you help. There's something wrong with the television. Its just showing a disaster movie."
I followed her through and sure enough there on the TV was a Die Hard or similar on the screen but I didn't recognise the burning building from any movie I knew. For a moment I was confused. The picture on the screen was simply completely out of context.
Then it dawned. My stomach churned. This was real. This was happening now. I said something like "This is not a movie. It's a newsflash". The news spread quickly - the Headdie and other staff started to come through and watch in silent horror.
I phoned Heather at work. She answered gaily but quickly shussed into silence as I blurted out the news. She told me later that a sudden quiet descended on her office as they watched her equally struggling to come to terms with the importance of the commentary I was giving her, yet without themselves yet knowing what was going on.
Then suddenly it happened..... "a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced." A moment of complete shock, of horror and disbelief as the South Tower collapsed. A moment burned into my memory.
One of the vivid memories I have of New York back in the 80's is standing on the roof of one of the towers. A brilliant sunny afternoon like this one, looking down on helicopters flying below. One of the greatest views in the industrialised world. History, culture, life and dreams laid before me in every direction.
I took Heather to New York in the 90's. We visited the Empire State Building, but it was a druick day and frankly unimpressive after you've been to the top of the World Trade Centre. I asked Heather whether she wanted to visit the World Trade Centre but she said "Next time". As it happens, I would have been disappointed. Not just for me, but for her as well, as the authorities had stopped access to the roof by then. And, well, there would be no 'next time'.
I'm reminded of the WTC every time we watch Ferris Buellers Day Off. The scene where Ferris and Sloane, the delectable Mia Sara, are in the observation deck of the Sears Tower in Chicago, looking down on the city. It brings back the memory of the observation deck of the WTC, which I recall had silhouette outlines stencilled on the glass to help you identify key landmarks.
That was another life ago. Another Mark. It was also a different world. One that would change for all of us on 9/11/2001.