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Monday, March 28, 2005


Ground Zero

Last night I wandered all over Midtown trying to find an internet cafe, and it turns out that I just missed a huge easyeverything just off Times Square, which is where I am blogging from now.

It is raining today like you wouldn't believe. I've never seen such rain, not even in Glasgow. A good day to go to the museums, perhaps, except that this is Monday and they are closed. (I wonder why museums close on Monday? The fish shops in Scotland used to all close on Monday but that was because the trawlers operated out of the Western Isles where they were all too superstitious to put to sea on "The Lord's Day". Now of course all the fishing boats in British waters are operated by Spaniards (thanks, EU) so the problem doesn't arise).

Instead of culture then, I went for couture. I did the British tourist thing and went down to Century 21 to score a load of cheap clothes.

Century 21 is a few steps away from Ground Zero.

I stood at the edge of the site and quietly said the prayer for the dead. It seemed like the thing to do. I was not as moved by actually being there as I had expected; less moved than when I saw the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. I wonder why. Maybe because the site itself is, when all is said and done, just another hole in the ground. (There is the cross that was formed from the splintered rebars, which I dare say Christians would be very impressed by, but to me it's two pieces of metal set at ninety degrees, and that's all). Like the man said, it's not there any more. I can get a feeling, from looking up at the Woolworth or Chrysler Buildings, what it must have been to look up at the Towers when they were still standing, but it's just not visceral to me, the way I guess it would have been if I had spent years seeing those towers on the skyline and the suddenly... not.

Walking away I caught sight of the Wall of Heroes and, more on a whim than anything else, looked for the names of people I'd once met.

And I found one.

He was a moneybroker at Cantors - Cantors in London, based in London when I knew him, but it's quite possible he was transferred to Cantors New York, which of course lost something like two-thirds of its people on 9/11. Don't get me wrong, it's not like we were close friends or anything. To me he was that nasal voice on the squawk-box yelling things like "Ones yen three at six, four bid now, four at six!" and the one time we actually met (so he could buy me some drinks as a bribe for more business) he spent most of the evening talking about various cruel and unusual things he had done to some unfortunate prostitutes. But still...

It just hit me, that was all, that someone I knew was murdered by the terrorists. I always knew it could have been me, but somehow, seeing that name up on the Wall makes it more real.

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