An (almost) eyewitness account of today’s attack on Parliament in London


A normal day, turned anything but…

Today has been a strange day, to say the least…

It started pretty normally – I had a couple of very good exploratory meetings with other ‘ICT for Development’ types (Accenture Development Partnerships and 2CV).  They went well, and I decided to head off on a ‘boris bike’ to the gym.

What did I actually see and hear?

As I came off of Embankment towards Parliament Square I saw a car accident.  At least that’s what I thought initially…  A car was mounted up on the pavement by the wall/fence next to Big Ben, with a group of international students gathered around it and some others running towards it – it must’ve literally just happened.  My first thought was how lucky I was not to have cycled past 10 seconds earlier as I would have been right in its path.

My second thought was much darker as I passed the car and saw a body, not moving, covered in blood on the pavement next to it.  At this point it still seemed like an accident.  A tragic car accident but no more.  I pulled over my bike to take off my headphones and call for an ambulance.

IMG_1241

At this point I realised there was a lot of shouting, more than seemed normal for a car accident.  And there were some people running towards the gates of the Houses of Parliament who, on a closer look, were dressed in security gear and had guns.  I was beginning to realise there might be more going on.

Walking towards the gates I heard a quick round of gunshots at which point it dawned on me this wasn’t an accident but might be some kind of attack.  Was the car collision a coincidence (unlikely) or could this be something bigger.

There were some people staring through the gates into parliament yard.  Stupidly I went over to join them to see what was going on (it only later dawned on me quite how incredibly stupid this was), only to be moved on by the police after catching a glimpse of what seemed to be a couple of bodies on the ground (dead or simply detained I couldn’t tell).

Now things seemed to be kicking up a notch – more police appeared, ambulances appeared, the police started shouting to move everyone away from Parliament…  We all slowly coalesced at the far end of Parliament Square to watch proceedings.  An Air Ambulance arrived.  More police cars, vans, guns, ambulances.  But little or no information – on or offline – about what was going on.

The media descending…

For me personally, it then got even stranger…

As I was on the verge of leaving, a woman asked me if I knew what was going on and if I saw anything.  When I started to recount the above to her she quickly stopped me and said “I am from CNN, do you mind if I interview you”.

Having never been in front of a camera before, I was understandable nervous but agreed.  The interview was OK, I wasn’t as bad as I thought, and we then got moved on further away from the square to the QE2 centre.

As I started telling a lad who had been there the whole time what I saw, suddenly another journalist appeared, then another…  Then a video camera…

So I then rapidly seemed to recount my fairly minimal take on events to the Mail, the Express, the Telegraph, Associated Press, the BBC, an Australian channel, and a few others I have forgotten.  As it ended, another batch of journalists (is that the collective noun?) asked me to recount it again…  Then another…

How do I feel?

It was only through this continual re-telling that it actually began to dawn on me what I was in the middle of…

During the events, my main emotion was curiosity and surprise, and a bit of adrenalin.  As I retold things for the 4th and 5th time, I began to realise just how strange this was – I was shocked of course, but I hadn’t been scared, and from what I saw neither had anyone else – why else were we all stupidly trying to get closer to see what was going on, instead of running as far and as fast as we could!?

As the shock began to settle in (along with the added shock of my debut TV appearance), I realised I needed to do just that – get far away, have a glass of wine and relax!

So apologies to the tweets I’ve been ignoring, and the other journalists asking for interviews – I’m now home and decided to write this all up once instead.

Now what…

Well, apart from needing a drink and a long rest, the main thing I want is – I guess like everyone else –to find out the full story of what actually happened!  Was it terrorism, was it something else..?  I hope we find out soon!

Note to journalists and media
Feel free to quote this, use it or link to it.
And use the pics or the video (not very good but feel free, all were taken by me)
But please credit me (and link back to this page if you can!)

Am a bit too exhausted and interviewed out for more interviews, sorry,
but happy to receive questions to matt@matthaikin.com

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