September 11 Memories using the term Surreal

20 years ago today at this time I was flying over Afghanistan on my way to Mumbai oblivious, fortunately, to what was going on elsewhere. When I arrived the airport was almost deserted. Only found out why in the taxi to the hotel. The driver immediately said it was Bin Laden.


I was sitting in a campsite in the Tarn Gorge. Our companion came back from buying baguettes, and mentioned that somebody had bombed the Pentagon.
We shrugged and drank more beer. Three days later we arrived at Montpellier Airport as planned to the most intense atmosphere and security.
It was only once we were in the air that there was a discussion among the crew about whether we would be allowed to land or not. We innocently asked why ? People were looking at us like we were nuts.
It was just surreal.


Was wallpaper stripping at work.
Although it was all over the radio, the enormity didn’t hit til I got home and watched the telly.

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I watched the attack on the TV from the Business Class Lounge in Bangkok airport. I was flying home to Melbourne from the UK. The second leg of my flight was very quiet indeed as everybody was just horrified by what we had seen. I was very impressed at how quickly Bangkok airport filled up with Thai soldiers armed to the teeth and sporting ‘don’t fuck with us’ expressions. Several large drinks were necessary prior to boarding my flight to settle my nerves.


I was in my office in the RHQ of the Kings & Cheshire Regiment when the CO and Adjutant came barrelling in and told me to turn on my TV, very shortly followed by the Trg Major, RAO, QM, RSM, RQMS and a couple of ORs and we watched the looped footage of the 2nd plane hitting the South Tower.

The CO said, “Well, we’re going to war, and it’ll be fucking nasty, better get the lads ready for it…”


I was in work in Parliament, remember been called by a friend that a Cessna had just crashed into the World Trade Tower. Popped on Sky News on the TV in the office just before the second tower was hit and shear enormity of what was happening became clear. None of us really wanted to stay in work as we weren’t sure if the UK and therefore Parliament could become a target. Eventually left around 15:00. Awful day and memories although the attack and murder of PC Keith Palmer March 2017 was just as awful.


I was asleep in Ibiza having been on a bender the night before.


In my office at work. My ex called to tell me what had started.

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We were in Sidari, Corfu. A lot of the bars would show movies during the day. As we wandered out in search of food, the first bar was showing a disaster movie. Strangely, so was the second bar and the third. Then we noticed how quiet it was, and it twigged that this was the news channel. We sat transfixed with everyone else as the second plane hit. It still sends a shiver down my spine thinking about it.

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At my desk at work. Happened to check BBC News sooner than most of the people along the corridor, so let a few know. E-mailed my US-based brother and his wife to check they were OK. She was heavily pregnant with their first baby and I later found out he was standing in the check-in queue at Seattle-Tacoma. His flight was cancelled as, pretty soon, all the others were.

Once it became clear this was Islamist extremism I had to spend a few minutes thinking what to say to the guy who worked for me, who was of Pakistani extraction and the only Muslim in the facility. I reassured him that I personally and the organisation in general would tolerate absolutely no bad behaviour at all towards him. He left early and went as soon as he could to an emergency meeting at the mosque.


My trip to India was as brief as it had been intended to be. I worked there on the Wednesday & got back on a flight in the evening arriving back at Heathrow in time to participate at the Penta show. I still recall having a wander around on the Thursday & being surprised by Meridian running an AV dem using disaster movies. :roll_eyes:

Desk at work working for General Electric. 9/11 is my most well remembered “Where were you when?” event. Dreadful. The 20 year anniversary made somewhat more poignant because of the recent events in Afghanistan.

I was finishing a holiday temp job as the mail boy for a health insurance provider. I delivered some mail to the CEO’s office and he had a TV on after the first impact. I was standing watching it with quite a few other people in the office when the second plane hit. I remember finding it utterly surreal.

For me, I think my more lasting memory was about a week later when I arrived back for the final year of my BA. Lawrence Freedman addressed every member of the department, effectively noting that a few members of the teaching team were going to be otherwise engaged on policy work with the government so certain courses were going to be suspended. Two people in my BA year were to die in the conflicts that resulted in the ensuing years and another has life changing injuries.

Put in my application for my first proper job that day. Also remember playing Hybrid Heaven, exiting to the start screen which had a picture of the twin towers then switching to the news with pretty much the same view.

To this day I can’t watch that footage without crying.

Idiot chops doing the tourist thing in June 2000. Watch nerds will of course notice the RO triple date.

On the actual day I was working in a basement for a soon-to-fail startup - we watched it unfold on the new-fangled internet (at the forefront of which we were supposed to be).

I was in an office in Warrington in my former job, we got a call and then all watched the images coming through on the BBC website in shock

2 weeks later we flew through Boston en route to San Francisco, flight from London to Boston was almost full and defiant, flight from Boston to SF was empty.

We almost missed the Boston to SF flight due to drinking in the bar reasons :beer:

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Sat in a meeting at Landrover , Solihull negotiating a new contract. One of the Rover ladies took a call and said a plane had crashed into a building in America.

We had coffee.

Only an hour later when I got back to the office did I learn what was happening.

Snap kind of. I was up the road at Longbridge to talk about a job as body plant chief engineer.

I was on mushrooms