We walk out of the building onto Portland Place and there are people everywhere. Milling around every door of all the nearby offices are people chatting and smiling. A bus pulls up besides us and stops. The driver tells the people inside that they’re stopping for two minutes of silence. Around us the noise-level raises slightly and then almost instantaneously – without any warning – stops. Without any apparent signal everyone goes quiet and stands still. All around me are people standing quietly. No one makes eye contact. A motorcycle slows and stops. A couple of cars go past until they can find somewhere to pause for a moment. The noise of traffic disappears. The building work from around the corner gets quieter. Someone is whistling. Then they stop. London is full of mannequins. There’s no noise. There’s no movement. It’s eerie. And then just as suddenly, just as randomly – as if someone unpaused the city – everything’s back to normal. Which is exactly how it should be.
3 replies on “Two minutes of silence…”
I was away from it a bit in Angel, but it was astounding. Every office emptied out on Essex road. The eeriest thing for me was the stationary traffic sitting at green traffic lights.
Everybody seemed to do it with out fuss either. Amazing.
It was pretty awe inspiring, and I wasn’t even in London. There were’nt hundreds of people outside my office and it’s not on a busy road, but when the bells of York Minster chimed at noon, it was like the world stopped turning.
Normally when there’s a silence for something, at the office or at a football match or wherever, people are being silent because they’re supposed to. Some people might try to force some thoughts or a prayer in their head about the tragedy that the silence commemorates. Today seemed different. I don’t think anybody had to force sympathy or reflection today.
I wish I’d been there. I feel so very dislocated from it all, and it’s not a nice feeling.