Take that, terrorists
I've just finished reading Out Of The Tunnel by Rachel North. As a firm supporter of public libraries I must confess I borrowed the copy I read: sorry, Rachel.
I was familiar with Rachel, and with the outlines of her story, from her blog. Victim of a horrific rape a few years ago, she was able to confront her attacker in court and get him put away. She was reading an interview she'd given about the rape while travelling to work on the underground on 7 July 2005, when one of her fellow-passengers blew himself up. Rachel survived with fairly minor injuries, and worked through her Post-Traumatic Stress by setting up both her blog and a support group (Kings Cross United). She has campaigned long and hard for an official enquiry into the events of 7/7, not least to shut up the legions of conspiracy theorists who insist it was all faked. More recently she has been the target of a cyber-stalker, now behind bars, who makes an uncredited cameo appearance on page 149 of the book as an unpleasant blog commenter.
Even knowing Rachel's story fairly well, I found the book a gripping read, and was filled with admiration for a perfectly ordinary woman to whom perfectly extraordinary things happened, not once but twice, and who found the strength to overcome her demons. The book is a mosaic of little moments, some of which will stay with me. Rachel, unable to listen to music after the bombing because music broke down her self-control, forcing herself to listen repeatedly to "Fix You" by Coldplay. Rachel sharing the grief of a friend whose mother had just died, by joining her in a vigorous bout of pole-dancing choreography to Paint It Black. Rachel refusing either to submit to terrorism or to blame all Muslims for the attack. Rachel dealing very sensibly and sensitively with the tabloid revelation that one of her fellow passengers (who lost both his legs) had a previous conviction for rape.
Rachel North is a perfectly ordinary woman who makes me perfectly proud to be British and an ex-Londoner. I can't imagine anyone, except perhaps Melanie Phillips, whose life would not be enriched by reading this book.
Though I might wish Rachel's editor hadn't nodded off in the last few dozen pages so as to let through a couple of examples of conspiracy theories being "pedalled" (preumably by a bunch of cycle paths).
Buy it. Borrow it. Read it. Blog about it.