Friday 10 September 2021

It feels important to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. As they are for many other people I imagine, my memories of that day are still vivid, and it is easy to answer the ‘where were you when it happened?’ question.  I couldn’t claim any personal connections to the event, fortunately, but I do remember it had a serious impact on me and it took about two years to process it properly. I felt an attachment to the World Trade Center and remember in the 1970s the publicity around its construction, and my excitement when I visited it for the first time in 1978, as well as being just as excited on subsequent visits to the observation deck in 1983 one crystal clear evening just as it got dark, and in 2001.


On the day itself I was in the Guinness Park Royal brewery at a start-up meeting of the Enron-Diageo Utility Alliance Agreement, an innovative 15 year utility outsourcing deal that had taken about a year to develop and implement.  Apart from the main order of business we discussed the celebration dinner planned for that evening. After the meeting I switched my phone back on to get a message from my wife who when I called her back, told me a plane had flown into the WTC. I assumed it was a light aircraft, mentioned it to the teams that were in the meeting and then left. Of course we didn’t have the access to instant news we have today on our phones. Strangely there was a TV in the meeting room but we didn’t think of switching it on.  The potential scale of the event only hit me when I got in the car to go back to Enron House. The driver had the radio on and we listened to the commentary, trying to work it out. The real impact hit me when I walked into the massive trading floor style office and there was a deathly silence and images of the towers’ destruction were playing on the big TV screens.  Many of the Enron staff were Americans and many had relatives and friends in New York.  Some were crying.


There was uncertainty about what to do and whether everyone should go home. Enron House overlooked the garden of Buckingham Palace and there were fears that London may also be targeted. We cancelled the celebration dinner with Guinness of course. After a few hours everyone was sent home and I remember listening to the news service on my phone and relaying information to fellow train passengers.  Once home I tried to call my American friends, who were nowhere near New York, but couldn’t get through.


Even now it is hard to contemplate the scale and impact of that day. For good and bad it has shaped the world we live in and in many ways we live with the consequences everyday. But on the 20th anniversary we should all take some time to remember the 2,977 people who were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well as the many more that were injured, those who suffered (and still suffer) long-term health problems, the rescuers, as well as all their families and the survivors who are still affected by it.



There is 1 comment on “Remembering 9/11”:

  • Brian R M Mackle on September 11th, 2021 at 12:49 pm said:

    Hi Steve,

    Well written my friend.

    What a day that was. I recall our collective shock as the news broke through.

    Your Enron team comprised a wonderful array of international talent. Stuart Rexrode from USA, Patrick Bastien from France, your English colleagues Steve and Dave, and young Kieran an Engineer from Ireland. I recall a New Zealand connection too.

    We in Guinness always enjoyed your collective expertise and professionalism. It was such a pity that crooks in the USA caused the demise of Enron. We had not previously encountered such a strong Energy and Utility team as was your Enron Europe set up in London.

    As the Diageo / Guinness lead on the Utility Alliance Agreement, I found it such a pleasure to deal with you all.

    With very best regards. . . .from Ireland and from France, currently on vacation 70 km SE of Bordeaux 🍷🥂 !


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