Off kilter

When I walked up the road to my office today, located at the end of platform 1 of King’s Cross station, I was met by the sight of scores of my colleagues getting damper by the second. I thought at first that it was one of the now-ubiquitous fire alarm practices, but no — this one was for real.

Kingcros_fireFrom the BBC news "King’s Cross station is still closed after a fire at a nearby building site raised concerns that four gas cylinders on the site could explode.

Thousands of travellers have faced disruption while hundreds of residents have been told they may not be allowed back in their homes until Wednesday.

A 200m exclusion zone was set up as firefighters tried to cool the "extremely dangerous" cylinders."

Well, for a weekly magazine with a news press day of Monday (yes, that’s today), all our efforts were spent on rounding up our print and editorial production, subeditors, art editors, news editors and writers, and working out what the **** to do, given that all the in-progress copy was on the firewall-protected office servers. Round the table in a local cafe, we swapped mobile phone numbers, called up a freelance designer in Norfolk who could make up our pages, sorted out server access via a Macmillans site in Oxford, phoned printers to ensure all editions (USA, Japan and UK) could deal with late pages, and assorted similar tasks. After that, nothing else for me to do but to get home somehow (Kings Cross station was closed of course) — and hope that by the time I got there, our US colleagues would have accessed our production server and sent me my articles for this week’s edition of our peer review debate for me to edit via Webmail.  Thankfully, when I got home and logged on to Webmail, Alex, one of our news editors in Washington DC, had indeed sent me the articles, so I spent the afternoon editing them and phoning/being phoned by the disaster recovery team and our subs/production editors. We won’t be able to get into our office tomorrow, it seems, but it looks as if the journal will come out, if a day late, thanks to my wonderful colleagues and our IT department.

Only now have I looked at the news — and reality has, well, hit, frankly. And only now am I feeling a bit shaky — well, to be honest, very shaky. Those gas cylinders could have exploded. It could have been a terrorist attack, or the fire could have been a lot worse. So I’m grateful to be here, but wobbly!

8 thoughts on “Off kilter

  1. Maxine-
    I heard something about this but hadn’t realised it was so near the offices… glad to hear everyone was alright, but can imagine the chaos you must have all been going through. how grim. Seems like the office there is always in the middle of the action– we were right in the centre of the closed off zone on 7/7 too I remember.
    Hope you’re feeling OK. If there’s anything I can do (on the peer review or otherwise) I’d be happy to help– just let me know.

  2. Thanks, Sian, well I got the articles off to web production in the end but have not heard back yet, so hope they have set up somewhere! Thanks for the good thoughts — nobody was affected by the fire itself, we are merely victims of the safety precautions, so better off than some. (Can’t be much fun for the evacuated residents.) I did find out that there are some nice new pubs, wine bars and cafes round Kings Cross area as we went around trying to gather all the production-related news teams into one place!

  3. Oh dear. I didn’t realise the Kings Cross thing was so serious – I work in south London so didn’t affect me.
    Don’t you just love it when things go wrong on press day. I remember a similar situation several years ago when our building was evacuated for health & safety reasons – the lifts weren’t working – and we had to decamp to our repro house to finish putting some 45 pages to press. I was the managing editor/production at the time, so it was a tad stressful!

  4. Oh dear, how awful; very scary! I remember not long after 9/11 there was a fire (electrical-related, I think) at the St. John the Divine Cathedral near where I live/work, I was going in very early to the office & the sight of smoke & sound of helicopters overhead was truly chilling–in any case I hope things very soon return to normal, and in the meantime take care of yourself!

  5. yikes
    I guess I should check people’s blogs more often – I had no idea this was going on.
    Wearing my security hat, it’s a good reminder that absolutely everyone needs a good business continuity plan.
    I stayed at the Harlingford in Cartwright Gardens last time I was in London – less than a km away from King’s Cross and the Nature offices. Strange how travel can make these close connections to distant places.

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