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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 20:04 GMT 21:04 UK
Images of 7 July: Bloodied and dazed
John Tulloch outside Edgware Road station

John Tulloch is sitting in his publisher's office, wearing the same shoes he wore when a bomb exploded 3ft away from him on a Circle Line train at Edgware Road last July.

He has kept them because they are a "sign of good fortune".

Mr Tulloch, 64, still has one of the three bags he was carrying that day too. The others - a suitcase and a laptop carrier - almost certainly saved his legs, and probably his life.

When a bomb disposal officer returned the shredded case in August, he remarked that it looked like someone had taken a shotgun to it.

A professor of media and sociology at Brunel University - whose studies have included risk and the media's response to major events - Mr Tulloch divides his time between London and his home in Cardiff.

John Tulloch, June 2006
The way his bloodied image is used has sometimes angered Mr Tulloch

He was travelling to Wales on 7 July when he sat a few feet from bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan on a Tube train heading for Paddington. The explosion killed six of his fellow passengers and left him with enduring injuries to his head, face and ears.

He was so close to the blast, he says, that his body "exuded" glass for days afterwards.

Not long after the blast, Mr Tulloch was pictured looking bloodied and dazed on the street near Edgware Road station.

"I was so concussed I wasn't aware. When the actual photo was taken it was the first time I'd been on my feet, other than when I was led out of the train.

"My eyes were swollen and I had lost my glasses. I thought I might be blinded in my right eye. I wasn't taking things in.

"I was either being stood up to go into an ambulance or I was being moved from one to the other. That was when I got that dreadful feeling of vertigo.

"I was probably thinking: 'What the hell is this?' It was like the floor had fallen away," added Mr Tulloch, who has two grown-up sons.

'Political motive'

The vertigo - so bad in the beginning he could barely sit up without vomiting - lasted for months but has now almost completely subsided.

There have been ups and downs in his recovery - although his eardrums are slowly repairing themselves, he still hasn't recovered full hearing, and concussion remains and could be long-term.

"The doctor said panic attacks I was having were related to the concussion too. I also get some memory lapses. I'm going for more tests soon and am due for another brain scan.

"They're both a bit of a downer. But overall the picture is up."

I feel I was so lucky that day that if it was to happen again, I couldn't possibly be that lucky again

Although his step-by-step physical recovery requires vast amounts of concentration and energy, it wasn't too long after the bombings before Mr Tulloch's analytical brain started to chew over the blasts and their aftermath.

Even on the day itself, he was "obsessed" with finding his bags on the devastated train, because one contained a vital PhD report and a computer memory stick holding two years' worth of research.

His "fixation" with the bag was also to do with trying to keep the connection with his former life, he says. The bag was retrieved from under a victim's body by his rescuer, Craig Staniforth, whom he has since met again.

Later, wider issues such as the use, and re-use, of his bloodied image by the media started to interest and sometimes anger him.

While he has no issue with photographers capturing major events, he has since made public his opposition to the use of his image to support what he says are some newspapers' political agendas.

In November, he particularly objected to seeing his face across the front of the Sun alongside the headline "Terror Laws: Tell Tony He's Right" - a reference to Mr Blair's proposed new anti-terrorism laws.

His face, and effectively his voice, was "stolen" to bolster a stance he did not support, he says.

He has similar feelings about some London Evening Standard coverage, and a Newsweek article in which his photo was overlaid with the words of Mr Blair.

"The Sun usage was the worst I experienced. They didn't talk to the people they were using for an extremely political motive," says Mr Tulloch who is against the Iraq war and opposed to the government's approach to the "war on terror".

The words he would have chosen to go alongside his picture, he says, would have been: "Not in my name, Tony."

He says he felt too emotionally drained to take the issue up with the media publishers.

"You feel personally abused I suppose, and not able to take on the might of these mighty empires."

"But I don't suggest that the Sun was typical. I have spent a lot of time around media people and have huge respect for them."

Book 'experiential'

Mr Tulloch, born in India to British parents but now holding Australian citizenship, has since written a book on his experiences, and how the post-7 July debate was played out in the media and political arena.

One Day in July also touches on the fate of Jean Charles de Menezes - the Brazilian shot by police at Stockwell on 22 July - in whose death Mr Tulloch says he became "terribly emotionally involved".

I didn't even know if I could think straight

Mr Tulloch was contacted by a publisher who had heard a BBC interview with him, and was back in Australia beginning the first draft by November.

"I was feeling really good because I was using the laptop. I was getting over the vertigo.

"It was great, and the second thing that was great was that I could put sentences together. I didn't even know if I could think straight."

"I wasn't looking to do a book at all. When I saw the post-traumatic stress counsellor in September, he said: 'Fantastic, it's just what you need.'

"I did most of the first draft in two weeks. It flowed because it was such an experiential book. It came out of me."

As an expert on risk, it's ironic Mr Tulloch's life has taken such a turn. He does travel on the Tube again, but avoids the deep lines with tight tunnels such as the Piccadilly.

"We know it could well happen again. My odd response to that is that I feel I was so lucky that day that if it was to happen again, I couldn't possibly be that lucky again. Statistics don't make any sense any more."

Interview: Paula Dear

  • One Day in July: Experiencing 7/7, by John Tulloch, is published by Little, Brown.




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