I used to walk through Burley Park every day on my way to my job at the University of Leeds. This was taken in early 2005; I guess I was on the home straight then as my contract was due to end in that July. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Because my job was not that strict about when I arrived in the morning, I used to arrive when I felt like it. This meant that I might take different routes but in general I would cross the bridge from the park.
When you take a similar rather than the same route every day, you get to see people in different states as they take their walks. I would see a dumpy small woman with a massive hairy dog and a thin older man with a couple of greyhounds. Most people had dogs and walked in solitary tracks, some of them would say hello to each other and even to me now and then. Sometimes there were secondary school kids who were obviously on the lam as this was not on a regular track to the school with that uniform.
One group always stood out to me though, three asian men who were of indeterminate age. One of them was taller than the rest, with a small beard. He seemed quite a happy sort and the one who was most often smiling. Another, shorter man, he looked a bit older and a little more serious. The third man is less distinct in my memory. They always walked around Burley Park in an anti-clockwise direction. They walked around the entire periphery and never seemed to walk along the paths that crossed it on the horizontal or diagonal. Everybody except them had a dog or was walking in a particular direction, but they walked around and talked. They didn’t ever strike me as being unhappy, if anything they seemed to be friends. Nevertheless I did end up wondering why they did it. They always left the park, when I saw them leave the park, by this bridge and came in the same way.
They bothered me, but other stuff was going on at the time, so I let it lie. It was only after July 7th 2005 and the photographs of the bombers emerged that I think I recognised Hasib Hussain who at 18 was the youngest. I think I recognised him as the taller of the men who walked around the park. I would never have put him as so young, but I do remember one of the group I saw as looking a lot like the photographs. I’m not sure if I should feel compassion for someone who did such a terrible thing, but it does bother me that he wandered around for almost an hour after the other bombs exploded, visiting a place as mundane as Boots and even trying to call the others before catching the number 30 bus and detonating his bomb on Tavistock Place.
I broke the photograph apart in order to print it bigger. The panels are as the result of the limitations of the equipment but it has opened up into being a much more complicated technique. The fact that so much was going on around me at the time, some of it horribly significant makes the image mean even more to me.