As I write this, dear reader, at 07:50 on 7th July 2009, it is within an hour of four years to the day since I had a lucky escape. On that day, hundreds were not so lucky, and 52 perished, when extremists decided to detonate explosives in various locations around London.
At that time, I was working as a Senior IT Project Manager for Royal Bank of Scotland, who were based at Aldgate East. I had taken the Hammersmith & City Line from Mile End to Aldgate East around 8.30, and arrived in the office ten minutes later. It was just another day in the office.
But then things started to happen. Some of my team were late in, and there'd been no calls or emails of explanation. It later transpired that they were stuck underground in tube trains, as the full horror of the situation became clear. At almost exactly the moment I arrived in the office that fateful day four years ago, one of a number of charges was triggered in the underground tunnel between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations. The train I was on would have passed through without incident, as would the next train. The one after that was blown up.
Not much later, news surfaced of a further, more brutal and life-wasting atrocity: the 30 bus in Kings Cross which was exploded, killing 26 people.
That bus, and the number 26 which was the subject of a failed terror attack some weeks later, are two of only three services which stop at the end of my road, and which I regularly use to travel, as I don't drive. It's funny how close these things feel sometimes.
I remember walking home from work that day - as tens of thousands of workers did - and thinking how lucky I was. It was probably there and then that I resolved to change my life to be more akin to what I wanted it to be. In a strange and perverse sort of way, it was there and then that I decided I'd have a crack at this online business mallarkey. After all, what's the worst that could happen?
To the memory of those who lost their lives...
Let's move on from that solemn chapter, and back to the present. Four years later, and the world is a different place. Funnily enough, in London, I feel like we are more integrated than ever. I live in the fantastically diverse borough of Hackney. It has black, white, Asian, Turkish, Eastern European, and every other nation or race you could imagine. Sure, there are community cliques. But, ultimately, there is tolerance (if not always harmony) and acceptance (if not always understanding). It's an amazing place to live, and - again - I consider myself very lucky to reside in such a 'real' place with real people.
If you've read this far, thank you. Now let's get to the sport...
With Wimbledon's tennis a fading memory, and Andy Murray's meritorious performance in losing to the other Andy confined to the filing cabinet of history, it is the turn of those magnificent men on their flying machines to entertain us for the next three weeks or so.
I refer, of course, to the Tour de France. Longer suffering readers will know of my love of this race. Often I've referred to it as the fairest race of them all (because they're probably all cheating!)
This year's race has more spice than the last couple. Alberto Contador comes to the race as the outstanding favourite, having won in 2007, and been unable to race in 2006 due to the withdrawal of his team, Astana, who have consistently been associated with doping (i.e. drug cheating). It is the sorry tale of the race in recent years that all winners are the subject of drugs scrutiny, and mistrust.
But, bizarrely, that remains a sideshow anyway to the greatest show on earth.
Contador maybe favourite, but lurking in his own team no less, is a man who has won more Tours de France than any other rider. Step forward Mr Lance Armstrong.
There is much disunity in the team, with allegiances seemingly divided between the big guns Armstrong and Contador. Indeed, yesterday was a crazy day on the Tour. Given that it was just the third stage, and that today sees the epic team game, the TTT (or Team Time Trial), how utterly unsporting of Lance to attach himself to a breakaway with a couple of team-mates.
Furthermore, how incredible that the breakaway, led by our own Super Mark Cavendish's Columbia team, should steal fully 41 seconds from the peloton, including that man Contador.
Thus, Armstrong now sits in 3rd place, 40 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara, the phenomenal time triallist from RogerFederer-land.
So, here's the 'skinny', as they say Stateside: today, if Astana (who have an absolutely formidable team line up) do what they're expected to do over the 39km course of today's 'contre le montre' (literally, against the clock), it is possible for them to take 40+ seconds out of Cancellara's SaxoBank team. Unlikely, but possible.
Were that to happen, and also assuming they beat Mark Cavendish's Columbia team more than seven seconds (more likely, even though that team is also strong), the rider who would finish the day in yellow would be....
It's perfectly possible that this could happen, and that Armstrong will hold the jersey going into some tricky mountain stages over the weekend. What this does for team allegiances is anybody's guess, but it's clear that the Texan is not here to be ANYBODY's second in command...
I am having a few days holiday from tomorrow, in the lovely Basque city of Bilbao. The Tour passes three hours north of there on Sunday, and I still hold a faint hope of finding a way to get up there to see it. It would be a life's dream to see a mountain top finish of the race, and that may have to wait another year at least.
Coverage of this spectacle of spectacles continues on Eurosport. (Even the commentators are brilliant, if something of an acquired taste perhaps).
The Geegeez Racing Club is now full, with all 50 shares sold as of yesterday. Well done, and welcome, to those who are in. We should hopefully get news of a horse this week, all being well at the sales. I'll have my laptop with me while I'm away, so I'll be sure to send news on to shareholders.
Thanks a lot for all your interest - to those who are in, those who thought about it, and those many of you who were kind enough to wish us well. The horse will run in the Geegeez.co.uk colours, which I'll unveil as soon as they're approved by Weatherbys.
More to follow...
Now then, a couple of horses to look at today, on what is a pretty abysmal day's racing in fairness...
And perhaps the most abysmal card of the day is at Southwell tonight. However, in the 7.40 race, a claimer, the topweight (and therefore the horse most highly handicapped by its own stable, as horses carry weight according to the price for which they can be 'claimed', aka bought) is a nag called Aboukir.
Hailing from the stable of Paul Cole, this one has had three disappointing runs on the turf this season on good or faster ground. Tellingly, perhaps, is the fact that his sole previous start was a win over course and distance here on the much softer surface.
It is well known that most horses express a preference for either turf or artificial underfoot conditions, and it would be no surprise to see Aboukir run a much better race than the trio of turf toss he's put in recently. Put in at 10/1 on the Racing Post tissue, expect him to be more like a 7/1 shot. In my book at least.
I'm going to double him up with Beauchamp Viceroy in the 2.45 at Wolverhampton. Trained by the brilliant Gerard Butler, the Viceroy is plunging in class today, and his rating of 84 is way too good for a seller. In fact, that's my only concern. Oftentimes, if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true!
However, he'll take a helluva lot of beating, and is another for the older horse favourite in sellers' system.
Good luck to you today with whatever you back. Enjoy the Tour, if that's your thing. And, most importantly, remember that these games of chance we play are but nothing to that great game of Russian Roulette we engage in every time we pull back the bedsheets and rise to greet another morning.