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Dean Whitbread 2013

Dean Whitbread 2020

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Written on July 13, 2008, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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Yesterday, GGF and I enjoyed a pleasant day on the south bank of the Thames. We cycled down took in a couple of art exhibitions, we saw a capoeira performance, we ate chocolate cake and drank black coffee whilst listening to people read out architectural treatises from inside a clear plastic inflatable bubble.

Then we cycled into the west end, ate Japanese food at Misato in Wardour Street, sat in the sun for while. We bought tickets for Persepolis, that wonderful animated film by Marjane Satrapy and when we came out, after all that, we were pretty mellow.

On the way down to the Thames we’d been less mellow. GGF had been a little bit annoyed that I was zooming ahead in my confident London cyclist’s manner, and she called out, so we had stopped and sat on a cold stone wall and chatted until we got to the bottom of it. She was right – we were cycling together, I could afford to slow down, so I did. In fact, I took this as a sign for the day – slow down. I don’t always feel the need to do this, but I really wanted to have a mellow day, so I figured the cold arse was worth it.

On our way back, we headed up to Holborn and positioned ourselves at the front of the traffic queue diagonally opposite Central St Martin’s Theatre, waiting for the lights to change. The cars had thinned out as the evening drew in. London lights have all been phased to allow plenty of time for pedestrians to cross the wide thoroughfares, and we were patiently waiting for the green light, with another cyclist to our right after the cars crossing from the right, next to the Kingsway Underpass had ceased.

The lights changed, and the cyclist beside us moved off, so, still in not-so-fast mode, I started to move off after him before the cars started to hem us in. Something wasn’t right, I heard GGF’s shout of alarm, heard a loud car horn, looked up to see a black Ford practically on top of my front wheel, and a black face cursing me through the windscreen. I didn’t catch it all, just the anger.

Assessing the situation, I heard someone say, “The light is green!”

“The light is green!” I sputtered, “You shot a red light!”

“No I didn’t fucking shoot a red light!” he yelled, and drove off.

The lights were still green. I turned to see GGF’s concerned face, indicated we should cross. We did, and I pulled up shortly afterwards, gave her a hug.

“He was crazy!” she said, “the light was green!” “Yes, the light was green,” I said, “But I am OK, and I could have died, so, I am really very happy.”

A little later on, I realised my bike chain needed some manual adjustment after the abrupt stop I’d made, and so we stopped again. I was using a chocolate wrapper to try to prevent oil getting all over my hands, and a guy walked up to me and, with a slightly wacked out but kind smile, said, “Do you want to use these?” and offered me a bunch of clean tissues which I gratefully accepted.

In another universe, the man offered me the tissues as I went to cross the lights, distracting me for a second and slowing me down. The cyclist to my right was killed, we both witnessed his awful death, gave statements to the police, and evidence at the trial. In another, the car driver saw me too late, and veering out of control, he critically injured the driver of another car and paralysed a pedestrian, himself suffering only whiplash injuries. Later the press expressed outrage at the leniency of his punishment.

In another, we never healed our argument, and I never slowed down. The car hit my front wheel, I was injured, I’m still in intensive care, fighting for my life. In yet another, he didn’t brake, I didn’t brake, and I went under the car. I’m now lying cold in a mortuary prior to being prepared for my funeral, my loved ones are grieving, and somewhere else the wacked out man still has a bunch of clean tissues in his pocket.

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This thing has 2 Comments

  1. La Sirena
    Posted 14 July, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Cool post. I’m very glad to be connected to the reality in which everyone seems to be alive and well.

    I, too, think alot about what all of the alternate realities spiraling out of certain cataclysmic moments. Isn’t that what the movie Sliding Doors was about.

    Here is something kind of along those lines…

  2. {illyria}
    Posted 18 July, 2008 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    this was a truly enjoyable read for me. it’s rare that i see the permutations of certain situations; i always end up focusing on the most unfortunate one.

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