Today I was forced to cancel a show in Sheffield due to a chest infection, not unlike the one I contracted last December, and the year before that. On the way back from the chemist I walked back along Ashley Road and turned onto Brook Road, where I saw a car hurtling towards me, at sixty to seventy miles per hour, completely out of control, a grinning child at the wheel, having the time of his life. Brook Road is very narrow, with only enough space for one car, so motorists tend to use it as a stretch in which to test their acceleration and breaking speeds. This child in a metal box, out of control, barelt tall enough to see over the wheel, zig-zagging from pavement to pavement, did not give me enough time to drop my bag and jump onto a wall. I don't think like that. I'm a human being; a rabbit in the headlinghts. But he gave me enough time to see his grinning idiot face. He was having a wail of a time as the car brushed past my left leg, continued for perhaps two more seconds to the T-junction with Ashley Road, where he crashed the stolen vehicle squarely into a passing car. Within moments the still-grinning child jumped out of the car and ran away. I'm no athlete. I wasn't capable of making a citizen's arrest. He disappeared. I phoned the police. I noticed another man doing the same. Recognised him, local bloke. Mad Mike. Crowds of onlookers circled the two smashed cars. I hung around long enough for the police to arrive. The owner of the stolen car turned up."That's my car!" he said repeatedly, bewildered. He had been car-jacked. Two black youths had bundled him out at traffic lights and taken his motor for a ride. For some reason, only one was in the car by the time it hurtled past me and into someone else. The driver of the other car was in shock but not seriously injured. I stood around long enough for the police to turn up so I could give them my details if they wished to question me later. I gave them my name in phonetic alphabet too quickly for them to get it. "Sorry, mate, it's your accent" the Bristolian policeman said. Tango alpha lima bravo oscar tango, I repeated. "Sorry", I replied, "Estuary English". Phonetic alphabet is the only worthwhile thing I took away from working in call centres, and in Bristol it was rendered useless, with my glottal stops and Thames Valley drawl. I left.
I nearly died today, by about two inches. The car brushed past my leg. I could have been grafitti on the wall on Brook Road. Real St. Paul's grafitti, representing the real St. Paul's. Not a cultural melting pot with a yearly festival of drums and juggling and bass bins and Carribean food, but a very poor and undernourished shit hole where fatherless fifteen year old kids car jack and kill people on joy rides.
My friend Jess said this may be a sign. If I had a watch i would have looked at it repeatedly, waiting for significance. I found none in the skies, nor on my phone. I went home, bought beer and watched Pan's Labrynth, for the third time. Today I nearly died. But I didn't. A few inches of random spacetime spared me. "I'll kill the little bastard" said Mike, a local I've known on and off over the years, a Montpelier figure. Mad Mike. Good bloke Mad Mike. He saw all of it. He was controlling the crowd, he was in his element. I left it to him, went home, I looked at my wrist, my still-functioning wrist where a watch will never be, because watches don't suit me, but I am still waiting for a sign. I am still alive. I'm not a victim of the Parish of St. Paul. What else do I want.
I hope they catch the little bastard. That's what I want.