Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Every town has someone lying in the middle of the road

Sometimes two people decide they want to fight on the traffic island of Gloucester road. I don’t know how often these skirmishes occur as I’ve only witnessed one at this location. I’m thirty years old. So probably once every thirty years then.

It really wasn’t much of a scrap to be honest. There was sporadic shouting at first. Then seconds of crappy silence with the swagger of each limited by the space available between the two dark funnels of uncaring traffic. There was a lack of focus, two lost figures in the middle of a road with anger but nothing to say to each other. Must be time for violence.

Except there wasn’t really going to be a fight as such. I know I said there was but I didn’t think you’d read this far. Isn’t there something more constructive you could be doing with your time like painting a fence or letting yourself down?


It was a push. A simple fluid movement of the arms from the stronger man as his temper folded up his face into a dirty far-right leaflet. The other man had no answer, his balance lost, his face gave away his hopeless position before his shadow met his the rest of his body. A blue Corsa was going to be where the fallen man was and quickly had to change its plans with a swerve and an unnecessary blow of the horn.

“Fuck you George” said the standing man. If I was to give a mark out of ten to the competence with which George scrambled to his feet it would be a low four, but he was upright. Unsteady, but upright. He tried to say something back. Anything to diffuse his own anger, frustration and humiliation. His confused first sound was cut short by his opponent who made it clear that any hostility, whether physical or verbal, would be met with an uncompromising response.

My walking reached level with the confrontation just as George accepted his position. He turned away and walked on the pavement in front of me, his every step a stamp on the face of the Earth. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a Toffee Crisp wrapper and at that moment his whole body decided that it was now or never. That however pathetic it was, he needed to lash out. And if George was in no position or state to assert physical dominance over a human-being; if all he had to focus his rage on was an orange coloured chocolate wrapper, than that was the compromise that he had to accept.

George screwed up the paper, his eyes turned upwards. “Wanker!” he shouted and he threw that paper down as hard as he could.

The breeze caught the wrapper long before it got near the pavement. George watched silently, as it blew upwards into the sky.

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