There’s always a story with me. This is something Mrs. This points out, and it’s true. Maybe I look for them because I enjoy writing, but I actually think I attract stories.
It’s not a bad trait to have a journalist. I’m a story magnet. I’m always meeting people or finding myself in situations that are comic or tragic or downright unusual. Whether I yearn for the adventure or attract it, there often seems to be a story.
I can go to the DIY/hardware place and Mrs This will say: “Did you get the tiles?”
And I’ll go: “Funny thing. You remember Steve? Steve and Kate Steve. Italian name. Wanted to be a gardener. Steve.”
Whatever the muscles are that control the rolling of the eyes, the ones belonging to my wife must be like suspension bridge cables.
“Capp-elli! He was down there with a bucket full of hacksaws. He trains electricians now, which means he’s not playing guitar with in his band any more, so they have asked me go down at the weekend.”
And I’d only gone out to buy tiles. Next thing I’m know I’m caught up on the Cappellis and I’m scoring gigs.
This didn’t actually happen, because I don’t like relating much of personal life here because people don’t ask to be represented in my blog, but this is the kind of stuff that does happen.
This morning walking out of Waterloo when I saw a woman with a United Nations umbrella. A proper one. She was attractive enough for me to notice on a wet Monday, but something like a UN umbrella? That tips the scales. It lends aÂ weighted urgency. A mystery. Ooh.
But although there’s that romantic side of me, I also want to make jokes involving “observing”. Blue helmets. Enclaves. I thought about putting it on Twitter, just for a laugh, but I was late for work and it was raining, so I kept walking.
That really did happen. And so did this next thing, about ten minutes later.
I was walking up to my office, and was about to cross the road at the lights. To my left, on the other side of the street, I saw an ambulance with its lights flashing and siren wailing, coming fast down the street. The pedestrian lights turned to green and the ambulance kept driving around the bend, a blind corner to the people on that other side of the road and it was going to run the light.
A train passed by on the bridge over the road and it was raining and the noise was such that it was drowning out the ambulance rounding the corner. Across the road an man in his late thirties and his eight year old son started crossing the road into the path of the ambulance they couldn’t see.
I put my hand up and waved but they couldn’t see me. They were looking at each other and talking. The little boy laughed and they took two more steps.
“Wait!” I shouted.
Another step. The unseen ambulance probably thirty feet from them, going about thirty miles an hour.
I put my hand out in a halt while they spotted me and kept walking.
“WAIT. – WAIT! WAIT! WAIT WAIT!” I was shouting at the top of my voice, gesturing to push them back. They were a quarter of the way over the road when they hesitated and checked to their right and jumped back. The ambulance missed them by a couple of feet and thank fuck the man was holding his son by the hand.
After a blur of blue and white he waved at me gratefully and shrugged it off like it was nothing, probably embarrassed. I was the one wearing headphones and thinking about getting to the office and engrossed in my thoughts and I could have easily not noticed the ambulance and I don’t want to even think about what might have happened if I had stopped to put the UN lady joke on Twitter.
There’s always a story. There isn’t always a joke. And sometime the happiest endings are down to the absence of bad ones.