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The other day, I went for an early evening stroll in London. I thought I’d stroll bit, catch a bus I’d never caught before to a place I’d never visited, stroll a bit more, and catch a different bus back.
If you walk along Muswell Hill Broadway and through a little chunk of Ally Pally park, you can catch the W3 towards Wood Green. Headphones playing my “Starred” playlist, I set off to do that.
To get to Ally Pally park you cut through an alleyway from the top of Muswell Hill (the road on the hill, not the area). There’s a tiny triangle of grass behind a bus stop. Mid-step on the patch of grass, out of the corner of one eye, I noticed a different bus that I’ve never caught before, going to the same place I’d never visited. The 143 to Wood Green. I could catch that instead, I thought. But I’d have to be quick, because it had already pulled up and opened its doors, and people were already boarding.
So I took a step to run towards it. And a second step. And I tripped over an exposed tree root.
It was not one of those trips that takes you to the ground instantly. It was one of those trips that unbalances you enough to cause instability. I wobbled forward.
The only way to cope with this sudden additional forward momentum was to run a little faster, which I tried to do with the next few steps. My arms began to pinwheel a bit.
But no matter how fast my feet moved, my upper body had the advantage (and, sadly, the weight). I tried running faster, but tilted in slow-motion, until my centre of gravity was no longer in a useful place. Just two or three seconds after spotting the different bus, and still looking at it hopefully out of the corner of one eye, I pitched forward and down, hands outstretched, like a six-year-old coming off their bike. Bang. Down I went on the grass.
A number of thoughts went through my mind at this point:
I did miss the bus. I looked up at it, but no-one on board was looking back at me. I looked around, but no-one else seemed to be nearby. And yes, I could smell dog shit, but merely adjacent dog shit. Not attached dog shit.
Relieved about the dog shit, frustrated about the bus, bemused by the fall and pondering some of my life choices, I stood up, brushed myself down, and continued my stroll. I got the W3 to Wood Green and strolled about a bit there. Another little bit of London explored and segued into the others. I caught the 143 back. A satisfactory bit of closure, but a very ordinary bus.
(7 Sep 2017)