Just before I moved from London to Lewes,
I was in a taxi, and the driver was talking about roadworks.
The bloody roadworks, he said. They’re digging up the
bleeding road. There’s these bloody holes in the road.
It’s hard enough, what with the traffic, but now this
– these bloody holes in the road.
People often ask me what the difference is between London
and Lewes. Well, this was it. This guy was whining on about
these two things. The bleeding holes in the road. The bleeding
traffic. He wouldn’t stop.
It was dark. We were approaching King’s Cross. There
was a flashing blue light ahead: an accident. We slowed right
The driver was telling me about a complicated diversion up
ahead, and how the people who had organised it had no bleeding
idea. We went slowly past the ambulance, past the emergency
workers. There was a body. Parts of it were crushed, and the
leg twisted away at a dreadful angle. We both looked at the
body, and both looked away.
For about ten seconds, I wondered if either of us would mention
the body. Then I knew that neither of us would.
The driver said, ‘Look at that!’
We had drawn level with the roadworks.
He said, ‘What did I tell you?’
He said, ‘Now that’s not helpful.’
I sat in the traffic. I listened. I was certain, absolutely
certain, that Lewes was going to be different.