Unlikely events

Apr 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Pulling out of the gates, there was excitement on the pavement the other side of the dual carriageway.  A fire engine was pulled up and the men were busying themselves with extinguishers.  One of them stood peering into a red car, beside which stood a man and woman.  The car received a generous spray of extinguisher foam before the traffic lights changed and the traffic moved off in the other direction.  Presumably some electrical fault had caused the driver to dial 999.

Heading northwards on the Stillorgan bypass the traffic was light, but some person in the control centre in the city must have looked at their monitors and decided that such free movement should not be allowed.  Every single light turned red as the small cluster of cars approached.  Barring there being a herd of cows or a funeral procession led by a horse-drawn hearse, progress could not have been slower.

Lyric FM played music from Alfred Hitchcock movies and every junction provided an opportunity to watch every pedestrian and every other vehicle.

At the lights near the hotel, someone looking very familiar crossed the road.  A dark blue coat with pale blue shirt and navy trousers, the twenty-something had a mop of dark brown curly hair and carried a Tesco plastic bag.  Examining him closely as the red turned to green, there was a sense of knowing who the person was.

Only fifty yards down the road, did it register that the man crossing the road looked awfully like myself; or as I would have looked a generation ago.  Hitchcock’s music provided a suitable backdrop to trying to remember the stuff from theoretical physics about all of time happening at once and about glimpsing our future or our past out of the corner of our eye.

Except it could not have been me, I have never walked across the Stillorgan dual carriageway in my life.  Unless the many universes theory is correct and in some parallel existence I am buying my food in Tesco before crossing a busy road on the way home.

Heading towards a hospital, with its multiplicity of thoughts of mortality, I wondered, if twenty-five years ago I might not have expected things to have turned out differently. A pointless pastime, one can only play the hand one is dealt.  One never knows when something unexpected might happen.

The hospital call complete, I wandered down the residential road where parking is free in the evening.  White and pale pink blossom covered the trees that lined the roadside and the sky was filled with the oranges and reds of a perfect spring evening.  If life stopped at this point, would it not it have all been worth it?

Making the return journey through Booterstown, Blackrock and Monkstown, I was home in half the time it took on the dual carriageway.

The car across the road stood alone now.  The interior seemed fine.  The red was a familiar shade and the badge on the bonnet had a familiar look about it – a black horse on a yellow background.  It could not be.  Such things could not happen.

I parked the car and went out the gates to look.  The ground around the car was still wet.  The horse badge adorned the boot as well as the bonnet.  Someone’s Ferrari had caught fire, which seems even more unlikely than seeing yourself at the traffic lights in Stillorgan.

One never knows how life will turn out.

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  1. Strange things do happen, your remark about the Ferrari reminded me of the time (I think 1987) when I was on the M25 going to collect daughter from university, on the hard shoulder on the opposite carriagwey was a white Rolls Royce with it’s bonnet up, I was told that it could never happen to a Roller, but it did

  2. Rob and I were discussing this and we came to the conclusion that this coould also be a sign of the times. During the last recession in the UK you would hear horrendous stories from estate agents of repossessed houses where the owners had poured concrete down the toilet or tampered with electrical wiring, the mentality being “If I can’t have it, no-one else can!” Perhaps this was the case with the ferrari – on the brink of a visit from the “Re-po man” the owner decided to torch it!

  3. Did you see it? It seemed odd.

    The car must have started smoking very slowly, because there was time for the fire brigade to arrive and put out whatever was burning.

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