If ever there is a rampaging madman running amok down the street then you can pretty much guarantee that he’ll be headed my way. Crazy lady in the supermarket queue, twitching man on the bus or strange religious zealot? Old lady with a beard who smells of urine, man who shouts “Fuck-biscuit” or woman in a bizarre hat? Well, hello there. Talk away. I’m your man. I must have mad magnet written all over my face. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit peculiar myself. I don’t tend to mind generally. I accept the attention with good grace. It’s attention after all which, depending on my mood, is great.
Back in the late 1990s I was with a friend, shopping for computer games. I don’t normally play computer games or shop for them but it was the 1990s and my friend and I both had a serious addiction to “Tomb Raider”. Shameful, I know. It’s not normally something either of us would have liked or enjoyed but like crack cocaine we’d tried it once, thinking it was harmless and before we knew it were mentally envisioning how we’d leap over random items such as skips or how we’d take dogs out with our bazookas. We were subconsciously thinking, at all times, what the best gun to use in any given situation was, rifle or harpoon, maybe. We were probably only days away from planning a high school massacre.
We were chuckling to ourselves, bewildered by the strange and geeky place we’d ended up in, perusing an array of games where we could be wizards or dragon slayers. Oddly, neither of us were especially wizard like and would probably use a dragon to light a Marlboro light on his breath. There was a terrible commotion in the street and we noticed that a man appeared to be running up and down shouting.
Naturally, we chose not to do the sensible thing and stay put but ventured out. I think we were due a cigarette to calm our nerves after an overdose of scary single men loitering around talking about computer games. We wandered out and sauntered down the street and unsurprisingly the mad man appeared again. He’d upped his ante and was now, as well as shouting at people; picking up the inside sections of the litter bins on the street and throwing them at people’s heads. The normally sedate street now resembled a war zone or the introduction sequence of a horror film. It was a surreal scene of carnage.
We decided to run, a brave decision in itself for two chain smokers. We wheezed our way down the street giggling nervously as the action ensued and bins were flying overhead. Oddly, my friend abruptly stopped by a bench and began to look stricken.
“My toggle is stuck!”
She was wearing an anorak (a fashionable one, I might add, she’s a stylish girl) and she’d become attached to a bench. Through a bizarre freak action, her toggle had caught in a slat as she ran by the bench and was now stuck fast. It wouldn’t budge and the mad man was working his way down the street, sending bins flying and yelling obscenities at the rapidly scattering crowd.
We laughed ourselves helpless and frantically tried to free the toggle but it slowly dawned on us. We were about to be killed in a freak anorak toggle accident. We had both always suspected that death, for us, would be an embarrassing thing, an untoward incident which involved a comedy trip or slip, but neither of us had ever guessed that it would involve an anorak.
We entered into a frenetic tug of war with the toggle, all the time the man was getting closer and scarier and there was no sign of the police that had been frantically called for. You’ve guessed the ending, I’m sure. The toggle gave and we escaped with our lives. Maybe I’m being dramatic, maybe we’d have just ended up with a bin bouncing off our backs, but let’s just say, we both avoid toggles and computer games now. It’s safer that way.