In 1993, in central London, I witnessed an upsetting accident.
I didn’t see what happened, but …
I heard it. On the pavement, mid-street, when, suddenly, close to my shoulder nearest the gutter - WHAM!  Forceful enough for me to believe, fleetingly, that I’d been struck. I  stopped and turned. A man lying in the road. Silent. Not moving.
I  looked down at the motionless figure, appalled. Whatever had happened I  had heard, but not seen. Twenty yards ahead a cab had pulled to the  kerb, though, as yet, no door had opened. It was a drizzly, dismal early  evening. There were few people on the street.
Suddenly, I came to my senses and realised that I wasn’t doing anything to any purpose. I didn’t approach the still figure. Why, I don’t know. Instead, I turned, ran into the lobby of the Acropolis Hotel and yelled, then tried again, more loudly. No one answered and I left in a hurry.
A  woman was kneeling by the motionless figure. I paused, indecisively,  behind her. Another woman brushed past me carrying a rolled-up raincoat.  Together, they gently eased the makeshift pillow under his head. I stood by feeling useless.
By  the taxi, a man was slumped back in the open door to the driver’s seat  and he was lamenting loudly: ‘Never in 15 years of driving… never… never…’  He was rattling out these words, repeatedly. Another man was holding  his arm, sympathetically. Obviously, the stricken fellow would be the  driver. He must have heard, felt, if not seen, the collision between man  and machine.
An ambulance slid  up to us. Two figures emerged, and one knelt by the man.  He began to shout - loudly enough, but not unkindly - into his ear:
“Hello, sir! Can you hear me?
Tell, me your name, sir.”
He repeated his words a number of times but drew no response.
A stretcher was produced quickly and the stricken man was lifted with great care onto it. A moment later, a swirl of bells and the vehicle sped away. I was to learn, days later, that the victim was a Somali refugee and he had died.
This accident is well and truly fixed and unlikely to be rinsed away from my memory.
Keith Kennedy

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