Mind the Hat

We were on holiday in Ibiza and my dad tried to fix the lights by the pool. He ended up ten foot behind himself, in the pool, thanking God he was still conscious.

In Thailand I got back to my shack and fumbled for the lightswitch to get blown backwards onto the bed. I woke up an hour or so later with bruised legs wondering how I got onto the bed. I flew!

As a kid, dad told me a story of an incident he had with an electric rail as a kid. He was stuck to it for a second and then blown off it way up into the air. He used it as an illustration of how you can become part of the circuit, be unable to disconnect yourself, and cook. “If I get connected, hit me with a piece of wood. Don’t grab me or you’ll get connected too.”

Thankfully when my hat blew suddenly onto the live rail at Kentish Town I managed to derail the instinct to go after it. I just looked at it disconsolately as it sat on the far side, on top of the live rail. Then I hit the button on the station platform.

2 minutes to the next train, and there’s a hat lying on the rail. No staff on the platform. I am a little worried. I’m running worst case scenarios.

Possibility 1: My hat has a metal wire. It somehow electrocutes everybody in the train as it comes in. I stand and watch them cook, looking around for bits of wood to hit them with. I find one, triumphantly whack someone, breaking their legs but failing to disconnect them from the circuit. CCTV goes viral: “Sick actor bashes dying woman with stick – Exclusive.”

Possibility 2: My hat suddenly catches fire. The fire spreads impossibly quickly. The whole tube network is destroyed for miles. London shuts down. It’s the final nail in the coffin for the British economy. We get bought by Trump and turned into a golf course. Nobody comes to play golf because the queues are too long at the border and there’s nothing to eat. One of the holes is dug so deep it springs a leak. We sink and are forgotten by history.

Possibility 3: A rat finds its way into the felt of my hat, and safely absorbs huge amounts of electricity becoming a foul decaying super-rat with magical powers. It goes on the rampage in London, killing the Prime Minister as well as some people of actual consequence like the folk who clean the loo at Kings Cross. The city is evacuated and the army is called in. They nuke the rat in Somerstown, taking out a huge portion of London and calling it a victory. A massive amount of money is raised online to rehouse the displaced people, and all of it is legally embezzled by the remains of the government who then build what they call a “learning resource centre” which is basically a library with no books where there are three bedrooms upstairs and no staff. They patronise everybody involved, say “The money has gone to the benefit of the people,” and go on holiday to Turks and Caicos. The seat of UK government moves to Reading from whence people can battle hordes of irradiated zombies lurching from the smoldering city, plus get cheap beer in pleasant surroundings from one of any number of centrally located pubs, and consult The Oracle for all their shipping needs.


I wait on the platform listening to the phone ringing. Nobody comes close to answering the emergency button in time before the first train comes in. Worth noting, that. The train rolls in. It rolls out again. Nobody dies. The hat is now lodged between the rail and the wall, tucked away a bit, filthy. Intact.

Someone redundantly answers the emergency button after about 4 minutes. I’m waiting politely by. By that time I could’ve been dragged into the train by my attackers, and the train long gone while I’m being punched to death after my last ditch attempt to get help. I tell the emergency operator that my concern is past – none of the scenarios appear to have taken place yet. She takes my name and number.

I go up and speak to Mo, who is standing in the assistance box artlessly oblivious to any buttons having been pushed anywhere, despite three people opposite him eating crisps in front of that packed room full of monitors, occasionally pushing the “See It, Say It, Sorted” button. Mo gets permission from his manager, comes down and has a look. He seems to be happy that the hat can stay there until the end of the day.l, but checks with his manager. His manager allows it. He asks for my number. I give it to him. He gives my number to his manager. I leave him with his manager. I wonder if my hat might have been cut in half by the time I head home.

If there’s a fire at Kentish Town, I’ve done all I can to prevent it. I’d like to get the hat back but can chalk it up to experience. Right now getting rid of stuff is more important than accumulating it.


23:16 and my hat is still present but bleeding.

20190327_231315

It has moved around a great deal but it’s still on the same platform. Here it is. It’ll definitely need a clean up. Bastards, for not just keeping an eye out and fishing it out when possible. I almost get it myself. The all powerful manager likely says “no” to anything other than procedure. But I know I could probably grab if without getting stuck and cooked. Probably not worth risking though.

Let’s see if, when the working day is over in about twenty minutes, they can be bothered to keep a hat for a random passenger. It’s definitely still there. I only didn’t fish it out because they’ve got my mobile number and they’d get overly exercised about a human in the track. Plus I could die. But not if I’m careful. I fished out a woman’s heel once in rush hour and was treated like Bin Laden…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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