Wires and arteries

Somebody jumped in the river today at Westminster Bridge, on the inward tide. With centuries of experience, the police and the fire service came immediately howling downstream past my flat. They knew that this arterial urban waterway floods hard and pulls under harder. I guess at the start they were hoping they might be able to find them in time to pluck them out alive if they popped up. Loads of fire engines zoomed up to Albert Bridge. Plenty of cars. A miniature flotilla of boats. One great big chopper.

The chopper chose to hover just outside my bedroom window for a fair while and a good few patrol cars stopped outside my flat as well. It was all very dramatic. Tall men and women with sidearms and so many pockets came and peered over the river wall. Within minutes the wall was lined with people who had stopped their cars out of curiosity.

The chopper hovered above, side door open, fire service ready with abseil ropes as crowds gathered quicker than you’d imagine.

Staying alert, (!) I briefly cross the road and ask what the hell is going on.

“Somebody in the river off of Westminster Bridge,” I am told, freely, by a beaming cop in a hat who stands six foot five and looks like a stick man made out of runner beans. My interest wanes pretty quickly after that.


All these people are looking for a body. Last time there were this many people it was a humpback whale – much less common. At least they did their utmost to get the person out alive. I don’t think they managed though. The river’s a bastard. It wasn’t long before they all went home and the crowd dispersed as quickly as it had formed.

These trying times. Nothing is certain. Nothing is clear. We can know the waterway but we can’t find the body. We understand this tiny little pathogen but we can’t stop it. It’s all wrapped up in politics as well. Preventable deaths? Expendable people? Money over humanity or humanity over money? Control over freedom or freedom over control?

I’m learning the wires in my flat, and in so doing learning the wires in my brain. When am I stymied by fear? When am I overconfident? For me, despite being a financial disaster this lockdown is helping me have the time to look at my immediate surroundings instead of SHINY SHINY SHINY!

But for somebody on the bridge today, the wires were crossed. It’s back to the thing I was thinking last week. We are all experiencing the symptoms of depression without the illness. Reduced contact with others, prolonged amount of time indoors, social interactions codified in incomprehensible and tedious ways. Anyone who remembers the shape of the black dog might start to think they see it again there, in the shadows. We have to remember that this is not the same thing. We can hibernate. Learn wires. Tidy up. Write. Think. Or even just take the fucking pressure off, relax, do fuck all and trust in the universe.

Just don’t jump off a fucking bridge. If it’s that bad, come knock on my door. I’ve just made the most ridiculously rich carbonara. Oh, you’re vegan. Have some whisky. Teetotal? I’ll find something.

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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