Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Middle-of-the-Road Problem

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Middle-of-the-Road Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: gary bainbridge One man's struggle with the 21st century. Follow Gary on Twitter @Gary_Bainbridge or email him at

THE couple walked towards me, glowing with youthful love and springtime, their hands clasped as if they feared that if one let go the other would disappear into the mists. It was beautiful, inspiring, life-affirming, and it made me think.

"Ah," it made me think. "This pavement is definitely not wide enough for people to be holding hands."

But it was clear that the couple did not have my grasp of the laws of physics, or perhaps their expression of their love was more important to them than any concern that I might be splattered across the front of the oncoming bus.

"Live by the bus, die by the bus," they probably thought.

Either way, they refused to let go of each other and walk in single file for even a moment. Similarly, I refused to die an ironic death. There was no way I was stepping into the road.

We continued to walk towards each other. Suddenly our shared predicament filtered through the loveaddled brains of the couple and they veered to their left while still holding hands, changing their angle and giving me a gap of roughly threequarters of my width.

I could work with that. I flung myself through some closing train doors a couple of weeks ago, like a sort of commuting Indiana Jones. And I did this without being cut in two at the waist. This would be easy in comparison.

Unfortunately I had already committed myself to veering to my right in order to avoid them, and so we were still on a collision course.

To prevent an unseemly accident I changed direction, heading to my left.

Inevitably, the couple had realised a collision was imminent, and had switched to their right. Once again the crash was on. It was going down and there was not a damned thing we could do about it.

I suppose, in retrospect, we could all have just stopped walking and worked out how we were going to pass each other without being injured in one way or another, but in the heat of the moment such clarity evaded all three of us.

Unless... If the couple would actually let go of each other for five seconds I could pass between them. …

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