So me & B were giving a lift to Son to get him to work. Driving along, Son told us about an old schoolmate of his who had got into a fight outside a Preston nightclub early on Saturday morning and was now in a coma, on life support and unlikely to pull through.
“Don’t know why I’m so upset, I didn’t know him that well.”
“When you’ve known the person involved, it’s always upsetting. Because you can put a face to the name. And, also, you know that it could have been you.”
Then Son told us that the taxi-driver who usually picked him up from work had been in Lockerbie at the time of the bombing and had helped to pick up parts of the aircraft from the streets.
“He saw some awful things, but he said that the worst thing was the smell – kerosene and burnt meat.”
“You can shut your eyes to bad sights, but you can’t shut off smell.”
We talked some more, about terrorism, bombings, politics; the road and the sky and the landscape slipped by.
B told about how he had been driving a truck home from Glasgow that night, his route taking him along the A74 past Lockerbie.
“If I hadn’t stopped for a meal first, I could have been caught in it.” As it was, he’d been less than an hour away when the plane fell from the sky; without a cab radio, his first inklings of disaster had been when the oncoming traffic evaporated, a dim red glow appeared on the horizon and dozens of ambulances from Glasgow raced past him. His first thought was that the Chapelcross nuke station had gone up; so he was almost relieved when he was stopped at an improvised roadblock set up by an AA patrolman and learned the truth.
“I don’t care” said B, as we pulled up at Son’s workplace “how bad the bastards leading the US are, there’s no excuse for killing civilians who have nothing to do with what the government does. No excuse. It’s like bombing your mother and me because you don’t like Gordon Brown.”
On the way back home, the sun came out. Along with the tourists, toodling along at their usual 40mph so that they could marvel at the landscape. B had just pulled past three carloads of them when a pheasant darted into the road in front.
Pheasants are hopeless at avoiding cars on the road; they seem to run in exactly the wrong direction, every time. This may be some sort of evolutionary trait designed to fool predators, but cars aren’t interested in chasing pheasants and will just keep on going in a straight line. Consequently, all the roads around here are littered with bright bloodied heaps of feathers.
We were going at well over 70, so there was no chance of avoiding it; it hit the front of the car with a bang.
“Stupid stupid birds…..”
“At least it must have died instantly…”
“At least it didn’t come through the windscreen…”
“Oh well, another meal for the crows….”
At that moment we passed by a crow-sized heap of black feathers in the middle of the road.
Crows 1, pheasants 1.