Amelie's had the day off school today for a bit of teacher training. They're being trained how to make placards and march through Brighton instead of teaching my daughter phonics. Obviously I completely respect their right to strike, but as a general rule, I'd prefer them to have the right to strike the boy who keeps hitting Amelie in the lunch queue. Not that I'm right-wing or anything. He just deserves a good thrashing.
As it happens, I've been supporting the teachers by marching through Brighton myself today. Last night's weather forecast said that today would be sunny and dry, so in a moment of unbounded optimism and possible foolishness, I decided to walk the two-and-a-half miles to my clinic this morning. And sure enough, at 8:45am we had clear blue skies and sunshine. Unfortunately, I left home at 8am and walked for thirty-five minutes in the rain.
Crossing Queens Park at that time of day was quite pleasant...
But by the time I'd scaled the peak of Muesli Mountain, the weather was closing in...
Unfortunately, the rain wasn't the only thing that came crashing down around me. As I walked past The Level, I heard a huge bang behind me (which was surprising, as I had earphones in, and the volume up) and I turned around to see that two vans had ploughed into each other at the junction in front of the Phoenix Gallery. The front of one was completely smashed in, and the two vehicles were sitting there in the middle of the road, surrounded by debris.
It was an odd moment, because I was less than twenty yards away, and the closest 'witness' to a road traffic accident, but my back was turned and I had no idea what had happened. One of them must have gone through a red light, but I didn't know which, and from the direction they were facing after the smash, it was impossible to tell who'd come from where. And let's face it, they were both white vans, so they were probably both in the wrong.
I stood there frozen for about ten seconds, not knowing if I should phone 999 or rush to give first aid, but in the end I did nothing. Much like myself, the world seemed to stand still for a few seconds, then one van began to move slowly towards the kerb, and I could see the driver of the other one looking around, apparently unharmed. So as queues of traffic started backing up from the junction, I turned, and continued walking.
It was odd though. There was nothing for me to do, and I had no information to give, but I still felt slightly guilty about walking away. Maybe I should have gone over and given both drivers a hug. Ultimately though, I had patients waiting elsewhere. And the first one of those turned out to be a striking teacher, who was thrilled about the industrial action because it meant she could get her eyes screened. Her teenage class might have escaped lessons today, but she's still spent a few hours with big pupils.