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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Death in the morning

I think I saw someone die this morning.

The train I catch from my little suburb of London usually leaves just before 8 a.m. A ten or twelve minute ride, then I jump off and switch to the underground, and another change thirty minutes down the line, plus a fifteen minute walk gets me to the office just a few minutes before 9 a.m. Nothing too extreme, nothing out of the ordinary, just me crammed in to the moving sardine can with the other commuters, listening to a bit of rock or metal to kick-start the day.

This morning, though, things were different.

I climbed on the train, kindle in one hand, coffee in the other. Five minutes later I was watching as a young man convulsed on the floor, the station staff dialing the ambulance as he made helpless cawing noises. Through the crowd around him I could see a single one of his eyes roll frantically, while his lips turned blue and he slowly stopped breathing and his heels drummed against the floor of the carriage.

Twenty minutes later, when the train the transferred us to moved sedately out of the station, the paramedics were still working on him. His feet were very still. The quick glimpse I had of his hand was of utter relaxation; the scrabbling fingers from earlier limp and pale.

That scene has haunted me all day. I have no idea who he was, or what his name is, but I hope that he came out of it, that either after we left the station or in the ambulance they pulled him back, and that he is recovering somewhere with his family and friends, and that come Friday he'll be down at his local pub, laughing it off.

But he was so very, very still.