As I managed to warily squeeze my way off the bus, through the sentinels that stand there oblivious to the movements of others, I weaved my way around the pavement hogs that charge or saunter directly towards me as if I am nothing but a puff of man-shaped air. I drew thoughtlessly on my cigarette and reached the crossing that no other Londoners ever use as they are all walking out in front of the traffic, sometimes held in a kind of stasis in the middle of the road.
I observed them for a while, waiting for the lights to change so I can safely get hit by a colour blind cyclist. They all made it to the other side alive and I nodded to a god with far more humanity than I can muster of a morning.
A voice behind me croaked and I, of course, ignored it. It croaked again, an ancient man voice, and it was certainly aimed at me as I was the only one at the crossing who would possibly have a light for the battered old cigarette he was waving around, so I dutifully pulled out my lighter.
I tried lighting it and the flame kept going out. I glanced towards the god and could see he was trying not to laugh.
The old man cupped his hands around the lighter and his nails were the hideousness of the ancient, ridiculous goblins of old. I lowered my hands, still trying to get a constant flame going, and he lowered his. Lower and lower we went. I did not want to be touched by those nails of despair.
Eventually, half bowing towards the ground, his cigarette was lit. He nodded and hobbled away.
He didn’t give me any kind of magical artefact by way of thanks, which was disappointing, or a nugget of sage wisdom that I could take away with me and utilise at my leisure.
I looked to the god, who stuck two fingers up at me, and crossed the road safely, getting hit by a colour blind cyclist on the way.