A Stroke in the Park

Dear Madam, I imagine that it is very unlikely that this blog post will actually reach your attention, but I will write this anyway in the hope that it might and so that I can offer you an explanation about the traumatic experience you faced in the Park last week. My intentions however are not entirely pure as I am also writing about this incident because I believe that the general readership will find it funny, although there is also a good chance that many will be horrified. And so with that hopefully tantalising introductory paragraph, let me attempt to explain myself.

The story starts fairly innocuously, certainly not as excitingly as my previous blog post which saw me standing at a Pelican crossing. My friend Phill and I decided to toast the gloriously sunny day with a visit to the park. Phill brought his guide dog but I didn’t see any point in taking a cane since the park is only a minute’s walk away. Had I taken a symbol of sight loss then the whole sorry affair would have been avoided.

As soon as the guide dog gets a whiff of the park he always speeds up. There was also a strong glare from the sun on this particular day and so I made sure that I was keeping up close to Phill and the dog so as not to lose them.

So the dog tares off as expected and I run after them, making sure that I am right behind. We turn a few lefts and rights and then the dog slows down to a much more leisurely pace. Thank goodness, this is a much more suitable speed for a hot day. I am aware though that the dog will probably speed up again at any moment and so I make sure that I am hot on their heals.

As we progress we start to make a few more turns. We gradually increase speed. We are suddenly making a lot of sporadic turns, left then right, left right, right, left (I’m sure you get the general idea; I probably don’t need to elaborate on the nature of turning, you’re presumably all reasonably familiar with the concept). Then the dog increases the speed even more. We are running again. The turns become more and more sporadic. I manage to keep up though.

Eventually after another minute of running and frantic turning we came to a stop.
(Apologies to any grammar pedants reading this by the way. I am aware that I was using the present tense to describe events that took place in the past. I was doing it to heighten the drama, and I’m sure the none grammar pedant readers were appreciating the thrilling narrative that I was creating and were on the edge of their seats, with me all the way, feeling my every turn and speed change. But I will revert back to the past tense for the time being so that the grammar pedants don’t take umbrage, stop reading and seek refuge in the solace of their Lynne Truss book.(Incidentally, A word of advice: you can buy a used copy of Lynne Truss’s exposition on English grammar and language “eats, shoots and leaves” from Amazon very cheep, but be warned, some pedants take a strangely perverse pleasure in grammar and there are a number of rather dirty pedants out there who may have been reading the book while engaging in certain activities. My advice is to play it safe and buy it new. There is a rare sexually transmitted disease going around among English grammar pedants that experts believe is being passed on through used copies of “eats, shoots and leaves”. The NHS tried warning these people by sending a leaflet about the disease to everyone on the government’s database listed as an English grammar pedant, but unfortunately the message never reached them due to an ill-conceived comma in the first sentence which meant that the leaflets ended up in the bin, unread and unheeded. So yes, my advice is place it safe and buy it new, or make sure you sterilise it before reading. Or on the other hand, you could just stop being so pedantic about grammar and continue reading badly written drivel like this blog).

I was sweating and panting due to the last few minutes of exercise. In fact I was sweating and panting like a peverted pedant with a Lynne Trus book. As I got my breath back I turned towards Phill and the guide dog. I bent down to stroke the dog, and as I did so I gave a contented sigh. “aaaah, excellent” I sighed.

But my sigh, exclamation and broad smile quickly evaporated as soon as I realised in horror that I wasn’t stroking a dog. I was stroking a child who was sitting in a pram. The woman who was holding the pram gasped and pulled the pram away. The pram struck my leg as she reeled it round. As soon as I realised what I was doing I also pulled away, but the woman wasn’t going to be tempered by that, after all, let’s face it, it was the tinniest of consolatory gestures after what she’d just been through.

Presumably I must have lost Phill and the dog almost as soon as we entered the park gates. They must have ran off somewhere and I – my sight being even more impaired than usual due to the glare of the sun – mistook the woman pushing a baby in a pram to be Phill and the dog. So I made sure that I followed right behind them, a lot closer than any innocent man would ever dream of following a woman pushing a baby. I suppose this explains the increases in speed and the sporadic turns. I thought it was a bit of an odd course we were taking. She was obviously trying to shake me off and check whether I was definitely following her, hoping that I would relent and leave them alone. But I had no intention of relenting and leaving them alone. I was hot on their heals, and, as it transpires, hot on their wheels. Every turn, every increase and decrease in speed, I matched. Eventually she came to a stop, presumably in the desperate hope that I would overtake her. “Surely he won’t be so bold as to stop right by me and try something? Not in a public park in broad daylight?” she would have thought. But of course she was wrong. I stopped immediately after she did. I stood right next to the pram. I was panting and sweating; that probably didn’t help. Then the worst part: I bent down, reached into the pram and stroked the thigh of her child while sighing contentedly and intoning in a low slow voice, “excellent”.

I barely had time to register what had just happened. The woman rapidly turned the pram around and made to head in the opposite direction. But I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t let the poor woman think that I was a child molester who had been following her for over five minutes in order to stroke her child. I was desperate to justify my actions, to explain that all of this was a misunderstanding. Then we could both go on our way, both of us feeling better about the situation. The woman’s mind would be put at ease. Perhaps she would even laugh about it once she realised the ludicrous mistake. Perhaps she would be so relieved that she would embrace me. She would burst into tears and in her relieved and impassioned state she would tell me about how she has been so scared and worried of late since the child’s father had left her. How would she manage to bring the baby up all by herself? I would be so relieved that I’d survived the whole ordeal without being physicaly abused, and in the heat of such an unlikely and emotion-fuelled moment we would fall in love.
I would pull her close, kiss her softly, and tenderly tell her that I would stay by her side forever, that I would be there to comfort her and cherish her, that I would take it as a personal responsibility to rear her child. Perhaps “rear” would be the wrong word to use given the circumstances.

Anyway, none of that happened … surprisingly. I got a bit carried away. I suppose I’m just a bit lonely at the moment, and someone has stolen my copy of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” so I’ve had very little relief, if you know what I mean. Sorry, back to the story.

In my desperation to qualify my actions I intercepted the woman’s path, standing in front of the pram and halting it with my foot. Now was my chance. I would have to say something immediately otherwise she would think that I was stopping her from leaving and that I hadn’t finished with her and the child yet. This would obviously freak her out even more. O my god, I was now stopping her from leaving. This is exactly what she’d be thinking! She was definitely starting to panic now. She didn’t say anything; she just gasped and tried to pull her pram around me again. I really had to say something quickly, otherwise she would leave thinking that she had been followed by a child molester and would probably be afraid to venture out again. I moved around so that her path was once again blocked. I opened my mouth to speak, looked into her eyes and then … “come on David, speak! Say it is all a misunderstanding, tell her that I am blind. You can make everything OK just by those few words”. But where to start? It seems so simple now, with the benefit of hindsight, but in the pressure of that moment I became completely lost for words.

I thought about the ridiculousness of what was happening. I could sense the woman’s panic increasing. I had now blocked her path twice. The whole crazy, farcical situation suddenly hit me. How had I got myself into this incomprehensible fix?

So what did I do? What did I say? I did what I often do – like many people do, not that I want to excuse myself – in overwhelmingly embarrassing and awkward situations. I started laughing. I couldn’t help myself. It just happened. Waves of uncontrollable laughter came over me. I tried to stop myself. I coughed, I spluttered as I tried to stop the laughter, I slapped myself in the face in the vain hope that I would come to my senses in time to redeem the situation. Obviously this display did nothing to quell the woman’s fear. She was being confronted by a man who had just followed her for 5 minutes, stroked her child and who was now spluttering, laughing, and slapping himself in the face. She turned the pram around again. I was too busy doubled over laughing, tears rolling down my face to stop her. She broke into a run. I desperately, and with a great effort, pulled myself straight, stopped my laughing and shouted “sorry” in her general direction as she tore across the park. So at least I got the sorry out in the end; I’m sure that made everything better and she’ll be fine.

It is difficult to know quite what to offer by way of a conclusion to this tale. The moral of the story is? Hmmmm. I’ve not heard any reports of a child molester on the loose, and believe me I would know, I like to keep my finger on the pulse about that sort of thing. O dear, I think I’ll go before I dig myself into an even deeper hole, although the hole might come in handy if I need to hide from her very angry husband who may be searching for me.

If it’s any consolation I did feel bad about it, but look on the bright side, I may have managed to reach the poor lady somehow through this blog post and offered her some blessed relief. At the very least I have probably given entertainment to a few of you with a warped sense of humour, and repelled and appalled a good many more of you. I bet you wish you’d gone for the Lynne Truss book after all?

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6 thoughts on “A Stroke in the Park

  1. It’s a good thing those of us who know you, know that you are essentially harmless.

    I wonder if perhaps we should get you a little badge or something for those occasions when you forget, loose or simply don’t take your cane. But what I wonder could this badge say? Perhaps something for you to consider, or throw open to the public at large for their opinions . Maybe that nice lady in the park would have a few suggestions.

    Or perhaps we could get you some flash cards with useful explanations printed on them in nice large, bold text, for the next time words fail you. Useful gems like “I’m so sorry about following you around, I’m actually Visually impaired person, don’t be alarmed”. I was thinking of abbreviating that to VIP but just in the space of 30 seconds Ive thought of more than 1 unfortunate use for that abbreviation, so maybe not. Another useful card could be “I’m not that David Eagle, I’m the other one” thus a handy way to distance yourself from, well, yourself.

    Now, I fear your rubbing off on me since I’m now rambling in your comments section, so, before I myself end up heading for the nearest park, I’ll end it here by saying, honestly folks, he really is quite harmless and no threat to you or your children….

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