(originally intended date of posting: December 12th, 2009)
There I was, walking to the train station, thinking about all the incredibly important and complicated things I usually think about on my regular 13-minute morning constitutional, when I saw this in front of me:
A tree, fallen, sprawling on the street.
It had not been a particularly windy night. There were no attendants in fluoroescent gilets declaring the area a hazard, no tree surgeons pondering its demise, no buzzing of chain saws or hauling of ropes, no triangular signs warning of its imminent descent and subsequent removal and apologies for any inconvenience caused.
There was just a tree lying on the pavement.
A tree that, with no evidence to the contrary, appeared to have fallen of natural causes, wrenching itself free of its foundations. Perhaps it took some kind of funny turn, botanically speaking, and swooned on to the tarmac below, clasping at the railings with its branches on the way down, in an attempt to break its fall. 'Is it hot out here? I feel a bit... ooh, look out down there!'
Since there was no prohibitive red and white tape to stop me, I walked on past the tree. I was this close to it. Something about the scale of it made me feel a bit queasy. Trees are really, really big when they're lying down. And this one looked horribly undignified, lying prostrate and vulnerable to attack from any road or pavement dweller. I am particularly thinking of the under 5s on their ill-controlled scooters in what is a very busy area for young families.
Basically, what I kept thinking was, 'Aslan.'
I was so distressed I found myself wondering whether there was a slim chance that any part of it could still be alive, and at what point a tree technically dies, but I decided that when it had been 100% severed from its roots, that point had almost certainly become history. Even I, ludicrous, twee fantasist, had to concede that it was unlikely to open a pair of barky eyes and say, 'This is terribly embarrassing but could you help me up? I feel such an old fool.'
The next morning, every trace of it had disappeared, except:
38. QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
10 months ago