The car in front of me ignores the green light as a shining clean police motorbike pulls into the centre of the junction and stops. The rider dismounts and I’m frantically trying to recall the page in the Highway Code that lists the signals used when the police are directing traffic. While looking round, nosey as ever, wanting to know what this guy is doing. I mean, police officer or not the signals seem to be working fine so his presence seems a little out of place. We get a lot of police activity around here – its not the best of neighborhoods but I’ve never seen these bikes here before.
The man in front of me begins to multitask, still controlling the flow or rather the halt of traffic, then begins to stare down that queue of traffic behind me and signal to some of the motorists that have pulled up more towards the centre of the lane that they must move over. Whatever the mystery that is off to the right where this police officer came from is coming my way…
5 minutes of waiting… a second slow moving police bike arrives and progresses down the road beside me. a third… a forth…wow this must be important. Now there’s a pair of them emerging to the right, riding together blocking the lane completely and that’s when I see it: the front of a disturbingly polished black car moving so mournfully slow my heart sinks as the hearse pulls fully into the junction in front of me carrying its heroic passenger on their final journey
The coffin is surrounded by flowers and draped with the union jack… A fallen soldier who’s name is unknown to me. As the car slowly progresses past me I find myself feeling a tiny bit sick. The regimental insignia now visible as the sacrificed stranger passes my window. All the air is pushed from my lungs in one long… I have no words. Sigh.
My driving instructor sat beside me calmly reminds me that all I can do is wait patiently and do as the police officer tells me, but he misses the point. Sigh.
Its the first time I’ve come face to face with the massive sacrifices that some are making for the benefit of many and I recount the sad story to Gadget Guy later who has obviously seen this more than me … “we’ve lost more” he says by way of explanation rather than accusation. To which I can only reply “But we’ve lost enough.”
We have all lost enough.
To my unknown solider hero and all who loved you: Thank you. I am so sorry.
News report: a further 4 British lives were sacrificed in Afghanistan today, Will we ever learn ? So sad.