This is an account of how my beer drinking habit may have saved my life on 3rd June 2017. As is my habit, I was at the National Theatre alone. The play was called Common and was a good play but my recollection of it has been overshadowed by what happened on the way home.
Thinking back, I remember that I had a beer at the beginning of the play and sat sipping it while I admired what a surprisingly good seat I had for a such a cheap price and how impressive the set was. The play was powerful and had a really strong female lead for a change. At the interval, I had another beer and walked out onto the balcony overlooking the south bank and the Thames. Two police officers walked among the theatre goers with large scary looking automatic weapons.
When the play ended and we all got up to leave, I a bit annoyed at the couple behind me who had got themselves hung up on the main character being gay when that was so not the point of the play. I also thought I desperately needed the loo thanks to the two beers. There was a queue as usual with more people disappointing talking about the protagonist’s sexuality.
Outside, it was a mild night and walking along the south bank was very pleasant. Due to this, as usual, I decided to walk to London Bridge station rather than simply getting on at Blackfriars. On approaching Borough Market, I could see a lot of police lights up ahead but that was nothing unusual for a Saturday night. Then the shots came from the back of the market. Rapid fire like you hear in action films. A woman was walking next to me. We both stopped walking. “Was that gunfire?” I said. “I don’t know,” she said. We carried on walking. At the very end of the market, at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the bridge, slightly off to the left, a man was lying on the ground with someone over him performing CPR. He was covered in blood. I think he was dead. I could see the police on the bridge up ahead. I stopped again. The station lay just across the road ahead of me but that meant walking past the dead man and all those police.
A quick about face and an even quicker step took me back towards Blackfriars. By the time I reached the other side of Borough Market again, people were running past me away from the bridge. Some were stopping people coming the other way saying, “Don’t go that way. There’s been a terrorist attack.” Was it a terrorist attack? I thought. Those gunshots definitely sounded like the automatic weapons the police were carrying. I rang my parents. They’d see what had happened on the news and worry. At that time, there’d been nothing on the news.
Sitting on the train at Blackfriars, looking at news websites on my phone, I saw that there had been a major incident and it was thought to be terror related. I don’t have to tell you what had actually happened. It didn’t occur to me until I was nearly half way home that, if I hadn’t had that beer and needed the loo after the show, I’d have been walking through Borough Market at the time terrorists were running around it stabbing people. I could’ve been walking up those steps as they were coming down. The beer was London Pale Ale, by the way.