Walking down Upper Clapton Rd toward the pub, there were a group of onlookers out the front, huddled around the bus shelter. I stood on my toes, tried to see over the crowd, couldn’t, kept walking.
As we walked through the front door, the pub’s manager had just returned from the crowd and was walking in at the same time.
We asked him what the commotion was.
He said: “Oh, this poor bloke. He’s obviously addicted to heroin, and his needle broke while he was trying to inject, and now he’s losing quite a lot of blood. I think he’ll be okay — paramedics are on their way.”
We winced at each other. “Ouch, poor guy.” And we walked into the pub and had dinner, and I thought about how the pub manager had spoke about this man in a way that helped me empathise with him.
And I wondered if the pub manager had called him ”some junkie,” if I would have thought about our new area being a bit dodgier than our old area instead of thinking about our neighbour and his arm and his blood — dark and de-oxygenated — pooled and congealing under a bus shelter on the high street.