What signs say and what they mean

Everyone who has travelled regularly by tube or train will have been delayed at some point by the enigmatic “person under a train” just as if you travel any distance by car you will find a road that is closed for “accident investigation”. The phrasing makes palatable the awful: that there has been brutal injury, possibly death and trauma, that lives have been forever scarred and that right now professionals are struggling to put together the pieces to make sense of it whilst restoring normality to how you would like to travel.

This sign appeared on Marylebone Road in London yesterday afternoon. It replaced an advance warning for a march taking place on Christmas Eve and, as you can see, it was advising the masochists who drive in London that there were delays because of ‘restrictions’, if you’d checked for further details with the AA they would tell you that there was an ‘incident ongoing’ whereas the BBC this morning were able to confirm that the ‘issue’ was ‘resolved’. What had happened – and I know because I was there – was that a bright yellow dumper truck crushed a person as it rounded a corner and they crossed the road at Duncannon Street which runs between Trafalgar Square and the Strand. The whole thing was seen by a young family of two adults and three small children who could barely speak as they hurried wide-eyed and scared away, the truck driver leapt from his cab and circled his vehicle and began screaming almost incoherently that he didn’t understand what was going on and a woman so pale she matched the white stone of the building behind her did her best to calmly phone the police. All the while the underside of the truck and the tarmac of the street ran thick with blood. I didn’t see the impact as it was immediately over my shoulder behind me nor the person involved as they were on the far side of the truck from me but those sights I’ve just described and the sounds associated with them will take some shifting. But the only reports I can see online about what happened are exclusively concerned with traffic jams.

Today, the sign on Marylebone Road will again be warning motorists that tomorrow they will be delayed by a march but any problems they may have experienced yesterday have been sorted. The road is open again.


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