Looking At The Schoolyard

It's night and myself and a policeman are leaning against a front garden wall, my crewmate is in the ambulance cab doing some paperwork. If this were a TV drama one of us would be casually smoking a cigarette in order to show the audience how cynical and hardened we are.

We are outside a squat, opposite a school. The windows are boarded up and so was the door, but the people living inside managed to pry them off and sneak some mattresses into the building.

There were two people living inside, now there is only one.

He was found on the floor, laying on his mattress, nothing else in the room apart from a small vial of what appeared to be drugs.

The room is freezing and there is no electricity for lights. The other man who lives in the house called us because he found his friend unconscious and not breathing.

When we got there it was obvious that he had been dead quite some time.

It looks like a drug death, although I can't see any of the paraphernalia that goes with it, only the small vial with tiny little rocks in it. Is his pipe in his pocket, or did his friend remove it from the scene.

His friend speaks only a little English, and he can't even tell me the name of the dead man, only that he was his friend and that they would sometimes go drinking.

More police arrive to check to see if there is anything suspicious, we all greet each other. Like the friend and the dead man, we know each other's faces, but not the names.

Our job is easy, we turn up, recognise that the person is dead and then do an impression of a CSI and tell the police if we think it is a 'suspicious' death or not. I'm sure that in most cases they only ask out of politeness.

I'm waiting for my crewmate to finish writing, so I lean on the wall and talk to the police and I look at the schoolyard.

And I think – will any of the children that go to that school grow up to this? Will they reach their twenties and die in a squat, in filth, in squalor – dead from heroin, or crack, or something new?

I think of our dead man, once upon a time he was a schoolboy, his future stretching out in front of him – what would they say if I could travel in time and tell him, his teachers, his parents, of the way in which he dies. Would they believe me? Would he still make the same choices that lead him to becoming a cold lump of meat on the floor of an unlit squat?

Will the children who will be playing in that schoolyard in a few hours time ever know of the man who died here? Will the parents who drop off their children, full of hope for their future, ever realise how close the world of drugs and death came to impacting on their school run?

I'll never know the answer to those questions, and even if I did it wouldn't change what has happened – a sad, lonely death. The only witnesses after the fact being anonymous strangers who are paid to care and a drinking friend who didn't even know his name.


Thankfully the election is over and I can start blogging properly again – the official advice was to stop blogging during the campaign.

A busy week this week, and by the end of it I'll be able to reveal one of the things I've been up to.

7 thoughts on “Looking At The Schoolyard”

  1. Welcome back, your blog is one of the “Primary Reading” category in my GReader.This post is why I subscribe. Thanks.


  2. You know, sometimes you're a real cynic. It's refreshing. It's nice to know that even now it affects you when something like this happens, nice to know you still care. I know far too many medical professionals that wouldn't think twice about where this man came from and if he knew how he would end up.It's a comfort to know that we can do the job and stil retain some humanity.

  3. 69 years & 7 mths ago from a few miles north, I watched the London Docks glow in the dark, night after night, I was then wondering what the future would bring , thank goodness we will never really know what the future brings.

  4. There but for the grace of God – who knows what is around the corner, how close all of us are to this. Nice post, and sobering considering how our minds are distracted by the Soap Opera going on in this country, to remind us that we are all mortal, and very blessed considering.

  5. I'm often drawn to a similar muse with the same job. What little chances did we take in our lives to be what we are rather than there in the squat? I don't know but I'm glad I did.

  6. One of my school friends died of a drug OD when he was in his early twenties – I only found out a few years later when I met up with a mutual friend. I, too, wonder whether there was any way his path could have changed, or whether, even at the age of fourteen, when I last saw him, his line had already been set from happy, popular boy through to addict and death in less than ten years. I just hope that the people who found him cared in the same way that you obviously do.

  7. I had a friend who had been in my life literally 3 weeks. his whole life he had been bullied for being gay. then his family literally disowned him. He asked me to stay with hiim one night:”i dont know what i will do” and i had to work the next day so as a selfish sixteen year old I brushed him off and told hiim to call me if he needed me.

    two weeks later im at his graveside listenning to his mum screaming in pain.

    I kept asking myself… that was a bad choice u made, but even if u had stayed would he have done it eventually anyway? had fate written it that way? he changed my life and many others. Some for the better (we approach depression and homosexuality differently and re-educated my school on depression and all the sh*t that come with it) and opened up a old fashioned family to the modern world and they may have saved/helped people t change to. … thats the only way i can make sense of it.

    I wonder if anyone who was at that grave listenning to her screaming felt the same?

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