Soon after breakfast on my last day in London I left Rebecca and Nick at the West Hampstead terminal and went to King’s Cross/St Pancras station to buy a ticket for Manchester. Nick fussed over my well-being, “Our man is leaving Rebecca, is he going to be alright?” “He’s been doing this for a while, he’ll be fine.”
I bought a sandwich to go and had a cup of tea while I waited. The train ride was pretty uneventful, though I enjoyed watching the English countryside at a blur.
My last connection was running late, though by the early evening I was finally pulling into Manchester’s Piccadilly station. I called Phil to let him know I had arrived, but it went straight to voicemail.
I walked through the station towards the main entrance, and just as I was leaving Phil a message — in mid-sentence, in fact — I passed an older vagrant kneeling on the ground, looking concerned and confused. Suddenly, when I was only a few feet away, another vagrant rushes towards the side of the one on the floor, sweeps his leg out in stride and kicks the man on the ground squarely in the chest. Phil received a message that sounded something like this:
Hey Phil, it’s Bj. I just got into Piccadilly station and I’m walking through the station now. I’ll head … oh! uh … wha … ok, some dude just got kicked in the chest! There’s some kind of bum fight that just broke out in front of me. Listen I’ll be hanging around the main entrance, just give me a call back.
The man on the ground was clutching his arm and on lying on his side as a couple others pulled the aggressor off him. He didn’t seem like he was in critical condition, and others had stopped to help, so I made my way to look for Phil. I stood near the main entrance of the station and scanned the terminal.
My eye caught another group of people on the other side of the room from where the bum fight took place. One twenty-something was very angrily in another twenty-somethings face. And I must have been just outside earshot because I could’ve sworn they were arguing about one of the mens’ jeans. I stood alarmed and at attention, wondering what kind of place this was.
Phil called me back and asked me where I was in the station. I said I was standing next to what I thought was the main entrance. “Ehm … did you by any chance pass a couple old guys fighting?” “Yes! I’m like right near there.” “OK I know where you are, I’ll be right there.” Phil walked up to me with a grin on his face. He shrugged his shoulders slightly, raised his eyebrows and said, “Welcome to Manchester!”