Knocked down by a cyclist

Four-minute story

Knocked down by a cyclist – a young man helps a cyclist back onto her feet

Have you ever been knocked down by a cyclist? Motorists complain that they are a danger to themselves on the road and pedestrians complain when they ride on the pavement.

About ten years ago Clare returned to the school where I had taught her. I knew that she had gone up to St Andrews, to the university in Scotland, and she was telling us how much she was enjoying herself there. Then she hesitated for a moment as if she had recalled something and was wondering whether she could bring herself to tell us about it.

It was late one evening and there were few people about in the town. Clare’s bike had no lights so she decided it would be safer to ride on the pavement, out of the way of the traffic. As she turned a corner she ran into a young man and knocked him flat. At the same time she fell from her bike and found herself sprawled across the pavement.

It was her victim who was first back on his feet. Immediately Clare recognised him, but where were his bodyguards, his people from the secret service? At any moment, surely, they would appear from somewhere and take her off to the Tower of London. Clare is not British and with an American mother and a French father she was convinced that she would be in particular trouble for attacking this young man, a fellow student as it turned out.

“Hi. I’m Wills.” Clare’s victim was holding out a hand and the next thing she knew he had pulled her to her feet. Not until he had satisfied himself that she was unhurt was she allowed to ensure that she had not inflicted damage or injury. But still there was no secret service and she was left there standing alone with him until he decided to escort her back to her hall of residence.

Clare was not allowed to forget bumping into this young man for their studies took them in and out of the same university buildings. From time to time they came face to face and he would always ask after her and take an interest in her progress. She came to enjoy these moments but I think she never stopped worrying, just in case the secret service turned up.

You could not arrange or stage-manage an occurrence such as this and so hearing this first-hand account was both a privilege and a revelation.

Who was the young man?
Have you ever met someone well-known? What was your reaction?

What makes this story a revelation?

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