Two of the times that I've come closest to death (that I know of…dun dun DUN!) both involve me nearly getting run over by a car. The first time I was seven and merrily skipping through Essex streets (not sure where I was heading, but knowing me it was probably to a sweet shop). I carried on skipping across a road without looking, and I remember the loud screech of brakes, and seeing something big and white hurtling towards me out the corner of my eye. Yes, it was a car, and the driver performed such an amazing emergency stop that I didn't even fall onto the bonnet, I just kind of stumbled on to it – my feet barely left the ground. I looked across the bonnet at the lady driver and she looked back in shock, before bursting into tears. I wasn't sure if I should go and comfort her, or at least say sorry. Feeling supremely awkward at seeing an adult stranger sobbing I decided to just carry on skipping, and off I went. Not my finest moment, but give me a break – I was seven and had nearly died way too young.
The second time was much more recent, and I'm still quite spooked by it. About six weeks ago I'd just come out of Heals on Tottenham Court Road, a.k.a the temple of home decor and design. I went to cross the road and I don't know why, because I'm from the UK and well aware of which way the traffic goes, and I'm even well acquainted with Tottenham Court Road and it being a one way street. But I must have had my mind on other things because I looked right, saw nothing coming and stepped out into the road. Some instinct, or some divine force looking over me made me turn my head left and that's when I saw the car hurtling towards me at great speed. Without hesitation I stepped backwards, and that's all I had time to do before the car sped past. It was close enough to knock the carrier bag I was holding, and for me to hear the driver fearfully exclaim "shit!" through his open window. A black cab that had been following close behind the driver had seen it all, and shook his head at me disapprovingly as he went past. If I hadn't of looked left there wouldn't have been enough time for the driver to brake, and I would not be here now, or at the very least I'd be lying in a hospital bed with some very serious problems.
I somehow managed to get across the road and into Goodge Street tube station where I stood on the platform, reeling from the shock. Every now and then I get a little flashback accompanied by a sickening feeling of general unease. I kind of wish I could be more like my seven year old self who skipped off and probably didn't give it much thought at all. I'm guessing this is because age brings a much keener sense of mortality, and I can grasp the full horror of dying suddenly, without warning, and in front of shoppers on one of London's most crowded streets. In a city as busy as London not a week goes by without there being some kind of road-related accident or fatality, so it makes sense to just be a little bit more cautious, and take your time getting across the gaps between pavements where automobiles tend to be. If you want to be skipping, or just walking and breathing, it goes without saying – don't get run over.