The Jogger – A Matter Of Chance

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Mobile phone, just in case, Mars bar, house keys, pedometer, fine! Five mile circuit, down through wood, twice round the lake, up to the road and back in forty nine minutes, give or take thirty seconds.

He put on the dodgy 70s shorts and Pink Floyd t-shirt and checked his watch. Nine twenty seven a.m. He sat on the kitchen floor, carefully adding colourful sports socks and running shoes to his attire. An ex-academic, now retired, and seriously keeping the grim reaper at bay by religiously following a precise exercise regime. He locked the door behind him at 9.30 precisely, walked fity yards, no more, and then started to jog. As he jogged he glanced down, taking care not to set foot on any crack in the pavement. On reaching the main road he jogged on the spot, looking right left and right again. No traffic.

Such a quiet road, maybe one car per minute on average. It takes two seconds to cross. Why bother looking? Very small chance of being hit by a single car coming from left or right. One in sixty perhaps? No risk at all really but best to be safe.

He sprinted across the road, slowed to jogging pace and continued down the country lane towards the wood. As he went over the stile into the wood he glanced at his watch.

Eight minutes thirty. Mmm, a little slow.

The jog through the wood was joyful. A twisting and turning path descending between conifers, criss-crossing a small burn. Every now and then he spotted a chaffinch or a crow or some such, and always kept a look out for the seemingly friendly squirrel that inhabited the fifth conifer on the right after passing the path down into the gorge. He emerged from the wood into full sunlight onto a well made public footpath leading directly to the wooden footbridge that crossed the lake at its narrowest point. Halfway across the bridge he glanced at his watch once more.

Dear oh dear, forty five seconds behind schedule. Too much for breakfast?

He jogged around the lake and back onto the bridge. Still down on time he tried speeding up, but only slightly, on his second circuit. This was the most enjoyable part of his daily run. Common terns, gulls, ducks, geese and the impressive pair of swans, here every year, and now with five cygnets, their browny feathers starting to turn snow white. He smiled to himself, glad to be alive, and so happy not to have the daily grind of academic life. Not for him the clinging onto mother university, nor the fading away emeritus professor sat in the corner watching younger researchers doing their stuff. He hated such caricature. At the end of his second circuit he checked his time before heading uphill on the alternative path back to the main road.

Oh no, still thirty seconds down, and feeling rather tired for some reason.

At sixty seven years of age, uphill was not good, but he regarded himself as very fit and stuck to the task. Although breathing very hard, his legs were pounding along now with confidence. As the path flattened out he saw the main road some fifty yards ahead. He looked at the watch.

Back on track. Spot on, excellent!

Only the road to cross that might slow him down. He strained with both ears. No sound of traffic.

A question of probability really. No sound of traffic. Absolutely safe!

The cyclist hit him at roughly twenty eight miles per hour. He woke up in hospital after the surgeon had fixed his right leg which had suffered multiple fractures. The cyclist was stood by his bedside shaking his head. ‘What the hell were you doing, running straight into the road without looking? A man of your age, Professor James!’ It was a nineteen year old ex-student.

Good grief! What’s the chance of being knocked down on a quiet road by a student of mine? Amazingly unlikely and unlucky!

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