It was like being in a scene from a film. I remember the urgency with which the young man rounded the corner, making my heart leap there in Bethnal Green. Was I in the middle of a chase? Had Betty the dog and I got caught up in something?
’Look at the stars, look at the stars!’ He never stopped running as he shouted at the top of his voice, for it seemed that his mission was to astonish and wake up as many oblivious people as possible. ‘They’re all moving in the sky!’ My first thought was that here was another mad person. There are so many lucid mad people in London.
I looked up at the sky, and sure enough he was right. All the stars were moving. Quite fast. The chimney pots and the roof tops were steady, but the stars, strangely clear in that London sky were all veering off in their constellations in an arc to the right. Were the stars moving or perhaps were we spinning faster than usual? My response was quite the opposite to the young man’s. I stopped still and looked and looked up at the sky as Betty tugged on her leash. Then there was a young couple standing beside me also looking up at the sky. They were sober and clear eyed and we verified with each other what we were seeing. What I cannot remember now (this was in the summer of 2013 or 2014) was whether the stars stopped falling, or whether I simply decided to go back in. Life went on. Betty peed on the grass. A drunk was flat out by the bushes. I could hear the evening getting going down Brick Lane, a faint roar of people determined to have a good time. I didn’t see it, but I suspect the dark silhouette of the fox was somewhere close by, sloping against the darkness of the walls or amongst the trees. Above us something had shifted in the heavens, clearly measurable against the London skyline.
The next day I searched the newspapers, I looked online, but it seemed that no one else had seen it or remarked upon it, other than me and the sober couple and the lad pounding the pavements. What was remarkable was how many people ignored him: another nutter, another somebody high on drugs, another person off the rails.
Thank you to the anonymous photographer who took this.