30 June 2009


On Sunday evening strolling to the Sunday quiz at our local pub. I wave to Neil and Sue but I don't wait for them. They're too far away. I cross the pelican crossing on Ecclesall Road and just as I reach the opposite pavement, I become aware of some shouting further down the road. I walk on.

Causing a passing car to screech to a halt, I see a young man running towards me, hotly pursued by another young man who is holding a weapon - a bat or club of some description. The aggressor is shouting that he is going to kill his prey - "You're f---ing dead mate!" As the young man gets closer to me he yells -"Help me! Help me!" I sense the panic in his voice.

I have never seen the young man before and I have never seen the hunter. I don't know what it is all about. The hunter gives up his chase and I turn to the quarry, shouting "It's all right! You've got away. Just keep running!" The young man turns the corner but he's slowing down - he thinks he's got away.

Club-man retreats to a parked car - a battered old green vehicle with an ancient "B" registration plate. He jumps in. There's someone in the passenger seat. Putting his foot down, the ancient wreck of a car screeches upto the corner. Momentarily, I picture the victim, sauntering along feeling a huge sense of relief that he has escaped the nutcase with the club. Then the green car brakes to a halt and the nasty bloke jumps out with his bat.

I replay the words"Help me!" again and again. What could I have done? What should I have done? The parable of The Good Samaritan is a story that contains a moral message which I have always identified with. And yet there I was being asked for help by a young man with fear in his eyes and really I did nothing. Lord knows what happened round that corner.


  1. I'm not sure what else you could have done. You did at that moment think he'd got away. You could not have saved him against two men and a car. It was one of those "what if" moments with the odds well stacked against you, sadly.

  2. Something similar happend here a while ago. Two men went to the aid of a lady being beaten. One was shot dead and the other was lucky to survive after being repeatedly shot. This all happend on a busy city street shortly after 7 am. For all you know this could have happend to you.

  3. Tricky one this and one you'll never know the answer to. Intervention isn't always the answer. If I were you I'd accept the situation as is. Like Craig says, you could have ended up worse off.

  4. DAPHNE I suppose what bothers me is the hope that if I ever found myself shouting at a complete stranger "Help me!" that I might actually get that help.
    CRAIG When I was eighteen I tried to intervene when I saw a guy beating his girlfriend at the side of the road. I got pushed into the road and narrowly avoided being run over by a passing car.
    DAVID You're right. I feel like a modern day Levite.
    VALERIE Thanks. Don't worry. I have got the thing in proper perspective.


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