Dan Sandman

07: Paradise Lost by John Milton

In Autobiography, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry on 12/02/2016 at 12:00 pm

Paradise Lost by John MiltonThis picture was taken in August last year. I had started reading Milton on my summer walks around Primrose Hill and Regents Park. In the previous summer of 2014, my father and I would sit on park benches discussing life. At there best, but not always, these conversations were philosophical father and son talks, about the meaning of the universe. I miss my father’s intelligence and wit.

One day, on a rainy afternoon in the park, we had a run in with the police. As usual, I had been pushing my father in his wheelchair.

‘The doctor says I must do my daily exercises.’ He would say.

After some experimentation, we had found the ideal walking spot. Our routine was to park the wheelchair near an old oak tree each day, making sure to put the brakes on so it wouldn’t run away by itself. We would then walk arm-in-arm to a discreet location for players of the French sport pétanque (similar to bowls); a secluded garden cut off by several hedgerows, where we would follow a pot-holed grey path to a rusty old black gate. This place was particularly peaceful, partly because nobody in England plays pétanque.

Now, the routine was to walk with my father and then return to the oak tree, as soon as he had sat down inside the secluded garden. I would then go back to manoeuvre the wheelchair so that it was parked by the black gate. Once our routine was completed, we would then be free to philosophise upon the park bench.

On that rainy afternoon, a police car happened to be patrolling the park, clearly looking for any suspicious behaviour. Winding down his window, an officer of the law poked his head out.

‘Is that yours?’ No excuse me please or do you mind if I ask you. ‘Where are you going with that wheelchair?’ He questioned, the power of law enforcement enhancing his investigative discourse.

‘Over there.’ I helpfully replied, pointing to where my father sat secluded by the hedgerows. ‘There’s an old man in there, it’s his wheelchair.’

The young officer took out his notepad and wrote something down, looking at me questioningly as he did so. As I pushed the chair through the rain, the driver slowly pursued me, making sure to get a visual so he could verify my claimed innocence. From the officers’ perspective, I really was a potential wheelchair thief.

My father and I, of course, found this all very funny.

‘My son the criminal!’ He joked.

‘Maybe there’s a murderer loose on Primrose Hill.’ I said sardonically.

Just at that very moment, the car cruelled by again. We both looked and laughed together.

‘We must tell your mother.’

‘We will.’

‘It’s raining. Let’s go home.’

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